Band Together Goes Free, Producer Calls Launching At $4.99 A Mistake
Imaginative puzzler is significantly more affordable. We just hope the gaming world takes notice.
Band Together is one of the more intriguing iPad puzzle games on the App Store, with imaginative levels, cardboard style visuals and surprisingly dark themes. We proudly awarded it an impressive four out of five stars in last week's Band Together review, but also felt the $4.99 asking price didn't make sense.
With this in mind, publisher Backflip Studios quickly dropped the price to $2.99, and now it's free, but here's the question: is it too late? Despite being featured by Apple, the game has fallen down the charts, leaving us to wonder if a huge opportunity was lost. This is something producer Dave Taylor seemingly agrees with, and the former id Software employee (of DOOM and Quake fame) wrote a passionate plea to the mobile community to give Band Together a chance. Here's his note, along with a fascinating video of how this enjoyable game came to be.
[I]My name is Dave Taylor. I'm the producer on Band Together, and I wanted to explain the excitement surrounding the price and the sale.
But before that, I want to thank everyone who got behind us early on at $4.99. None of us got paid during development, and we developed the game right to the ends of our savings. Our early supporters have really saved our respective bottoms. That said, we're far from out of the woods.
While getting featured on the App Store was a huge and unexpected surprise, that all ends Thursday when they rotate in the new featured games. While we got up to about the 30s on the top grossing list for a little while, we stalled out, I think because of the initial pricing mistake (my fault!) and we're not currently charting on the top of any lists, so that means after the feature ends, we'll be very hard to discover.
If any of you have tried shipping an iOS game (I smell a developer or two in here), you know that discoverability is super challenging, and once you're hard to find, odds are you're going to be quickly forgotten. It seems to be a very all-or-nothing thing. If you're wondering why a lot of games do sales like these, that's why. If you're lucky enough to get featured, you want to use the opportunity to try to chart elsewhere in the App Store before the feature ends.
We're actually in a pretty unusual situation for a featured game and at a pretty big disadvantage in some ways. We don't have any "nag" in the game asking for good reviews, nor any in-game assets to sell, nor any free demo. It's a really old-fashioned game in that regard. Because we have no free demo, the closest way to emulate that is to release it for free for a little while, see if we can get enough attention to keep the inertia going, and then end the sale as soon as we can.
If we didn't do that and disappeared from the various menus of the App Store, it would mean we don't have the foundation of support we need to keep developing for the game. As John pointed out, we want to add more levels, and we have a million ideas we'd love to implement, but if we disappear from the App Store charts, it becomes a real slog to claw our way back up. In fact, odds are excellent we never would again and that we might have to discontinue development.
This was a really difficult decision for us, as we had a hunch people would get upset, but I think frankly we just made a mistake coming out at $4.99. It was too high, as some of you have noted, and I take full responsibility for that. By the time we realized our mistake lowered the price to $2.99, we had already taken some beatings in reviews and lost the inertia that might have gotten us visible in one of the App Store pages.
Thanks again for supporting us and particularly for supporting the students. It isn't common knowledge in the press, but the students are getting paid 50% of the royalties, the same as the veterans (John & myself). Every sale is making a big difference to their lives and will hopefully help them pay back their student loans.
Small compensation for stepping up with your early support, I'm sure, but again, John and I really appreciate it, and the students do too. I hope you guys don't think less of us!
By the way, we really appreciate your candid feedback. We're reading it all and taking it all very seriously. We're a tiny team (and still without any income), so while we certainly won't be able to address all of your concerns, we've already begun addressing some of the more common ones in our first update.[/I]
Definitely well said. Be sure to download Band Together using the provided link below.