A great deal of game developers on the App Store do frequent sales. They are scheduled sales. On any site that tracks app changes, you can see the price evolution. Price goes up to $3 in October, goes free just before winter holidays. Leave it like that for a week. Put the price back up to $0.99 or to the original price.
They don’t do it on a special day, special occasion or for a secondary/special reason. They just use the price drop to get promoted by sites that look for such deals.
Don’t get me wrong, sales are great, but not used properly and used too often, this tactic loses its power.
Players that get their games on Steam are already used to playing the waiting game. And they already have hundreds of games that they have not played yet. They will tell you you’re a fool if you pay full price.
The difference though between Steam Store and the App Store is that the former knows how to organize and promote sales. Players know about the sales. It’s organized and promoted. So even though the games are discounted, they make more money because of the volume. Not the same for the App Store.
So what would be good reasons to have a sale? Here’s what we agree to being ok or at least a bit better:
- Important update or important day. I’m not talking about having a sale because it’s Madonna’s birthday. By important day I mean the studio anniversary, a number of downloads or players mark reached, black Friday, etc.
- Doing sales to promote another game launch. I’ve been seeing this more and more. A studio sets some of its games to free. In the description of the game and via in-game message, they promote their new launch.
- Doing sales to drive action. This is not necessarily related to the price of the game itself, but to the price of an iAP. Some games / apps dropped the price of one or more iAPS if you completed certain tasks in the game. For example, for each 5 friends that you invited and actually joined the game, the price for Full Unlock decreased until it reached $0.99.
In the end though, no matter how big a sale you have, they will still compare the price to the value and experience that your game offers. If they don’t perceive it as a deal, they won’t buy even if it’s free.