Why I Stopped Including In-App Purchased To Remove Ads

So most of my iOS app games are free. I have ads in them, and that is how I make money from them.
Now, ads can be annoying. Not just in apps, but on TV, in print, on the radio (especially on the radio, for some reason). So I get complaints from time-to-time. Often users don’t understand how the ads work. They see an annoying ad and assume I have picked that ad to appear on the game, or perhaps even created it myself.
Of course all I do is provide a space in the app for ads. Then Apple puts the ads there. Thousands of ads are available at any time, and one appears randomly. If you see an ad often, it is because the advertiser has paid for it to appear often. I have no idea which ads will appear over my games. I certainly don’t spend my time reviewing thousands of ads per day and picking and choosing among them.
Now some users suggest that I offer a way to remove those ads. For instance, I can create an in-app purchase for this. You get the game for free, and the ads appear. But tap a button in the game and agree to pay $1 or $2 and now your game is ad-free.
That sounds like a good idea. After all, I make pennies per user with ads. But if someone pays $1 I make a whole dollar from them. So financially it works out. At least it does if hundreds or thousands of people take the deal.
I did this for several games. There are two reasons I’m not going to do this anymore.
You see it takes a little time and effort to built this in-app purchase and ad-removal functionality into the game. The code and submission process takes probably less than an hour. What really takes up time is the design. With ads, I need to make a space at the top of the game for an ad. I can’t put game elements there, or the ad will cover them. When the user pays to get rid of the ad, I could just leave that space blank. But the right thing to do is to use that space for the game.
So there is a lot of work to be done there. I’ve got three different screen sizes of iOS device, plus horizontal and vertical orientations. So that’s a good deal of design work and a good deal of testing. Not worth it if I only get 10 or 20 or 400 people to pay $1. And usually the number is closer to 10 or 20.
The second reason is the real one. And it has nothing to do with my games, the ads, or design time.
When you add an in-app purchase to a game, your game is then branded in the App Store as “Offers In-App Purchases.” That reduces downloads.
Why? Because people hate in-app purchases, or at least the idea of them. So many games have used in-app purchases to try to suck money out of people, that they are now considered a bad thing. You know the games, the ones where you download it for free and then find out that in order to make and headway in the game beyond the beginning level you need to spend real dollars to by gems or coins or magic unicorn poop.
When someone sees one of my games and it is listed as “free” and “offers in-app purchases” I think a lot of people then assume that this is the case. And if it were the case, that would be fair enough. But in the case of these apps, you really do get the whole app, with all features, for free. The purchase is just to get rid of the ads.
I’d rather not offer this in-add purchase and lose $20 or even $500 than have less people download the game.

March 7, 2014 • Posted in: General

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