This is a sad tale of two developers that released a decent game, after two years of work, for free with in app purchase. They had the game download over 200,000 times and have barely made money.
This is a good cautionary tale, well the real story, not the story Penny Arcade tries to spin. Every developer should read the story because it teaches one thing: testing is important.
The two developers had a really noble goal of not creating a greedy IAP, but they seemingly didn’t test the IAP function. Because even people that wanted to unlock the full game with it, couldn’t figure out how (since changed).
The real tale here should read:
1. Don’t expect free to pay the bills, even with IAP.
2. Test out the app and get feedback.
3. It’s not the amount of downloads or time spent that matters, it’s the amount of paying customers that matter.
I think they screwed up offering a free game, but not because free with IAP is bad — because free with IAP and no sense of greed is bad. IAP only works if you nag or tell each user about it by locking them out of what they want. Otherwise people will make what they get for free work for them.
I’m not shocked these guys aren’t making money, but I am shocked that they are surprised by that.