A mobile app developer has revealed plans to release its popular "Alto's Adventure" iPhone game on Android for free despite charging for the iOS version, citing "crazy levels of piracy" on Android and the success of free-to-play models as the reason behind the price cut.
Snowman, developer of the hit downhill snowboarding game, cited piracy data from Ustwo Games, the developers of the "Monument Valley" puzzle game, as the reason behind the move. Snowman also pointed to games like "Threes! Free," which have been able to offer a premium quality experience while offering unintrusive in-app purchases.
"Alto's Adventure" will use a similar model on Android. The game will offer "a variety of opt-in bonuses" as in-app purchases that help players score big in the game, or for those who want to support the developers. The bonuses are entirely optional, and the developer promises the same gameplay experience as the iOS version.
Interesting fact: Only 5% of Monument Valley installs on Android are paid for. 40% on iOS. There’s a sneak peak of data!
— ustwogames (@ustwogames) January 5, 2015
The announcement is a bad sign for mobile developers looking to offer premium apps on Android. In the case of "Alto's Adventure," the developers were able to find a way to support production in the face of high piracy, but other app creators may not have the luxury of being able to offer a free version without ether impacting development or offering a sub-par experience.
"Alto's Adventure" involves a skiier flying down a mountain, collecting coins, llamas and avoiding village elders. The weather moves from sunny to nighttime and even to rain, while the soundtrack received praise from the press upon release.
Controls are simple: tapping the screen initiates a jump, while holding down makes the player spin in the air. In the later levels, a special flying ability is activated when the player performs enough tricks: this is activated by an on-screen button.
On the iOS side, the game is $2.99 and the developer has announced no plans to reduce the price.