Did you like our business model? Don’t use it.


Ryan Rigney (author of Buttonless, which featured our first game Tilt to Live) came to us a few weeks ago with praise for Outwitters’ bold Free to Play model. No gold or extra lives being sold, just good wholesome content like I used to buy when I was a boy. “So how’s that working out for you?” he asked.

Not great.

We figured we’d share our numbers so other small studios might make a better decision than we did. With 2% of 500,000 users buying something in your app, you need them to spend an average of $30 dollars each to break even on a $300,000 game (salaries for 2 people for 1.75 years, plus company overhead, custom sound, and half a year’s server costs). We should have done that math, and not overestimated the number of downloads “free” would attract. Consumables also weren’t a good fit for a competitive multiplayer game, which should’ve been a red flag that free to play was not a great choice.

So free to play + prominent Apple feature does not equal an automatic slam dunk. Lesson learned. We’re still proud of the game.

Categories: News, Outwitters

77 responses to “Did you like our business model? Don’t use it.”

  1. Mani says:

    Don’t shut this game down! Please 🙂 At least start trying to charge for it before you do that. It’s my favorite game on the iPhone.

  2. I’m a huge fan of this game. You guys really knocked it out of the park with a great strategy game that’s as simple as it is deep. This game deserves far more financial success than it currently is getting.

    You should probably ignore everything I’m about to say, I can’t successfully monetize a game for anything. That said, I do think consumables and some kind of in game currency would be worth it. You’re right that it doesn’t seem fair or balanced but every F2P MMO I’ve seen isn’t fair or balanced. Once your spend money, you’ve got an advantage… and financially it seems to be working for the F2P MMOs? After all, could it hurt to try it? I don’t know…. my two cents.

    Okay, that’s the end of my horrible advice. On another note, I wish I had read this advice a month ago. I struggled for a couple months whether or not to release my game for free using a model partially inspired by yours. In other words, I decided to charge for characters and gameplay modes. No in game currency just good ole’ buy content and get it.

    I’m currently sitting on about the same conversion rate but far far less downloads. Here’s the game if you care: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/forest-guardians/id541937964?ls=1&mt=8

    You guys should definitely be proud of your game, it’s fantastic. I hope you guys can figure out a way to turn it around and make it a success.

    Best of luck

  3. Chris says:

    I know folks hate them, but couldn’t you put ad banners on the free version? It seems to work for Matching With Friends, etc. definitely seems like it couldn’t hurt the cash flow. And if folks buy something, remove them. If there’s any way I can help (I’m in the IT/network arena), let me know. Love this game!

  4. Admiral 77 says:

    I am very sorry to hear of your struggles!

    Outwitters is my favorite game bar none. I play every day and access it more than any of my other apps. I have to say that I really like the fact the players can’t just purchase success through consumables. It places your game leagues above everyone else.

    However, being in the industry, I do understand the issue if sever costs.

    Here’s an idea for you

    – maybe you could add in an additional tab in the menu bar that would allow people to watch commercials in exchange for unlocking teams / maps. This would generate income from people not wanting to pay cash for IAPs, but would be willing to watch 10, 15 videos to unlock a new team. If you did not want to offer teams or maps, you could allow them to unlock larger numbers of games playable. Obviously at an exchange rate higher than the server costs.

    All that being said. I hope you can make it work. I love outwitters and have a feeling that many of your players have similar sentiments and would be willing to help out if asked.

    Perhaps send out a message in the news feed asking for ideas.

    Best of luck!!

  5. Avenged110 says:

    I know it’s way different and not really helpful, but I’m still selling Tilt to Live copies for you guys once and a while.

    I feel like this sort of thing happens way to often. One of very few games that’s not out to just get your money, that actually provides a truly polished and enjoyable experience and only asks you pay to provide the devs a source of income, ends up not doing well and discourages that level and degree of work. I really respect you guys for not having gone many routes you could have and keepin the game decent, wholesome content without bugging people or ads or any of that shit. I sincerely hope you find a way to make it work because you somehow managed to make 2 of 3 games I actually play on my phone daily and gave me some priceless memories with my friends. That’s something to be proud of.

    Best of luck Alex and Adam.

  6. Jonny B says:

    Really sorry to hear this. I actually just went and purchased the game limit upgrade despite having no use for it (I can’t concentrate properly on that number of games at the same time). Had such a good time playing Outwitters and the game+über pack is such a good deal that it’s at least worth another couple of £s.

    I read the article you linked to and the comments there were pretty interesting if not frustrating. The vast majority of (ignorant) people there were hating on you for being “another F2P developer”. Obviously, the enlightened of us know that’s not the case but it seems some may have been turned off from even trying the game because the only version downloadable was a free one.

    I guess that the type of people that this game would appeal to, more gamey gamers, have been so burned out on F2P that they tarnish any free title with IAP with the same brush.

    The more casual gamers that enjoy the time sink mechanics of your usual F2P title would probably find Outwitters a little too complex compared to what they’re used to and instead of taking the time to learn the game, they rush off to something else.

    So instead of seeing Outwitters Free as the stonking awesome deal it is (Awesome game for FREE!), the people it should appeal to write it off as a money grabbing F2P and don’t even give it a chance. Gah!!

    I get why you need some sort of free version for this type of game, with no singleplayer you need a massive userbase so people are able to find someone to play a game with quickly. Maybe if you had released (or even were to still release) a paid version of the app as well as the free version; with the paid version just being Outwitters + über pack. Yes, the fragmentation would be annoying from an OCD standpoint but it might help more traditional gamers see the value in the game better.

    From reading the comments on that article it really seems like the problem is one of perception rather than te model being wrong.

  7. johehan says:

    I also bought the game limit upgrade immediately this morning even though I don’t need it and I think all you other loyal fans out there should do the same!

    And now for some “Good Advice”:

    So, you need to do two things: squeeze out some more money from your loyal paying fan base without pissing them off, and try to get more freeloaders to pay up.

    An idea: Add a “Donation” button to your store! Charge the minimum amount, and what you get when you buy is a donation level. If you buy once you get level 1, twice, level 2, … you get the idea 😉

    Now, when donating you want something back, so how about putting a nice little flag on your base with your donation level? That way everyone you play against can see that you are supporting the game! Damn, that guy is level 10 and have a fancier flag than I do, hmmm, maybe I need to donate some more 😀

    I think that could actually work, I know I’d hit that donation button immediately if you add it to show everyone how much I love the game!

    For the freeloaders, I agree with other posts that commercials that are removed as soon as you buy something (or donate!) is a good idea. Yes, many people will throw the game away in disgust, but they would never pay for anything anyway…

    Just my two cents, all the best to you guys!

  8. Juslas says:

    But with this monetize model I paid 7,38 euros, that is nine and half dollars. I can’t recall spending that much to anything on App Store. Your monetize model paid you nine times more than other models would have benefit you (from me).

    And then are those legs or tail or whatever it is called. Because Outwitters is free to play, I can recommend it and see through it will be downloaded, too. I know plenty of people who are not willing to pay for apps (but are willing to pay for latte).

    Five game limit is your money shot, if Outwitters gives pleasure to user, they will end up paying way more than standard dollar or 79 euro cents for your game.
    If there are only ten thousand Outwitters players, it is just because slow turn base game is not for millions of iPhone users.

    I see no other monetize method that would score your more. Maybe make game slightly faster with 3 day turn limit (instead of 4). To make free players to play the game (and eventualy to buy more slots).

  9. Chris says:

    I like johehan’s idea. Donation options and some nominal artistic bling would be good and should help. I’d chip in a few extra bucks if it was there.

    You’ve got a loyal base here, so let us know how we can help you guys out an we’re there!

  10. Aaron White says:

    Very sad to see this as it seems there are a lot of players regularly playing this game. I have purchased both the uber pack and the extended game limit, hopefully more people will come forward to support this great game.

    Just the other day I thought how great it would be to pick your own colours for the ranked matches. Customisation is a great way to offer content that players will be interested in. The alternate bases are also a great option for charged content.

    One more thing you could do is give players a cap on how many free games they can play, for example, 10 games before you have to upgrade to the full game. Good luck and thank you for the awesomeness that is Outwitters.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is so sad. I can’t believe such a great game with a reasonable monetizing system can’t survive in the current market, while crappy games that don’t even pretend to be concerned about quality and desperately try to fool you into thinking there’s actual content make millions. (and then get rereleased with EXACTLY the same mechanics but new skins on everything)

    Seriously, the current gaming market is just disgusting and the great games are few and hard to find. I really hope people will get tired of all the treadmill games eventually and start to demand quality, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    That being said, thank you for caring about quality. I hope you find a way to make it work out for you financially.

  12. alon says:

    Why not leting player to try team by leting tham play as Feadback or Adorables for game or two.

    I don’t know if it’s going to be hard to make but I think it’s good idea.

  13. Guy says:

    Why not run an occasional sale for people who don’t want to spend $6?

  14. Anonymous says:


  15. Anonymous says:

    Why not make available the alternate art for bases, etc you showed a few weeks ago? It’s ultimately useless and just for show, much like the purchaseable ‘avatars’ of Hero Academy. It only looks cool and serves as a status symbol towards other players.

  16. Mani says:

    +1 for the donation/flag idea.

  17. Random Task says:

    Hi there,
    First of all let me say that I absolutely love Outwitters as it is exactly the kind of game I was searching for. The combination of its aesthetics, simplicity and strategic depth are second to no other turn based strategy game I know.
    Now some suggestions for your monetization problem:
    I disagree with those suggesting you should incorporate virtual goods for money. I agree with those suggesting to add ad banners for those players playinf for free. Your move to limit free players to just 5 games was a good move. Another suggestion is to add a “quick game” category. Some players dont like the slow turn rate of asynchronous turn based games. By adding the choice to play a “quick game” which limits the tine for each turn to be taken to e.g. 5 minutes you would probably win a wider audience from more heavy gamers…
    Keep up your great work!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is unfortunate, because outwitters is such a great game. It’s my humble opinion that the main problem is that you gave away too much content with the free version of the game. I think the free version should function more like a demo- something to entice potential buyers. Give them enough of a taste of the game to see how great it is, but not enough content that they can be satisfied with their experience for very long. However, in the case of outwitters, the free team happens to be the most powerful one. I think only more serious players are willing to try the other teams, while beginners are content just playing scallywags. Perhaps, the free team should have featured no special unit at all, so those too cheap to buy the full game would be at a disadvantage. I think Random Task’s suggestion for a “quick game” category is an excellent one. I hope it’s not too late to find a business model that reaps the financial success the game deserves. Maybe a better option would be to offer the scallywags at 99 cents instead of free, and continue the current pricing for the additional content. I think dedicated gamers are more than happy to spend the few dollars for extra content, while casual ones are willing to spend 99 cents, but not much more.

  19. Admiral 77 says:

    The comment about the scallywags being too good for the free content is interesting. Perhaps change the team available for free to use players to the feedback ( in my opinion the worst team, at least for my style of play ). Having the cannon as a super unit would definitely be an appealing IAP

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am sad to see that you are struggling financially. About the donation/ flag idea, I am plus one and would probably donate to the highest possible level because you guys are one of my favorite games out there.

  21. ToduBot says:

    I’m super bummed, to say the least, and for some reason, I feel like Outwitters’ lack of financial success is my fault. Maybe if I wrote a better review, or if I religiously promoted the game, or if I went easier on the newbies then the game would have a higher conversion rate. Outwitters is amazing and it deserves to be a financial success. You guys also deserve helicopters. Boat loads of copters.

    I just read the wired article about this, too: http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/10/outwitters-sales-disaster/ . From the comments, I’ve gathered a few reasons why people haven’t bothered with the game:

    – the game is F2P and F2P is evil
    – the game doesn’t run well on older devices (iPad 1, iPhone 4)
    – the file size is too big (240-something MB doesn’t seem like a lot, but on a 16GB phone and with the prices Apple charges for memory, I get this one)
    – the tutorials/gameplay mechanics were confusing (really?!)
    – no AI multiplayer
    – didn’t care for the visual style (ignore these simpletons…)

    I suppose what you might want to do is switch over to a multiplayer setup that is only for paid users. It would further punish freeloaders, but hopefully would also push the conversion rate up. Give them a timeframe before they are cut off then pull the plug. If they complain, tell them that they were lucky to get to play an amazing game _for FREE_ as long as they did. Also, if you guys can’t afford to keep the servers running, they won’t have online multiplayer anyway. Next, optimize the game for older devices or smaller hard-drives. I’m not sure how easy this will be, but I’m guessing it’s easier than making a whole new game. And finally, think about implementing a single player campaign and AI opponents. Again, not sure what this is like from a developer perspective (or what it would add to the file size), but it could mitigate the complaints from people who don’t want to learn from other players and also give the antisocials something to do. I know I would pay extra for a campaign add-on just to give you guys more money.

    I hope this setback doesn’t get you guys down, because I think Outwitters has what it takes to make it big (fingers crossed that the new team boosts conversion). I also sincerely hope that you guys continue to make more games. I paid for Outwitters sight unseen because I love TTL, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t wait until after the sale had ended. I love Outwitters so much that you can already count one sale from me for your next game.

  22. Necrocat219 says:

    Urge I’m so sorry that the game isn’t going well, I thought with the already high success if TTL you would be in profits right now >.< glad your proud of it, and I hope you find a way to hit a good target audience.

    Advertise to chess players? Or some other turn based game players? Risk players? I'm not sure

  23. Chaz says:

    I’m a proud follower, who’s been playing for a while now even well before the initial uber pack price increase. I’m proud to have pitched the game to my bro (who’s now ranked higher than me) and a friend 2 weeks ago who’s catching on very quickly.

    IMO, there isn’t the right options to get users to contribute so far. The most common purchases in F2P MULTIPLAYER games are ones that give advantages (I.e. poker chips, words with friends tips, bejeweled blitz combos, etc.). With Outwitters, the uber pack is more for the sake of adding variety as opposed to actually giving advantageous gameplay. NOTE: I AM NOT SUGGESTING purchases like this should be instilled. Would totally ruin the game. The way to make money is to affect the CONVENIENCE for free players without affecting the gameplay. IMO, unless ur super hardcore, you can easily still get by with a five game limit. I currently am only playing five games (4 games of 2v2 for that matter). Given I’ve played this game so much yet am still addicted but want to slow down the frequency of how often I look at my iPod touch. lol) When I played chess with friends, I only had 2-4 games going. People may not play vast amount of games because they have to remember their previous train of thought. The only purchase I made for chess with friends was removing ads and I believe that would work here too (for freeloaders. Please don’t make me pay for removing ads. I will be rather pissed. Lol, but true). Otherwise, limiting the limit to 2 games/person would also be an option. Honestly, IMO, people are okay with making 2-4 moves/day (avg. 6-8 hours in between moves) because they can be working/in school. Also, in terms of the uber pack I still use scallywags maybe 60% of the time. (Adorables 35%, Feedback 5%) If people who suggest to friends, “just use scallywags. They’re pretty good anyway.” Well, that hurts for you guys. (I haven’t suggested because I like to see my friend slowly become a fanatic enough to purchase it himself, but the previous scenario is very possible.

  24. JackShao says:

    Hi, I wonder if it’s possible to use one iPad as a host, and let other iPads to join the game, so that the server cost can be reduced.

    I wonder if you guys ever heard abt a client called Garena, which I used for several yrs when I was addicted to Warcraft III, a famous real-time strategy game. That client somehow enables the LAN mode in war III for two players over the Internet, uses one pc as the host, and allow other pcs to join the host. I don’t know how that works exactly, nor if apple allows that or if the iOS support that, but I hope this would help. U can even make the game into a real-time game this way!

  25. JackShao says:

    In app Ad is also a good idea, just don’t make it too big that it covers the screen. Add a .99 ad remove purchase and real fans will purchase that for sure(or any purchase removes the ad). Another idea is to port this to pc, I know another strategy game called hero academy, they also has a pc version available on steam. I dunno, but ppl are just weird, if a iPad game sells for 5 bulks, ppl think it’s hell expensive, but for a pc game they think it’s incredibly cheap. galaxy on fire ii pc version sells pretty well for 20 bulks on steam. Also, I think the LAN mode over the Internet with one pc as the host can be realized on pc version. This game is just too good to lose money.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Change the screenshots in the App Store. When I first looked at the game I was not immediately hooked by the screenshots bc I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. It was sort of ambiguous. I downloaded due to the editors choice and it has become my favorite game.

    I suggest showing a couple of pictures zoomed in on the characters showing them in attack mode. Maybe like a soldier swinging his pitchfort at a tank. Or one of the units sending a final blow to the HQ.

    But it has to be an up close picture that clearly defines it is a ‘battle’ game. Not just showing a bunch of tiny hexes on the screen.

    Maybe Adam could create a couple of thematic pictures of the fights. Like the posters he’s made. But for fights.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for the donation/flag idea.

  28. Chris says:

    Just bought the 35-game pack to help (even tho I only keep 15-20 concurrent).

    OML: do you guys need some customer/tech support help with communications or other admin-side help? We all want to help you guys get to profitability and we believe it still isn’t too late. Get some ads into the next release and start monetizing each turn. Then let us know how we can see it through.

    Thanks, Chris (a.k.a. Gurleyman)

  29. Zomus X says:

    When I found this game on the app store, I counted myself lucky 🙂 I can’t resist buying the uber pack; it was probably the designs that got me, because the units have pretty much the same function.

    My advice is to remove the option to play league games when they don’t buy anything. People can still play friendly games, which still gives first-timers a taste of the game, but they won’t get to record their progress with the best team being free. (they will be able to keep profiles, though. When they purchase league games, they can continue where they left off)

    Some of my friends complained that there weren’t enough standard units to play with. I know that this would take more programming, but would it be possible to add a few more units to the game? (you can sell each of these extra units for a price) When a game starts, you can just pick six different units for the game, which you can change next game. Each unit will have a different starting spot on each map, which doesn’t interfere with the starting positions right now.

    I also like alternate base and flag donation idea

  30. Gcastillo1031 says:

    I think, to increase revenue you should charge for the alternate bases and possibly make alternate costumes for teams, charge like a buck for that, and also a good thing to do that I know I would pay for is mode for play where it’s similar to chess where u have a limite number of spawns and the point is to have the last minion standing.

  31. Gcastillo1031 says:

    Also you guys should change the icon to something a little more attractive the current one is a bit bland and doesn’t have much to do with the game

  32. cigumo says:

    Me and one of my business partners have been playing your game for a while and it’s really good. This is what we would do to improve monetization:

    Idea 1: sell game matches.
    In the free version you should always be able to play 3 matches at the same time for free, forever. If you want to play more matches at the same time you have to buy packs of matches:
    – 100 game pack: $0.99
    – 500 game pack $2.99
    – 1000 game pack $4.99
    (The amounts can be different. This is just an example).

    Idea 2: sell a one-per-match pack of 5 wits at $0.99 to the player that started second.

    Good luck!

  33. 2dhh says:

    I’m all in for the donation idea, or giving us new avatars/colors/skins.

    However, I’m not in favor of Todubot’s suggestion: forcing free players to pay or else pull the plug on them. It comes off as cheap.

    Outwitters is the game that I’ve spent most on IAPs (~$7), because I have grown to love the game, and I’ve decided that I’ll be playing this game for the long term. I would gladly donate to you if I get the chance (and a small incentive).

  34. Steve says:

    Just so you know, it was the 5-game limit that pushed me into the store; if you had left it at 10, I wouldn’t have felt the need. It annoyed me, but not too much.

    What if you set a limit at, I dunno, 20 games before requiring a purchase? That would also annoy me, but I spent awhile pretty hooked to this game, and would have given my money even if I didn’t want to.

    I do NOT like the idea of paying per match.

    Sorry that we users are cheap.

  35. Steve says:

    And you absolutely should feel proud. Don’t underestimate the value of entertaining hundreds of thousands of people.

  36. TofuBot says:

    @2dhh To clarify, I wasn’t suggesting that the game be entirely inaccessible, just online multiplayer. Players would still have access to pass-and-play. That may seem unfair, but I stand by my suggestion. Since OML only bought six months of server time, If freeloaders don’t pitch in, they may not have online multiplayer soon anyway.

    @Steve I agree that “pay per match” is a bad idea. Outwitters may be F2P but it doesn’t have the kind of consumable items that make other F2P games so horrible. Forcing people to pay to play for a limited time is exatly the type of nickle and diming that people were railing against in the comments.

  37. RealCato says:

    I love this game – easy to learn but hard to master – and hope you”ll find a way to get the cash to keep you guys going. I think there’s some great ideas in these replies; I don’t think the F2P model is the problem, but the lack of ” added value” for the enthusiast community. And then I don’t mean in-game advantages.

    For instance, just a thought, can you setup an Outwitters replay database which people can access for like 0,79 cents? This doesn’t give a direct advantage in the game, but does give the enthusiasts a way to improve their game by learning from others. Or what about tournaments with small entrance fee but some nice rewards for winners?

    And of course the donation button on website + accompanying sticky forum post is a must!

  38. KaiserAwilum says:

    Hi there! I’ve got the feeling that what I’m going to say is like tears in the rain, but I really hope it’d help.

    First, of course, I love your game. A zero luck game is really awesome and that was the reason why I quit playing angry words.

    Some of the ideas exposed are great, ads, donations, limit the number of free competitive games (That one is the best in my opinion).

    I’d like to talk about user experience here (two users actually myself and my girlfriend). It took me a little to get up to speed with the game, so, limiting the number of games to just a few would have discouraged me. I needed to get really addicted to the game before I paid anything, so to establish that figure I would try to run a statistic about the minimum games people play before they quit or change their win/lose ratio, once your addicted you’ll pay to keep playing.

    I haven’t been able to lure my GF into the game, her reason? is too slow to play, you have to wait for an opponent to answer to keep playing. An IA mode would really help, she plays chess on a daily base maybe also a coach mode also. Maybe afterwards she would engage into competitive mode.

    Keep up the good work guys, try some of the ideas but remain faithful to what made the game awesome.


  39. FrendFace says:

    I think the idea could be a hit, but as it is, the game is more frustrating than fun. I presume that’s why sales have been slow.

    The game needs polish to enthuse buyers, especially at $3 to $6.50.

    Players move painfully slowly or forfeit due to the excessive timeout if they don’t feel like they are winning. That’s not fun, with 5 simultaneous games, and 20 or 35 would just amplify the problem, so why buy it? You should agree on time limits at the start of a game. 2 minutes to 24 hours between moves makes sense, but 5 days is ridiculous.

    Get the gameplay right and you’ll make a fortune at 99c.

    I can’t believe you have already invested 3.5 man years into this, but if so, you’d be crazy to not to maximise your return by polishing it up.

  40. Outwitters will outperform says:

    Sad to hear, but heads up! I strongly believe in a bright future and a super ‘long-tail’ for this superb game! Find a way to get your server costs covered and let it run!

    Maybe we should all have to buy our wits in bulk? Did I just suggest that? Man I paid for uber and game limit already! But never the less, yeah I would be willing to buy wits if I must…

  41. Outwitters will outperform says says:

    More ideas that would not change the game structure.

    – Change the icon to feature the green tinted feedback soldier
    – update itunes game description
    – has a steep learning curve initially, maybe feature a button to replay “classic” games to watch and learn.
    – Free players get all teams but should not be able to build special units. (You anyways need more than the initial experience to use them properly). That would be less of a turn off than being stuck waiting with 5 games that seem to never advance.
    – Free players should be able to play league games to get a taste but will not be placed in leagues before buying “anything”.
    – Your first 1000(?) wits are free, then you have to buy them in bulk to cover server costs
    – Everyone should start out in “Fluffy”, after all its fun to win before it gets more difficult. However one should be able to advance faster. Why should I be able to get placed in gifted right away, only to then lose & lose interest. Why should I need more than 100 league wins to work my way up to gifted if I happen to start in fluffy after botched placement matches?

  42. Bob builder says:

    I’m so sorry guys! Outfitters is one of the only free games I bought something in precisely because of the model! I really hope things turn around D:

  43. Raz says:

    Sorry to hear about the low numbers.

    Here are some suggestions:
    1. I was surprised at how similar the teams are, if the different teams had more than just one different unit, people would be more tempted to buy them, look to Hero Academy.
    2. Instead of releasing a new team, try releasing a “bonus unit” pack for existing teams. The extra units can only be bought if you buy an expansion pack and allow that team some new extra units. I would make some of these low cost and mid-cost so that they are usable in fast skirmishes.
    3. Add more pay-options, like custom skins, custom colors, custom avatars etc. players who want to support your game need more options to give you money.
    4. If a player hasn’t bought anything, let them see some ads. 500,000 players will generate some real ad-impressions. You could also hide the ads from a person for a short while if they click one of them. (To encourage visiting the sites promoted)

  44. Ezk99 says:

    Sorry for my bad english, I.m from argentina, seriusly sorry for the bad economical time. I buy the adorables pack and now i wanna buy the 35 gameplay packs, only I wanna say if peopple of around the word buy one pack the numbers of your bucinnes must channge! i hate aplicatio how example smurff is 0 idea of game conceptual and only is pay and pay and pay…. You must copy some off this, but not so much, I deserve good look for the proyect, bye!

  45. AJ says:

    Make league-play an IAP, and advertise for purchase after free matches (loved your TTL loading comments). The soundtrack could be linked from within the game (iTunes store would be great, because we’re to lazy using creditcards and propper flac downloads).

  46. dabarKO says:

    Consumables that add the same thing to both players might work, and become part of strategy rather than unfair advantage.

    Extra wit, turn rollback, things like that. If given to both players when one player uses it. Maybe it could work. Also 5 games did not motivate me to buy expansion, I don’t think. Do 1 game free, or entirely switch to paid only perhaps.

    All the best. Thanks for the fun game.

  47. Seb says:

    The purchase options just don’t make sense. You have three teams but they are identical except for a unit that, if you are lucky, you might use once every five to ten games.

    So you can spend zero dollars and get a functional team, or 3$ and buy another team that is in early all matches, identical.

    It makes no sense.

    You need to add more unique units to the other teams, with costs that are low enough they can be bought in skirmishes, or very few people will bother with buying any new teams.

    The fluffy team could have a unit like a bunny that can hop over enemies (like a knight) and another special unit that maybe heals all adjacent units instead of just 1.

    Robots could get a long range gun that does only 1 or 2 damage, and a heavy cutting machine that pushes back units it hits in close combat.

    The fish men could get a unit that has some kind of wave power or a hook to pull towards you a unit, and perhaps a blowfish that does damage (explodes?) when attacked back to its attacker.

    These new units should be around 2 to 5 cost so that they are easily accessible in every match.

    If you make them only available when you buy, and each team now has REAL uniqueness, not cop out uniqueness, then you might actually start to get some real sales.

  48. Gerard says:

    So make free version 1 game max. Perhaps 2 let people play 5 after purcasing something 10 after buying ueberpack and 35 after spending 3.99 dollars still free to play, now people will buy more.

  49. Alex Price says:

    I’ve spent $10 on this app… That is more than I have spent on all app purchases thus far.

    You are awful at finances and you write some dumb article to get others to feel sorry for you. If you don’t like it, get another job.

  50. Alan Priceless says:

    First of all, the point wasn’t for the authors to garner sympathy. The point was clearly to raise an interesting discussion about some of the challenges of reaping financial success on the app store. Tilt to Live was an immensely successful game, so they aren’t “awful at finances”. Outwitters is an interesting case, because it’s a game that received critical acclaim as well as direct promotion from Apple, but hasn’t been financially successful to date. I think this thread and the article from Wired were very informative and can serve as a valuable learning experience for app developers.

  51. Alex Price says:

    Your telling me they are not making money from posting this article?

  52. Chris says:

    I’m totally addicted to this game, and regularly run up against the 35-game limit, and have purchased everything there is to be purchased in this game.

    I have more money I’d be happy to drop on my favorite iOS game, which you won’t let me play as often as I’d like to. You guys don’t have enough money.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  53. Chris says:

    As long as we’re on the topic of constructive criticism… why not change your robots.txt which currently prevents you from being found on Google?

  54. Adam says:

    @Chris: Thanks for bringing that up, actually. Didn’t realize that thign was still active.

  55. Sean says:

    I honestly believe that the single packs are too expensive. THe Uber pack is a great price however…especially if you get everything that has and will be released.

  56. Jeff says:

    @sean -single packs too expensive? Give me a break. The teams would easily be worth $10-$15 each. The time spend and the fun I experience on this game, way exceeds the $60 I spent on several console games. The App Store has spoiled people rotten

  57. Elsie says:

    It’s a great game! Everyone should buy something! It’s fantastic to have a game that doesnt always need money to continue as most other games.

  58. Anonymous says:

    @Jeff- definitely not worth $10 for one skin and one special unit when the majority of gameplay is the same no matter which team you use and you can play it for free. I would suggest making any special unit available with any team skin for a price- this would mean a cuddly version of bombshell and a tech version of Mobi etc- and then making the special units available for purchase for 1.99 and the skins available for .99. (you would of course only be able to pick one special unit per fight)

    This way those who haven’t bought anything don’t have a special unit and have more incentive to buy. Also, those of us like me who like a particular skin but would prefer to stick with the bombshell unit can still enjoy our purchase. (you might even consider a .99 upgrade from 5 to 10 games and, as has been suggested, use advertising for anyone who has not bought anything)

  59. Hliljegren says:

    I agree with @anonymous that you should add a little bit more “extras” to the units you can buy. E.g if the adorables medic could move two steps instead of one, you get a small advantage in the gameplay and I believe more would buy the new teams.

    That would of course make it nearly impossible to get to the higher leagues without buying but I still think it would be fair.

    Currently there is IMHO to less to gain by buying…

    I give my cudos to your attempt to get an equal gameplay but in the hard world of economics nothing is equal…

  60. Johehan says:

    Buying advantages in the game would ruin the game in my opinion, I know I would quit playing if that happened. Its like allowing a chessplayer two qeens if they pay extra. That said, there definitely needs to be more stuff to spend money on! I am superexcited about the new team, but I already baught the überpack so… Skins for bases/armies would be fine! And I also like the idea of unlockng the special units for all teams! Would be very cool to combine my favorite team with my favorite special into a feedback mobi!

  61. Alex Price says:

    Totally not the quality or number of man hours of $60 console games. If the App Store was so spoiled it wouldn’t exist… Or slow down.

  62. Zach says:

    You know what would make you guys a lot of money? Releasing your game on Android. Especially Tilt to Live; I’ve tried the clones on Android but they can’t compare. The dev kit gets better every year, and piracy can be prevented using APIs that Google provides developers.


    Nothing, not even your excellent games, can bring me back to Apple’s walled garden, so my only hope is to hope you to eventually break out of it yourself.

    Please, I hope you’ll consider it.

  63. Adam says:

    @Zach: We do have ambitions to branch out at some point. When and on what platforms, we won’t know until it’s in production.

    If you like our stuff, you can sign up for our mailing list at the link below. We don’t use it a lot, just when we have a new game or a major update out. Maybe you’ll get one that says Android next year.


  64. Andrea says:

    It’s a shame you are not making as much money as you expected. You have a great game here. To me the skins add very little, I thought about buying simply because I liked the game and wanted you to get something out of it as I think you deserve it. Some other user mentioned the single skins are too expensive and I agree with him. What I mean is that the price of the single upgrades is too close to the uber update. You either need to differentiate or just sell the uber update. We won’t go broke for 5 dollars. You know the breakdowns of sales, so you prob already know better than me 🙂

    Another thing is what you are selling. I LOVE that all the gameplay is free, what I would pay for is extra maps, rather than character skins.
    Run a survey maybe among users, see what users are asking the most and make that commercial 🙂
    PLEASE no help for money, that ruins the purpose of a strategy game, IMHO.

    Thanks for a great game.

  65. Joebobjoe says:

    I know this will sound a bit cliched bit perhaps you guys could do a kickstarter. Present it as a we need this much to keep servers running and development ongoing. I would say start at around 250k goal. Rewards could be stuff like beta acess, an exclusive fort, votes on upcoming teams, current teams and packs at discounts and enshrinement in a secondary part of the credits. I would happily pitch in 10 dollars if it meant that outwitters could stay alive with updates. Stretch goals would where it would get interesting with possible new maps. Also part of the problem with the current IAPs is that the teams are skins and one new unit and the max games boost mostly affects people who play many games at once(I have the former having picked up the über pack during launch sale but not the latter being the sort of person who plays only a few games at once. The other things that really gets my approval is that this is a pure strategy game and the face to face multiplayer that is missing in other games quite frequently of late. I apologize if this winds up being an incoherent wall of text it is currently 1:45 where I am and I have been having trouble sleeping of late.

  66. Nazo Sislian says:

    Hey there,

    I know that my point of view will not appeal to most people here, but personally, I feel like Outwitters lacks the additive appeal that your 1st game had.

    I downloaded and purchased all packs, but I just don’t see myself getting hooked on it like I did with Hero Academy.

    Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not the most intuitive game to grasp and play that’s behind the slow sales….

    There, I said it!

  67. Mike G. says:

    I for one absolutely love the game and would pay for the countless hours I’ve enjoyed playing it.

    Would apple allow you to add a donate option among the in-app purchases? I hate to hear that you’re loosing money on an excellent and popular product like this. I’d gladly pay $20 for this game.

  68. Adam says:

    @Mike: Our game soundtracks (link below) are pay what you want. You really don’t owe us any more than our game’s asking price, but that’s basically the OML donate button.


  69. BigZ says:

    I for one found this thread when trying to figure out how to purchase maps in game. The store needs to be reworked. Dump the individual teams, only sell the uberpack of teams, then either clarify that maps come with the uberpack or sell them separately.

    Consider locking the unpaid players out of new maps.

    FWIW, I have been enjoying the game but do not see value in paying for new teams/maps when the teams do not seem different than the free one other than graphics/animations and i get the maps in multi anyway. After reading about the business model failure I just went and bought everything.

    Keep up the good work on the games and keep learning the biz side.

  70. Even though you dont have alot of captial from this release,what you do have is a loyal fanbase and the consumer capital that comes with it.I bought the uber pack and even at 4 bucks your game holds a lot of replay value. I for one will be watching for your releases for a while. Glu and other freemium companies may have made a lot of money off there bussiness model but long term it want last. I actually thought some of those games were pretty good but anytime I see something new from them I avoid it because I know I am going to get ripped off. Forcing consumers to buy or players to wait an hour before they can play just turns players into players of another game. I actually would play outwitters in between rounds of let’s golf 3 until I just got tired of waiting and deleted their app.

  71. Zak says:

    No business advice here, just a little heart-gushing from an über-pack owner: I’m not a typical gamer, but Outwitters has me checking my phone way more often than I should, waiting for my next move. I had a really shitty autumn (bad things happen in threes, right?), and spent a month backpacking solo through Ecuador to try and recover from it all. Outwitters kept me willfully grounded, pleasantly distracted, and connected to my friends back home through 2v2 game chat boxes. You’ve done more than make a simple video game. Just wanted to say thanks 🙂

    That being said, if you guys ever launch a Kickstarter, put me on the list of supporters. I’d be happy to pitch in.

  72. jacs says:

    Outwitters is a good game. It completely trashes any turn based chess related type of games. Free loaders out there, just put in a few bucks and support this game. Keep this game free. Keeping it free is a good first step. Now you can think of how to rake in the $ to support the development of this game.

  73. Gavin says:

    Ever thought of “pay to play” tournaments with cash prizes to the winner? House takes a cut of the pot. Allows you to keep the game free for the masses yet gets serious players involved in serious games. Not too sure the legality, probably need a lawyer. It’s not a game of chance though so I wouldn’t consider it gambling. More like a small group of golfers getting together for a winner take all match. Could probably even sell sponsors for the tournaments if you did them on the regular.

    Hope you’re able to work things out. The game is fantastic. Even if you’re not succeeding financially, you really did create a masterpiece.

  74. Craig says:

    You have a great game with a large user base. If you capped non-paying users to a single game at a time, I am confident they would purchase the über pack just to play more…

  75. Anonymous says:

    Just put ads on the free one

  76. Jliu714 says:

    Read the article and it sounds pretty bad. I figured out that if you charge $1, you’ll make an extra $50,000 per 500,000 customers. Your game is THE BEST. I don’t understand how this could’ve happened, best wishes though.

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