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Corona Starter And Changes To Pro - Discuss!
Started by DavidRangel Apr 05 2013 08:08 AM

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#1

DavidRangel

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There have been a huge number of posts on the blog post and it's getting too hard to read/follow. So I'm creating this thread to continue the discussion. Feel free to post here and we will do our best to reply.

 

One last thing: we know there will be people that don't like it. That is truly inevitable. But we do think that this is a move that benefits indies, professional developers and the company (we are a business after all!). 

 

But we have a policy of open and frank discussion, so go ahead!



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#2

BeyondtheTech

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I'm sure you thought over the numbers with the team.  Not sure if you have to answer to a higher power, such as investors.

 

I would have opted for Starter Kit with Corona splash screen or positionable watermark upon first load for free, $99/year for the Starter Kit with no splash screen/watermark, $399/year for the Pro, and $999/year for the Enterprise.  I so much want Corona to continue to grow in both the SDK and its developer userbase, so giving the Starter Kit for free without having any sort of nod to how that app was made won't help us (meaning Corona), only the developer who might not care for in-app purchases, analytics, or plug-ins.

 

I came from iTorque 2D and GameSalad.  Around the time I stopped using GS, I saw them going "free" as well, with very limited options and their "pro" package was at $299.  Their free version doesn't require a splash screen, but - if I may be frank - the entire platform is quite limited overall as to what can be done, compared to Corona.  Even with just our Starter Kit, one can create full-blown apps and games that have camera / microphone (working?) access, Game Center support, Android publishing, social networking integration, and full-on internet, local network, and multiplayer capability - whether its Corona Cloud, NoobHub, AutoLAN, PubNub, and HTTP post/get, FTP access, handling RSS feeds, 2D skeletal animation with Spine and Spriter, and many more of which are free or premium Lua modules that people have posted - and I know I'm missing a lot more of the top of my head... but, that's a lot to give away for free without anything in return, and hoping they'll edge up (a big edge up!) to Pro.

 

Even if Joe Schmo created a fantastic app with the Corona Starter Kit and put it out there for free or $0.99 and it's a hit, you'll have tens of thousands, if not millions, using a known Corona app, and that could pick up additional subscriptions when people realize what they could really do inside Corona.  Consequently, I remember the time when people saw the GameSalad splash screen upon launch of a new download, it was immediately trashed by game website blogs and in App Store reviews.  That's because the developers using GS couldn't do anything more than "taptard" games.  But, such is so not the case with Corona apps.  You really can create professional and even native-looking apps and games, and no one might ever suspect it wasn't written in native Objective-C or Java.

 

Now, that $599/year for Pro might be quite a lean over the mark for Indies who want to dabble in the additional features and have access to plug-ins.  I will anticipate that Gluon plugins that Enterprise developers create for the community will more likely be sold rather than given, and I'm not sure if Gluon plug-ins prices will be one-offs or subscription prices in and of themselves. So, with every Gluon plugin they want, they'll already be inching closer to the Enterprise mark ever so quickly.  Having the Pro closer to the middle at $399-499/year will make it more palatable.  As I stated in previous threads, I have no stomach right now to grasp Objective-C, so I'll probably never bother with buying Enterprise, but you can be sure I'll be getting every worthy Corona Gluon plugin available.

 

People might not like this particular idea, but I'd even go so far as to break it down and return the option of one platform for free/$99/$249/year for Starter with SplashStarter / Pro for iOS / OS X (wink wink), free/$199/$349/year for Starter with SplashStarter / Pro for Android (let's be honest it, it's harder for Corona Labs and us to develop with all of Android's stupid fragmentation), and $499/year for Pro for all platforms.

 

That's my 2 cents.



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#3

ChunkyApps

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As an app developer who had 3 games in the App Store made with Corona, I would like to share my experience…

 

My first app was put in the Apple Store at 99¢. A few hundred sold but that was about it. I made an Android version and I sold about 20! So I decided to scrap Android development and stick with only Apple.

 

As a new developer, I only got that one app out in the year. So I paid Corona $350 and Apple $100 and never made back my initial investment.

My next app was put in the Apple Store at $1.99. I sold about 80 or so. Dropped to 99¢ and sold a bit more. Dropped to free and I got 10-20 downloads a day. I added RevMob and made some money with that. So now I paid Corona $150 for the Indie Dev License and Apple $100. To me, that was acceptable. I didn’t make much if anything but I learned quite a bit.

 

My 3rd game was done with In-App Purchases because I feel this is about the ONLY way an indie developer is going to make money. It might have worked, but Apple removed my game because they felt the content wasn’t suitable (which is a whole other story). The game was ROIDS, a somewhat gross take on Asteroids but by no means profane.

 

So based on my experience, I only want to develop for iOS. Even charging 99¢ will prevent people from buying an unknown developer’s app. Free 2 Play is the new standard and just for that one feature, I now will have to pay $349 and then $600. As an individual developer, I cannot afford it. Corona is effectively pricing people like me out of the market.

 

I wish I could just pay you $150 for the IAP functionality. In the comments of the blog, David Rangel stated IAP is “…a reasonable way for us to separate true hobbyists from more advanced developers”. I would argue it is the ONLY way for a small developer to make any substantial money at all. I was able to implement it and I am by no means an advanced programmer. I just knew I’d better learn it or stop making apps because I would make no money.

 

Many Corona devs create apps that give a little and then use IAP to open up the full app. Take away this feature and nobody can “try it before buying it”. Also, I believe the current model that works is to make the game free and allow your users to spend money inside the app if they want to. Whether that be for power ups, saving time leveling up a character, new costumes/characters, etc. 

 

Basically, to compete in this market you need IAP. Without that one thing, even Corona for free is worthless. Spend months developing an app, put it at 99¢ and watch nobody buy it. Again, if I could pay for that one feature I would... this is a HUGE feature to take away.



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#4

florca

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The difference from Starter to Pro is going to be:

 

- Monetization (IAP)

- Plugins

- Daily Builds

 

I would like to buy Pro just for IAP, so it would be cool to buy each part by separate.

 

For example:

 

- $200 to be able of use monetization (IAP) with the free version.

- $200 to be able of use plugins with the free version.

- $200 to access daily builds with the free version.

 

My point of view is that users just want to pay for what they are going to use!  :P



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#5

CraftyDeano

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Basically, to compete in this market you need IAP. Without that one thing, even Corona for free is worthless.

 

Here are a few little stats I've just looked at:

  • 64/100 apps in the UK paid charts games
  • 24/100 apps in the UK paid charts are game by indie developers.

When 1/4 of games in the paid charts are by indies, I wouldn't call Corona starter worthless. I know many other developers will both agree and disagree, we all have different philosophies at the end of the day.

I remember hearing about Roids though, shame Apple pulled it :(

 

If your so sure that IAP's will bring in the success you think it will, i'm sure the $600 (or currently $349) is worth it. However if it isn't, you haven't lost anything by being on the free plan? 



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#6

DavidRangel

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Another point - I can think of a lot of indies that have been very successful with just ads or up front payment. Specifically Joe Kauffman comes to mind. He has no ads and no IAP in his apps, but he has sold millions of downloads.

 

Yes, many of the bigger studios have moved to IAPs. But doing IAPs effectively requires a lot of iteration and optimization. Not many true indies (1-2 person teams) do it well. And if they do it well, then they have a good chance of being successful.



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#7

russm305

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I don't think is good for Indies.  I just learned IAP and was going to have a pay wall on my upcoming iOS game.  Just got it implemented yesterday as a matter of fact.  Was planning on buying the indie license for $199 when I was ready to publish.  Now I have 25 days to come up with $350 for a license(which I dont have) or else I will have to pay $600 to publish my iOS game.  I wish there was more of a heads up on this I really feel like I'm getting screwed.



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#8

ChunkyApps

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Hi CraftyDeano, you are correct that I should not say "worthless". I definitely take that back.

 

To answer your question, If I WAS sure IAP would bring me success, I would happily dish out $600. However, I am not sure at all.

 

That's why I'm saddened by Corona's decision. At $200, I'll take the gamble. At $349 or $600, I probably cannot afford to gamble and lose.

 

What I do know is at 99¢ I was getting 0 downloads. The same app moved to free got 10 – 20 downloads per day. IAP could potentially help me make money from those free downloads.



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#9

CraftyDeano

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The same app moved to free got 10 – 20 downloads per day. IAP could potentially help me make money from those free downloads.

 

The conversion rate for users to IAP purchases are very very low. 

 

My first app, granted it is a very rough app, I done little to no promotion on it and its only goal was for me to showcase my first app in the iOS app store and get experience of itunes connect, etc. Anyway, its Decider (link in my sig) and gets around 10 downloads a day. Currently 1744 downloads since September. 

  • How much ad revenue has it made? Less than $5 a month via RevMob
  • How many IAP's were purchased to remove Ad's? 5 (and one of them was a mate!)


My other app Joke Shake was free + IAP for extra joke packs for a 3 months. I had around 1500 downloads in 3 months


any people have purchased the remove ad IAP? 5 (and one of them was a friend!)

  • How much ad revenue did it make? around $20 via RevMob
  • How many iAP's were purchased? 19 (4 of them was a mate, 2 were me)

After 3 months and no real return, I changed Joke Shake from free to paid with everything unlocked. It made $15 in 3 weeks. A lot less downloads but the same money in a much shorter period. 
 

If you get around 500 downloads p/m I would estimate less than 10 IAP's in the monthly period. 

 

Of course it depends on the game and what the IAPs are used for, how well they are implemented and relied on (currency, vs level unlocks, vs ad removal, etc...)

 

If your apps have not done too well on your sales expectations, without causing offence, maybe it was the app quality, features, app store optimisation or (lack of?) marketing/PR to blame? I've learnt in the past year that creating an app is easy. Creating a pristine app that is fully optimised and marketed/PR'ed well is not. 

 

With every app I have released (I'm currently on my 4th on iOS, 5th & 6th are due to be released very very soon) I have had more downloads than the previous and more revenue in sales & ad's in the free/lite versions

 

I'll end this post with a few words wise man once told me, 'if you're good at something, never do it for free'.



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#10

DavidRangel

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Dean is right. Even very successful apps, that are very highly optimized (e.g., something like Clash of Clans) see single digit IAP conversion rates. So if you are seeing very few downloads, IAP will not be the best way to make money on them. 

 

I don't say this at all to discourage you. This whole app business is a long process and the vast majority of developers take some time to ramp up to where they are seeing a good number of downloads and revenue. There is no silver bullet to monetization - with ads people complain about low fill rates/eCPMS, with up front cost people complain about low purchases and with IAP people complain about low conversion rates. We think Starter is a great way for indies to get a good app published and hopefully monetized as they build up their audience and then move to Pro.



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#11

pbligh

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Hello,

 

I have been a developer with Pro subscription for over a year now, just recently renewed. 

I am happy to hear about the pricing insulation for Pro developers (we get two years at the original price.)

 

It is concerning to me to read that Corona did not offer a two year insulation to Indie developers as well.

Yes, they do get a free upgrade to pro, but they don't get to conduct "business as usual" for the next two years like Pro developers.

 

In fact they will be feeling the monetary impact of this change at their next renewal. In the best case scenario this is next year and the worse case is  May 1, 2013.  After that point any Indie Developer who has created an app with in app purchases will now be forced to pay the extra (350 Pro - 200 indie) = 150?. (this includes people who are updating released apps and those about to publish their finished products). 

 

So my suggestion is to insulate the current Indie developers at the original price for two years, just like the Pro developers. They get access to features at a reduced price just like us.



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#12

CraftyDeano

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Here is a good article on Punch Quest which is one I remember very well - It had 600,000+ downloads and failed to bring in a profit through its freemium model, causing the devs to do a complete u-turn post launch and change it into a paid app.

 

http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/31/3577838/punch-quest-iphone-game-struggle



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#13

CraftyDeano

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So my suggestion is to insulate the current Indie developers at the original price for two years, just like the Pro developers. They get access to features at a reduced price just like us.

 

 

 

I was an iOS indie, now Pro because the indie plan is no more. While I will miss the $199 plan and price (which I would have resubscribed too) I'm 90% sure I'll resub at $349.

 

Instead of being angry at the lack of an iOS only plan that I was on, I have chosen to embrace it. In the past 5 hours I have amended my latest 2 apps to work on Android/Amazon phones & tablets. Redone some art work, learnt some of the android basics and now hopefully should release on Google Play & Amazon very very soon after I get a few friends to beta test for me. 



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#14

ChunkyApps

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I really do not wish to make this post a Free 2 Play pros/cons argument.

 

I am just saying that devs such as myself (and it seems florca above) would love the option to have IAP without having to go pro level. We liked the Indie Dev plan because we only desired to publish to iOS and use the IAPs. Corona is taking this option off the table.



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#15

wyldkard

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I'm not sure if Gluon plug-ins prices will be one-offs or subscription prices in and of themselves.

 

Can someone from Corona answer this? If Gluon plug-ins will cost money _on top of_ the existing price hike, it's only making matters worse small devs.

 

Another point - I can think of a lot of indies that have been very successful with just ads or up front payment. Specifically Joe Kauffman comes to mind. He has no ads and no IAP in his apps, but he has sold millions of downloads.

 

Yes, many of the bigger studios have moved to IAPs. But doing IAPs effectively requires a lot of iteration and optimization. Not many true indies (1-2 person teams) do it well. And if they do it well, then they have a good chance of being successful.

 

This what I don't get, David. You're citing a developer who is getting millions of sales, so that's exactly the type of paying customer you should want. Instead, you're arguing that he should be able to get by with a _free_ license, while hobbyists who want additional features (like IAP) and who _don't_ get millions of downloads should pay $350-$600. Doesn't that seem sort of backwards? Customers who are making good money should be paying to use Corona, while customers who _aren't_ making money should not be paying as much. Seeing as Corona has analytics built in, why isn't that being leveraged to charge users accordingly? 



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#16

ChunkyApps

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This what I don't get, David. You're citing a developer who is getting millions of sales, so that's exactly the type of paying customer you should want. Instead, you're arguing that he should be able to get by with a _free_ license, while hobbyists who want additional features (like IAP) and who _don't_ get millions of downloads should pay $350-$600. Doesn't that seem sort of backwards? Customers who are making good money should be paying to use Corona, while customers who _aren't_ making money should not be paying as much. Seeing as Corona has analytics built in, why isn't that being leveraged to charge users accordingly? 

 

Wow, you made the point better than I ever could have. I agree 100%.



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#17

DavidRangel

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WyldKard - good questions. 

 

1) Plugins - it is likely there will be all type of plugins (eventually). Some will be free since the service provider wants you to use the plugin to access their service (e.g., for monetization). Some will be charged for - and within those it could be a single up front payment (e.g., some functionality that won't change, perhaps something like QR Codes) and some may be a subscription (e.g, functionality that will need to be updated regularly over time). That is how envision the marketplace.

 

2) Monetization - yes, like any business, we want to make sure that if the developer using our tools makes money, we also make money. That's the whole point. So you are 100% right there. That means that we (CL) have to decide how to "price discriminate". The term doesn't sound friendly, but that's what everyone does. The thought process is then as follows:

- what features are *usually* (there is no *always*) used by more sophisticated developers (e.g., studios)?

- by identifying one or two of those features and putting them into Pro then we can try to make money (deservedly) when someone uses our tool to make a lot of money

- by putting everything else in Starter, we enable people to publish and hopefully be successful, and then hopefully by Pro

 

That is why IAP is in Pro and not Starter.

 

And we feel that still leaves room for Starter users to make some (and hopefully lots) of money via ads and by charging for the apps. I mention Joe as an example of a developer using just the latter and being very successful to show it is possible. There are also many people making lots of money with ads. 

 

Now, given what I said above, wouldn't we (CL) want to also restrict ads to Pro and not allow Starter users to charge for their apps? Sure - if we wanted to extract all value possible. But that wouldn't be good business either. We want indies using Starter to have a real chance at success. Both because we like Indies and want to encourage them, but also because if they are successful, they will upgrade to Pro and we will then also make money.

 

The key is that there is never a completely clean way to price discriminate. But this is our best shot at it, while still fostering a vibrant indie community.

 

As it stands today, I bet way more than 50% of the apps that have been made with Corona are doable with Starter.



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#18

nick_sherman

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The bottom line is, you need to generate hundreds or thousands of downloads per day to make some serious money. Having or not having IAP implemented in your app when it first launches is not going to make any difference to your ability to generate those downloads.

 

You have everything you need with the starter package to do that - the sticking point will be getting visibility for your app.

 

Free-to-paid IAP conversion is between 1-3% on our apps, and as I suggested on the other thread, if you are generating enough downloads to make missing out on 1-3% IAP conversion a big deal, then you can probably fund your Corona license through ad revenue (particularly Revmob).



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#19

ChunkyApps

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The bottom line is, you need to generate hundreds or thousands of downloads per day to make some serious money. Having or not having IAP implemented in your app when it first launches is not going to make any difference to your ability to generate those downloads.

 

Not true. If you have IAP, you can make your app free which is sure to get more downloads than a paid app. Again, I am not talking about converting someone from a free app to pay to "open the rest of the app"

 

I am talking about the specific ability to add purchaseable characters and items to a game. Think Jetpack Joyride. A free game but you can buy costumes, hats, upgrades, etc. That is the type of game I am talking about.

 

The thinking is people can get your game for free which removes any barriers to them trying the game. If they like it, they can buy these things to make it even more fun. I am NOT talking about Free to paid conversion. I agree with you that free to paid conversion doesn't really work unless you have massive amounts of downloads but that is not what I am talking about here.

 

And again, I am just saying that people would be willing to pay the $200 for IAP alone so why not make it available to us in a a la carte sort of way?



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#20

undecode

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Only good part about Starter is that new people won't have to pay even 1 dollar to release their apps, since IAP isn't used by new developers, and its used more for companies and good developers or at least developers with some kind of experience in the matter, if not they fail miserably.

 

So, since we have to pay $600 per year ($250 more than we used to pay), I think you guys should start focusing more on Pro users, maybe some kind of core-able code for developing our own plugins, just not full featured like enterprise. Also, since we can install corona in just 2 PCS as Pro users, enterprise users should be able to install it on more PC's and thats usually why companies pay more for the same program, but they are able to use it in a bunch of pcs and make a team work together.

 

If you guys made it so enterprise users can make plugins in java/objective-c, why we can't use such wonderful feature? That's what i don't get. I'd be more than happy paying $600 (expensive but still) with that.

 

Just my 2 cents.



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#21

nick_sherman

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Not true. If you have IAP, you can make your app free which is sure to get more downloads than a paid app. Again, I am not talking about converting someone from a free app to pay to "open the rest of the app"

 

I am talking about the specific ability to add purchaseable characters and items to a game. Think Jetpack Joyride. A free game but you can buy costumes, hats, upgrades, etc. That is the type of game I am talking about.

 

The thinking is people can get your game for free which removes any barriers to them trying the game. If they like it, they can buy these things to make it even more fun. I am NOT talking about Free to paid conversion. I agree with you that free to paid conversion doesn't really work unless you have massive amounts of downloads but that is not what I am talking about here.

 

And again, I am just saying that people would be willing to pay the $200 for IAP alone so why not make it available to us in a a la carte sort of way?

 

If you're not getting those sorts of download figures (and I'm talking about free, ad-supported downloads), you're not going to make anything with add-on IAPs anyway....the conversion rate for add-ons is probably less than 1% in my experience. If the game isn't fun in its own right without the add-ons then it won't be a success anyway.

 

Your suggestion for a $200 bolt-on is fair enough, but then pro subscribers aren't getting a whole lot for their extra $400...



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#22

LairdGames

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Great conversation! Thanks David for making it one stop place.

 

My take:

 

1- I am satisfied that I can renew at $349 for two more years. Coming from indie licence it was always my idea to eventually switch to "pro" at one point (really just of matter of having time to sit down and learn about Android) It just happening sooner now (and for free until August!)

 

2- Yes, I think it will have been better to first introduce the new "goodies" in store (shaders....) before increasing the price. Let current suscribers (indie and Pro) play with it first.  I think it would have been easier to convince people that it is worth it. Then maybe give couple months advance notice to people than in order to get the goodies they will need to pay more for them. Of course I can see the issue where the people would say "wait a minute, I am now asked to pay more for things that I am already playing with...?" Not sure how to resolve this other than say "listen, do not use these new goodies unless you are willing to pay more in 3 months!" In 2-3 months, they can decide if the new goodies is worth it and if not drop to "starter"

 

3- App visibility is the critical factor for app success. 

 

Anyway, this is just a little rambling of the day!

 

Mo



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#23

undecode

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If they company wants to earn lets say.. 1M per year and starter is totally free, they will raise indie-pro-enterprise-whateverproductpeoplepayfor because actually its the way they get paid. So, like i said before, i'm sure the current "starter" guys are willing to pay at least 100usd for starter version and that'd amortize pro subscription a little bit (600 is too pricy unless we are able to manipule at least basic java/objective-c code).



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#24

richard9

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Speaking just for myself as a longtime Corona user and forum loudmouth over the past year...

 

The Positive: I think the Free option is great. I have plenty of friends who will say to ship nothing but IAP, but the bottom line is that if I'm a young coder without a C# or networking background, the struggle is just to make a game, not go into advanced monetization. Having Corona's robust library and the ability to publish sans-splash is a great step while revenues are low.

 

The Negative: As it stands, I'm probably downgrading to free at my next cycle. For me the whole point of subscribing was Daily Builds, simply because there is just too much work left for Corona Labs to do on the engineering side. On widgets alone Daily Builds access was the difference between me giving a lot of feedback and bug reports, and me being silent about the whole thing because I'd be waiting on a Public Build 6 months away. This isn't the end of the world - I mean, as of yesterday the latest build was the latest public build - so the playing field is even. But long term, it means I can't give Corona that same level of feedback because I just won't be playing with the latest iteration anymore.



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#25

stan8

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stan8
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  • 139 posts
  • Corona SDK

Maurício Gomes from Kidoteca here (www.kidoteca.com)

 

We are already paying the Pro license.

 

But I am wanting to know why the price got suddenly a lot higher, without any new proper features for Pro. It is not like you have more seats or if Gluon or the new graphics engine is really working.

 

Sorry, but to me this is more like a quick cash grab.

 

If you had released features (that I could test even!) and then had said the price is higher, then probably I would happily pay if they are worth it, but right now I feel you are charging for a promise, it is like a Kickstarter, it is throwing money into something you don't know if it will work or not.

 

Maurício Gomes




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