Idealistic free-to-play developers Flippfly had to face reality when their app, Monkey Drum got great ratings but generated little cash: you need to leave them wanting more.
"Our thinking with Monkey Drum went something like this: 'If a good conversion rate is something like 1-3 percent, maybe we can achieve that by delighting our users into wanting to give us more,'" writes Aaron San Filippo, co-founder of Flippfly.
Turns out, not so much.
"The more we look at effective F2P design and contrasted it with our app, the more we realize that this doesn't work in reality. Your users need to love your app -- but you need to leave them wanting more."
"To date the app has been downloaded over by over 80,000 users, and has a 4.5-star rating. Users love it," writes San Filippo.
On the other hand, he writes, "the conversion rate was pathetic, and the average revenue per paying user was low enough that despite its decent download numbers and great review scores, we had achieved less than $500 in revenue after several months."
San Filippo writes of the company's overarching "determination not to be evil", which led the developers to make everything unlockable with a virtual currency users could earn as well as purchase. This didn't work out well: "it turns out that most of our audience really enjoys the process of playing the instruments and unlocking these."
In short, the developers made the mistake of letting players unlock it all, and didn't ever steer them towards spending money.
To find out all of the problems Flippfly encountered making its first free-to-play app, read the new feature, 7 Ways to Fail at Free-to-Play, on Gamasutra.