About IAP/monetization

Just some talk about general Butterscotchy stuff here.
I read Adam's post "Why we can't have nice things" and I must say thank you for the enlightenment.
I mean I've never thought of it this way. This is good to shake convictions from time to time.

But I was here to ask a simple/dumb/candid (I hope it has the same meaning as in French) question (many in fact but based on two parts):

- How will you handle the purchase of your games (like, I'd buy Crashlands on PC, maybe on my phone too)?
Like through BScotchID or will the process of buying separated? Or if we buy one version, we buy both? (I don't think I'm really able to explain myself correctly here, sorry)

- Wouldn't it be possible to do a "meta-money" or "meta-thing" for all your games?
Somewhat like the things you can see from MMO (and some other) publishers: you have a currency in common to all the games. Maybe a currency that can convert into in-game currency (since your games don't use the same money everytime). That may be positive for both players and you (I let you judge of this statement, you are the devs).
Example: if a player spends 10$ on a ButtersCurrency (or BSCurrency, yeah that sounds somewhat correct), he will be able to spend the equivalent of 5$ on Quadropus (to convert it in doubloons [or orbs]) and then say "Oh man, I wonder what are their other games" and take a look at your other games. This "BSCurrency" would also be usable to suppress ads on your games. Or something like that.

I know it would be a SHITLOAD ton of work to do such a thing, but I was wondering if you ever considered something like that.

Plus well played with the tease-looking Juiced Bella :smile: Is it a tease? Or is it not a tease?

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Posts: 1831
Location: Bordeaux, France

First: 'tis a tease!

Second: This is something we've thought about, but there is a major caveat that forces us into one cross-platform purchase model. That caveat comes from the distribution platforms we have to use (iTunes, Google Play, eventually Steam). Each distribution platform has its own set of rules, and each one makes money by taking a ~30% cut of ours. What we are getting from the 30% cut is the infrastructure for dealing with huge numbers of downloads, easy accessibility for our players, and some potential for discoverability that would all otherwise be extremely difficult or impossible. We are completely dependent on them for success. Conversely, these companies are completely dependent on developers in general (not us specifically) for their financial success. And so they don't want to distribute stuff for free that has been paid for via some other platform (since they won't get their cut!).

To continue using these distribution platforms, we have to play by their rules.

As an example, the entire BscotchID system may violate the terms of the iOS store, and so we might not even be able to implement it there. Steam is a pretty insulated environment with a lot of hidden rules, and so we have no idea what they'll allow us to do. Setting up a cross-platform monetary system will already be difficult, as you noted, but the fact that it will likely violate policy for at least one distribution platform is the main problem.

Other major issues are how purchasing and piracy can be dealt with on various platforms. For example, I recently figured out how to detect fraudulent purchases on Android and this detection will be part of BscotchID integration into all games. So if we allowed BscotchIDs with verified Android purchases to freely download and play PC versions of the same game, we could be confident that they've paid for it. We do not yet know how to do this on iTunes, and of course have no games up on Steam with which to figure it out there. Also, we don't necessarily have control of pricing on each platform (Steam has a notoriously secret approach to forcing price points of indie games) and so it would be hard to maintain a system that was fair to purchasers on each platform.

Finally, the versions on each platform do require their own sets of tweaks and bugfixes. Most of this has to do with the stuff we'd prefer to get away from (but can't yet): APIs for advertising services and in-game purchasing. Because of such differences we may be forced into different financial models on different platforms, which makes cross-platform licensing super confusing.

So, until we are well known enough that we can distribute games ourselves, or can negotiate our own distribution terms, and have solved the piracy problem well enough on each platform, we're stuck with the standard model: each game will be, in general, purchased separately on each platform. We'd love to simply allow people to buy a cross-platform license e.g. through our website, and we may actually do this in the near future, but we will not be able to do so in conjunction with the standard distribution platforms. That's not such a problem, since PC and Android games are easily distributed (and BscotchID requirements would dissuade most piracy), but mobile iOS stuff can really only be distributed through iTunes. Distribution through each channel requires separate maintenance, as exemplified by the recent iOS8 update that broke all of our games. If we make our games available through iOS, Steam, Amazon, Google Play, and our own channels then we have to make sure that all of those stay up-to-date and have their own complements of bugfixes.

It's a LOT of work, which is part of why we've lost the last month of development to rebuilding and rebranding our old portfolio.

Licensing problems aside, where possible we will be making it so that BscotchID allows for a lot of cross-platform stuff. Ideally, our players will be able to swap between their PC, Android phone, and iPad and pick up right where they left off with any Bscotch game, see the same set of online friends, and so on. For the near future, though, those same users will unfortunately have to buy the games separately on each platform.

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Posts: 1722
Location: Dallas, TX USA

Wow thanks for the detailed answer :smile:

And that's sad for IOs versions :/

I guess your complete rework of your previous games and the release of Crashlands will determine what you'll do (or be able to) next?

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Posts: 1831
Location: Bordeaux, France

Correct! If it turns out that the integration and adoption of BscotchID, coupled with the development and release of Narwhal Online and Crashlands at the start of next year, are enough to provide salaries for all 3 of us for long enough to develop the next few games, then we'll suddenly have a lot more flexibility and freedom to start doing things our own way.

That success really hinges on BscotchID, since that system will give us a way to contact our players directly via an email newsletter when new games are released and so on. Without that, even at our most successful we'd still be dependent on the major distribution platforms for exposure to our players.

Few studios can really call themselves completely "independent," since almost none of them can be successful without major distributors and many design decisions have to be made around that fact! We're hoping to turn ourselves into one of the rare exceptions, but that is a process that may take years if it happens at all.

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Posts: 1722
Location: Dallas, TX USA

@BscotchAdam? You will be a part of the rare exceptions if you continue as you do now. I mean, that's a lot of progress since Towelfight 2 and Quadropus. That would be cruel that you won't finally get recognized for your work.

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Posts: 1831
Location: Bordeaux, France


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