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Author Topic: Hero Mages on Android  (Read 8184 times)
Higgins

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« on: December 29, 2011, 11:16:31 am MT »

I would like to share my thoughts about Hero Mages and the costs/character packs available.  I purchased the $3 Hero Mages app for my Android smartphone, and think it is a well thought-out game with a lot of potential, especially for a wide base of players.  There are a couple hitches, however.

For a game that costs $3, $10 character packs are highly expensive and don't seem justifiable for the casual, less-than-die-hard Hero Mages fans/players.  After playing the tutorial, I enjoyed the game and was willing to spend $3 for the full game.  I didn't realize I was not getting all the characters, which was disappointing.  Furthermore, I was appalled that it cost $10 for additional character packs (on top of that, you don't even get ALL of the characters for $10).  To have all the characters playable, I would need to spend $20, which is almost seven times what I paid for the game in the first place.

I understand that the developer wants to receive financial support, and I'm sure that some players are willing to pay the high costs for additional in-game content, but I would like to suggest to the developer to lower the costs of the additional content.  As an example, I recommended this game to a friend of mine, who tried out the tutorial for free and thought it was awesome.  Just like me, though, he was disheartened to see that on top of $3 to purchase the game (very reasonable for an Android App), he would have to spend $20 for additional content.  I believe the developer's most important resources (even more important than money), are the customers.  My suggestions would be to drop the additional content costs (or, worst case scenario, significantly lower it, ie $1 per character pack), and to possibly raise the price of the game by $1/$2.  The potential to gain many more players and build the game's fan base would increase significantly.

I am interested in hearing what other players and even the developer thinks.
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Ross Przybylski
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2012, 10:18:10 am MT »

Dear Higgins,

Thank you so much for supporting Hero Mages. I’m very happy to hear you are enjoying the game, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with me. Please allow me to address your concerns about the cost of in-game content.

Hero Mages is developed solely by myself and is a product born entirely out of passion. The reality of indie game development is a lot more harsh than you might think. In order to develop the game on multiple platforms and deliver new content, including such popular requests as new characters and a full-single player campaign, I need some support to cover the costs of things like artwork, hosting fees, and business expenses.

The complete Android game contains 6 playable characters, the tutorial campaign, the ability to play unlimited single player games, and access to the multiplayer server. The existence of the additional characters is not intended to leave you feeling cheated and lacking the full content experience. You can enjoy and win at the game without them- in fact, many of our top players haven’t purchased a single expansion.  Rather, they are intended to enhance the gameplay and add some cool alternative strategies for those looking to add more to their game. Should you choose to support the game by purchasing these upgrades, I should also point out that the purchases are tied to your Hero Mages account (not your mobile device) meaning you can use these characters on any platform- including PC, Mac, iPad, etc.

I do not want players to feel deceived when they purchase the game. My goal is to offer a product that brings continuing value. This is why I am working hard on a major content update to the game that will reward you for playing games online with in-game currency and the ability to unlock numerous new character abilities and customizations.

Thanks again for posting, Higgins. Comments like yours help me to make the game better. Feel me to challenge me to a duel anytime!
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Higgins

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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2012, 07:27:30 pm MT »

Hey Ross

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my comments and am glad that you are working hard to develop such a fun game.

You are correct, I do not understand all that goes into developing, hosting, and keeping a video game up-to-date.  There are three points I would like to make:

1)  You would attract more players to Hero Mages if you lowered the cost of the additional in-game content.  Many people do not like playing a game knowing there is additional content they do not have, and like you admitted, many players do not purchase the content (the high price being the reason).
2)  If you lowered the cost of the additional content, more people would purchase it.  For example, say right now 1% of the players will purchase the additional content.  At 10,000 players, that would be $1,000.   If the cost was, say $3 (I would definitely consider it at $3), maybe 5% would purchase the additional content, which would be $1,500.
3)  With more players and more of those players paying for additional content, you would have a bigger and more dedicated customer and fan base.  Ultimately this is the best for everyone, the gamers are more happy and you would be more happy because there are more people playing your game, which I believe is your number one priority.

I am not trying to be cheap and get you to lower the costs for my own sake, but I really do believe it would be to everyone's benefit.  I am happy to discuss it and hope you understand the points I am trying to make.  The reason I am willing to spend the time to write up these comments is because it is a fun game and I believe it has a lot of potential.

Thanks
Higgins
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Ross Przybylski
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 01:34:22 pm MT »

Higgins,

I believe a lower price point would ultimately be to everyone's benefit. Honestly, I would love if I could eventually make all bonus content free. The trouble is that the cost of downloads is not the factor inhibiting interest in the game: it's user traffic.

Larger and/or more established game companies can rely on distributors and a large base of existing users to download their content at much higher rates. Because of this, they can set lower price points and still cover the cost of development. $1 amongst 100,000 users can probably cover the development costs of these games. Some games, like Angry Birds, can even be offered entirely for free and still generate considerable revenue simply because their user download rate is within the hundreds of millions.

Hero Mages, by contrast, is a very niche game geared towards a specific target audience looking for that perfect blend of RPG, strategy, and tactics. To change the price from $10 to something like $1, the user download rate would need to multiply by at least 15 times (due to how transaction fees deduct from the sales). While I'm working hard every day to improve the game, we're still under 1K downloads for even the free Hero Mages demo. Regardless of in-game costs, the game itself needs to generate a lot more interest, and this is why I'm asking for player support with the higher priced in-game content: this ensures I can continue to develop the game as players see fit.

Instead of thinking about the cost of characters in terms of a high price, try seeing the value of what that money goes towards. Hero Mages players aren't just some statistic that gets written off as another sale. Everyone here is part of a community- one that I communicate closely with on a one-on-one basis. Sure, you can request new features in the bigger franchise games, but how often does the actual game creator respond to your unique idea, discuss it with you, and find ways to work that idea into the game? Take a look at the list of changes I've made at the request of the players since I started: http://www.heromages.com/news/versionInfo.html. This is one of the greatest benefits you get with an indie game like Hero Mages. Your $10 goes a long way to support this kind of development, and in exchange you also get some fun new toys to play with.

I can totally understand why some users, like yourself, might still feel this price is too high, and that's why I'm attempting to address to core needs of Hero Mages – user traffic – with the next major update. Since user traffic directly affects the success and revenue of the game (ultimately allowing me to lower prices), the aim is to reward users for referring new members, playing games together online, and positively rating the game in the marketplace with in-game credit rewards that will allow you to acquire any number of extra content like power upgrades, customizations, and perhaps eventually new characters. How does that sound to you?
 
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Zelanius Forcys

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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 09:31:41 pm MT »

Let me just point out that, compared to many other online games, these paid contents are considerably cheaper. Many online games offer limited time usage items that cost a dollar or less, but you have to constantly renew your "subscription" to those items. In addition, many items that you can permanently unlock are at much higher pricing, when you consider the amount of items that are cash items.

Thus, paying for $30 to permanently unlock all the current content in Hero Mages is something I find reasonably cheap, especially considering how frequent I have been using those characters. Since joining in October last year, I was playing at least 7 games a day, for about a month, before slowing down to maybe 2 to 4 games a day. All in all, I have played over 300 games in just 3 months. That would mean I spent an average of 10 cents per game, which will decrease as I play more.

Just my two cents worth.

Zela Forcys
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Trasd

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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 10:28:22 pm MT »

Ross,

I spent many hours last night looking for your app, though I didn't know it was Hero Mages I was looking for when I started. I wanted to find a good strategy game for my tablet and was willing to settle for almost anything as long as the graphics were halfway decent and it was turn-based.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a pseudo-RPG fantasy strategy game with such quality and obvious devotion (based on your Market posting remarks). I downloaded the demo and am enjoying it thoroughly.

Unfortunately, this thread is not about the quality of the app, but the extra money needed to enjoy the (arguably) full game. I think Higgins makes some valid points and I also understand your reluctance to lower your prices and the reasons you give for not doing so, as well as appreciate your attempts to find an alternate method of attaining the character packs.  Where I have a problem is how the game is marketed (I do not believe this was intentional on your part).

I don't mind paying for expansions like I do in the only two MMOs I play (DDO and LotRO), but I knew their conditions up front. When I downloaded Hero Mages, I based my decision on what I read in the demo's posting and what you said in your YouTube video. You billed the game as free to play. I was so upset when I discovered there was more money needed to obtain the full game experience, I almost uninstalled it and began searching once again.

The only reason I did not uninstall the app was because I happened to see the link to this topic in the full version's Market post and, giving you the benefit of the doubt, read it. Based on your discourse, I am willing to risk $3 (and as Higgins pointed out, I would be willing to spend $5 if the add-on packs were lower) on the hopes you are sincere in your pronouncements.

My guess as to the reasons for the strong resentment most people are expressing about having to spend more money after their initial purchase, is that it comes as a surprise; I know it did for me. It is not that evident on your WEB site either.

My suggestion is to be completely and totally up front about the purchase and price, as well as your reasons, for the extra character packs expense, otherwise people feel like they are being reeled in like so many of the other companies do in the Android and multilayer market. I certainly felt like you were dangling a carrot in front of me leading down a road full of financial landmines. Lets face it, most people are not going to put in the time and effort to find out if you really are different than the other companies out there, which I now believe you truly are.

I highly suggest you put the link to this topic in the demo Market posting like you do in the paid version's, or include the pertinent character pack information in the listings.

Like I said at the top of this post, though I fully understand your reasoning, I cannot personally justify that kind of money for a game I will not be playing that often. Because of this, I also advocate lowering the price for your add-ons, or you could offer them in a donation type system.

With all that said, pending the outcome of my demo testing (and if you still want me after this), I look forward to joining and actively participating in the Hero Mages community.

BTW, this post has been edited because it came off like a diatribe; that was not my intentions. I do believe your efforts are sincere. I am merely pointing out what I believe was an unintentional flaw in how the marketing comes across. In the Android market, people are already suspicious because of the type of traps I describe above.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 05:20:23 am MT by Trasd » Logged
Ross Przybylski
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2012, 11:04:44 am MT »

My suggestion is to be completely and totally up front about the purchase and price, as well as your reasons, for the extra character packs expense, otherwise people feel like they are being reeled in like so many of the other companies do in the Android and multilayer market. I certainly felt like you were dangling a carrot in front of me leading down a road full of financial landmines. Lets face it, most people are not going to put in the time and effort to find out if you really are different than the other companies out there, which I now believe you truly are.


Thanks for this feedback, Trasd. It's certainly not my intention to deceive people. The game is marketed as "free" on the website because, well, it is! In no way does the lack of the additional content inhibit players from enjoying or winning in the game. Many players in our community have enjoyed over 100 hours of quality gameplay without paying a dime.

I certainly could have charged a flat purchase price for the entire game, but I feel the benefit of the existing model is in players having the chance to experience the game for themselves and decide whether or not the value of gameplay is personally worth it to them. For those players that want to expand their playing experience with new options and help support development, the extra content is available for what, compared to many similar online games charge, is actually quite a bargain.

Another point to consider is that, unlike many other games, the "full" experience of Hero Mages can't be captured in a single release version. A large part of what defines and distinguishes this game is its community and their ability to communicate directly with the game's creator to shape future updates to the game. Take a look at the version log here: http://www.heromages.com/news/versionInfo.html to get an idea of just how much has changed in response to player feedback (and this only includes the public release, not the prerelease).

I highly suggest you put the link to this topic in the demo Market posting like you do in the paid version's, or include the pertinent character pack information in the listings.


This is a great suggestion, so I'll even take it a step further and create a link to a detailed page that explains what the different versions include, the current pricing models, and the product value. I'm posting a major update to all game versions in (hopefully) a couple weeks, and I will make the changes then.
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Trasd

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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012, 01:24:43 pm MT »

This is a great suggestion, so I'll even take it a step further and create a link to a detailed page that explains what the different versions include, the current pricing models, and the product value. I'm posting a major update to all game versions in (hopefully) a couple weeks, and I will make the changes then.

This is good news, Ross (be sure to put a prominent link on the home page for internet users too).  I think you will begin to see an increase in players when this is done.  I also think so much better of an app (any product for that matter) where the people or person in charge listens to feedback and then actually acts on it.  That is what differentiates a good program from a great product.

If I may make another suggestion; hold a monthly random drawing (or some kind of contest that does not penalize those who can't play often) and give away one of the three add-ons as the prize (winner's choice?).  Just something to think about...
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Ross Przybylski
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2012, 12:33:48 pm MT »

Following up with my commitment, I've added the following page to the Game Info section on the left-hand navigation: Expandable Content http://heromages.com/gameInfo/expandableContent.html

Not sure I can make this more prominent without mucking up the home page, so I've added this same information to the Google Player Marketplace description AND linked to this page directly via in-game prompts.
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Trasd

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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2012, 05:34:28 am MT »

Ross,

It took me a second to find it (via computer browser), but I think that should work.  Unfortunately not all information can be on a home page, plus a market link makes it better as the less "taps" on a phone or tablet to get somewhere, the better.  I think it makes sense to make the information easier to find on an Android device than a "real" computer; it is much faster and easier to poke around with a mouse.

Nice work.
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toose88

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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2013, 11:56:53 pm MT »

I enjoyed playing this game and think you have designed a fantastic framework which deserves an epic single player campaign. I understand this must involve a tremendous amount of work for a single developer so I wonder how difficult it would be so design a campaign compiler GUI and let the community help you out?

Basically an extension of the map builder where people can place pre designed enemies at various points on their maps. The story could be linked by user generated text dialogue transitions which the GUI would accommodate. Essentially, the database of characters you've created would be data packets inserted at certain locations, once a location has been cleared some dialogue could carry the story on to the next scene. As  you develope more NPC or monsters they could be made available to the community to add to their campaigns. Perhaps the community could help out with the design of new charterers/monsters?

Campaigns could be peer reviewed to sperate the polished to those which require work. You could even get onto a profit share situation with campaign designers where popular campaigns could sell for $1 etc.

I have no idea how practical/possible this suggestion is, I know nothing about coding, haha. I just enjoyed the game and feel you have built the foundation for limitless campaigns that I would love to play!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 11:59:58 pm MT by toose88 » Logged
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