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DECEMBER - 12 - 2014

We finally published Moon Runner on the Google Play Store!

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"Why are we selling the app for $0.99 sight unseen?" I hear you asking. It's a good question. The marketplace is super saturated with free games, so why do we think anyone would want to shell out their hard-earned cash for a game they've never played? Well, a lot of "free" games aren't actually that. We kind of hate "freemium" games here at Polakię.

There's one of two ways developers make money off of those kind of titles: advertising and in-app purchases. I don't want to go on a diatribe here, but I don't think there's any other way for me to accurately convey how much I hate advertising and in-app purchases. Let's look at them one at a time.

Advertising galls me to my very core. I recognize that without advertising, consumers may not learn about a product that they might enjoy or that could potentially improve their lives - however - advertising was invented in a pre-internet age, when shopping and choice weren't as streamlined and powerful as they are today.

Nowadays a consumer can browse thousands of products online and even look up information about products and services they're considering buying in a traditional, physical retail environment. The buyer is empowered today moreso than ever before.

With all that choice on the part of the purchaser, advertisers have had to adapt to get their products in front of consumers. This has led to advertising popping up everywhere. There is nary a safe corner of our lives where the abrasive, insipid, repetitive clatter of advertising doesn't rear its ugly head.

Ads play before, during and after every online video.

They pop up on top of image content and between the lines of blog posts and news articles.

Ads are ubiquitous and we've all just accepted it as a fact of life, when in reality it's an unwelcome intrusion into what used to be a person's right to peace.

Now, if advertising forcibly shoehorned into every conceivable crevice of our daily lives isn't bad enough, in-application purchases are worse by an order of magnitude.

Consider the transaction that takes place when a player makes an in-app purchase in a game they've downloaded for free. That user, usually in the heat of gameplay, is met with some sort of intervening force that stalls, delays or stops entirely their ability to continue playing.

The field of psychology has known for a good long time that games have the ability to trigger some pretty powerful, primal responses in us human animals. Positive reinforcement, delayed gratification and other gameplay mechanics are all employed to usher the player into a gameflow that, when halted abruptly, basically feels like the mental equivalent of a record scratch.

Enter the "pay to play" incentive.

Users can often just wait - typically a timespan of a few minutes to a few hours - until the game allows them to play again, OR they can shell out a few cents or a few dollars to continue immediately.

In essence, that player has been unconsciously manipulated by the game to incentivize the purchase.

It gets worse than that though.

Many online games that are "free to play" offer upgrades, powers, inventory and achievements to any user willing to cough up some dough for the privilege. You can imagine how frustrating that is to users who don't want to or cannot pay for those upgrades. The game becomes largely unplayable for the lower caste who won't/can't pay to win, and therefore the arms race of the in-game economy becomes one of purchasing power instead of actual ability.

Now, one of our pledges to the video gaming world at large is to always respect consumers and treat them like adults. To that end, we realize and admit that not everyone who makes in-app purchases or watches in-app advertisements is being manipulated or duped. That's too broad a generalization.

However, we do think that ads are intrusive and annoying, and in-app purchases by their very nature as a business model are gross and sketchy.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that developers need to make money, or they can't continue to produce games and applications. I think that game development is an honorable and meaningful way to make a living in this world. I just think there's a better way of going about it than ads and in-app balderdash.

Thus, we here at Polakię have decided to subscribe to an older, time-honored tradition we remember from our childhoods. We call it "buying games." It's revolutionary, we know, but hear us out.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom would take me to CompUSA, or Babbages, or Egghead and we would browse the PC games. I got incredible titles like X-Wing, The Colonel's Bequest, Half-Life, Day of the Tentacle and many other treasures in this way. I loved those games and they helped form who I am as a developer today.

There was no subscription model, no in-app purchases and certainly no advertising in those titles. You just bought them, and played them, and they were yours for as long as the floppy discs held out.

We like that model, and it's the way we're going to do business here.

That's why Moon Runner is for sale for 99¢. We stand by it, and as always we eagerly encourage feedback and criticism so we can improve it for everyone that buys and enjoys it.

No malarky. No rigmarole. Just games.

EDIT: Things have changed. :)


 

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