GameDaily Connect Asia 2019: Putting the power of the subscription model to work in your game

Joel Couture, Monday, October 21st, 2019 3:18 pm

Subscription models are clearly popular in many entertainment industries. From Netflix to Spotify and beyond, customers are quick to join up to programs that offer them tons of shows, songs, and games for a monthly subscription price. It’s hard to deny that obvious appeal to the consumer, offering them so much potential content at a low monthly price.

With the release of Apple Arcade, games are dabbling in this territory as well, and again, the value to the consumer is staggering considering its $4.99 monthly fee. Over one hundred games were made available at launch, no ads or additional purchases needed to be made, you’re able to jump between devices, and you can share with up to five family members. 

Tyrone McAuley, PikPok
Tyrone McAuley, PikPok

But as a developer, how can you harness that for your game? Tyrone McAuley, Operations Director at PikPok, has had a bit of experience with subscriptions, with the company having been working with various types of subscription models for years with their mobile titles. With the release of PikPok’s Agent Intercept on Apple Arcade, McAuley has first-hand experience with how the model is working for him, and how it can be made to work for you, which he’ll share with you at GameDaily Connect Asia in Shenzen from November 10-12.

PikPok (previously Sidhe and Sidhe Interactive) has been around for some time, having been formed by three friends being struck by inspiration while sharing Final Fantasy VII with one another. The company has always had an eye to the future and trying new things in the market, and were used to working hard to stay ahead ever since they first opened.

“When Sony created the PS1 dev kit, the team jumped on the chance to be the only company in Australasia (and most likely the Southern Hemisphere) that had a PS1 Development License. This led to their first paycheck, when Krome Studios approached them to create Sidhe’s very first game – O’Neill Championship Surfer in 1999,” the company stated in a retrospective onPikPok back in 2014.

PikPok would move on to create some successful mobile titles like Flick Kick Rugby (#1 paid app in New Zealand and Ireland at one point according toSensor Tower) and Monsters Ate My Condo about a decade ago. Their work in mobile games would also garner them nominations at the DICE Awards in 2014 (Mobile Game of the Year), a BAFTA in 2013 (excellence in the area of Mobile & Handheld Gaming), and several others. Their work has continually found success through this push to be ahead of the pack.

This got the studio thinking of how to work subscription models into their own games. As an example, their mobile game Rising Stars Basketball offers an in-game subscription of sorts to acquire the Gold Coins in-game currency. Rather than give the player 1500 coins for a flat price, the game splits the coins into a daily pickup, which encourages the player to keep coming back to the app over and over. This adds an element of incentive to keep playing along with the in-app purchase, allowing a single purchase to also double as a form of retention.

Now, subscription models have shaped into something else – a form where the customer can get a great deal of content for a cheap price. In Apple Arcade, one can also see an appeal for developers as well, offering a way to create different games for the market. Rather than having to release free games with in-app purchases (as few games release as paid apps these days, according to Sensor Tower), developers can create other kinds of play experiences that don’t suit this kind of revenue model. This broadens the potential for various kinds of games that may not have been working in the mobile ecosystem, allowing for some new, creative experiences to find success.

PikPok has already charted that territory with the release of Agent Intercept. McAuley wants to share their findings based on years of charting a route to success through the mobile market, their own experiences in implementing subscription models into their games, and what he’s seen with his time on Apple Arcade. The potential within subscriptions for retention, offering value, and creating new experiences can be great, and McAuley has a lot of practical experiences to share with you in hopes that they’ll help you find out how to put these models to work for your own games.

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