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Facefighter goes free, has highest revenue day ever

By on March 1, 2010

Free is not a business model. It’s a marketing technique.

Developers Appy Entertainment have just used this technique brilliantly to launch a new IP in less than a week AND drive revenues of their old game to the highest level in six months.

So how did they do it?

Appy launched a game last year called Facefighter. It was successful, reaching #1 in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere and generating substantial revenue.

Facefighter image

Two weeks ago, they decided to offer Facefighter for free. The decision was a carefully calculated marketing decision. It’s purpose: to launch a new Intellectual Property.

Appy had just developed a new game, Tune Runner. Tune Runner is a free music game entering the crowded music genre up against established players like Rock Band and Tap Tap Revenge.

Tune Runner image

A million users downloaded the free version of FaceFighter.(In the first six days, the actual number was 990,820).  Each of them saw an ad promoting Tune Runner. As the developer says:

“In just a little over a week, Tune Runner is close to its first 100,000 downloads, and has reached category or overall #1 status in App Stores around the world, including Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Sweden, and more. Tune Runner has reached #3 in the Free Music Game category in the United States, the UK, and Canada, trailing only the free versions of Rock Band and Tap Tap Revenge.

In short, we’ve taken a new and original music game IP from nowhere to near the top of the world market in just over a week.”

That’s a remarkable achievement. The promotion was free (in that Appy did not have to spend any money upfront – although it clearly lost some paid sales of FaceFighter). It achieved an difficult objective of breaking a new IP quickly and effectively.

And that would have been a fabulous result for Appy. But it get’s better.

Appy put the price of FaceFighters back up to $1.99 after the promotion. It’s now in the top 50 in its category (it was around #150 before the promotion). According to the iPhone Games Bulletin, Wednesday of last week was the company’s largest single day for revenue since September 2009.

These results show that inventive use of "free” strategies can drive cross-promotion, increase sales of the original game and create massive value for the developer and for consumers.

It’s another great example of why (and how) free works.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: