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Whales infest the iPhone: Pocket Frog proves that $29.99 works

By on September 21, 2010

I’m getting more and more evidence that my “Whales, power laws and the future of media” theory is correct.

Put simply, if you are a media business that does not offer your true fans a chance to spend lots of money with you, you are going to go bust; if you do let them spend lots of money with you, you are laughing.

Pocket Frog image

The latest evidence comes from NimbleBit’s Pocket Frogs (via the iPhone Games Bulletin, and a single tweet from developer Ian Marsh.

Pocket Frog is “a freemium game for iPhone and iPad that mixes up elements of Pokemon, We Rule, and Animal Crossing, that will have you discovering, collecting, trading, and breeding over 10,000 unique frogs.”

Developer Ian Marsh told PocketGamer that

Pocket Frogs is free to play with optional in-app purchases that speed up gameplay. All of the content in the game can be accessed whether you use the IAP or not.

Stamps can be earned in the game (or purchased), which instantly deliver frogs and other items you order in game or find in the pond. Potions can be earned in the game (or purchased) ,which instantly mature a frog. There are also some iAds in unobtrusive parts of the game.”

So how did it work out? Well the game was released on 15th September with three price points for the In-App Purchases (IAP): $0.99, $4.99, $29.99. Here are the results in a table.

Let’s look at that again, in chart form.

That looks pretty power law to me. Fifty per cent. of the In-App Purchases are at $0.99, but that makes only 9% of the revenue. In contrast, the premium price point (and $29.99 is pretty damn premium) generates nearly 50% of the revenue.

I’ve love to know more data (maybe one day Ian will indulge me), but for now I’ll take this evidence that whales and power laws are as significant on iPhone as they have been in free-to-play browser games.

And the last word goes to Ian, who suggests on Twitter that some users would like to spend more than $29.99.

@nattylux We’ve actually run into a number of people who are concerned there isn’t enough IAP in the game.

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: