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Go free, spread the word

By on August 1, 2011

Andrew J. Smith of Spilt Milk Studios is clearly a gifted marketer. Armed with little more than chutzpah, charisma and Twitter, he has turned a zero marketing budget into a creditable campaign for his critically-acclaimed indie iOS title Hard Lines.

Of course, it helped that the game was good.

What difference does going free make?

ipad shot 02

Andrew has been pretty open about the success of Hard Lines in a series of reports and developer diaries on GAMESbrief. Last week, for example, he revealed that the first six weeks of sales of Hard Lines was in the region of 9,000 copies.

And then he had a birthday.

So Andrew, showing his flair for turning the mundane into a PR story, decided to make Hard Lines free for a day to celebrate. And he publicised this fact to his 1,197 followers on Twitter.

The result was pretty impressive:

  • Downloads the day before: <50 units
  • Downloads for the day itself: 12,282 units

Of course, getting something for nothing is always attractive. It’s most useful to a developer which has IAP installed (like Infinity Blade, or Tiny Tower, or a large proportion of successful smartphone games), not one which just has a single price strategy.

Although I’m really looking forward to Andrew’s update on Friday this week to tell us what impact the promotion had on sales once the price went back to 69p.

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: