On App Store pricing (again)
Over recent months, WoSblog has railed on more than one occasion about the sort of idiots who constantly try to force App Store prices higher, because they don't understand the people who buy stuff in the App Store.
But it's always been hard to definitively refute the argument that cheap apps make less money, because there haven't been many opportunities to compare oranges with oranges.
There is now.
Pac-Man has every possible advantage in terms of trying to charge a higher price. It's arguably the best-known videogame of all time, and along with Space Invaders it's certainly (in general videogaming terms) the best-known one that you can buy in the App Store.
Anyone buying Pac-Man knows exactly what they're going to get (and in the unlikely event that they don't, there's a free Lite version), so there's no element of being put off by the unknown, rather than by the fact that it's (relatively) expensive.
Another pertinent fact is that in App Store terms as well as absolute ones, Pac-Man is ancient. It's been in the App Store for almost two years (launching at an ambitious $9.99), and has maintained respectable chart placings for most of that time. So if – as we're often told by stupid people – customers judge pricing in absolute terms (rather than in the context of what competing apps sell for), Pac-Man hasn't been hampered by its premium cost.
So given that iPod Pac-Man has been out for almost the entire life of the App Store, and has sold pretty well, those who decry 59p as not being a viable price point would presumably have claimed (until last week), that cutting its price wouldn't make enough of a difference to its sales to compensate for the loss of money per unit. After all, it rather looked as if anyone who was interested in buying Pac-Man for their iPod would have bought a copy by now.
(A further interesting thing to note is the fact that while Namco regularly slashes the price of its back-catalogue titles to 99c/59p in promo sales, including games like Ms Pac-Man, Pac-Man Remix and Pac-Man Championship Edition, and has often shuffled the price of Pac-Man back and forth between $4.99 and $2.99, in that entire two-year period Pac-Man has NEVER been reduced lower than $2.99 until now. So the chances that there were lots of potential purchasers just holding off in expectation of a price cut would also appear quite low.)
But hey. You've already looked at the image, so there's not much point in me building up the suspense. Cutting the price of Pac-Man to 59p has seen it absolutely rocket up the charts. Despite all the brand awareness, despite all the time it's been available, despite having already sold hundreds of thousands – probably millions – of copies, having its price cut to 59p has suddenly propelled Pac-Man into the all-categories top 3, and it's still climbing.
Now, I don't have solid evidence for what I'm about to say, so I'm not going to claim it as any sort of empirical fact. However, I'm prepared to take a £100 bet from anyone that the following statement of belief is indeed factually true:
At any given time, the App Store all-categories No.3-selling app sells more than five times as many copies as the No.70 app in any single-category chart.
I think my money's safe, don't you?
Because that's the difference that the 59p price point has made to Pac-Man. A game that was languishing around the lower reaches of the games-only chart at five times that price has been catapulted in four days to the No.3 all-categories app. I'm guessing that the actual increase in sales that represents is closer to 50 times than five times – in other words, making TEN TIMES as much money.
(Pac-Man is also flying up the Top-Grossing charts, currently at No.12 and rising, with two of the titles keeping it out of the top 10 being £52.99 satnav apps.)
I'd call that game, set and match, viewers.