Ridiculous Fishing and Serious Sam: Random Encounter developer Vlambeer says that "non-evil" free-to-play game design is almost impossible and that game developers should not be afraid to price their games at $3. Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing, which almost saw the studio go under during development, went live last week on Apple's App Store and garnered strong sales and critical acclaim from fans and critics. Vlambeer said that its $3 price point had a lot to do with the game's success.
Speaking in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, a rep. from Vlambeer said developer should not be afraid:
"We do believe that developers shouldn't be scared to charge $3 for a game," Vlambeer said. "The problem is that at $0.99, you'll need to sell endless amounts of copies to be able to survive as an indie developer. Most games don't even get close to that.
"A direct result of the whole race-to-the-bottom in prices is the prevalence of free-to-play on iOS – it seems to be a safer bet," Vlambeer added. "But since its almost impossible to do free-to-play in a non-evil way and without sacrificing the elegance of your game design, we'll prefer to charge $3."
Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale Of Redemption is one of the best reviewed game of the year to-date, but getting to that point proved to be a major challenge and struggle for the firm. The game is an enhanced version of a flash-based browser title called Radical Fishing which was released in 2010. Vlambeer started work on the iOS version in December of that year, but Vlambeer became a victim of the common practice of cloning – developer Gamenauts released a game with similar elements called Ninja Fishing in August 2011. Here is was Vlambeer had to say about that on Reddit:
"The cloning didn't motivate us to make a better game," Vlambeer said on Reddit. "We always want to make the best game possible. If anything, it demotivated us to the point where we didn't want to work on the game any more… If we could've gone back in time and stop the clone, we think we'd much rather not have had to deal with a year and a half of demotivation. It turns out motivation is really one of the most valuable things you have as a game designer."
"The idea that we spent months coming up with a tight game design and someone else could steal the idea and get credits for it. The most painful thing was seeing how, after the release of Ridiculous Fishing, people would call us out for being cloners of this fishing game they played with a ninja in it."