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How should developers price apps in the Windows Phone Store?

Marketplace

As Bruce Forsyth would say - higher or lower?

Bernardo Zamora has published an insightful blog post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, which goes into detail on how developers should configure individual market pricing - if at all. It's an interesting part of marketing one's work. Building and submitting the app is one thing. Effectively pricing your app(s) is another.

Windows Phone enables developers to uniquely price apps (using available tiers) for every country or region where paid apps are supported. This also affects in-app purchasing as well, so if you're planning to craft apps for Windows Phone 8 and make use of new functionality, you may also wish to configure in-app purchases.

Bruce Forsyth used to ask the question, "Higher or lower?" on gameshow Play Your Cards Right, which is what developers should be asking themselves when managing individual market submissions.

Zamora covers a number of points, including the first question: "Is it worth the trouble?" There are a number of factors to take into account when thinking about whether or not it's worth looking to set individual prices for markets. The main factor is looking at competition to see how other developers have priced their apps / games in that particular region. 

The subsequent step is to analyse app data to understand regional trends. Looking at total downloads by type (free, paid, trial), region and country will enable one to determine which markets may prove to be worth the effort in customising the app / game price. From there developers are to consider whether it's best to raise or lower pricing and spot-test any changes made. 

All that's left to do is to monitor customer feedback, app performance data and adjust pricing as needed. Dev Center provides tools and ways for developers to keep on top of app performance and sales and spot any potential negative effects from price alterations.

Be sure to read more on effective app pricing over at the Windows Phone Developer Blog, where Zamora goes into detail about each step.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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Reader comments

How should developers price apps in the Windows Phone Store?

30 Comments

Lower... In fact.. .they should price them more like Amazon and Google.  Honestly... $2.99 is a lot of money when the same and similar apps are free on other platforms... even if they're only free for a day.  

Agree nothing over $2.99. Yea I understand the developers work hard but if Apple,google managed to keep prices down why not ms? Some apps like complicated calculators or something around that line is understandable.

I'm with lower as well, I gave little thought to buying dragon: side stories after seeing the review here, it's a dollar, same with buying the wpcentral app...however, buying something like Final Fantasy, despite the fact that I've gladly rebought the game a few times over the years and being one of my favorite games of all time, I have a hard time coughing up 7 bucks. 
 
To anyone saying "you've paid X for the phone, so X more isn't anything", you're not comparing apples to apples. My phone is a physical device that i own, and used for a wide range of things. It also has support for it that I know will continue from both my carrier and from MS. I don't take the purchase lightly and bought something worth my money.
 
An app has no guarentees, If i'm spending my money, I still have certain expectations and want it to be worth my money, the more money I spend, the more I expect back from the app for usage. 

while I agree with lower, I won't be closed minded and I don't know about repurchasing an app on WP. When I got a new phone, I simply went to zune, viewed my purchase history, and re-downloaded them at no charge. I do know that when I purchased an online anti-virus software program I had to pay extra for a 2-year re-down subscription.

He meant re-purchasing in another way:
The game came out for NES and MSX originaly in the late 80s. It was then later on re-released on other consoles and devices like the Wonderswan, Playstation, Gameboy Advance (2000-2004) and went on to PSP, Wii VC, iphone and finaly Windows Phone.
With each subsequent release, people are willing to pay less for essentially the same game.

Correct, I feel like a very old gamer at this point where I've played/owned the game in just about every hardware generation it's been released in. Seven dollars to pick it up again (CN store) feels like a bit much, where if it was under 5 dollars or even at 3 dollars or less, i'd probably pick it up again because I'm a sucker for the original. 

 
Its not a lot of money.
You've payed hundreds of dollars for your phone and you cant put aside 2 more for an app?
If you want developers to start publishing quality apps we you buy their sh1t and see they can earn money form it. You imagine working for a year or so and not getting payed for it?
Prices are higher and will drop once the amount of apps increases

Give me an annual subscription and let me try all the apps I care to.  Most want a buck or two which is bugger all really but I hate tiny transactions like they were Kargashians.

I'm ok with where the prices are at IF and ONLY IF the developer takes the time to continue development of the app.  Any purchase over 1.99 i research teh developer.  I check the developer's website and research if the app is being supported.  I have been burned by buying an app that was beta in hopes my money would help support the developer and the continueing development of the app to have the developer drop off the face of the planet and no updates.  

Here's what they should do: Introducing the NEW Unicornageddon Gets Every App Free plan. This is how it works: I get every app free, and they charge whatever they want to everyone else. Seems like a win-win scenario to me AND the impact to the developers' bottom lines is virtually unperceivable on an individual basis.

I agree with MyEvilMonkeys. I think any price up to a 5 euro limit is reasonable, where prices can be higher if the developer promises comitment to maintaining and further developing the app for the same platform and version.  This is also a wink to the big boys @microsoft responsible for maintain the platform service and not shutting things down after 18 months.

The reality is as long as apps are priced so cheaply, the number of quality apps on every platform will be lousy, as it is today, not just on Windows Phone. Almost every developer is operating at a major loss when developing apps, on every platform. Even the successful developers make far more in the real world. Platform "owners", like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are essentially "using" devs to promote the devices, and the devs ultimately will leave the market and go where they can earn a living. Its just simple math. The goal should be to make it easier for consumers to make purchases in most regions, and shift the amazingly low "price paradigm".

While I understand the smaller WP user base typically means higher app pricing to make the publication worthwhile, especially with smaller independent developers, there's no excuse for the poor pricing parity between platforms for the more prodigious publishers

Why not follow the Zune pass logic: pay 15$/month Subscription & get all apps (in paid mode) + have the option to keep one app (up to 5$) per month... MS pays the developers. Users can always buy a single app at the developer's price... Just my 2c.

I think some of the prices are fair, since they do have more room to deal with compared to iOS. Although they charge .99 cent's for some high quality app. Windows Phone does give you the High Quality applications. I don't mind .99 cents to 1.49. But that isn't even the problem, the problem is the games. Those are a little overpriced, bring it down a notch. I can get Tetris for a buck on the iTunes Store. Here it's 4.99 on a good day, it's 2.99. Come ON! I don't mind the marketplace, I mind the video game marketplace. No, this isn't a iSheep. 

If you want apps to sell then they have to be cheap. The app universe is based primarily on the freemium model. I myself have purchsed many apps as I like good developers to rewarded for all the hard work they put into their products. But unfortunately there aare alot of cheap bastards out there thaat view even $1.00 as too much. They want everything free. And if a developer prices an app too high it will just encourage people to seek out a free version of the app.
The Dead Trigger fiasco on the android platform is a perfect example. A kick ass game made by one of the top developers and priced at just $1.00 was eventually made free due to the rampant piracy of the app. This is disgusting. People need to get a life and realize that apps aren't made by fairies with magical pixie dust. It takes realpeople with talent spending countless hours to create a good app.

I really think that developers should take into consideration that there will be many people moving from feature phones to this platform; if users new to smartphones/WP see prices higher than say $3, in my opinion, that will deter them from purchasing the app.  While I would never download an ad supported app, it would be nice if developers also offered a paid version of $3 or less.
 
I also think that developers should have 'sales' - if an app is regularly priced at say $3, have a 50% off sale, or even periodic ''free for a limited time' offers.  Anything to get the app into more users hands, increase their reviews, and thus give the perception that the app is 'desired'.
 
 

The difference between 1 buck and 3 bucks is negligible. What I find sad is how many people complain about a 5 dollar app when they piss out 5 bucks worth of Starbucks coffee without blinking an eye. Want to pay less for apps? Go promote windows phone until they have a 30% market share.

"I want all apps free or $0.99 and I want to be able to pirate them. If not then I'm leaving WP" that's what alot of y'all sound like.

I'm a student and have a scientific calculator/ currency converter/ unit converter app in the Store (and now in the Windows 8 Store too!). I developed the app mostly as a way to learn some new skills, but also with some potential income in mind. I released the app in February as a paid app with a trial and after the initial publicity died down I could see that, even though I believe the app is significantly better than the other calculator apps, it wasn't ever going to be successful being paid. Consumers just don't consider paid apps in general, and with so many calculator apps in the Store mine was way down the rankings, not very visible, and had no hope of climbing. I made it free for a month and received about ten times as many downloads, so I decided to release a free ad-supported version. After six months, this version is ranked in the top five under a search for 'scientific calculator' in most regions (and still climbing). I don't make much from the ads, but more people now pay for the paid version than before the free version was released (I don't make much from the paid version either, but hopefully that will change with Windows 8 + WP8!).
As good an idea as the trial api is, it really doesn't help much. I also don't believe a separate list in the Store for apps that support trial would work, since I think most consumers by now would realise that most paid apps do have a trial (I could be wrong on this though!). In-app purchasing is a much better system and it's good that it will be coming to WP8. I released the Windows 8 version as free with an in-app purchase option to remove the ads. This gives me the benefit of appearing in the free lists and also means I don't have to maintain two versions. It will be interesting to see the percentage of people who pay for the Windows 8 version compared to the WP8 version.
Occasionally I'll receive a one star review complaining about the ads, which is really frustrating. One review for my Windows 8 app recently stated "This calculator works BUT it is said "free" and you have ads... To the developers: that is not what one calls a free app!!!" I included in my description that the app is free with an in-app purchase option to remove the ads, in order to be up-front about my monetisation strategy. To the reviewer: a free app is something I have spent hours on (I'm not complaining here, I enjoyed every minute of it!) to create and that you can use at no cost to yourself. If you don't like the ads, it's £0.99 to remove them! I do also have to pay a small amount for the exchange rate data and non-student developers have to pay the Dev Center subscription.
Of course, it's interesting with Windows 8 apps as I realise that a lot of people release great, open source software at no profit to themselves, so there might be a different mindset regarding paying for apps on a PC compared to on a smartphone (there's also the piracy factor too). However, as I said, I'm a student and the extra income really does help. I must also say that occasions like the above are rare, and for each one I'll receive another from someone stating that they paid for the app to support the developer. This really is fantastic; receiving good reviews and feedback is probably the most satisfying part of having created an app, and it does make me want to continue working on the app and to develop new ones (so thank you!).
Ok, that was longer than expected! I might copy this to a new thread in the forums...

Well the only app that seems so far worth the $ and I use a ton is this one wpcentral so I guess if it's worth it the sell it buy no more then 2$ I say

.99 is the sweet spot but im a bit different. I don't buy apps. I waited until this was one was free.
I think doing ad free works best. People try it and will usually reward the developer with their love and money

Pricing strategies is one issue. The other is App release/update dates. I don't want to see the "Originally Released" date for an app. I want to see the "Latest (or Last) Update" date so I can tell if a particular app is still being supported or not which will influence my purchasing decision. Not sure if this a Microsoft thing or developer to provide.

While I enjoy a low priced app (and I'm certain many would agree with me), from a perception, low priced could be considered $2.99. In contrast to other daily objects that one buys (drinks, food, candy), a $3.00 is next to nothing in comparison to the time it can take to produce, update and support one's app. Being a developer, I make certain to spend time to improve the quality and enjoyment of my apps. And time is money. It takes 10 seconds for a factory to churn out and bottle up a drink to ship to groceries globally, it takes time and patience and months for a developer (who also has things to do OTHER than developing) to create an app. I am not demanding al developers to raise their app prices and for buyers to consent to this, but I do believe our perception of an app has been broken due to Apple's, Amazon's and Android's markets.
We have always accepted that store-bought video games should be $50-$60, and sadly we have now accepted all apps should be FREE-$0.99. I wish it would change, but the probability is slowly diminishing as fremium becomes massively popular...