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App Store: Dismantling the double dip
by Kevin Ng on 02/13/13 04:00:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


The double dip. It's a seedy practice that buyers of DVDs are all-too familiar with, but one which also pervades the App Store. Making your customer buy the game separately for iPhone and iPad is bad form. Let's stop doing it, m'kay?

Simply creating a universal version of your game is all well and good, but then as a developer and a business you are faced with a difficult choice. Do you price your game at the $0.99 tier for the iPhone market, or a higher price, say $2.99 for the iPad market? Or do you split the difference at $1.99?

Undoubtedly, the customer would love to get the universal version of your game for $0.99, but only games at the top of the charts can break even at this price point. Is there a solution would be fair for both developer and customer alike?

The price structure I've put in place for the game my studio is just releasing, Food Run, hopes to solve this problem. With the launch of the iPhone-only version today, there are now two skus: $0.99 for the iPhone-only version, and $2.99 for the universal version.

In this way, those who want both the iPhone and iPad version only have to pay once, whilst there is still a $0.99 sku for those who are only interested in playing the game on iPhone. Good value for both sets of customers, and no double dip.

It's not a new solution, but it is still surprisingly rare. "Galaxy on Fire 2", for example, does something similar.

But of the top 50 games for iPad on the App Store which have a HD and iPhone-only version, all of them require the customer to double dip to play the game on iPhone and iPad*.

It's time we stopped this practice and started treating our App Store customers fairly. And hopefully without devaluing the immense amount of work we put into our games in the process.

* At time of writing. UK App Store, iPad games, paid.

Food Run HD was released 22nd January 2013, whilst the iPhone only Food Run was released on the 13th February 2013. Believe it or not, it's not an endless runner. You can find out more about it here

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Dennis Crow
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There's nothing seedy or unfair about a business model that sells iPhone and iPad apps separately. They are different SKUs with different development costs. Nobody expects to get a free PC version of a game they purchased on Xbox 360.

You are choosing to give away your iPhone app if a customer purchases the iPad version. Based on your own research of the top 50 iPad games, It seems like you might be leaving money on the table.
This is your choice as a publisher. If I don't use your business model, it doesn't make me seedy or unfair.

Kevin Ng
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If your skus are different enough then I definitely see your point. For some games, the iPad and iPhone do need to be treated as separate skus, which not enough developers are doing. Food Run was designed from the start to work without large changes between the platforms, so the only real difference is some UI placement and higher res textures.

Bob Johnson
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Not sure how charging $.99 for the iPhone version and $2.99 for the universal version is any different than double dipping.

Seems like a matter of semantics.

Kevin Ng
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The difference is a universal app has both versions for one price, rather than arbitrarily separating the two so you have to buy both. Apologies if this was not clear enough.