Let me talk about one of my favorite projects: Magic TG Tracker, it is the most popular Android App for Magic the Gathering in both the paid and the free version, here is Magic TG Tracker in Android Market if you feel curious about it.
Yesterday we had shocking news, Wizards of the Coast announced an “Official app”. For those who don’t know it, they are the guys that make the real game, and they already have a couple of computer versions as well.
Many users asked me how I felt about it either on the facebook page of the app or by mail. It took me a while to put my thoughts in order, since there were lots of them.
First, I think is good to have competition, that always pushes products to the next level. Maybe there is going to be a bit unfair, since Wizards is a big company and Platty Soft is only one person, but I still believe I can build a better product. They also have the brand support and they can do any type of in-house marketing that I can’t, but we’ll see.
Secondly, they are announcing their iPhone app, the android one will follow. This can take quite some time, and building an app like Magic TG Tracker from scratch is not a small task, if they are going to build it after the iPhone one is published I will expect a few months to get it out. During this time people is going to search more for Android apps for Magic, and that is good for me.
But what really intrigues me is the purpose of Wizards, let me explain. There are two main reasons why -in their position- you may want to have an official app.
- Improve brand perception
- Generate profit
Let’s analyze them, its when things become interesting.
Their app is going to be free, but they are going to charge for the updates with the new sets. So it seems they are trying to make profit.
Magic TG Tracker is the most successful app of his type. It has even been in the top50 of Tools in the market. It is been nominated to best reference app of 2011, you can vote for it. Yet the income I get from it is not enough to make a living out of it.
What I mean is that the income for this app is going to barely pay for the development, even if it generates money, it is not going to be a significant amount for a company like Wizards. I may be wrong and the brand of Wizards will make the app have much more downloads than I do, but allow me to doubt it. More than 200.000 installations are quite a lot, few apps have more than 250.000. The next free app is not even at 50.000 downloads.
And this leads me to the final point. If the app is not going to generate a significant revenue for Wizards, they should keep it completely free and use it a tool to improve the brand perception. I think they are a victim of the gold rush of the apps.
Even facebook and twitter have their official apps, yet there are others, and many people prefer to use them.
I am not afraid of losing my user base. I know they like the app, and I am keen on improving it farther, and I will keep working on it. I’ll let you know if the impact in the amount of users and downloads when they release the app, in the meantime, version 4.0.2 has just been published and 4.1 is going to be on the works on Monday.