Business Model: Give away everything for free

11th September 2012 12:58pm

Lots of people have been asking about paying for resources, free-to-pay and what happens when Ironfell goes live.

I’m going to stick with paying for extra resources.

  • All resources are available in-game, free.
  • You can support Ironfell, by buying extra resources.
  • You can save time, by buying extra resources.
  • Uranium, will NOT be for sale. It will ONLY be found in-game.

This almost the opposite of farmville’s evil business model, they give you the basics for free, but you have to pay real money to get the Flamingos.  Ironfell lets you have everything for free, and if you want to give me money, you can, and thankyou!

I won’t make as much money doing it this way, but I only want to earn enough to pay for food and rent anyway, and with a few more users that should be possible.

In the next expansion, Regal Realms there will be small and large castle realms added. I’d like to also add a 3rd type of castle, where you can design your own custom floor plan in a browser based tool.  This would be a permanent and unique realm that users would have forever. So I could charge $ for these custom castle realms. But instead, I will make the castles cost in-game resources. And you can decide if you want to gather those resources in game or support Ironfell and buy the resources needed.

Hats are another thing people have been asking for.  Or a way to choose a different style/theme for your units. Mongolian horsemen instead of knights for example. The problem with this is that the artwork costs me money. Each piece of art is $100 to $200 and that’s from a friend who’s giving me a discount.  So I would rather spend the money on new units and realms (dinosaurs! mars!) than on fancy hats for Archers.

And here are some hard numbers to help put all of this into perspective:

Total Income: $582
Artwork Costs: -$4,600
Server Costs: -$5,436
Advertising costs: -$2,150
Profit: -$11,604

All in USD and not taking the last 10 months of my time into account.

So yeah, please support Ironfell and give me all your money :)

And moving from Beta to Live… everything in the game will stay the same.  The only change will be removing “beta” from the browser title.

Posted by on in Ironfell


  • Gawadroit says:

    Once you get a large player base I would definitely look towards making the game at least worth what you are spending, charging for something besides just resources. This rate, you are going to go bankrupt :P

  • Blanket Fort says:

    I’m not a game designer, but I have been around long enough to have seen indie game designers let users contribute models, artwork, and audio. Perhaps someone is willing to work with you in exchange for some resources.

    Furthermore, in my opinion, your game has potential and replay value, which I find rare, and I’d like to see where it’s heading. It’s amazing how a player can gather so much territory and resources. Thusly, I play it, and support it.

    Incentivized advertising might be an option as well. You could reward your players with resources, to bring in other players.

  • Pino says:

    I really don’t understand why you charge someone for artwork… Granted it takes some time to find the right guy, but there are loads of people with enough talent on the internet who’d do it for free, or for next-to-nothing. At *any* rate, I don’t think artwork should cover almost half of your expenses, that’s just silly considering the *worthy* part of your game is (or will be I’m sure) the gameplay!

  • Thankyou :)

    Quality, consistency and reliability are why I pay for artwork.

    I’ll have a close look at incentive advertising when we’ve got more users. Don’t want ads in-game. Really hoping that making a fun game that people like playing will be enough to get people to tell their friends. :) Maybe that’s a bit hopeful of me, hehe.

  • Hey Pino, yup, but I can’t do the artwork myself. And if I relied on free artwork, Ironfell probably wouldn’t have oceans and ships yet :)

  • EmoryM says:

    You could try doing a KickStarter for aesthetic stuff, something like the ‘DataSmugglers Ironfell Pirate Party’ – if the amount was reached ($500-$1000), pledge tiers would get differing amounts of a new in-game currency (which I’ll refer to as Flux, like temporal flux, since you’re clearly ripping these themed units out of history.)

    Flux would only be used to construct versions of buildings with identical functionality but different aesthetics – you’d add a Pirate Shipyard which produced the same ships but with a skull & crossbones on the flags.

    A pirate shipyard would then cost 8000 food, 1200 Food, 1200 Iron, 4000 Knowledge and 1 Flux. You could probably keep the Flux:$1 ratio at 1:1.

    Anyway, that’s how I’d handle people clamoring for different aesthetics – do it in a way which won’t cost you money, will get some more publicity for the game and will lead to a new revenue stream.

  • I’m not going to do a KickStarter. KickStarter is sooo scammy. I’m going to withhold a very long tirade and just say No. :)