Paid app models have always been fascinating to me - I've even had a TODO sitting around in my post ideas list to explore various methods of distributing software without inundating users too much. Pro features, time trials, disabling ads for money, in-app key unlocks, lite versions, paid-only ones without trials - these are all on the list and all have their pluses and minuses.
This new idea, however, is so radical, brilliant, and crazy compared to the rest that I think it might just work, and I'd like to run it by you to see if I'm not alone. Headcase Games' new action-puzzle game "180" has 2 versions, just like you would expect - a free one with ads and a $1.99 one without. Here's the kicker - if you play the ad version for 10 hours total, all ads will disappear. Permanently.
Let's think about it for a second. I'm not sure Headcase Games will be able to break even with the $1.99 version after only 10 hours of ads (depending on how visible and prominent they are), but, in my opinion, it's a win-win situation.
Users who hate ads are still able to buy the Ultra version for $1.99 right away - no changes here.
Users who don't want to pay will download the free version and play, but here's the difference - like a carrot on a stick, the subliminal goal to reach those 10 hours of play time just to unlock something premium - anything really, no matter what it is - will continuously gnaw on their brains. Why have ads when you can disable them, and for free? Even if these users are not going to end up being worth $1.99, they've already done their jobs by playing the game, hopefully enough to get hooked (if the developer has in turn done his or her job).
At this point, these users become much more valuable than even those who bought the premium version. They can help the game go viral by telling their friends. Heck, they have probably already let their family members in on the fun. After that, it's like a chain reaction - it is a lot easier to rise up to the top of popularity charts and get noticed when your product is being talked about.
Without going deeper analysis, I'd like to hear from both users and developers alike. Users, do you like this idea? Developers, is this a viable model for you? The lonely rectangular box down below is eager to be filled with the thoughts coming from your giant brains. So, let's discuss.