Atomic Blog

semi-coherent ramblings from the developers of Atomic Brawl

It's Hard to Sell Free

Anything of value has an inherent monetary equivalent. When you present someone with an item and then offer it for free, it’s not uncommon for them to think “what’s the catch?”. The phycology of free has been well documented, in most cases “free” implies a level of quality that is not worth charging for. So how can you sell a free video game?

Free Is A Dirty Word

In the video games, free to play (or F2P), seems to be a term that is fostering more and more negative connotations. Games without any upfront charge are often viewed as means to exploit the players emotional reactions to the input they’re receiving. When this stimulus is peaked they are then presented with a pay wall – asking them to pay or hit the road. The financial success of these types of titles are immense, and there are tons of new games daily trying to cash in on this trend. The backlash against games that operate in this fashion is growing daily, and because of this, any game without an upfront cost triggers red flags for many consumers.

Free Is A Necessity… For Us

So when we launched Atomic Brawl a few months ago we had many conversations around this topic, but eventually decided to make it free despite the growing backlash. Atomic Brawl is a multiplayer game – and as such – the fun players receive from it is largely proportional to the amount of people invested in the community. Our fear was that with any up-front cost we would limit our user base. Very few people would be willing to throw money at something they’ve never played or heard about. So we marched forward with a free game, and hoped that we designed our minimization mechanism in a manner that didn’t exploit the players unable to pay. No pay walls, nothing you can’t get without playing more.

Free Is Unproven

Now is “free” viable as an indie game? An indie game that wants to grow and develop into a long-term project? Atomic Brawl is proof that… we’re not quite sure yet. We’ve been able to draw a very active and engaged community. We have not however, reached any sort of mainstream success. In fact, I would argue that doubling down on our community engagement has been one of our better decisions. The number of people who seem to really love what we’ve created has been awesome (check out all the awesome reviews over at the chrome web store).

Free Requires Marketing

Up until now we’ve relied on grass roots marketing, and admittedly, probably not enough of it. This has given us enough success to prove we have something people want. It has not however provided enough income for the game to sustain and grow itself for any length of time. Our next step is to march onto into more mainstream media circles. See if we can peak the interest of anyone who’s best friend isn’t already an Atomic Brawl addict. With that as a backdrop, we just completed our first game trailer:

(SHAMELESS PLUG: please like, share, favourite, rub, comment, consume, and enjoy this)

And with this trailer, we plan to make a concerted effort to drive more players to the site. In doing so we hope to grow this game into an ever evolving and excited means to waste 5 minutes of your day.

For the players who have been playing an loving Atomic Brawl over the past few months we hope this effort will give Atomic Brawl enough traction so that we can turn this into something you love even more.