Save more money with RE.minder 2.1!

We're happy to announce that RE.minder 2.1 is finally through review and ready for prime time! This new version of RE.minder adds a couple new features that you've been asking for quite some time now.

RE.minder updates:

  • Day of the week is now listed in the date in RE.minder cells
  • Next repeating RE.minder can now be skipped without sending all to history
  • General performance improvements
  • 3 new content packs!
    • Musical Sound Pack 2 adds 20 new musical selections. (99¢)
    • Rock Sound Pack adds 16 rockin' sound selections. (99¢)
    • Miscellaneous 2 Icon Pack adds another 18 quick picker icons. (99¢)

But that's not all, the PROs get some great new features in this update as well!

RE.minder PRO updates:

  • Pull down on the RE.minder list to see the options for quiet time. Silence all reminders with a quick pull and tap.
  • We've added Tappable links, phone numbers and addresses in notes. Just enter something in your notes and we'll automatically detect it.
  • Do you like to get bugged? You can now choose a default Bug Me value to be applied to all new RE.minders.

As always, RE.minder is totally free and you have several options for adding content and features. If you decide to add features via In App Puchase, just visit the store from the info tab. You can get all PRO features for just $2.99 and add-on content packs for 99¢ each.

But for those of you who like to pay once and get it all, RE.minder PRO+ is now only $8.99! That's a dollar cheaper than it was before, plus you also get all 3 new content packs in addition to all the original content packs AND all RE.minder PRO features! When you get RE.minder PRO+, you save $4 off what you would have to pay to get everything separately, and you're also covered for any new content that comes out in that wild and wonderious future time, when zombies and terminators rule the wasteland!

Thank You!

The apps of the .minder family (RE.minder, RE.minder PRO+ and GAME.minder) have been downloaded more than 540 thousand times! That number makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. RE.minder 2.1 is our best RE.minder yet, and we think you're gonna love it as much as we do.

Download a .minder Now!

Used games and the phantom "Publisher Buyback

I just finished reading this article about the "secondary games market", aka, Used Games. Well reasoned, it reminded me that I've had something to say about this for a while.

The Phantom Buyback

At PAX East this year, I attended a "Legal Issues in Gaming" panel run mostly by lawyers, several of whom represented big game publishers. At some point in the the panel, they asked for a show of hands "how many of you buy used games?" I raised my hand. Then they asked, "How many of you think the publisher or developer should be getting a cut of that sale?"

My hand went down and I was frankly shocked at how many stayed up.

Now I'll admit, I consider myself (maybe narcissistically) to be more informed than the average bear concerning intellectual property issues. This is a very clear case of first sale. Once you've packaged up and sold something, it's not actually yours anymore. If I choose to sell it to Game Stop for $20, and then they turn around and sell it to someone else for $40, that's the market working the way it's supposed to (but the less said about "the free market" the better).

To every publisher or developer who thinks they should get a cut of that sale, I would ask, how much of that $20 I got from Game Stop came from you exactly? And while we're at it, how many publishers actually run their own buyback programs for used games to compete directly with this model? Why settle for a cut of that resale price when you could have the whole thing?

My guess is because they don't like the entire concept of competing on price and having several used game outlets would open used games up to something most intellectual property never has to worry about - commoditization. Since copyright is essentially IP monopoly, most IP creators have gotten used to the idea of being able to name their price. Competition in the used games market (for both buyers and sellers) adds an element of instability that most would rather not deal with.

Digital Distribution or Digital Extortion?

Another point made by a panelist was that digital distribution would help this problem "self-correct". I agreed, but given the way things have been going, I think we were thinking about it in very different terms.

From my point of view, the "digital distribution" angle is very clearly happening in places like the App Store. We are seeing, in some cases, the exact same game that sells for $50 in a box going for $9.99 (if even that) on the App Store. And this is often times after additional development costs to translate to a touchscreen control system. But it's a lot easier to justify a $10 price tag when you know every sale is final (no resale of digital goods, for now at least) and the volume has the potential of hitting 200 million.

Unfortunately, I fear this is not the digital distribution you're looking for. I think he was referring to the increasing popularity of locking off parts of the game behind a single use code included in the box.

Some of you might remember the dust up when the Downloadable Content for Bioshock 2 was in fact already on the disc. Back then, many felt they were being charged for something they already paid for. The single use code does essentially the same thing. To the point where Game Stop has actually been sued over deceptive practices over the fact that stuff pictured on the box isn't actually included when the game is sold second-hand.

Bravo lawyers, bravo. You turned it around on them.

But the overarching point in my mind is really quite simple. If you don't want people to "wait till they can buy it used", you price it to move. Hell, I've bought every Lego Star Wars game new and I then sold them back but I've almost re-bought several of them over xbox live because, two years later, who can argue with $19.99? If it had been $19.99 to start, maybe I would have just kept it instead of getting $25 back from the $50 I spent. After trade and buying it a second time, I still will have spent less than buying it new and keeping it.

With a value proposition like that, why wouldn't I trade my games and more importantly, why would I care if the developer didn't get a cut of the used sale? Clearly the game is only worth $19.99, right? So why shouldn't I be incensed that I paid $50 in the first place?

Why indeed.

Pricing Creativity

I was listening to the SlashFilmCast recently and they were talking about how movie ticket prices went up again this year.  It got me to thinking, why exactly are movie tickets all priced the same?  And video games too.  When the "next generation" of game consoles came along (Xbox 360/PS3), there was quite a lot of digital ink spilled over the "typical" game going from $50 to $60.  So how do we, collectively as a society, come to agree on these prices?In economics, we have the related concepts of supply and demand.  For physical goods, if the demand is higher than the supply, this puts upwards pressure on the price. Conversely, when you have a lot of supply and little demand, prices tend to shift downwards.  But creativity, be it a movie, video game, or a song, lives in a world of essentially limitless supply, especially when we take into account digital delivery.  How do we agree on "fair market value" for a good that CANNOT be depleted?

In the case of movies, a ticket price of course covers much more than just the "viewing experience".  It covers all the associated costs of running a theater.  If we applied a supply and demand model to movie tickets, something like "The Hurt Locker" (which is the lowest grossing oscar winning film of all time) would have cost something like 10¢ a ticket while "The Dark Knight" (which broke all sorts of records) would be like $30 a ticket.  This seems backwards but if supply remains constant, a higher demand would apply upwards price pressure.  But as I've said, supply and demand doesn't apply to creativity in the same ways we see in physical goods.  So we pay $10 a ticket, regardless of if we're seeing Transformers 2 or The Lovely Bones.

Is this the free market at work?  Industry wide price standardization is actually quite counter to the typical "free market" sensibilities but of course, intellectual property in and of itself doesn't really fit with free market sensibilities.  The idea of holding a patent or copyright is nothing if not a government mandated monopoly on an idea.  Within this context, we determine "fair market value" by pricing a thing (movie ticket, video game, app) and then seeing if people buy it.  If they do, at the given price, then the market will bear it, by definition.  We complain that video games went up $10 this generation but we still buy them.

Want to have fun?  The next time you go to the movies, try to haggle over the ticket price.  When you head to Target to buy the next Halo game, make the cashier a counter offer.  Who knows, maybe you'll start a pricing revolution.

StyleAssist now $2.99 - for better or worse

app price iconAs StyleAssist approached release, we were tasked with the unenviable job of trying to find the right price point.  We live in a strange economy on the app store.  The vast majority of apps are sold for under five dollars, but there are success stories at $20, $50 and $100 price points.  So how does one determine what to charge for software in the app world?The democratization of software development has brought with it an era of 250,000+ apps available and SEVERE price competition.  Looking for an app to manage your to-dos?  What do you want to pay?  There are innumerable free options on the low end, probably more than 50 in the ¢99 - $4.99 range in the middle and then options like Things at $9.99 (or $19.99 for iPad).

But the most important question anyone should ask when clicking the "Buy App" button is not "is this the cheapest" or even "is this the best app for what I want to do".  The question to ask is - do I want this company to be around next year?  While there may currently be almost 300,000 apps available, how many of those are still supported?  How many are still in active development?  How many of the companies that made them are even still in the business?  While the era of the app has brought with it the era of "functionality nuggets", it will hopefully not also herald the end of software development as a viable business strategy.  "Vote with your wallet" isn't just a platitude.

We released StyleAssist at $4.99 and the thud heard in the app store would be legendary, if it weren't so typical.  In the grand scheme of things, how much is $5 really?  Especially when one considers that upgrades are free for life!  I had a meeting this week to discuss the future of StyleAssist and the two cups of coffee sitting on the table cost more than a single copy of the app.  I pointed this out when my colleague mentioned the difficulty of convincing someone that $4.99 wasn't too high a price.

But since the inception of the app store, there has been a consistent drive to the bottom.  As a result, the app buyers of the world have been conditioned to expect free or ¢99 apps that can do anything they want.  When we arrived at $4.99, we were trying to balance the desire for sales against wanting to fund the next round of development for StyleAssist.  It looks like we missed the mark a bit.  So we've done what lots of app developers do in this situation, we've dropped the price.

This is not a sale or a promotion.  We've decided that we overshot our value proposition and have adjusted our expectations accordingly.  The most exciting thing about being in the mobile software space is being a part of a new and developing industry.  And it's a constant learning experience.  The hope now is that we don't learn ourselves out of business.