I often head into the Apple App Store and check out games that are in the Top Selling List. Dragonvale happened to be at the top. It was created by by Backflip Studios who also made Army of Darkness and Paper Toss, both of which I have downloaded and played. I think my high score in Paper Toss is 15, beat that!
Dragonvale is a free game that appeals to me for a few reasons:
Honesty is the Best Policy
Dragonvale is upfront about being a free game and in-app purchases. They go a step further and tell their audience that they can disable the in-app purchases in their settings. This avoids a PR nightmare like we saw from Smurfville where an 8 year old girl spent $1400 on Smurfberries.
Beautiful Details in a Unique Environment
The team did a solid job at creating islands for the players, who doesn’t want to own an island, which you can customize to your liking. The dragons are cute at the beginning and grow into beasts as you feed them. Wizards beam in through a portal to visit your dragons. Bonus points for a very helpful and interactive tutorial at the beginning of game play.
Monetize through Treasure
The team created three monetization channels within their Treasure area. You can trade in your cash for gold, gems, and treats. The gold enables you to buy dragons, buildings, decorations, and islands. The gems kill build times on hatching eggs, building habitats, and even cutting down big ass trees. The treats are what you feed your dragons and they eat a lot! Most people value their time and buy gems, though I opted for treats because I wanted a big dragon fast.
Seemless integration with Game Center
Kudos to Backflip Studios for creating a game that can be played on the iPhone and iPad. Double kudos for integrating with the Apple Game Center so that no matter which device you use, you pick up from where you left off.
Here’s a gallery on the user flow of the in-app purchase: