Before Tim Schafer and Double Fine began the multi-million dollar Kickstarter that brought huge game-funding projects like Leisure Suit Larry, Wasteland 2, and Republique into prominence, there was Six to Star’s Zombies, Run!, a virtual fitness iOS app that we really liked. Funded at nearly six times its $12,500 asking price, it was the first big iOS crowd funding success. One big question, however, has lingered: exactly how does a developer distribute 3,000 pre-paid apps?
For those of you not familiar with the system, Apple grants developers just 50 free codes for App developers to give out to friends, business contacts, and reviewers. Given this fact, how on earth did Six to Play get their game out to 60 times that amount? According to their blog, they created a special app, and spent a lot of time talking with Apple.
The separate Kickstarter-only app, ZR Advance, became a “free” app that required Kickstarter funders to enter a unique name and password. Once the password was entered, funders were able to access the full version of the game. It seems like a simple solution, but it still required a few workarounds.
The first reminder came from Apple itself after Six to Start was able to open a dialogue with them. In order for the free app to remain on the App Store, it had to require some sort of functionality. In order to combat this, Six to Start simply used the free portion of the app as a database for some of the lore used in their real story world.
The second problem is one that falls on Six to Star’s hands: they have to police users who seem to be sharing their ZR Advance codes with friends. They send users that seem to be abusing their codes with multiple devices a warning, before eventually shutting off access to the code altogether.
While Six to Start asserts that this plan isn’t a guaranteed success without first contacting Apple and making sure it’s alright, they assert that being able to distribute their crowd funded game in this way was beneficial to everybody:
“Crowdfunding – and this distribution method – is an ideal way to help higher-priced indie games like ours attract backers and become a reality, which is good news for developers, for gamers, and for Apple,” they said.
With the Kickstarter method becoming more and more appealing, it’ll be interesting to see how developers can distribute a pre-paid game on the App Store. Perhaps if projects like Zombie, Run! become more popular in the future, Apple itself will create a simple, standardized way for developers to get their Kickstarter-funded games out to paying fans.