Recently GameSalad updated their game making application which I have been using to make a game. Typically when they do an update it is focused on adding new features to the program, which as a user is what I want. This update however is a little bit of a slap in the face to the free users(also known as Beta Testers since they are still in Beta). What they have done is taken away the Game Salad splash screen (which is standard for Pro members) and allowed you to use your own. So far so good. The problem comes in with this next part. After my Splash Screen what appears is an ad for another game from the PlayHaven network.
Since I currently work at a startup I understand that they need to make money. And ads can be a way to make money. I don’t begrudge them the money they can make doing this. My problem comes in two parts: the content and the method.
As an apple developer you are responsible for the content in your app. For instance Falling Cats, the game I am working on, is rated 4+. However gamesalad has said nothing about the content of the ads placed in front of my game using their app. As an exemple: When this first came to be and I built a version of my game for testers and launched the game there was an ad for a Zombie shooter, complete with blood and bullet holes. Awesome. If this game was submitted to the app store and some kid sees the zombie/bloddy mess who gets in trouble? Who gets their developer credentials rejected by apple?
The other thing that bothers me is the method in which this ad is implemented. It isn’t a 3 second ad that has the option to touch it to dismiss it. You have to click on the ad to dismiss it. As a gamer who despises ads, this would irritate me to no end. Not only is it forcing my consumer to do an extra step to get into the gameplay but it is giving my game studio a reputation as ad whores.
Of course as the people at GameSalad have said you can remove this “feature” from your game by becoming a pro subscriber for the small yearly fee of $499. This unlocks all these magical features: iAds, the PlayHaven Network, Klip ads, in-app purchases as well as giving you the ability to remove the initial ad from the game. I would love to become a pro member because I think that game salad is a solid group and that they are doing their best, but asking people to pay $499 to be a pro level beta tester is just silly. As numerous people have suggested on the game salad forums, Game Salad needs to do a tiered pricing plan: $99 removes the Playhaven add but doesn’t unlock any of the other features, $499 gets you all of the pro features. They could even break it down further by allowing you to purchase individual componants of the Pro membership for $75-100 a piece allowing people who only want to be able to do in-app purchases to just get those.
As I have spent time reading about peoples concerns on the forums I am noticing that game salad may have reached the point that they are only interested in making money and not listening to their users. They have thousands of faithful users who just want to make games, a lot who have stated that they would pay up to $100 to remove the ad, yet GameSalad is only interested in converting people to the full Pro Membership instead of realizing that convincing 5 people to remove the ad at $100 would be easier then convincing 1 person to spend $500. I would send them $100 right now to remove the ad from my game.
Another thing that I am irritated by this whole thing is that there was no talk about this “feature” prior to release. I updated my GameSalad to the newest version and I am now stuck with this until they update it again, change their pay structure or until I move to a different engine and remake my game. I guess this may be the push I need to learn C#/xCode and make my app that way.