If Candy Crush can be marketed as ‘free’, why can’t we?

The story begins during the development of Ebsta, when we fell in love with Candy Crush Saga. Now, it’s a pretty good game – I mean, it has to be if it’s to become the number one game on Facebook, number three game on the AppStore and big enough to topple Angry Birds as the most popular app of all time. No mean feat, right?

What really amazed us was how they managed two key areas:

  1. Free – How was this free to download and free to use game generating $633,000 a day — more than $230 million a year? and
  2. Addictiveness – How did they get their users to play it 600 million times a day?
Now, I’m not here to explain the Candy Crush charging model. But I will tell you that you can only play Candy Crush for 20 minutes at a time before hitting your limit. You’re then left to sit tight and watch the clock for a further 20 minutes until you’re able to play again. That is, of course, unless you’re prepared to pay. If you are, then you get instant access to the more lives you require to continue playing (there are also many more ways that they entice users to hand over the cash).

Despite this, the app was marketed as “free” across all marketing mediums. It all makes sense really. You can download the app for free, you can play the app for free and you need only ever pay King.com, the inventors, if you’re impatient or want to access premium features.

We decided to take this approach with Ebsta. You could download the app for free, you can use 75 per cent of the functionality for free and you only upgrade or pay if you want access to our Pro features (we also offer a 14-day free trial of Pro so you can test through the premium features before you have to commit to paying). 

In the process of launching, however, it’s been suggested that marketing the app as “free” is misleading.

So “Where’s the line?”

As a B2B application, are we not afforded the same marketing rights as B2C? Or are King.com, Ebsta, Xobni and other freemium B2B providers completely within our rights to say “we’re free?”

Ricky Wheeler is Marketing Director at Ebsta.

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