Free-to-play Gun Bros unleashes $500 Kraken

Free-to-play iOS shooter Gun Bros prices an in-game gun at roughly $500.

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Glu, the developer behind the free-to-play multiplayer iOS title Gun Bros, has just given frightening new meaning to the mythological exclamation: "Unleash the Kraken!" The Kraken, in this case, is the name of the most powerful weapon in the game. Part missile-launcher and part laser-cannon, the Kraken lays waste to anything in its path. The catch? Purchasing the damn thing could cost suckers gamers up to $500-worth of real money. For the uninitiated, Gun Bros is a top-down, twin-stick shooter featuring asynchronous co-op, and a recently added real-time multiplayer mode that supports WiFi and 3G. The game's hooks include daily challenges and dizzying amounts of upgrades to unlock. As with many free-to-play titles, Gun Bros features in-game currency--called "war bucks," in this case--which can be accrued by either participating with Glu's advertising partners (like watching ads, or signing up for Netflix), or purchased with hard-earned real-world cash. Spending cash gives quicker access to items, but players with enough time and patience can get access to the same content without spending a dime. In other words, it's a fairly standard free-to-play business model. Something that's anything but standard though, is the Kraken's price. As you can see, the Kraken (shown below) costs 3,499 "war bucks." The largest purchasable pack of "war bucks" from the Gun Bros in-game store is the "710 war buck pack," which means that someone would need buy five of said packs to meet the Kraken's 3,499 war buck price tag. The shocking part is that the "710 war buck packs" cost $99 each. Yes, you're reading that correctly: Five hundred dollars for a virtual gun. Adding a bit of insult to injury, mobile gaming site TouchArcade notes that the price of the Kraken was actually raised from its initial 1,400 "war buck" price (which still amounted to about $200 of real-world cash).

What's the most you'd pay for a virtual item?

Now, I've never played Gun Bros, so I can't really comment on its overall quality or fun-factor. However, as much as I love video games, I can't imagine spending anywhere near that much real money on an in-game item. As ultimately silly as the initiative may seem, it's also hard to knock Glu for its attempt to prey on rich idiots. They're a business, trying to make a buck. Concerning those who actually spend $500 of real money on virtual swag? Feel free to point and laugh.
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From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 3, 2011 6:45 PM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, Free-to-play Gun Bros unleashes $500 Kraken.

    Free-to-play iOS shooter Gun Bros prices an in-game gun at roughly $500.

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 6:51 PM

      So who here buys in-game items from iOS games? The only people I know who've purchased these did so because their kids bought the items using their iTunes password.

      I can't see many developers making a ton of these things, especially if the prices start to get past the $1 level.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 6:59 PM

        Look at iTunes "top grossing" rankings. How many of these are "free" games supported by in-app purchases?

        • reply
          August 3, 2011 7:02 PM

          Yikes, so Smurfs Village must really love these kind of people.

        • reply
          August 3, 2011 7:20 PM

          its getting dominated by freemium. but not even good freemium, its like the zynga style gameplay freemium where you have 2 mins of gameplay and you have to pay to play more

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 6:56 PM

      Are you serious?

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 6:58 PM

      This is great. Just like the I am Rich app.

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 7:14 PM

      "As ultimately silly as the initiative may seem, it's also hard to knock Glu for its attempt to prey on rich idiots. They're a business, trying to make a buck."

      No, it's easy to knock them. This is a deliberate and cynical business move to prey on their customers who are most given to compulsive excess. I firmly believe that game design is about being an advocate for the player, not the careful architect of compulsion loops and superficial communities centered on the ownership of virtual items. What this developer is doing is unethical and that charge applies generally to many if not most applications of the "free-to-play" business model. When developers have the gall to openly speak about the metrics based way in which they design their games to maximize ARPU, from individual mechanics to high level theme, I fear for the future of the industry.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 7:16 PM

        It's called self control. This is such a ludicrously priced item only the super rich or super retarded would consider this.

        Cynical would be charging 10 dollars for a weapon. Charging 500 for an in game item in a game like Gun Bros is just funny.

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          reply
          August 4, 2011 6:06 AM

          It would be funny if it were an April Fool's joke. In reality though of course they're hoping someone will buy it. They probably know they have at least a few rich OCD fans who have to own every item, and this is specifically designed to leech obscene amount of money out of those people.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 7:18 PM

        hahah oh brother

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 7:19 PM

        what's arpu?

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 9:34 PM

        Excellent post.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 9:34 PM

        games are pretty much supposed to be a charity or nonprofit amirite?

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 9:55 PM

        Whoa, whoa, whoa. Games shouldn't absolve people of personal responsibility.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 9:58 PM

        Agree with you, but you're probably on the losing side of history.

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 10:21 PM

        well said, unfortunately most consumers aren't this lucid.

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        August 3, 2011 10:22 PM

        I agree with the professer

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 10:27 PM

        have you seen the prices of tabletop game pieces? This is nothing new and will not have a massive effect on the industry as a whole.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 4:06 AM

        Offering all items within a low price range excludes everyone who is willing to invest more money into a game. Although 500$ may seem far out of range, many other F2P games offer very high priced items as well. As long as the item is not mandatory for succes in the game, all is well.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 6:03 AM

        great post

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 6:06 AM

        It sounds like, technically, you could "earn" all the in game money necessary to purchase it simply by watching ads when you start the game, it would probably take a year and a half but still.

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 7:18 PM

      this freemium model is getting out of hand

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 7:24 PM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 9:26 PM

      I removed the free version of gun bros from my android tablet yesterday, due to it's insistence on constantly running AirMailService in the background.

      Couldn't turn the damn thing off no matter what.. and of course the micro-payments were ridiculous. Bye bye what could have been a fun game, from a morally void developer.

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 9:45 PM

      They should hire someone who has taken econ 1

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 9:50 PM

        They did. Remember the supply and demand curves?

        • reply
          August 3, 2011 9:51 PM

          Even someone who is only taken econ 1 wouldn't be this dumb

          • reply
            August 3, 2011 10:16 PM

            feel free to explain why

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              August 3, 2011 10:21 PM

              You want to price your product to make maximum profit. How many kraken guns will they sell a $500? A few? Discounting the publicity angle If they price it lower, but still exhorbitant like say $50 they will likely sell more than 10x quantity and produce more profit overall.

              • reply
                August 3, 2011 10:23 PM

                and the reason they can't price this at $500 for the big spends and a different, lesser gun at $50 and a different, lesser gun at $5 and a different, lesser gun at 99c is what?

              • reply
                August 4, 2011 2:14 AM

                You also have to take in it's value as a marketing piece. Photographic lens manufacturers are known for making incredibly expensive lenses, well beyond the realms of normal people ($20,000+). Yet they are shown around and talked about all the time, yet the vast majority of people will never even see one of these things in person.

                Something that is expensive and exotic will be desired, even if only talked about in the way someone does a fantasy, "I wish I won a million dollars" , "I wish I had this product..."

                • reply
                  August 4, 2011 6:00 AM

                  That's what I think, I never even heard of this game before yesterday.

              • reply
                August 4, 2011 5:03 AM

                This seems simplified to the point of being wrong. First, it's not an actual product so the number they move is mostly irrelevant. Second, it's not their ONLY product so it's virtually guaranteed that they DO have the $50 slot covered.

              • reply
                August 4, 2011 6:02 AM

                You guys both have it wrong. Whether or not they actually sell the item is mostly irrelevant. They just got their freely advertised game on every gaming news site, with loads of people talking about it. Outrageous claims is a common marketing technique.

          • reply
            August 3, 2011 10:21 PM

            Um, I have a BS in Econ. You have an infinite supply here; marginal cost is basically 0. At that point you have a vertical supply "curve". If X number of sales can cover the initial investment Y, everything else is profit. As long as demand D at price P is:
            D(P) > X*P-Y

            It's a good idea.

            • reply
              August 3, 2011 11:00 PM

              No, that makes no sense, we are dealing with profit-maximization in a monopoly market where there is no supply curve. Unless you are going to argue demand is infinitely elastic for virtual goods, which it is not, setting a price artificially high will simply result in 0 sales.

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                August 4, 2011 1:41 AM

                Uhh it's not like that's the only item available

                • reply
                  August 4, 2011 5:04 AM

                  That seems to be his main assumption, one that makes no sense IMO.

            • reply
              August 4, 2011 4:52 AM

              Marginal cost = 0 means that the supply curve is horizontal, not vertical, and that the supply curve is the horizontal axis. Under these conditions, a monopolist's profit maximizing price is wherever the own-price elasticity of demand is equal to 1. In a perfectly competitive market, the price would be pushed down to zero.

              ("Infinite supply" is not well-defined, but could indeed mean zero marginal cost.)

        • reply
          August 4, 2011 2:56 AM

          it's a virtual item with an infinite supply

      • reply
        August 3, 2011 10:22 PM

        It's not like the item is burdening their inventory. If someone happens to buy, it's probably well worth the effort that it took to program the item in.

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 10:14 PM

      250mb app -- that seems ridiculous

    • reply
      August 3, 2011 10:19 PM

      heh you guys sound poor

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 3:40 AM

        heh

        • reply
          August 4, 2011 5:39 AM

          manwasher would buy that in a heartbeat if he played the game. Dude has loads of cash.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 5:44 AM

        heh...seriously. I once bought a cheeto for $500 just to say I did. Fucking poor people.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 5:57 AM

        People who don't have money will be the ones who buy shit like this. I value my dollar more than spending it on utterly valueless junk.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 8:25 AM

        Post a screenshots of you buying the gun, moneybags.

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 8:41 AM

        heh, you sound like someone who has more money than sense

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      August 4, 2011 5:38 AM

      I really wish there was a "Freemium" filter that turned off every game like this on the app store, it's so saturated I don't even bother browsing it anymore (and only buy stuff recommended here.)

      • reply
        August 4, 2011 6:45 AM

        whoa wtf we can sell unusuals? damn I wonder how much my flaming magicka hat is worth

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