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I realize this is a nebulous question with no hard and fast answer. Just curious if there are any rules of thumb regarding playing times for a game/puzzle mobile app. Of course, value cannot be judged just by hours or minutes, but also by the quality of play and player skill... but let's leave that for another discussion.

Given a pick up and play freemium puzzle app (say each level takes an average of about a minute to play): What would be a reasonable and fair breakdown of free playing time vs. purchased playing time? My playing time estimates are based on a player with fairly good skills. The nature of the puzzles allow repeated additional re-playing to improve scores.

My current thinking is about 3 hours free play, with additional level packs priced at $1 for every additional 2 hours of play. I'd like my players to keep coming back for more, so I'd like to make sure the paid play is priced fairly (another nebulous term :).

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Are these puzzles timed? Would the $ per hour account for players getting stuck on something? I actually can't think of a single puzzle game priced by time; most/all of them have price units by level. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you? –  XiaoChuan Yu Jun 6 '13 at 22:07
    
Sorry I did not make that clear...no they are not timed. But I assume game designers have an idea of typically how long a level might take, and therefore some idea of the amount of playing time they are providing? To use a ridiculous example, suppose you downloaded a freemium app and had a free-to-play experience that lasted 5 minutes... I suspect that would not be enough to entice you to purchase additional levels, especially if you thought you were going to pay, say, $1 for another 5 minutes of play. –  Dawgless Boyd Jun 6 '13 at 22:12
    
They're timed if you're charging per hour... –  Byte56 Jun 6 '13 at 22:55
    
I am not charging per hour. I am simply describing a metric I am calling "playing time". Another example to clarify: I design a level pack, I have play testers play it. The average time it takes a play tester to complete the level, let's call that "average playing time". I was looking for some rules of thumb regarding "average playing times" for the free content of a typical (and successful) pick-up-and-play puzzler. Also looking for rules of thumb regarding how to fairly price additional levels, roughly based on "average playing time". –  Dawgless Boyd Jun 6 '13 at 23:25
    
So you're charging per level pack, but you want to ensure that each pack has roughly the same play time, thus each pack has the same value to the player? –  Byte56 Jun 6 '13 at 23:56
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closed as not a real question by Byte56, Sean Middleditch, Nicol Bolas, Josh Petrie, Anko Jun 13 '13 at 10:31

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Really the solution here is playtesting with follow up questionnaires. From each tester, ensure you collect:

  • How long each level takes to complete
  • How many levels they play
  • How well they rate the game play
  • How much they think a fair price is

Then just crunch the numbers and find averages. With this data you can get fair price per hour played (along with some other useful information). You could also weight the inputs based on how players rated the game, so people who liked it matter more to your statistics.

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