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How Crossy Road Made Free-to-Play Work

By Nadia Oxford - Wed, Apr 29, 2015

Why did the chunky-pixel chicken cross the road? To earn more than a million dollars’ worth of in-app purchases.

Crossy Road, the “endless arcade hopper” (think Frogger, but with no hope of rest, ever) by Hipster Whale is free to download, but is making good bank nevertheless.

According to an interview with Unity, the popular Android and iOS game has earned over a million dollars through in-app purchases and ads—and that’s on the iOS release alone.

Interestingly, the studio appears to have made respectable amounts of money by taking a more measured approach to free-to-play monetization than bigger developers of “free” games. Coins that are earned in-game (or by watching optional Unity Ads that advertise other games) can go towards new characters. That’s right; it’s no longer all about the chicken crossing the road. In Crossy Road, we can ask ourselves why a dragon made the dash. Or a cat. Or a dog. Or Gandalf. Or, come Australia Day on January 26, why the platypus crossed the road.

And of course, once you buy a character in Crossy Road, it’s yours for good.

“We didn’t want any consumable purchases, we wanted to do something that everybody could pay a little bit for if they wanted to, but where it wasn’t necessary to keep paying,” Hipster Whale founder Andy Sum told Unity. “This makes the game really transparent, which is especially important to parents of small children.”


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