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Star Trek goes with paid mobile game over freemium model

As the freemium model continues to gain steam, popular brands are increasingly weighing whether to launch paid or free mobile games, as evidenced by the  new $2.99 Star Trek game and Angry Birds' first free offering.

Star Trek fans can now experience what it is like to build a ship and explore a new galaxy with the eight-bit Trexels iOS game. While Rovio is embracing the freemium model, this Star Trek game is still holding to the hope that charging for the download will be the best revenue model.

?In terms of price, the decision to make the game paid, but at a low price point was something we considered a great deal,? said Craig Bolin, senior game designer at YesGnome, Hyderabad, India. ?Much of your success as an app is related to attracting and retaining users, not just for monetization, but also for spreading word about the game, and keeping it high in the charts, in the potential view of more new users. 

?The Trek license is hugely popular, and we believed that the style of game fit well with the potential fan base, so that the total package was attractive enough that users would be willing to pay a small price to play,? he said.

Trexels is powered by [x]cube GAMES and YesGnome, LLC, and it is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for $2.99.

Star Trek Trexels is an eight-bit mobile game that resembles more old-fashioned games from the 70s and 80s in that the images are blocky and blurry. 

Trexels lets users build a ship, choose a crew and explore a galaxy. Users can choose room types and modifications, assign officers to key posts, train them and send them on missions.

The game is set in the original Star Trek universe, and players will meet familiar Star Trek characters during the game. It also includes the library computer access/retrieval system interface from Star Trek.

The premise of the game is that the USS Valiant has been destroyed by an unknown attacker, and the user has to continue Starfleet?s its mission in a mysterious area of space known as the Trexelian Expanse.

The game features narration by Star Trek actor George Takei as well as the original music from the series.

Like Rovio, Zynga also works off of a freemium model (see story).

YesGnome thought that freemium would not work for a Stark Trek fan.

?Finally, the gameplay itself, combined with the target fan base felt like it needed to be a paid product," Mr. Bolin said. "Trek fans tend to be fairly savvy game consumers, and I was concerned that there could be a backlash if the game felt like it was trying to monetize from them too hard. 

"Thus it was better to keep the gameplay fast, dense and rich and ask users for a small price to play, rather than trying to block off progression and monetize solely from the core loop,? he said.

Timeless gaming
Digital games have always been a favorite American pastime, starting with game consoles and now with mobile apps.

Many games are incorporating newer technology to take gaming to the next level.

For instance, Hasbro has created Telepods figures, letting kids blend the physical and virtual by teleporting real-life figures into mobile applications (see story).

New Balance?s lacrosse brand Brine also leveraged features unique to mobile devices in a mobile game that asks users to flick a finger across the screen to recreate the action of a shot (see story).

It is interesting that as games incorporate newer, more advanced technology, since there are still games such as Trexels that look to the past and offer a more nostalgic experience.

?[Trexels] was a strategic partnership with CBS, they were looking for a partner to develop an app in the pixel art style and [x]cube GAMES was ideally suited, because of our background in social sims and experience I have had on products with big IPs," Mr. Bolin said.

"Our thought was, that the Trek license and the compelling art style would draw in users," he said. "We needed design gameplay that would engage and re-engage Trek fans, thus a heavy emphasis upon fan service, story and exploration.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York