Ramp Champ – Combining iPhone Play with In App Purchases and Virtual Goods


While it’s been stated that the iPhone and iPod Touch are actually not easy to use (or perhaps more apt, not easy to design for), clearly they offer a paradigm that’s resonated with 60M+ consumers worldwide. There’s no shortage of apps on the App Store, with last official numbers reporting around 50,000 of them. Apple’s looking at 8,500 new applications and updates every week. That’s mucho apps.

The point is that in a crowded market, there needs to be a way to standout. Iconfactory, maker of the once firmly entrenched Twitterific desktop client, has done just that with its new game Ramp Champ. Ramp Champ is a case study in how to (re)define a market and it’s going to be a huge success. For a review of the game itself, check out Touch Arcade’s post.

iPhone Play

Many iPhone games simply don’t leverage the touch screen or accelerometer to full capacity or do so in a way that’s annoying. One of the reasons Flight Control, Paper Toss, and Harbor Master have been exceptionally popular is because they’ve allowed the finger to be the controller.

Ramp Champ leverages the increasingly popular “flick” interaction in a skeeball-like environment. Unlike in skeeball, there are moving targets but like it, rolling or in this case, flicking harder or softer allows the ball to go higher or lower.

Of course, Ramp Champ wouldn’t be Ramp Champ without its carnival-type music or incredible aesthetic. Mixing all of these elements together creates a stellar iPhone “play” experience.

In App Purchases

Because of the way the game was built, with each game of Ramp Champ feeling like its own level, the developers have made it easy to offer in app purchases. Ramp Champ launches with two in app purchases already available. I’ve talked to some game developers about this approach because continuing to spin out new levels for free versus offering in app purchases can really transform the economics of a business.

Now, this approach is somewhat untested on the iPhone platform. But it’s not everywhere else. Upgrades for new levels often require customers to open their wallets. By developing an app that essentially uses the same programming but changes the design and scenery to create a sense of levels or different games plus having in app purchases available at the launch of the game, the developers have set consumer expectations. The result is that the lifetime value of a Ramp Champ customer will be considerably higher than other popular games.

Virtual Goods

The stats show that keeping users engaged beyond a week is difficult. Ramp Champ’s in app purchases is one way they’ll keep people coming back. The other is incentive to perform and not just in the sense of breaking records but in collecting goods.

Anyone who grew up playing in arcades was likely once swept away by collecting tickets and redeeming them to get toys and trinkets that would cost much less if they were bought directly. Virtual goods are big business and Ramp Champ plays to that obsession by allowing users to redeem tickets won in games for virtual goods in the “Loot” area. Users can also collect trophies.

Because the Iconfactory is well, good at making icons, there are some very shiny objects in there, including the Twitterific mascot Ollie.

Conclusion

I’m sure you’ll read or see 58296 other posts about Ramp Champ today. But it’s as important to think about an app like this one strategically, as it is to laude it being fun, creative, and well-made.