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Threes! devs are making twice as much money by giving their game away for free

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

One month ago, Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend released a free version of their award-winning game Threes! for both iOS and Android devices. Yesterday, they revealed on Twitter the transition to free-to-play has doubled their daily income.

Threes!, which remains available in its original $2.99 format, was carefully massaged into the free-to-play format over the course of a year, a process the developers detailed for Polygon.

"I was pretty set on banner ads for a long time. ... It seemed pretty straightforward to slap a banner ad at the bottom of the game. This all changed, however, when I opened Drop7 for the first time in a year and found out that Zynga had slapped some atrocious 'tap the duck to win big!'-style banner ads at the bottom of the game. I found these so gross and offensive. The first thing I did was swear off banner ads forever." ...

The Threes! team even released an animation that shows how the ads are shown to the player. You can check it out below. You have a set amount of plays, and can earn more by watching ads. You choose when to view the ads, or not to. If you don't want to mess with ads at all you can buy the paid version. There are no in-app purchases, and no pop-ups asking you to rate the game.

threes gif

The game, which also sells for $2.99, was cloned almost immediately, which no doubt cut into the team's sales. The free version, however, seems to be performing well for them.

Surprisingly, player retention is roughly the same as well.

The next level of puzzles.

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