Last month we got a chance to get a sneak preview of SGN’s aerial combat game Skies of Glory, which promised to bring back the free-flying gameplay of its hit predecessor F.A.S.T. with a host improvements (and a classic World War II setting). A few weeks later we got our hands on the game’s impressive trailer. The game has just gone live on the App Store, and it doesn’t disappoint. You can grab it here.
For those who never played F.A.S.T., Skies of Glory lets you control a classic dogfighter using the iPhone’s accelerometer to steer. The game features some very, very nice graphics on par with what you’d find on a home gaming console not too many years ago. Up to 8 people can play simultaneously via a shared Wi-Fi connection or over the Internet and you can also play someone one-on-one using Bluetooth. I just took the game for a spin, and my initial impression (aside from the fact that I’m really terrible at aerial combat) is that it’s going to be another hit for SGN.
Skies of Glory is important to SGN not just because it will serve as one of the company’s flagship games, but also because it introduces a new pricing model. When F.A.S.T. was released, it was priced at the relatively high price of $9.99. Skies of Glory is free. SGN intends to monetize by offering in-game purchases — users can purchase more missions, aircraft, and so on from an integrated marketplace. Apple enabled apps to do this in June, but that feature was initially restricted to premium apps — developers weren’t able to upsell new features from their free apps. Apple changed that policy in October, which opens the door to Skies of Glory’s new pricing model. More people than ever will try the game out because it’s free, and a significant number of them will likely choose to buy these upgrades at a couple dollars a pop.
Of course, this will likely come with a few downsides. SGN will be able to entice many more users to try out the game because they’ve removed the premium barrier to entry, but as soon as gamers are forced to buy more missions some of them will start complaining — you really can’t win. But the odds are that the majority of gamers will buy new missions and other upgrades, making the game more popular and lucrative than its F.A.S.T. predecessor.
SGN also notes that some of its other games are getting upgrades. i(fluff) Friends and the Wii-like iBowl now have support for Facebook Connect, syndication to Twitter, and custom avatars.