The second part of my genius money-making strategy is to include In-App Purchases. Also known as microstransactions, they've been the subject of many several controversies in the gaming sphere. Many players feel that they just shouldn't exist at all: after buying a game, why should you have to pay more to unlock content inside of it? Other players' problem is with what the microtransactions offer. In a "pay-to-win" system, hiding exclusive boons that affect gameplay behind a paywall is universally hated, but if they're just cosmetic changes, new character skins or something similar, maybe it's not so bad. When microtransactions allow you to unlock non-exclusive content faster...that's when the line gets blurry.
I've answered a lot of these problems here before, but I'll do a quick recap: IAPs are pretty much par for the course for mobile apps, and they generally aren't hated as much in that context as they are for console games. In my case, UO will be a free game, so I'm not asking you to pay more for anything after you've already paid to buy it. Nothing in my game is exclusive, so no worries there. And with the exclusion of the treasure detector and other upgrades, nothing you can buy affects gameplay either.
At this point, you might be wondering why players would bother with microtransactions at all. The truth is, a lot of them won't. Those who do will simply want to avoid the grind. Now, "grind" is a harsh word, because it implies that the game is boring or laborious or repetitive when trying to get to the next "fun" part. Ideally, you should still be having fun while you're working to unlock the new stuff. But if you're a completionist, or if you just want to try out all the content, paying a little may be the right move just to get you over the next "hump". In my game, if you somehow get bored with the current level, you can use an IAP to unlock the next one, and then keep earning more treasure naturally there to buy anything else left. Or use an IAP to buy the treasure detector immediately, so all your treasure earnings are multiplied from the start.
Okay, so Unity supports IAPs as part of their "Services" package, right alongside the Ads I talked about last time. Their tutorial is outdated (just like everything else), but between it and searching for help videos, you should be okay. In short, it's sort of like the Steam achievements and leaderboards, where you register them with ids online, then use them in the relevant callback functions to actually make the purchases. The interesting part is that you're going to want to create those ids and set up your code before going to the Google console and officially registering them there. Why? Because someone thought it was a good idea to lock that feature behind an alpha build, meaning you need to upload a build to Google before you can access the IAP section of the site. I.e., upload your build so you can access IAPs so you can put them in your build. Once you're through that mess, you'll probably want to test them. To do so, you can register a tester e-mail (or several), so that when they sign into Google Play and try to make a purchase, they'll get a special confirmation box, one which says "you will not actually be charged for this purchase". But if you make it that far, you know you've done everything right.
I've had to wait for about a week to get my alpha build approved (...why? Since the alpha is specifically for internal testing only, I have no idea), but just today it cleared and I was finally able to test that last step and get the message. And with that, Undersea Odyssey is one step closer to release! I've only got one more task to look at (and one more round of testing afterwards), and another blog or two about what I've been up to while waiting for build approval, so stay tuned...it's coming soon!