The decision to move to a subscription model for My Virtual Mission was not one that I’ve taken lightly.
To begin with I felt twangs of fear and guilt that MVM’s existing users might feel like they were tricked into signing up for something that was offered for “free” and were then subsequently told that they would have to pay for it once they had committed themselves to it.
I didn’t feel good about that. I like things to be transparent, honest and fair.
But I also had other feelings of fear and guilt – that the service that I’m pouring so much of my time, energy and large sums of money to develop would not survive without a source of revenue – which would mean letting down those same users, even more.
In the early stages of My Virtual Mission, back in early 2013, I’d always planned on generating revenue from MVM via small commissions on sponsorships that people made towards fundraising missions. As it turned out, the fundraising aspect of MVM was not very popular with users, with less than 1% of missions opting to fundraise for themselves or a cause.
I also got caught up in the red tape of trying to get charities on board. It seems that most charities are simply not open to external methods of fundraising on their behalf. Maybe I just wasn’t that good at convincing them that MVM was a good fit for them.
After researching in depth the different options I arrived at what is pretty typical revenue model for apps in this category and opted to go with whats called a “freemium” model where users can use the basic service for free and pay a small amount to get the additional features and benefits of the premium offering.
I did consider a “pay once forever” model as that’s what I would prefer as a user.That arrangement really doesn’t work because MVM is a service which relies on servers, databases, support, engineers and and ever increasing list of ongoing expenses. If we were shipping software that worked independantly of these things then a one off would have been more realistic.
Sounds pretty straight forward right?
But what features should be free and how much should premium cost?
Unfortunately there is no easy “just Google it” answer to those questions.
My small team had been developing and releasing updates and features on a regular basis so we listed them out and then decided on a set of features that would still offer free users the core service that MVM started with – A platform that cumulatively tracks their exercise progress on a map over a long distance to help stay focused and motivated.
This left a nice list of goodies that we were pretty confident people would see value in upgrading to premium for.
But how much should we charge?
This questions is a real balancing act between offering good value for users and generating enough revenue to sustain the service. We’ve taken lots of things into consideration and researched pricing for apps in our category as well as in other categories.
I also looked into what people gain from using the service and from personal (i.e. non automated) communications with over 1,000 users I got a sense that MVM is really helping people stay motivated to exercise because MVM is essentially a goal setting app.
How much is that worth to somebody? I know that I would pay many hundreds of dollars to be able to stay committed, focused and motivated to exercise over a extended period of time!
So I took a look into the premium pricing of other popular fitness apps of which there are a ton of amazing offerings out there.
Runkeeper – $49.99/yr
Strava – $79.99/yr
Endomondo – 38.99/yr
There are definitely the free alternatives out there for those “measure my run” type apps. Those are mainly offered by companies investing in brand relations such as Nike and Under Armour or are connected with hardware devices such as Garmin, and Wahoo. MVM didn’t fit into either of those categories.
I also polled a random segments of users and as helpful as that sounds it showed there was an extremely large variation on what MVM users believed the app should retail for.
Nothing was jumping out screaming “here I am, I’m the correct answer, pick me, pick me” like I’d hoped it would.
Then I looked around saw the billions of dollars that people spend on virtual trinkets to make their virtual farms run better or virtual weapons that they buy to kill their virtual enemies and despite thinking that the world has gone completely mad, it did highlight that most people are prepared to pay for something as long as they can perceive the value.
And it’s really that simple – People will pay if they perceive there is value.
So with that in mind and, I’m really comfortable and feel proud to announce the MVM pricing.
Here it is in its rawest form, without the graphics and colours to dress it up
12 months – $12.99USD | $16.99NZD | $14.99CAD | £9.99GBP | $19.99AUD | €12,99EUR
6 months – $8.99USD | $10.99NZD | $9.99CAD | £6.99GBP | $13.99AUD | €8,99EUR
* There may be some price variation due to currency fluctuations and the way each store sets pricing. For non app users we will have our own checkout where premium can be purchased.
Now for some pretty pictures to show what the premium feature set contains