I’ve always been fond of the Rolando series by Ngmoco: I think they were the first App Store games that showed me that the iPhone could be just as serious a gaming platform as the Nintendo DS or PSP.
I really liked the first couple of games, which is why it’s a shame that Ngmoco is now telling IGN that they are cancelling the third game, essentially because they can’t make it a “freemium” title.
What they mean by that is that Ngmoco wants all of their games to be free to download through the App Store, and they will make their money selling in-app purchases like extra levels, characters, etc. They’ve had great luck with this model with their Eliminate Pro shooter… but they just can’t figure out how to make this model work for Rolando 3.
It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me: surely, Rolando 3 could make its development budget back even without the “freemium” aspect, and I don’t really understand why Ngmoco can’t just sell expansion levels and different skins if they are intent on the freemium model.
Either way, it’s sad: the Rolando games are still really cute, and I’ll always remember them as the titles that first got me to take the iPhone seriously as a gaming handset.