This post is just collecting information that I’ve shared in a smattering of different places.
How much will Shmeppy cost?
I’m basically certain that this will be the payment scheme: $5 a month for a GM account (maybe $4.99 ); players do not pay, nor do they even need an account.
All of my research and data science so far has told me that this is a reasonable cost to ask of users and one that will sustain Shmeppy. If I get new information that makes me change my mind, I will be very vocal about why and what the new plan is.
Will my players need a subscription?
No. Players do not need to pay anything, nor do they even need an account.
Will there be annual/bulk options?
Probably, but I don’t really know. This is a pretty nitty-gritty detail of the payment strategy and I won’t try to answer this question for myself until I’m already pretty far into the process of turning Shmeppy into a paid product.
Can I give you a lump sum upfront for lifetime access?
No, there will not be a one-time payment for lifetime access option.
Can I split the cost among my players?
Shmeppy will not help you charge your players, you’ll have to do it via another service like Venmo. This is because payment processors take a flat fee alongside a percentage, so a payment split between 5 people would make it so very little of that money made it to me.
How much warning will we have before Shmeppy is turned into a subscription product?
I’m not sure on an exact number of months warning I’ll give or exactly how that warning will be given. It’s a very hard bit of communication, so I’ll be giving it a ton of thought. 2 months or more, certainly, any less than that seems unacceptably short.
I’m also super likely to do something like: on this date new GM accounts will need to subscribe, but all existing accounts will get X additional months of free access.
My hunch is that you’ll have 3-6 months of warning with which to decide what you want to do with your games once I settle on an exact date and begin my rollout.
Will there be a free tier?
No, and I’ve written two essays about why I won’t do this if you’re interested in the reasoning:
- A quick essay on why Shmeppy won't be a freemium product
- A longer follow-up essay on why Shmeppy won't be freemium product
Will there be a free trial?
There will certainly be something that allows potential users to “try it.” A free trial is a particular way of accomplishing that. But there are others I’m considering (“get your money back if you cancel”, windows of time where Shmeppy is free for everyone, etc), and I’m not sure which one I will choose. I may try different approaches to see what works best.
This doesn’t really affect existing users, and is mainly a marketing optimization. So I’m not afraid to experiment wildly. (Compare this with the price of Shmeppy: existing users are definitely affected if I experiment wildly with it and change the price of Shmeppy every month, so I’m going to do a lot of extra work to get it right the first time).
Will Shmeppy ever serve ads?
Will there be different payment plans? (Basic, Premium, Ultra-Extreme Premium)
No. There’ll be one single plan that gets you all the features.
What features can we expect to arrive before Shmeppy becomes paid?
There’s not a checklist of features in my mind that, once complete, will signal that Shmeppy is “done and ready to be a paid product.” Shmeppy is ready to be a paid product today: its many thousands of users are a testament to that.
The free price tag of Shmeppy is good for its growth, and that’s the reason it’s free. I’ve been trying to hit particular goals around Shmeppy’s user counts before making Shmeppy a paid product, because I believe that growth will slow once Shmeppy is no longer free. Basically I want Shmeppy to reach a “critical mass” where word-of-mouth marketing from its existing user base is enough to keep Shmeppy growing further.
This is all to say: this question does not have an answer. Or perhaps the answer is: you can’t expect any particular features, because the transition from free to paid is not tied to Shmeppy’s feature set.
What will stop Shmeppy from getting loaded up with cruft once it becomes a paid product?
I think this question is standing on a couple bad assumptions. But I’ve had it asked many times.
The short answer is basically: Shmeppy becoming paid will not affect its simplicity or design at all, these are unrelated things. But let’s dig into a couple of the bad assumptions I think this question comes from:
- Paid users will have more sway over me so I’ll have more trouble refusing feature requests. You may have to take my word for this (unless I decide to write a full-on essay about this), but this just won’t be the case. The situation currently, where all users aren’t paying, and the situation we’ll move to, where all users are paying, isn’t going to change anything. I’m still just trying to acquire and retain users. I may end up prioritizing GMs over players because GMs will be paying and players won’t… but I don’t think this will affect things any more than it currently does (because I know currently that GMs are going to be my paid users and already track them in my metrics with higher priority).
- Shmeppy will need to justify its price tag with lots of features. I intentionally designed Shmeppy to feel very simple, and I’ve worked really hard on that design. I know that Shmeppy’s value is its simplicity. I’m not going to try to justify Shmeppy’s price tag with features, I’m going to continue to justify Shmeppy’s price tag with excellent and simple design.
Remember that Shmeppy is over two years old now, and I’ve been working on it full-time that whole time. Shmeppy’s simplicity is intentionally designed for, and it’s certainly not a happy accident of its age.