Badland, a premium mobile game title from Finnish developer Frogmind, was first launched onto the App Store back in April. Now as the year draws to a close the game has been released for Android and Blackberry and we’ve spotted an interesting new development in its monetization strategy.

Badland, for those who haven’t played it, is a side scrolling adventure game where the player control the flapping wings of an owl as it navigates across a shadowy landscape. The beautiful art style is reminiscent of Limbo or Feist and is probably a strong part of the reason they have won so many great reviews. The game’s challenges increase as the levels progress with mazes becoming more complex and demands on the player’s reflexes increase. Avatar modifiers are carefully placed along the levels that change the owl’s attributes; speed increases or decreases, enlarging or shrinking, that sort of thing.

When Badland was first realised it was sold for $3.99 on the App Store, and that is the price it continues to hold at today. However when coming to Android, the Helsinki based, two man team that make Frogmind are trying a different approach. The first 40 levels of the game are completely free to play, with only a few short video adverts breaking up the gameplay. This allows everyone to try out the game and decide whether they would like more, if they would there are a few different payment options available.

Firstly players could simply pay $0.99 to remove all ads from the game, and play those 40 levels without the annoyance of having their play interrupted. Then there are two separate $1.99 purchase options, one for the “Day II” pack which consists of a further 40 levels for the game and the second for the game’s multiplayer, 3 multiplayer characters and 17 multiplayer levels. Finally, and I’m guessing the option they would like most people to go for, there is the Premium pack. $2.99 for all the content and features, a dollar cheaper than the game’s price on the App store, and certainly cheaper than paying for all parts of the game separately.

Frogman aren’t the first premium mobile games developer to be trying out the Free-To-Play model with in-app purchases. We’ve watched as Rovio has gradually moved that way, introducing in-app purchases to its main Angry Birds and Star Wars Angry Birds games while lowering the price of entry. Now with the up and coming Angry Birds Go!, a go-kart racing game, we’re due to see them really embrace FTP. No up front cost to play the game, but a whole host of in app purchase options to buy more tracks, birds, and karts. Rovio soft launched the game in New Zealand recently but we’re waiting for it to receive its worldwide release and how it’s received before we make any judgements on this new direction.

On the other side of the equation is Oceanhorn, a premium Finnish iPad game ringing up at $9. But if Free to Play was good enough for Supercell and their title ‘Clash of Clans’ which lead to them being bought out for $1.5 billion, then it must be an effective technique, right?

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