To quote Gameloft’s press release, “On February 3, 2011, Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden will be launched for free on the App Store. Once downloaded for free, the game will let the player take his first steps on this epic adventure. Then, if the player is prepared to take up the challenge, he will be able to unlock the full game through in-app purchase, for $6.99. This new mechanism allows Gameloft to adopt a freemium model that is becoming increasingly popular among game developers and consumers alike. Plunge into the most ambitious Action RPG ever released on iOS! Become Ayden, a young hero chosen by the god Uryah to save the kingdom of Lasgalen from the Apocalypse. Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden is an amazing adventure in a majestic world that will fascinate you for countless hours.”
My understanding is that this will enable the consumer to download the game, play a small bit of it, and then buy the entire title as an in-app-purchase if they enjoy the demo. Most Gameloft titles have a “lite” version which fulfills this same function, but this new model will make the process more streamlined. This is interesting (if not earth-shaking) news, because it marks Gameloft’s first foray into the increasingly popular “freemium” pricing model. With such a big name in iOS gaming adopting this pricing scheme, it isn’t far-fetched to think other companies might well follow suit, especially if Gameloft enjoys increased success with this distribution model.