I was approached by Lotaris a while ago and asked if I would do a review of their platform. Having not heard of the company before, I waded in and started looking around and was quietly surprised by what I found.
If your interested in making more money for your paid apps or a higher revenue stream plus tracking and analytics, read on.
So Who and What are Lotaris?
Lotaris is an “in-app commerce” and mobile licensing platform with a rich and diverse set of tools aimed at leveraging the most cost effective infrastructure to help effectively monetise applications, on top of their commerce solution is a sophisticated analytics solution allowing you to track the trend use of your application giving you the power to control everything your offer in your application from their powerful backend services.
When I say app it could just as well be a game as well
How does it stack up?
Lotaris currently only targets Windows platforms so the comparisons are solely focused there, I fully expect that Lotaris will expand further later.
When you publish a paid app to any of the Windows stores (Phone or Windows 8), Microsoft will take a cut of your earnings, this includes in-app purchases using Microsoft’s payment system:
License cost breakdown
So at first glance you can see the Lotaris solution is more cost effective to run, meaning more money in your pocket.
There is a fine balance here when gauging user reaction to the monetisation model you select:
Paid app on Windows store, with or without trial
Free app on Windows store only
Free / Paid with Microsoft in app purchases
Paid app on Windows store with Lotaris in-app purchases
Free app on Windows store using Lotaris paid / trial system
Free app on Windows store using Lotaris paid / trial system in-app purchases
Free app on Windows store using Lotaris paid / trial system combined with in-app purchases
All of which have their merits, the only solution I would question would be putting it for Free on the Windows store and then using Lotaris paid / trial system, would need some careful planning so as not to anger users who got a free app but then asked to pay for use or extended services, however I have seen systems in games where you play up to a point or for a certain amount of time and then pay to unlock, using the Lotaris solution would be a lot cleaner here.
The only other query I have would be how users would react to being sent elsewhere to pay instead of the Microsoft store, sure Microsoft have no issue in you doing that (mainly because you have a 100 app free limit) but how would you feel being redirected for payment?
What are the options?
The Microsoft store already has a robust system in place, granted the differences between the Windows and Phone stores are very apparent to anyone who has delved deeply enough but just what can Lotaris bring to the table. Quite a lot it seems, check this out:
Lotaris feature comparison to Windows platforms
As you can see there is a lot more to offer on the Lotaris platform including the ability to do subscriptions, they also give you a platform should you decide to go down the Desktop route where you need your own payment system for everything (Microsoft will simply hold a listing to your app/game)
Currently Lotaris doesn’t have support for consumables but it’s on it’s way in a coupe of months or so giving you to have consumables on Windows Phone & Windows Store (currently not supported on Windows 8 for some insane reason)
One feature I really like is that if you were using some other mechanism to deliver your game or app, via web / Steam or as a desktop app through the store, then Lotaris will cover you even then.
In my opinion, Lotaris certainly seems to be the winning platform for privately monetising your apps and games on the Windows platform, apart from all the additional ways you can add revenue streams to your applications, at the end of the day you get more in your pocket.
But wait there is more to this story…
One of the things that really impressed me when I started trying to use Lotaris is their help and documentation, they seem to have hit the nail right on the head with giving you everything you need to know about getting started.
Once you have signed up and logged on for the first time you will be greeted with the following wizard/getting started guide, going through step by step everything you need to know to make best use of the platform:
Getting to know you, a nice 2.5 minute screencast gives you an overview of the Lotaris portal
walks you though getting the SDK downloaded and up and running on your development machine
Another 5 min screencast walking you through the app console in more detail
highlights the necessary steps for integrating the platform in your app / game (more later)
Highlights the importance of test mode to ensure YOU do not get charged while testing your app
The all important step showing you what to do to set up how Lotaris pay you
Shows you how to make your payment system live and ready to collect payments (just one click really)
For the final cherry on the top, get access to all the analytics data to show what people are buying to help you set payment schedules
As you can see from the get go you get a lot of information, clearly orchestrated and showing you how to get going with minimal fuss.
So your accounts ready, now what? Lets Integrate.
Your first app
Once you have gone through all the steps above (except step 4) and got an application defined on the Lotaris system, with or without in-app purchases defined, there is a handy link which walks you through the essential steps for integrating the system into your app, it is even using the new async/await functionality in Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 so there are no performance issues as well.
| First off you need to initialise the SDK library in your application, the wizard on the applications screen even copies all you logon details into the code snippet for you making this as easy as possible.
Just two options, whether to just connect or if you are using a trial system then some additional settings to set the trial timeout.
There is even the capability to test the trial offline, so if the user does not connect to the web the trial will still time out. |
| If you are using the app purchase side of the Lotaris platform, then when the user has to buy your app to either use it fully or continue, then simply add this integration code |
| Slimily to the above, when you want the user to buy an in-app offer, just add this additional segment. |
| As a last step, you can check the status of any in-app offer to verify what the user has already paid for, you can so this simple check. Also if you have a screen listing all paid for items, then you can use the ProductLicenses collection instead in implementing your own. |
Windows Phone users – read on
Now due to the way that Windows Phone operates differently to Windows 8 at present, there are some additional steps involved to allow your app to be authorised to use the Lotaris platform, many you will probably already have setup, so this is really just an FYI checklist:
- Require permission to fetch the phone identity.
- Declare support for more locales. If you do not do this, service conversations will always appear in the default language (English).
- Define an URI association to easily return to the app when a payment is completed in the browser.
- Enable Fast Resume
Set the capability to fetch the phones identity – “ID_CAP_IDENTITY_DEVICE” , set in your app manifest.
Declare support for more locales. If you do not do this, service conversations will always appear in the default language (English), Just add the locales for the markets you app will support in the “Packaging” section of the app manifest
Define an URI association to easily return to the app when a payment is completed in the browser , open your “WMAppManifest.xml” file using a text or XML editor and add a “Extensions” block in between the “Token” and “Screenshot” sections thus:
Be sure to change the name of the protocol to match the ID of you payment option in the Lotaris Console
Enable Fast App Resume – see http://bit.ly/19DqDg5 for more details but essentially, open your “WMAppManifest.xml” file using a text or XML editor and change
to, adding the “ActivationPolicy” setting to your default (startup) task, e.g. your homepage.
For more details about the above steps check the integration page on the Lotaris Dev Center – https://tools.onlotaris.com/en/dc/devcenter/integration
What about other platforms?
Lotaris does have support for other platforms such as iOS and Android plus even a WEB API interface for integrating with them, however at this time not through the self service portal. Anyone wishing to take advantage of Lotris e-commerce solutions on these platforms (iOS/Android/Web) should contact them directly at email@example.com
What else is in the pipelne for Lotaris
You can be certain that the Lotaris platform isn’t going to be sitting on it’s heals with everything they currently have to offer, they are constantly looking to improve their service and offerings, from what I’ve been told there are several other initiatives already underway including:
Support for consumable items
Paypal and Mobile network consumer billing
Sample demonstration applications
Further improvements to their online documentation and tools
Free cuddly toy with every purchase
Ok, the last one was just a vain wish 😀 but as you can see their offerings are certainly looking to increase your revenue support options, one thing is certain, they will always be offering a cheaper service to their competitors but even if it wasn’t just for that they just offer so much more to you as an app builder.
It is a wrap
Well I certainly got more than I expected when taking up this review and if you are monetising your app through money (instead of Ads through AdRotator) then this is surely a better option with a wider scale of choice.
Up to you