Great Reviews, Bad Sales

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Hobbsicle, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    Hey there,

    Looking for some advice on what to do with my first game that has been out about 2 and a half weeks.

    The game is called "The Way We Roll" and it is a puzzle adventure game. I have gotten some very positive feedback on it. iFanzine reviewed it on Day 1 and gave it 4.5 out of 5. Their only complaint we already fixed for the first update we'll be submitting in the next day or two.

    Here on the forum, the feedback has also been very good, with people saying it is "one of the best puzzlers on the app store", being "surprised" at how good it is (which might be a clue?), saying it is a game that "defines what iOS gaming should be", saying they enjoyed it more than Blast-A-Way, and other comments that seem very exciting.

    Trouble is, my sales are quite low, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do to encourage more sales, because I am still pretty green at the business side of the app store.

    So far, we have a website (which is so-so), a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a presence here on the forums. I sent out a good bit of press kits at launch, but iFanzine is the only one that gave us coverage (aside from a few small or foreign blogs).

    We're about to submit an update which addresses almost all of the complaints anyone has had so far.

    Launched at 99 cents as a "launch sale". About 2 weeks in, I switched it to free for 2 days, which got it about 4,000 downloads, rising into the Top 5 Puzzle games in France, but lower ranks elsewhere. I then ended the sale, and brought the price up to $1.99. Gotten 1 download a day since then...

    We didn't launch with a free version, but are about to submit one that will have fewer levels and links to buy the full version.

    I'm also considering a different icon, a better main graphic, etc. but I wanted to get some outside feedback about what might be a good approach at this point...

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. BazookaTime

    BazookaTime Well-Known Member

    I am no expert but having a launch sale and then going free so quick only to rise the price was probably not a great idea. People are already cheap if they see you went free, they will wait for free again. The people that missed the .99 or free sale probably won't be paying 1.99.

    I released a game at 1.99 and had good sales. I dropped the price to .99 and eventually free and the sales decline. now at .99 it never recovered.

    Any luck with some other review sites? I will look into the game and can leave review.
     
  3. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    Thanks for the feedback. I feared that going free at all at that time was probably not a good idea. The sales had already dropped to 2-3 per day at 99 cents, so it was kind of an impulse decision that I made with the hope of keeping up some momentum. But yeah, I can see that it might not have been the best.

    It was our plan all along to launch at 99 cents, then raise to 1.99, but my free promotion there in the middle was unplanned, and possibly unwise. Regardless, though, it's what happened and so now I'm looking to move forward.

    Haven't had any luck with other review sites yet, but maybe I should send out a second round of requests after the update hits?
     
  4. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    i agree, take your time.

    you do not have to make a lot of money immediately. let it sit, give away a few promo codes to review sites and see if they will cover it. after three months (minimum), run a campaign - like with "apprewards club" - also run by a few members of the forums here. my app, caveman is currently (today) going this this.. after, it will switch back to the original price..

    the app store can be a very ugly place.. you just need to learn from everyone and hope for the best.
     
  5. Eoghann

    Eoghann Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2012
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    IT Guy/Graphic Designer/Gamer
    New York
    I saw 15 mins. of gameplay from Sanuku's video to get an idea of what the game is about. Here are a couple of personal observations (good and bad) as to why or why not, as a consumer I would consider this game.

    Stark lack of sound effects, just a beautiful acoustic guitar. I know it may be soothing for some...boring for others. Soundwise there is not much going on..not much difference from playing it on mute if you're not into classical guitar.

    Some sounds of leaves rustling when the ball hits the bushes, or a tapping when it hits the stones, or a hollow wooden noise when hitting a log, something to give more life to the area. The plot of the game is to rescue survivors from different areas, though it appears that the same red gentleman with big eyes needs saving. Some variety maybe?

    The game indeed has color...sadly, not vibrant. When I think of vibrant colors I think Subway Surfers, Run Roo Run, Mega Run, or Lili. Maybe turn up the saturation a bit on the colors.

    Lot's of humor! Really love the dialogue and the hand drawn schematics.

    The puzzles look impressive and challenging. Some quite daunting even.

    Upon seeing gameplay it definitely looks like a very nice game that I would be willing to try, but that's because I saw gameplay. Had I not seen that, I would have passed along this game because to me it doesn't stand out.

    I hope you don't find these comments hurtful or mean spirited, I try my best to provide constructive criticism on games that have a great idea or mechanic but can use some improvements to engage the user.
     
  6. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    Thanks, that seems good advice. I always hear these stories that you will make all the money you'll make on the game in the first couple of months, and so I think my reactions were based on the fear that waiting would kill my game.

    But I know plenty of older games that I've picked up after having been released a while, so I should exercise some patience. Difficult when you're all freaked out about your first game! :)

     
  7. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    if this is your first game of many.. relax! :) so much more potential!
     
  8. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    I missed this earlier.

    Thank you very much for your impressions. Not taken negatively at all, very constructive, and honestly the kind of thing I was looking for.

    Here's the fun thing about all that. And by fun, I mean not that so much.

    We DO have sound effects. And quite a few, actually. In fact, I've gotten some comments about how those sound effects really add to the ambience. Problem is, they were not implemented correctly the first time around. The sound effects were tied to the system sounds, so whatever method is used by Sanuku to create those videos does not pick up those sounds. We fixed this for the upcoming update, but a bit too late, unfortunately.

    As for the variety, we released with the first world, which is most (or all) of what you see there. There is also a bonus underground world, but the green grassy place is the majority of the gameplay at this point. So that accounts for two of the survivors. Were already at work on the second world and corresponding bonus world that will introduce 2 more survivors. I think once that hits, I'll be able to design the screenshots and the trailer to include much more variety.

    Finally, the vibrancy of color: I hadn't thought about that before. It seemed colorful to me, but admittedly it's more of a "realistic" scheme than a supersaturated one. But I'd be interested to see what you would think if I upped the saturation to see if that improves anything, so I'll whip up some mock screenshots to see how they look.


     
  9. Eoghann

    Eoghann Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2012
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    IT Guy/Graphic Designer/Gamer
    New York
    Glad you replied. I thought I had upset you. xD

    Good to hear it has sound effects. Coz I did notice the bushes and shrooms wiggle when you roll into them, so I was finding it strange how you'd take the time to animate those objects yet not make them produce a sound. :)

    Speaking of trailer, I saw the launch trailer and noticed quite a difference between the trailer graphics and the actual gameplay graphics. I think it's because of the dark space background that makes all the colors pop! And the sky background is probably too light and gives the impression of the colors being washed?

    Here's a little something I worked on to illustrate what I'm trying to say:

    Left: Original, Center: Vibrance and Saturation adjusted. Right: Same settings as center, but with a space background.

    [​IMG]

    As for the gameplay, I'm getting more and more intrigued by it, seems to be quite a variety of traps in there. I'm interested to know what other kinds of gadgets, gizmos, traps, enemies and helpful creatures are in each world to provide challenge to the player. Like trap doors, teleporters, tunnels that take me to secret levels or another part of said world. That should be something worth conveying in screenshots (I personally more than often decide by the screenshots than by the description).
     
  10. Dazzlemi

    Dazzlemi Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2010
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    I paid .99 cents for, and like it a lot. I got side tracked with other things
     
  11. Why didn't you make this game universal? I really think these days that if you don't have a dedicated hd version, any Indie game really needs to be universal to maximize popularity and promotion. Especially a puzzle ball game which would almost always play better on the ipad.

    I know for me, I loaded it on my ipad, said the 2x graphics weren't that great, and then instantly deleted it.

    I really think unknown Indie titles really need to be universal,or they are kind of shooting themselves in the foot. But that is my personal opinion. Plus screenshots of the ipad version always look good on youtube and the descriptions which helps too.
     
  12. Rubicon

    Rubicon Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2011
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    Lead Programmer, Chief Bottlewasher
    Isle of Wight, UK
    I think part of the problem is the screenshots. They do look well made and professional so it's not like it makes the game look bad. But they also give no clue as to what the gameplay actually is about.

    Most people don't read the blurb text on the store if they just want a quick fix. One day when one of our games has utterly died, I'm going to prove that to myself by changing all the text to "rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb" filled with occasional "don't buy this game, its shite" to see if it actually has an effect.

    Now you've gone free, I'd recommend putting revmob advertising in. It's not as obtrusive as banner ads and can pay dividends by all accounts, though not trialled it yet myself. Or maybe a bit of iap. In short, continue to think of this as a free game and not a paid game that's still on promotion.

    People can stomach missing out on a sale if they don't happen often, but if you get a rep for having one week a month at a lower price, all those using appshopper etc will spot the trend and wait until next time.
     
  13. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    Thanks for the further clarification. I see what you mean with those screenshots. I mean, those were perhaps a little bit too saturated, or at least would need some color adjustment, but when looking at those screenshots side by side, the first one does look a lot more drab by comparison.

    And the video in the trailer possibly looks more vivid because it probably is. I upped the contrast and saturation on the video I shot, because the footage I had was pretty low contrast to begin with.

    I'll mess with some of the color settings and see if I can get it to stand out better.

    And we have a few puzzle elements in the first world that don't show up in the gameplay video. Things like moveable moles, turning bridges, and hidden portals in levels that open up secret levels. In world 2 there will be even more, some that we're really excited about. It seems that I might need to figure out how to better convey some of these things in the screenshots.

     
  14. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    A couple people here have said that it's one of the better-looking games at 2x, but I can't say, because I don't have an iPad myself. Regardless, we are working on making it universal, so once we do, I'll let you know, and maybe you can instantly reinstall it. :)

     
  15. Hobbsicle

    Hobbsicle Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2011
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    Thanks, Rubicon. I've struggled with figuring out how to make the screenshots really convey the game, what it's about, and the unique elements. Not easy to do in a few single frames, but I'll see what I can come up with, possibly by blending together some images to convey some sort of animation. Any advice on what to do with the screenshots would be greatly appreciated.

    And the game is no longer free, we put it back up at $1.99. For now, I'd prefer not to keep it free, so we'll just leave the price where it is for a while, and put out the updates we're working on. If sales never pick back up, I have thoughts of some ways I can do some unobtrusive IAP that may allow me to drop the price. Not for a while though.

     
  16. PixelPower

    PixelPower Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2012
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    Add some text on your screenshots to show what your actually doing in the game.
     
  17. PixelPower

    PixelPower Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2012
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    Its better to make a lite, dont make your game free too much cause then the appshopper people will wait till it goes free again.
     
  18. SkyMuffin

    SkyMuffin Well-Known Member

    May 24, 2010
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    college student, ENG/WGS major
    Lexington, KY
    I generally agree with the other comments in here.

    Your icon and first screenshot both fail to really tell me much about the game and what it's about. The description is written "in character" but I am still not really sure how it works after reading it all. These are all aspects that could be clarified.

    Besides the color thing, the fact that you can see lines between tiles makes it feel a bit "cheap" or low production. That could be smoothed out. Best of luck!
     
  19. Yup, that I will do for sure. I'm not saying it looked bad in 2x or anything, but having a new ipad, I only keep games that look really good graphics wise on it. And your game had a lot of promise, so let me know when it is universal.

    My point was that small Indie companies need as much support as they can get. While there isn't that big of an ipad market, the typical ipad user is more dedicated to ios and more likely to buy games. So without their support, it will be even harder for an Indie company to survive since most Ipad owners won't buy iphone only versions anymore.

    Plus ipad version screenshots and youtube videos look so much better when promoting a game. I notice that many big name companies use their ipad version in their promotions rather than their iphone versions.

    So any little thing will help small Indies become succesful.
     
  20. DemonJim

    DemonJim Well-Known Member

    Nov 19, 2010
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    #20 DemonJim, Oct 2, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
    I think the in-game graphics look great, very polished and really make me want to wander around this world. The icon however does not convey any of this though, and as SkyMuffin also says the first screenshot is bad just showing the title screen (in the wrong orientation) - this first screenshot really needs to be the best to show off the game.

    I also agree you would be wise to get it working on Retina iPad making it Universal. Even people without an iPad will like it as they are getting more (and they probably want to get one at some point)

    So my advice for a quick fix improvement is make the icon more striking and change screenshot 1. Longer term, go Universal (Retina and definitely support bigger screen of iPhone 5 etc.) and keep adding cool new features to updates. Then watch the sales go up and up :) - all the best.
     

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