How Critical Mass gets 1,000,000s of Downloads and It Will for You Too

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by 1stSPIN, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    If you have been following some of the hit games on the market and are wondering why do they get the downloads they do and rise on the charts in a short time here is why.

    They have critical mass which means when they come out of the gate they are guaranteed a 10,000 to a few 100,000 downloads and show on the upper levels of the Android and Apple new game listing then with that they start to generate their own forward momentum and continue to spiral upwards. You will mainly see the same companies because somewhere during their struggles they hit on a winner and climb. This is very rare but it does happen just like every week people win the lottery. Then with each new game they use software on their game to push a free ad to their existing users to tell them about their new game. They are not without the same anxiety as you because they also struggle to stay at the top. Even though they have the benefit of the kick start critical mass they need to find a new winner fast. Players delete games just as fast as they download if they feel it is not worthy of a 2nd visit and then the same happens for a 3rd and so on. During this period of unknown the company picks up about $0.18 for each person playing that day which helps to pay for cappuccinos during their think tanks.

    Critical mass is going to cost a sizable investment and should only be considered if you think you are sitting on a winner or if you have money to burn.

    I would like to open this thread to look at all of the options to get critical mass. You many not know I am doing some toe testing and posting real time results. You can read the first of these in this forum at this link http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=248890
     
  2. Xammond

    Xammond Well-Known Member

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    Oh I'm sure they are.
     
  3. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    Thats why you need games which have long term engagement to be successful in the long run.
     
  4. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    #4 1stSPIN, Nov 25, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
    A first I thought that a long term game would be the best. Now I feel it might be wise to spread out the type of games I produce.

    The people I know first hand made 2 million USD in 7 months and the other is making about 115,000USD a month for the last 3 and the gam is not showing any signs of slowing down and both are quick and possible short term games. We also have a number of other examples like Ketchapp and a number of other developers of which I have not meet.

    I think the best is to follow your dream and produce what you feel comfortable with and learn how to get a critical mass because it is the critical mass that made these 2 people and I am sure the same holds true with the other developers and with that you let the final decision sit with players rather than editors, web reviewers etc. Remember the end user is the one who is going to decide your fate. But if they don't know you exist or what you have then you could be sitting with a winner and it will get covered in dust.
     
  5. Pixelosis

    Pixelosis Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2013
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    So are you saying that to be successful you need big investments?
    Conspicuous, isn't it?
     
  6. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    If you have a winner under your wings please share some info with us that could help us navigate through marketing our aps.

    Did you invest money on advertising and if so how much, over what period of time and in which place.

    What critical mass of users did it take before your game caught fire and went viral

    What was your return.

    Did your first success help you to get the critical mass needed to make your 2nd game a success without advertising.

    And of course any other information you might think that will help us.

    I am posting some info on toe testing ads with google. You can find it in this section of the forum.

    Once again thank you for your help

    Lajo
     
  7. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    I really liked this blog http://amirrajan.net/a-dark-room/ for how to get to success and the work he put in.

    I was talking to some of the people who made monument valley and they did no advertising.

    The Room has a similar story if you google around about it.

    I don't believe it is a lottery if you are making quality games. If you are trying to make a silly pointless game go viral then you are in need of luck but your game still needs to have something too it. Being a clone which is fairly similar to what is out just makes going viral harder cause the market is saturated with choice.
     
  8. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for posting the info. I will read it with great interest.

    I am a tenderfoot in the promo of this type of business but learning fast. From what I see Apple gives new apps a bit of help. I am told they post them in a special place so that a new app will get limited exposure for 2 or so days and pick up about 100+ downloads. If these are not all developers and hard core players then this could be enough to get the wheels a turning and it has in a number of cases. But I am sure that the majority of great apps never go beyond the initial Apple promo because they are not knowledgeable and underfunded. I believe you need critical mass to get to the next level and there seems to be no 1 or 2 places you can advertise in to get that. So far I like the speed in which Google and I am sure Facebook can get your ad in front of people. They are truely amazing and deserve all the money they make. And it may be the method you need to use to get your critical mass by investing $20,000 to $50,000+ on an app and get your 10,000 players and then let the friend to a friend take over.

    The real positive of this business is that the final decision for the success of all games will be decided by the billion + players and not by us or any reviewer. I have seen a few youtubers who don't promote a new game but promote themselves by reviewing a winner to try and build their brand. It is like in all business, what's in it for me.

    You guys have been in the business for a long time judging by your forum static but at the end of the day what can you offer to new developers. If you are as lost as all of us then lets learn together by do turning this business inside out to see how it works.
     
  9. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    I am certainly still trying to learn everyday.

    You can check out my site to read my CV of stuff I have done but I have quite a few very successful educational and museum developments. I am also lucky enough to go to gameDev forums and teaching gameDev is part of my work.

    My games have had middling success and have brought in a little bit of income to the point I am happy. While I am proud of my games I can certainly see reasons they haven't been that successful (mainly they are hard niche puzzle games, however in general I have a positive response :) ).

    I am hoping to change that with some of my upcoming games, but I am just guy who runs all digital learning at 3 iconic Sydney sites so I have a lot to do!!!!!
     
  10. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

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    #10 Blackharon, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
    Off topic: Dude I follow your mars rover stuff on twitter pretty earnestly and I'm amazed at how you pull off game dev too! Seems like I'd be completely drained by the time i got to personal creative time!

    On topic: I've been parts of all types of advertising. From the indie 'we have no budget, no following but Apple will surely feature us' rookie mentality to the 'we have a name brand so people will automatically come' side of the business.

    App store featuring is light years beyond any other free marketing campaign you can come up with. I've had every game I made featured in every way currently available to be featured on the app store. There was a fair number at the minor featuring spots (new and noteworthy list view, or anything in a game category screen), a great number at the major featuring spots (those minibanners on the front page) and an awesomesauce "Oh god I don't think our servers can handle the traffic" number of installs from the major feature slots on the front page. I wish I was allowed to give numbers, I really do. By itself, the top featuring slot is enough for the millions described as 'critical mass' in this thread.

    I find indie developers look at app store featuring wrong. It's not 'how do I get my game featured'. This is how *every* other developer thinks, and is trying to outshine you. Apple has thousands of apps to pick from for 24 different slots that are worth anything (give or take). In order to count on that top bar slot you have to ask "How do I outshine every other game in the queue. Every single one of them".

    You have to play to your strengths. You have to know what you have that's better than everyone - I'm talking honest to goodness 99.5% of the games out there - and play to that strength if you're not willing to spend a fair amount of capital on marketing. Why? because those that are better than you at your strength will outshine you for that spot you're looking for. In most cases, the game won't be able to compete at that level, just because it takes something spectacular.

    To use the examples by Destined: Monument valley has truely unique gameplay and artstyle, so much that you can't help but be curious. The Room let you interact with the scene in unique way, using a powerful graphics engine and was one-of-its kind in the levels of polish, especially when comparing it to other point and click style games. Both of these games had something in common, a unique, highpolished take on the kind of game they were presenting. Nothing else being released that week came close to touching these two games in those aspects.

    You may try to debate me all you want on these points "But Blackharon! My game had the highest scores every in a beat-em-up!" or "but my match 3 was the first 3D match 3 called match 33D" Take a look at what editors at Apple like, and beat the competition at those tastes.

    Anyways, I can go on for days about featuring and gotta get back to designing [name redacted haha!] ;) , but I hope I gave you a different perspective.
     
  11. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    #11 1stSPIN, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
    I will check out your games. Niche games are great. You have a narrow market so there are ways to reach them and when you spread that market around the world small becomes big. If I see some opportunities for you I will pass them on. Give me a few links to some of your games and my family will play them. My son loves an app that one of the member her posted. Had I not seen it he would not be playing it now. The game is called Naxus. If you like puzzle thype games you should check this one out.

    I just found your games. I will download and check them out.
     
  12. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    #12 1stSPIN, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
    FANTASTIC INFO! Thank you for contributing :) Nothing better than getting it from the horse's mouth.

    The companies I know use the push promo on their existing games to climb and bring in a profit even on questionable games. They of course like everyone else struggle to get another winner that can bring in 100,000,000 downloads to top up their customer tank. It would be nice to hear from a few of these companies and pickup some first hand information. The ones I know were in the ropes, borrowing from their friends and then made a game in 2 days with the hope that it would make enough to pay for some food. To their surprise they made a few million US and are still making money from the game and using the push ad promos onto their existing games for new games. They just hit another game which is now at 2,000,000 plus downloads.
     
  13. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    Sadly my gameDev has taken back seat a little for the last couple of months but I am taking leave soon over xmas (cause I am going to get in trouble for having too much) and I intend to spend a good chunk of it finished at least a couple of my games. I have way to many 75% done games! I just like developing, I do more than just the rover stuff at work! Having kids from China driving the rovers next week, very exciting!

    I agree with you on those games. But I think my point was if you have a truly great product it can still get noticed(which you agree with). The problem is a lot of us have middling products and they aren't going to be featured by apple when there are great products. Apple is all about maximising revenue so they put the apps there which they think will generate revenue or buzz for Apple.
     
  14. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    I in particular like my game The Light Box. I actually have a physical version of it at home I am trying to build with Arduino but struggling to get a good product. I think it would work better if you could hold it rather than play it on a screen.
     
  15. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    If you could make it into a physical product it would be great. Try and build a prototype, it would be an interesting project
     
  16. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

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    Thats exactly what I am doing, my design is kind of clumsy but should be sufficient to show people.
     
  17. Mighty Dragon Studios

    Mighty Dragon Studios Active Member

    Oct 27, 2014
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    Burst campaigns not dead. ;) First week after releasing a new game is the most exciting and stressful at the same time. As a marketing/creative mind I'm not sure who is in worse position... Poor guys at the studio trying to fix bugs, errors and glitches or myself making as much noise as I possibly can within the given budget...
     
  18. Having the first top download game is the most difficult task. If I have an app like 2048 I think I can become ketchapp too.
     
  19. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind that Ketchapp probably started from scratch. Now they have enough customers from one of their winner to get the critical mass to put them on the top of New Free Games.

    Your games may have everything need to get a few million downloads but you don't have the critical mass needed to see.

    Here is a question I want to ask you and others. What is the value of critical in $$. We all know or should know by now that critical mass can get you millions of downloads and every 10 people playing your game that day equates to about $0.17 in ad revenue.
     
  20. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

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    How much of a $ budget do you dedicate to promoting a new game?
    Where do you spend it?
    How much do you think you need to get the results that a company like Ketchapp gets?
     

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