Impulse GP and iOS Piracy

Discussion in 'General Game Discussion and Questions' started by EcoTorqueGames, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. #1 EcoTorqueGames, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2015
    FIRST WEEK OF IMPULSE GP
    Climbing Mount App Store on a Pirate Ship​

    After years in development, that involved a 3D Racing Engine, a Track/World Designer tool, and a complete pipeline, Impulse GP finally released last week. Regardless of whether or not the game is considered successful, we are very excited that our first game, which we put our heart into, is finally out and being played by thousands of people around the world.

    [​IMG]

    Beyond the excitement, there lies expectations or at least hopes. The first of these expectations is for some financial reward to compensate for the years of work and the actual cost that it took to develop a game of this level.

    We will not hide it, we did have big expectations. We didn’t want to make a puzzle game, a match-the-numbers or match-the-colors game, or another Flappy Bird. We wanted to make something bigger - a solid 3D racing game that pushes high quality rendering visuals at 60fps, has the right controls that actually work on touchscreen, and balanced gameplay that suits hardcore racing fans as well as casual players. Basically we wanted to help redefine the racing genre on mobile devices. We think we succeeded.

    On the other hand, determining how to make money from the game did not take enough priority on our to-do list. We didn’t want to spend our time and effort on monetization and in-game economy; we thought the effort could be better spent on enhancing the game itself rather than spending it on building a money machine.

    To make things easier, we decided to go with the model that we are most familiar with from our first days of gaming with Amiga and early consoles, i.e. you pay for the game once and it’s all yours to enjoy. This model is called Premium in the terminology of today’s market although it's hardly that, considering that a cup of coffee costs more than buying our game. At $2.99, we thought the price was right for the App Store especially since we decided to remove any extra optional IAPs and keep the game “Pay Once and Play”, the model that Apple seems to be promoting lately.

    So did it work?

    The question will take more than just a week of sales to answer, but so far it looks a bit dark, as in black with a skull in the middle. Yes, “Piracy”.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see in the above figure, our analytics show a total of 11,998 new installs worldwide in the first week, yet the total units sold in the App Store was just 399. China has the majority of the installs with over 8,852 unique devices running the game and only 9 units sold (yes, nine only). But that's kind of expected as China is a different market and premium games don’t work well there.

    On the other hand, for the first 4 days, the U.S. showed an average of about 60% of units sold to new installs. This is not bad at all, especially considering many people own more than one iOS device (one unit sold could be legitimately installed on different devices of the same user).

    Day 4 (Sunday) was the best for us, with 84 installs and 54 units sold in the U.S., which pushed us to #24 on the U.S. Racing Top Chart (according to AppAnnie.com).

    [​IMG]

    On day 5 (Monday) we watched the installs in the U.S. climb up to 204. Doing the math we expected at least 100 units sold in the App Store and hopefully a good boost in ranking. But when the units sold number appeared later, it was only 30 units. Somehow on day 5, the piracy in the U.S. spiked from ~40% to ~85% and it was on this same day that Chinese installs were skyrocketing. Day 6 in U.S. was even worse, with 174 installs and 11 sales, which is ~93% piracy.

    Impulse GP was well-received as far as we're concerned. We got extremely positive feedback from players and the TouchArcade community were raving about it and nominated it for Game Of the Week. We received all 5 stars on the App Store reviews and the web reviews were mainly positive. Our average session time is 10min worldwide and 12min in the U.S. So, we still believe that we made a fantastic game, and for that reason, we will keep pushing it forward and find a way to get it to work.

    We know that we can’t blame it on piracy. But it seems that the Premium path is much more bumpy than we thought. It seems to be much worse for us than Monument Valley reported a while back. So the question remains if it it's a wise idea to go Premium on the App Store, or if we should go back and restart our climb from the other side of the mountain, i.e. go Free-To-Play as soon as possible?
     
  2. metalcasket

    metalcasket Moderator
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    This is heartbreaking. It's seriously disgusting to think that people can't spare 3 Dollars for an exceptional product. I'm under the assumption that this has nothing to do with visibility on the App Store, but just people seeing a racing game on a pirate site and downloading it.

    As much as I love and support premium, I don't know what the deal with Impulse GP is. Getting featured by Apple is a huge part in getting noticed and I believe Impulse GP wasn't featured. Perhaps it was because the game was released at a random time and not a day before the App Store refresh...but whatever. At this point, and as a huge supporter of the game, I'd say go Free to Play...if it's worth it.

    Are you sure you'll gain visibility by going Free to Play? Those 11,000 people already have the premium version of the game...hell, I don't even know how pirated apps work...can they be updated? Like, is it worth the trouble of completely re-working everything in the app or should you just consider this a financial failure and change your business direction from now on?

    IF you decide to change the payment model of Impulse GP, immediately introduce ads and a way to disable them. You may want to avoid timers and the like, but instead keep the regular race mode (and time trials) as an ad-supported free version and lock the Pro mode AND drag races behind a paywall. If that seems too generous, or you think that people won't want to unlock the rest of the content, offer just 3 tracks for free and then a single IAP to unlock the rest of the game.

    Again, if you think it's worth making this a totally Free to Play game, with timers, energy, fuel, etc. then that's your call. But yeah...change something. Anything. It's better to piss off 400 paying customers than run your business into the ground.

    Lastly: **** what the App Store has become...and **** piracy sideways.
     
  3. coolpepper43

    coolpepper43 👮 Spam Police 🚓

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    Dang!! This is very depressing news. You made a fantastic game that I wish got more exposure. I hope you can get some kind of return for the time and money you spent making this game. From a person who payed for your game I hope you can stay premium however I understand you have to make money. One thing about piracy is that pirates will never pay for anything so I wouldn't necessarily think they would have spent any money to begin with. That's how the pirates mind works. Can't people also hack IAPs?
     
  4. Anonomation

    Anonomation 👮 Spam Police 🚓


    IAP's are definitely hack able, and pirating is really easy too.

    Lookup what vShare and HipStore is, the first being more structured. It's a shame.
     
  5. Leegames

    Leegames Well-Known Member

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    It might be too late, but why not have a free to get version with a few rideable tracks and a full game unlock as a one time IAP?

    Excellent game, sorry to see it go this way. :(
     
  6. julesantenor

    julesantenor Active Member

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    Here are my thoughts. DO NOT GO FREE TO PLAY.

    What you could do is release another version like “Impulse GP Free”

    In that version yiu can have timers and what not yet still leaving a separate premium version.

    That said you could fill the free version with ads etc.
     
  7. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

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    Depressing hearing stuff like this. I do agree one way to 'seem' to get round it is to make it free (eg first track to play on) and then a single IAP purchase to unlock the full game, bit like the 90's with PC games where you had a single level to try.

    Its even more depressing knowing people pirate these apps when they are SO cheap. I mean if these games were $30 i could 'slightly' understand why a kid might pirate it (still 100% wrong) but when they're SO cheap and they have a $300+ device i'm stunned.
     
  8. ackmondual

    ackmondual Well-Known Member

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    As much as I'd prefer to keep things on the premium over freemium side, freemium/f2p may be the way to go. AFAIK, the latter does offer protection against piracy, as I hear pirates can't pirate IAP that needs to be paid to the company (at least that's what I've been reading. AFAIK, there are always ways around almost anything, and I figured it'd only be a matter of time, if not already there)

    FWIW, the App Store may be better in warding off piracy, but it's never been any sort of safe haven. Folks say how Android has more piracy than iOS, and last I checked, it's true. However, iOS has quite the game and app selection, so I guess they're attracted to the call of that?

    People pirate because they can. [shrug] I won't pretend to be a psychologist and try to analyze it further beyond that.
     
  9. Elsa

    Elsa Well-Known Member

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    Definitely go free to play. You'll have to squeeze out as much as possible from this game after this financial flop. Going free to play won't have much to do with getting money back from those pirates, but it will broaden your playerbase and bring in more potential IAP buyers.

    I really wouldn't blame pirates for this game not succeeding. I don't even think the dev is blaming them for this, he just wanted to share those statistics because they clash so much with what we thought we knew about the percentage of piracy on iOS and how inconsistent those percentages can be.

    Pirates aren't stingy or whatever you think they are. They just prefer to not buy a game or a program just so they can spend that money on (in their opinion) more important things, like new devices with which they can then pirate better games. But most (or at least a lot) of pirates do it because they couldn't afford everything they play. I know people who have gone through 50.000$+ worth of games and software, which of course would be impossible for them to do the legal way. So yeah, they either can't afford to pay for all they consume and/or they prefer to spend that money elsewhere. And then there's some who would gladly pay for the product if they had as much money as some people are bragging about on this forum and if buying AppStore credit was made more accessible.

    While piracy is wrong, I'm having way more trouble understanding people who buy games but never even play them.
     
  10. coolpepper43

    coolpepper43 👮 Spam Police 🚓

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    #10 coolpepper43, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
    Guilty of that, but it's sometimes more about voting with my wallet and supporting good games and devs. Buts it's also my OCD. Obsessive collecting disorder
     
  11. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

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    Ha ha i'm like that, i'm an 'app dipper' and love playing a large variety of games rather than playing one from start-finish early on.

    Like to support the devs, just love the variety of apps on my phone
     
  12. Elsa

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    Voting for what? Voting for more games to be made that you'll never open? That's like Americans voting for the next president of Kazahstan.
    Actually, that's a great analogy since THEY WON'T EVEN VISIT THE DAMN COUNTRY.
     
  13. coolpepper43

    coolpepper43 👮 Spam Police 🚓

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    I'm voting for premium games and not free 2 play crap. If Kazahstan would let me into their country, I'd be happy to visit but I've been banned from the region. #
    /J
     
  14. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

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    Same here, buying a game early on and giving the dev an extra dollar or two 'might' be the difference with him making a profit and not. I like to think if everyone thought like that then the devs would make a lot of money and release more and more games
     
  15. Kenan2000

    Kenan2000 Well-Known Member

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    Next time you better do free with premium unlock but...you might as well release some free2play game to get the cash back,but don't stay on that route for too long.
     
  16. Duke12

    Duke12 Well-Known Member

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    #16 Duke12, Jul 27, 2015
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    So its ok to steal if you cant afford to buy it? Brb, going to get me a new free tv.

    Edit: you said piracy is wrong yourself so I understand your point even less
     
  17. Anonomation

    Anonomation 👮 Spam Police 🚓

    I think the whole has been using wallets to vote for a looooooong time now.
     
  18. Elsa

    Elsa Well-Known Member

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    #18 Elsa, Jul 27, 2015
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    I didn't say it's ok. As said, most pirates are avid gamers and they rather invest the money they would otherwise spend on games into hardware or other things. Again, I'm not saying that's ok.

    A pirate would illegaly download movies but therefore buy a good TV.
    And don't use that "I'll just steal this car" argument when discussing piracy. It just shows ignorance over the complicated matter and morals that encompass piracy.


    I'm not justifying anything, just offering insight.
     
  19. jgeirge

    jgeirge Well-Known Member

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    #19 jgeirge, Jul 27, 2015
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    Your figures are disgusting to say the least, and are comparable to PC games. What needs to be done is very simple, combat piracy. EIther through jailbreak detection, Constant internet connection or iAP to unlock the actual game. (Lego Star Wars did this to great success.)


    Android games do this 3rd option all the time as pirating on android is even worse! I'm so sorry about these tribulations and it pains me to see developers stifled by greedy inconsiderate pirates. This, is why we don't have nice things.
     
  20. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
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    I'd argue piracy isn't your main problem as much as it's just an overall lack of understanding of the marketplace you entered. 12,000 installs, even if pirated downloads were sales, is still a complete failure in the App Store of 2015. You start your post out by basically deriding everything that's popular on the App Store, and deciding to make a premium racing title instead... But this should have been your first serious red flag. Developers make puzzle games, matching games, Flappy Bird style games, and the other popular archetypes on the App Store because that's what people are downloading.

    Secondly, what was your marketing plan? Following the iOS scene is quite literally my job and this is the first I've heard of this game. From the looks of it, someone emailed [email protected] a few days after the game came out. This isn't a marketing plan, this is damage control. Finally, you can't go into building a game being willfully naive regarding how you're ever going to make money from it and be surprised that you don't. Understanding your market, how you market your game, and your monetization plans are all part of developing an iOS game. You guys neglected to do anything but release a video game which is something you haven't been able to get away with on the App Store since early 2009.

    Trying to frame this around a "Pirates are ruining our game, no one wants to spend money on the App Store anymore" argument is weird because people will spend money on the App Store on premium games, you've just got to be really smart about your business strategy. With less than 1,000 units sold, your overall statistics don't mean a whole lot. The game's launch was a complete failure, and people who pirate things like this are downloading anything without any thought behind it. Additionally, on the pirate side of things there was zero barrier to entry and you were only able to drive 12k installs. That's terrible, and would be a failure of the highest order in the free to play world.

    Next time around, if there is a next time, I'd spend a ton of time studying the market you're getting involved in. What's popular, and why? How are you going to innovate on that formula? If you're planning on making something that isn't popular, what's your marketing plan to make sure everyone knows about it? How are you going to convince people that they need to break outside of their rotation of free games to download your obscure paid game? Get more people playing your game as soon as you've got a playable prototype, and not just friends and other gamers, complete strangers who have no tie to you or your project who will tell you the truth about whether or not they'd play this, download this, but most importantly, pay money for it.

    Until you're doing things like that, piracy isn't the biggest problem your project has.
     

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