Sales Stats at 3 weeks.

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by atommo, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. atommo

    atommo Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2009
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    So we've received our 3rd week of sales stats for Roadkill Cafe.
    I was kind of surprised considering the good words we've received from people so far, great comments and reviews. I expected it to go farther than that.

    Anyway, we've had:

    215 sales
    467 pirated copies

    Thanks for the support of those who are buying the game. You rock :)
    Pirates can suck on a monkey.

    The piracy started just before this weekend, so that's actually not too bad. Other developers have fared worse, as we've seen.

    So if sales continue at this pace on a single app, the hardware investments will pay off in a few months. For those of you who are just thinking about getting in, this may look bad, but it's really not that terrible.

    When I first looked at the state of the app store, it wasn't quite as heavily saturated as it is now. So I had expectations based on a greater chance of market penetration.

    We didn't pre-hype the game. Spreading the word about the game didn't start until the day of release. While keeping your mouth shut prevents a shovelware company from ripping off your idea and making it in 3 days with an army of underpaid developers crammed into a hot room overseas, it also keeps you out of the eyes of the public. Reviews are good, but the impact they appear to have on volume spikes is negligible. They will probably contribute more to the steadiness of sales.

    It's the volume spike you'll need though, if you want to get on the front page of the app store. That sudden surge of sales will put you in a place that continues to get you more sales. *Get Apple's attention*

    If our next game manages to garner Apple's attention, this may increase the sales on RKC simply by association. This would be a nice benefit.

    If you have an awesome, epic idea for a game - wait. Make some smaller projects, highly polished, and let them build a community of users for you.
    We have a game sitting in the pipeline that will likely take 6 months of full time development. As much as I'd like to be working on that one right now, it makes more sense to be working on some of our other smaller designs, establishing a name and a following, however small, of happy gamers.

    Also, if you're a new developer and you don't have a twitter account yet. Get one. It doesn't matter how silly and pointless twitter seems to you now. It is your *free* connection to both the other developers and the public who want to know what you're doing.

    The app store is a lot more volatile than the console/PC market so if you're coming from there, you're going to have to relearn what consumers want. People paying 99 cents to 5 dollars for a game have different spending patterns than those laying out 50 to 80 dollars for one. Just watch some of the top sellers and you'll be shocked that they're selling so well.

    Consider pricing as well. When awesome games like Harbor Master, Pocket God, and Westbang, and FAST are 99 cents, it's hard to justify pricing your own game above that. What's a kid with a 5 dollar budget this week going to choose? There was a noticeable increase in sales as soon as our price dropped to 99 from 1.99, and that's even with the low volume of sales so far.

    Anyway this is just a bunch of random notes and observations. Let's all keep moving, onward and upward! And consider one parting thought:

    With Khalid out of the way, your chances of selling your apps this week just got better.
     
  2. drelbs

    drelbs Well-Known Member

    Jun 25, 2009
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    [​IMG]

    Sorry. Couldn't resist! :p

    (Done with Cartoonize Me)
     
  3. killswitch

    killswitch Member

    Aug 4, 2009
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    Good reviews don't necessarily push you, but bad comments may harm the sales. It's like a roulette game - the personal taste is such a big factor. Either the masses can connect and bring more customers (-> charts) and it grows bigger and bigger or really brilliant games get ignored by the rabble and stay under the radar.

    I wonder what effect professional PR would have on the sales. Did you work together with an agency?

    Wish you much success (maybe its a sleeper hit).
     
  4. silentdante

    silentdante Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2009
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    what do you mean by the 467 pirated copys? not that i want to know how to pirate a game, but how do you know, or is there just some way to track similiar games, or if there is more then one itunes account on the same computer? i didnt know you could pirate a game... that sucks, sorry guys

    as in the other thread i whole heartedly endorse Roadkill Cafe, i love the game!

    -cory
     
  5. atommo

    atommo Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2009
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    We know how many unique iphones have registered a score, and we know how many copies have sold.
    There are probably more pirated copies playing offline, but those are the hard numbers we're working with at the moment :)
     
  6. silentdante

    silentdante Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2009
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    ah i see, well that sucks, i'd rather you make money to make more great games, but i suppose that is the nature of the beast...

    -cory
     
  7. CommanderData

    CommanderData Well-Known Member
    Patreon Indie

    Make that 216... I just picked up a copy. Clever game, I liked it a lot!

    It's awful to see the affects of piracy and the disorganized, bloated mess of the app store hurting new developers. Both of these are things that Apple should be doing something about, but seems to be taking their sweet time with. At least they're starting to improve search by adding keywords to apps.

    There were half as many apps out there when Rogue Touch was released in February. Back then it was easier to get noticed, but you still had to have a quality app to make any headway. The "everything must be 99 cents or I'm not buying it" mentality had not taken over quite yet...

    I did not hype RT madly, I actually took extra precautions to keep it under wraps until shortly before release. Youtube videos were kept private, web pages were kept on my local network, etc... Daily sales when it went live were pretty brisk. The App Store is a different place now, but I think that too many games try to build hype over too long a period of time. People lose interest. Starting a concentrated campaign within 3 to 7 days of going live in the store (basically after its been in submission for a while) would probably be more effective in creating that initial surge in sales you need to make one of the top 100 categories.

    On piracy, I know that almost every version of Rogue Touch has been pirated, but either people never actually played it, or were never online with their device, I don't know. Basically, the distinct number of users in my online leaderboard is only about half of my installed userbase. So thankfully the load on my server never got out of hand. Others have had it much worse than you or I. Some games I've seen stats on put pirate users at 10 to 1.

    You have a lot of good ideas and thoughts. I disagree with pricing along with the lowest common denominator. That just perpetuates the issue that many devs have when attempting to justify their costs of production. Other than a brief sale when I was featured by Apple, I started at $2.99 and remain at $2.99. Less than a McDonalds value meal for hundreds of hours of gameplay is a pretty fair deal in my book, and based on feedback I've gotten many of my players would have gladly paid even more.

    Keep up the good work, keep making good games, and hopefully it'll pay off for you someday! :D
     
  8. daveak

    daveak Well-Known Member

    Apps can be installed on multiple iphones from a single itunes account, doubtful that accounts for the piracy number you are stating, but is a possibility.
     
  9. silentdante

    silentdante Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2009
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    i wondered about how that works, but i have never done it. it would seem to me like how xbox live works, where you can take your hardrive to a friends and play all his arcade games without paying for them, getting achievments and stuff, but microsoft has deleted gamer scores and even baned people for doing that same thing. sucks all around but i am unsure how the "rules" really work for things of that nature.
     
  10. mobile1up

    mobile1up Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Technical Director
    Munich, Germany
    piracy happens - accept it.

    the numbers shown are low - typically it is a 80/20 ratio. where 80% are pirate copies.. you can also insert checks in your code and send a special code from a pirated copy.. this is what we did in our games, we know people pirate; we dont penalize them - but, we do track them :)
     
  11. Xood

    Xood Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2009
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    Casual Game Developer (Coder,CTO,CEO)
    Germany
    Just like daveak said, you can install it on multiple devices from your own account. And I do it all the time. Buy stuff with my iPhone then play in bed with my iPod. :)
     
  12. atommo

    atommo Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2009
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    Yeah I wouldn't want to penalize someone because a bug in our code misidentified an honest jailbreaker with a dishonest one. Some people jailbreak just because they don't like being locked in to a specific cell phone service or want to use some of the awesome tools available available off the app store.

    As mentioned about about the lowest common denominator, I'd prefer not having to follow the trend as well, but I think that there needs to be a certain degree of quality control along with the pricing tiers. But as the review process is very hit and miss, I wouldn't currently trust it if they implemented a system that defined prices for us. Having a publisher definitely helps if you want to price higher, but then you're working for someone else again. And I got really tired of working in a morale-busting cube-farm.

    With piracy, I don't even count that as lost sales as I know people that will never, ever spend money on a game -- yet they easily play games just as often as I do. Doesn't matter how good the game is you can't win them over. It's just an interesting metric to measure against sales. The fact that it's easier for pirates to locate a new game than the legitimate users reflects poorly on the app store design. This isn't a sour grapes reflection on our own game, as it's a niche product, but other games of significant quality seem to be just as affected. Oh, the bad little monkeys :)

    I think an important thing to remember when submitting apps in the future is to set a distant release date. So that when the game is finally approved in whatever random amount of time it doesn't go to the store directly. This will give us time to pick a real date, and get promo codes out to reviewers and the community in the week or so prior to launch. With or without great sales, a number of solid reviews may influence how quickly the next title moves up the review queue in the many swamped sites out there :)
     
  13. CommanderData

    CommanderData Well-Known Member
    Patreon Indie

    Couple of thoughts on each section here...

    1) Piracy detection code is not the same as jailbreak detection. If you do this correctly you're looking a specific "signs" (pun intended, look it up :D) that the app was cracked, not the fact that the phone is jailbroken so there would not be a false positive. As you state, there is probably zero chance you would make a sale to a pirate, but at least you could track their numbers.

    2) I'm absolutely against having Apple set pricing for us. No way. What I'm suggesting is everyone who has a good app or game needs to stop charging 99 cents for it :) It's creating a barrier that makes it harder for new people to find any success at all, as you have seen firsthand. If they create more categories and top 100 lists, and start weighting positions based on Sales * Unit Cost instead of just Sales it will solve nearly all the problems that currently exist. That will encourage larger products from larger companies and more interesting experiments from indie devs too... Also, everyone praying that Square-Enix releases Final Fantasy VII for the iPhone would get their wish ;)

    3) Be careful with setting the release date far forward like that. Why? Because your initial sales will almost entirely consist of early adopters that cruise the categories to buy whatever is new that day. No matter how well you try to market it to game sites, being at the top of the recent release list for your category will make you, appearing 5 pages back will break you. Why would you appear 5 pages back? Because Apple will take the earlier of the two dates- the day they approve it versus the day you set it to be available. For example, they approve your hot new game August 3rd, but you go in and set the Availability date to August 10th. This means your hot new game will be buried under seven days of new releases in that category when it appears!

    A final gotcha, I'm pretty sure you cannot issue promo codes for an App that is not officially available for download (as it would not be if you set the date to sometime after Apple's approval). That kind of kills the whole idea at that point :)

    Hope you find these little bits of info useful to your next release!
     
  14. pharmx

    pharmx Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2009
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    Atommo, I think if your game had a little more graphical polish it would do so much better. There's a lot of fun gameplay to be found within the various game modes. Sadly most people judge a cover by its books....or in this case a game by how the screen shots look.

    The big problem of course is that graphic designers are expensive...and the good ones probably cost more than what most games cost to develop to begin with. So where's the compromise? How do you find the right balance between cost and looks? I don't have the answer to that :(

    Oh and advertising/marketing is very important.....there are several different ways you can go about doing it, but it has to be done for even a slight chance of success. Making a game is only half the job....selling it is the other half!
     
  15. drelbs

    drelbs Well-Known Member

    Jun 25, 2009
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    Been an interesting thread - wanted to mention something that just came to mind regarding perception:



    In the YouTube video you posted, it appears that you can only move in the 8 cardinal directions. I actually worried about this a tiny bit before buying the game, as I've had bad experiences with a large number of games that have virtual d-pads.

    After buying the game, I found this not to be the case, thankfully. I can't see how this game could be any more polished - it has a superb cartoony look, great controls, and I just love the sounds in the game... ("Boing boing boing SPLAT!" sold me on this game.)
     
  16. pharmx

    pharmx Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2009
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    Regarding my "graphical polish" comment...I'm not saying that the graphics are bad.....I guess it just wasn't what I expected. After launching the game and seeing the splash screen, I just expected a different style of graphics altogether. Every game needs a "hook" to draw people in. Some games achieve this by being a port of a popular title, or by having a well known publisher backing it up. Others do it by filling a niche, or bringing something new or innovative to the table. If none of the above apply, then the game will have to stand on its own based on either graphics, addictive gameplay, or hype from advertising/marketing.
     
  17. PixelthisMike

    PixelthisMike Well-Known Member

    I'm reasonably sure that you can issue promo codes for an app the is not available on the app store so long as it has been approved by Apple. We haven't personally done this but I'm sure I remember reading it somewhere...
     
  18. pharmx

    pharmx Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2009
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    What would happen when someone tried to redeem the code?
     
  19. atommo

    atommo Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2009
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    Ah, I read a site on releases that mentioned that if you modify the release date within 24 hours of apple approval, the modified date becomes the primary. Same site also mentioned the codes becoming available about an hour after apple approves it, even if it's not visible on the store. Sounded like an awesome option, but it was too late to test with RKC :)
     
  20. PixelthisMike

    PixelthisMike Well-Known Member

    They're able to download the app as normal even though it hasn't been released. Because the app is on the server already, it's just not visible to the masses.
     

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