Thursday, 28 June 2012

So, How’d we do???

So it’s been nearly 2 weeks since we released our first creations on to the WP7 marketplace and as you may have noticed the world has been visibly shaken by their release.
Emergency meetings between David Cameron, François Hollande and Barack Obama were called in a bid to find a solution to breaking the 1000 point mark on the Retro racer.
Natwest and RBS were brought to their knees as 90% of their IT team tirelessly worked to get all the Trophies unlocked on Super Killer Hornet.
England were painfully knocked out of the Euros after Ashley Cole decided to f**k up a penalty so he could return home to grab some more stars on Badly Draw Box.
I’m pretty sure we can all agree the world will never be the same, but how did the launch actually go? Well good and bad.

The Good!
We got downloaded! And that’s the main thing. We were downloaded over 10,000 times in our first week which we’re more than happy with. For me this confirms that free apps with advertising on the Windows phone is a viable format to turn a profit, it might not be the quickest way to make your first million but it defiantly has potential.
It’s a strange feeling knowing that that many people have played something you’ve made and by most accounts have liked; this brings me on to our next positive, reviews.
It’s almost impossible to guess how a game is going to be received but I must say I was surprised by the responses, reviews range from 1 star L to 5 stars J but overall we faired very well.
Currently (and this really surprised me) Retro Racer is on 5/5 in the, Super Killer Hornet is on 4.5/5 and Badly Drawn Box is on 4.
Here’s a few responses.
(5 stars)“Works fine on my HTC… J Good Game – Krashload on Super Killer Hornet
(4 Stars) “Not Bad” – Faziotech on Super Killer Hornet
(5 Stars) “Can’t stop playing Retro games. This one’s great” -  F4llen monk on Retro Racer
(4 Stars) “Not a bad little game” – Rez1976 on Badly Drawn Box
Pretty satisfied with these results considering we’ve only been making games for 6 months. But it’s not all good L

The Bad!
Yeah, not all good I’m afraid, made some classic school boy errors which I think really hurt our downloads and potential profit.

Big mistake number 1
Our first mistake was to submit all three games at once, the idea behind this was so we could compare how different styles of game would perform on the format and this backfired somewhat for us.
We always knew how important it was to have your game show under the ‘New’ section on the main Market place but (stupidly) didn’t think about the fact that because we were releasing 3 games at once the very games we were putting up knocked the other 2 off, only Super Killer Hornet made it to the New section on the front page :o(  judging by first day download figures we believe that we lost between 3000 and 5000 download due to this.

Big mistake number 2
Second mistake we made was assuming that using the smaller advert size in pubcenter would be just as profitable as the larger format, turns out we were wrong.
Super Killer Hornet, which uses larger adverts, was downloaded 3000 times in the first two days and received 2900 ad impressions; Retro Racer, which uses the smaller adverts, was downloaded 4000 times in two days and received fewer than 100.
That’s over 30 times more revenue from just using bigger adverts. My advice to anyone planning on releasing ad based WP7 apps/games is to squeeze in the larger ads somehow otherwise it’ll be barley worth it. Combined with big mistake number one we would guess we made only around 10% of our potential profit.

Big mistake number 3
I can barely bring myself to write this bit as it’s such a classic misstep and what I consider to be our biggest mistake, what is it?  ‘Not lending enough weight to the importance of the game icon’, that’s what!
The game Icon is your cover art, the window to the soul of you game and probably 90% of the reason that people will be downloading your game.
We always knew this was important but after seeing the download results it’s easy to see that it’s by far and away the most important marketing tool at your disposal.
I was initially happy with the icon art for Super Killer Hornet until I started trying to look for it on the market place and missed it over and over again, I now realise a bit of yellow on a sea of grey is not exactly eye catching. In contrast, Retro Racer which has a far clearer and colourful icon has started to overtake Super Killer Hornet in downloads despite it being a far more basic game and not having the initial boost of being on the new section of the marketplace.

Big mistake number 4
To complete this checklist of idiocy I will conclude with the father of all errors and that’s assumption.
I’ve always been a massive fan of old school SHUPS (shoot ‘em ups) and especially anything by CAVE, anyone who is acquainted with CAVE’s style of manic bullet dodging, small hit points and ultra complex combo systems would instantly recognise that Super Killer Hornet is massively influenced by these Japanese masters of the genre. Unfortunately I forgot to remember that Japanese style bullet hell shooters are a little bit of a niche market in the west.  My mistake was assuming that people would just ‘get’ my game the instance they played it, not so.
Not including a basic tutorial in any of our games was a big mistake, when people play phone games they don’t want to spend 20 minutes working out how a combo system works or figuring out what does what. People want to pick up, play, smile and get on with their day. Advert based games depend on strong replay value and anyone who picks up a game and doesn’t understand it will never play it again.

Lesson leaned…

At a glance it may seem that the bad outweighs the good but all in all we’re happy with the launch. Even if it wasn't a massive financial success, was a lot of hard work and a Chinese person called our game ‘garbage’ the lessons learned are invaluable and more importantly it’s been fun.
With super Killer Hornet being releases on XBOX Live Indie next month I really hope we can take our own advice and avoid as many pitfalls as possible. Of course it’s a completely different medium so I’m pretty sure we’ll f**k it up somewhere down the line. 
We'll keep you posted...

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