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One month of ChronoBob

TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

Hi Guys,

Here's a story, with some questions at the end.

ChronoBob is my first game, and it's my baby.
Knowing that there is much competition and the golden age was in the past, I didn't expect my game would be a hit, but I also didn't expect it to be nothing at all. Although I did everything all marketeers preach all over the internet (except paying them loads of money to do it for me)...
...I failed.

I published ChronoBob to the App Store, did like 5 press releases (paid for a couple of them) and reached out to almost 100 game-reviewers (who cover iOS games) to review ChronoBob. As far as I know only TouchArcade reviewed the game, quote: "Wow this looks really good. I like how it's original. I've never seen this type of game before personally. First 12 levels free the rest you can buy. Premium game with a preview."

I don't have to explain that I couldn't be more happy with comments like that. I couldn't wait to see more game-reviews. But... it appeared like nobody else looked at my game.

The stressful waiting for download results began. Starting off with a pretty disappointing 150-300 downloads per day.
The first 12 days it was freemium. First 12 levels free to play then in-app purchase to buy the full game for 2$

In 10 days I got almost 2000 downloads. I never saw the game on the first screen in the App Store. In those 10 days I got 7 in-app purchases.

So I panicked. Why didn't it sell? Is the in-app purchase too far into the game? Is 2$ too much for this game? I get no negative reactions, but also no positive. What is going on?

I decided to take action and take out the in-app purchase and make it a 1$ game. What I feared for happened, downloads dropped to zero and the next two weeks it sold 11 copies. Average, less than one a day.

I had this romantic idea that when you put your heart and soul in it, it will shine enough to get noticed when you show it to the world. But when everything is shiny and free the market is ruthless, high supply and low demand, not on the first page, you're dead.

I'm disappointed, but I refuse to accept that ChronoBob is dead in the water. I still believe there must be a way to drag my game out of the shadow, and make more than half a buck a day of it.
What is the next thing I should try? Make it free to raise downloads a bit and put in ads, with an in-app to remove them?

Do you guys have ideas on what's the next best thing I could try out, (without investing too much time in it)?

Comments

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    I'm starting to believe I'm the worst marketeer ever. I forgot a link to the App Store :-)
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chronobob/id1250889813?mt=8

  • ToqueToque Posts: 1,058Member, PRO
    edited July 28

    I'm on holidays. My son and I played your game this morning by chance.

    It's a good game.

    You would have to define what "success" means to you.

    It's a really hard (near impossible) market. Much easier a few years to go to make a couple bucks.

    It can be very depressing, soul crushing, heart breaking, financial sucking.

    But that's also what makes it rewarding..........

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    @Toque
    Yeah. Failing is part of life. But this is the largest fail I encountered in my professional career as a creative. I'm trying to figure out what went wrong, so I can try to fix it, or at least learn from it. I will go on promoting for a couple of months and evaluate, if the results are not worth the effort I will cut my losses and move on.

    I enjoyed making the game. So I think I probably try again some day. I don't want to just throw away everything I learned along the process.

    And if you don't play the lottery, you can't win it.
    Enjoy your Holidays

  • ArmellineArmelline Posts: 4,459Member, PRO

    Your game was good. It was polished, it was entertaining, and it was very well done. You didn't fail at making a good game. All you failed at was being noticed in a very big sea with some very big fish taking up most of the attention. You succeeded creatively - don't tell yourself anything different in that regard.

  • YeezyHypeBeastYeezyHypeBeast Posts: 60Member

    I think your next thing to do is to move on. To be completely honest, the game was very polished, but didn't get me on the gameplay side. It just wasn't fun. Anyways, congrats on your first game, and goodluck on future games!

  • AlchimiaStudiosAlchimiaStudios Posts: 855Member, PRO
    edited July 28

    I think .99 is a weird price point. Just in general, people look at it and think, well if it's .99 it must be shovelware, ill just get something free. Premium titles that do well are almost always 2.99+ because of this.

    It's a tough market out there for sure, but you should be proud of what you made.

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  • ToqueToque Posts: 1,058Member, PRO

    @Tyl said:
    @Toque
    Yeah. Failing is part of life. But this is the largest fail I encountered in my professional career as a creative. I'm trying to figure out what went wrong, so I can try to fix it, or at least learn from it. I will go on promoting for a couple of months and evaluate, if the results are not worth the effort I will cut my losses and move on.

    I enjoyed making the game. So I think I probably try again some day. I don't want to just throw away everything I learned along the process.

    And if you don't play the lottery, you can't win it.
    Enjoy your Holidays

    I don't think you did anything wrong!!
    It's a great game.

    There isn't a formula for "success".

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    Thanks for the nice comments. I really appreciate it.

  • pHghostpHghost London, UKPosts: 2,103Member

    Hello @Tyl

    I think sometimes it is about luck. Sometimes about patience. Flappy Bird was on the Store for several months before hitting it big.

    Finishing a great game is only the first half of the battle.

    You need to be prepared to put in time to promote it. Not necessarily money (though it can help), but time spent actively trying to get the word out. Maybe make a video that could go viral, something crazy. Dress up like ChronoBob, get a butterfly net and some ping-pong balls with moths drawn on them. Then go into the centre of Paris and do a contest for people: give them the net and they have catch as many (out of 5?) balls. They can win a chocolate or something similar. Print some stickers with a image of ChronoBob and the download address and put those on the chocolates. Hand out the stickers to passersby. Get a friend to make a video about it. Some of the people who play the game might have their friends record it as well. Tell them they can put it online, but to send you an email when they do. Go to their videos. Promote the game more.

    For me personally, I started playing the game and liked it. Then I had the issue with the bug counting the stars and that made me stop playing because I was annoyed (and because of how hard it was to get the third star). It took the fun out of it for me. It is good to have a challenge, but there needs to be a bit of wiggle space. Not everyone will be a master at every game, but they need to be good enough to have a good time. Then I mostly forgot about the game. Other ones came along. You really need to vie for attention in the app world.

    Related to that, there is another bug with the star system! If you have say, three stars, you go into the level again and then go to the pause menu and then the level select menu, all your stars get wiped! You have 0 stars suddenly!

    What I would recommend:

    1) play through the game and try to find all the bugs. Maybe get a couple people here to play it for free and 'beta' test it for you, looking for bugs.

    2) Use higher resolution graphics for some of the textures. Locks and stars in the level select screen, cogwheels.

    3) Once you have that sorted, prepare an update. Launch it and do a promotion at the same time -- like the ping-pong ball things or something similar. Try to get people excited about something so they tell their friends about it.

    As far as monetising goes, it's a hard choice.

    The problem with asking for money after 12 levels is that people need to be really pulled in by the first levels to pay for more. If there are bugs, they are less likely to buy. Probably do an interstitial ad every two levels and do the 12 level limit as well. The in-app purchase will unlock all the levels and also remove ads.

    It is extremely hard to get a paid game noticed and downloaded by a lot of people, unfortunately.

  • DaddyMagicDaddyMagic Posts: 27Member

    You need a video of gameplay on the appstore. I pretty much don't buy any apps unless I can see a short video of the gameplay and I know I'm not the only one like that. Try it and see what happens, post the results back here.

  • Terrellort_GamingTerrellort_Gaming Posts: 93Member

    WOW the pictures look amazing. I will definitely buy if you can show video like daddymagic said. ALSO I want to know is this made in Gamesalad?

  • pHghostpHghost London, UKPosts: 2,103Member

    Yes, it is made in GameSalad. Otherwise it wouldn't be allowed to advertise it here.

    You can make amazing games with GameSalad.

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    @pHghost. Jep, you are right again. When you replay a level the stars aren't recorded for that level. I considered the level as complete when you continued on to the next level by pushing next (play) button.

    I never followed that navigation path because my logic was: if you replayed the level, the last achieved score didn't matter. As a result, if you stop halfway the replay then there is no score recorded from the previous try.
    I put the record function on the wrong place, that qualifies it as a bug.

    @DaddyMagic, I going to do a gameplay vid when I release the next version, with this last bug fix. (I don't believe it will make a difference now, but I will do it anyway. Just to learn how to)

    I know it's a tough game. If you master the controls you can easily advance from one level to the next. But I you really care about achieving all 3 stars for all levels, then it's tough, but achievable. I'm busy screen capturing playing all levels with the 3 stars achieved.
    I publish them on my Petit Paris Games YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCONDHdOJbQr4OC8xfNo_B7Q

    Gamesalad is a really great tool to make games for creative people who don't have the time to learn how to code.
    Concerning bugs, I have to say Gamesalad is as stable as ever in my experience. The only bugs in ChronoBob are mistakes in my logic on some functionalities. It can all be fixed pretty easy.

    I'm proud of ChronoBob, it's my baby. I put all my best qualities and a lot of time into it. I worked almost 6 months full time on this game. If I had a team of two or three people it could be done in a couple of months. It's a good thing I didn't hire anybody to work on this project; otherwise I now would have serious financial problems.
    It's difficult to stand out amongst the huge number of other games that come out each day. Especially when you have a small or no budget for promotion and marketing. If you're not on the first page in the App Store within a month after launch I think it's pretty much game over. No exposure is no sales; and there is no replay in this game.

    I'm not done with making games. But I will be looking for game ideas that are simpler and less time consuming to develope, with low financial risk. Maybe for corporate clients, so I don't depend only on sales from the App Store. I don't have any ideas now, but I'm sure there must be more ways to make money with developing games.

  • BigDaveBigDave Posts: 2,236Member

    Concerning bugs, I have to say Gamesalad is as stable as ever in my experience. The only bugs in ChronoBob are mistakes in my logic on some functionalities. It can all be fixed pretty easy.

    wrong-
    a lot of issues,crashes related to ads and differen android OS and devices
    (engine related)

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    @BigDave, I didn't include ads and because of poor sale results I didn't start on publishing for Android. So I didn't encounter these issues. Hope you find solutions.

  • RowdyPantsRowdyPants Posts: 242Member, PRO

    @Tyl Thanks for sharing. As hard as it is to go through, it's helpful for me to hear about all the ups and downs of game development. I think $1.99 is good price. I buy many (maybe 7/month) apps at that tier. I'm glad you're not giving up on it as not all successes are instant. I've seen games float around +18 months before catching on and riding their way up the ladders into mass adoption.

    With as many apps as I try out, I prefer the 'let me choose to watch an ad for reward' model. Forced ads turn me off so fast.

  • TylTyl Posts: 19Member, PRO

    I really hope ChronoBob will take off at some point. I'm not yet giving up.
    I don't like ads when I'm playing games. That is why there where none in my game. I wanted the gameplay experience not to be interrupted by ads. But, with this competitive market with all those free games I'm kind of forced to go down that road. My game is not designed to be able to do the ad for reward, so I'll apply interstitial ads and see what happens.

  • pHghostpHghost London, UKPosts: 2,103Member

    @Tyl said:
    I don't like ads when I'm playing games. That is why there where none in my game.

    I respect that, and would love it it people actually purchased apps so they could have a pure ad-free experience, but unfortunately, that seems to be more and more rare nowadays... :(

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