FullBlast, another indie project that bites the dust
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
As a couple of professionals working as freelancers we decided to team up to create a game on our own, tired of working for other people we wanted to have something "personal".
So the classic, brainstorming, prototypes, and finally we decide to create something with the feel of the old arcades like terra cresta for example, and we are really proud of what we did, everything works exactly as we wanted, I mean, everything was adapted or created according to our personal taste, difficulty, controls, visuals, etc.
We didn't follow any other "new" games released, so no idea what other devs do, and we don't care either, each one should do their game.
The final result is pretty good, but anyways, we are here to share our noob mistakes. Even if my partner and I are professionals, we are not business people, 0 idea about selling a product which is why we failed, just like many other devs do.
First of all, you shouldn't do "your" game, you should think what's the game that people will buy, aim to that segment and release a game adapted to that people, at the end we are here to make some money, not to be rich, but at least to cover the production costs while we have fun creating games, that means put everything aside and study the market in much more detail.
Second you should think about how to monetise the game, we did another noob mistake by thinking that this could be a premium game, why not?, we are gamers used to pay 60$ for a ps4 game, I don't think that anyone will die for paying 1.99$ for our game, right?, wrong!, mobile market don't give a fuck about premium games, unless you have a super AAA title, otherwise you will do better trying the freemium or f2p market. One thing to notice is that some premium games sells well, BUT, our mistake was to make a demo before buy, so if instead of free + unlock full game, we should've released a premium game, maybe things would be better for us with that decission.
On android the audience seems to be very young and very casual, they just download games "because it's free", and we've received a lot of 1 star ratings because, "the game is not free at all, just 1 level and you have to pay for the full game", yeah, just as the description that NOBODY reads says, 1 level free, pay to unlock the full game.
So in our experience, free + unlock the full game doesn't work on android unless you have a large/big game and you can put let's say 5-10 levels for free before buy.
Another mistake was the difficulty, we tried to create an arcade game like the old classics, but obviously with casual people this thing doesn't work at all, they've found the game pretty difficult, even though there's an option within the options menu to change the difficulty, that again nobody saw, they just tap the play button as fast as possible...
And finally another mistake, daily a lot of people on forums complain about, "damn another game with IAP, ads, etc, what a piece of shit", so we thought, hey our game has NO IAP, NO ads, just a standard and classic purchase, you know, the old model seems to be very valid, at the end we talk about just 2$, but it seems that the amount of people caring about that is really just a few guys (I'm exaggerating of course).
So, time to talk about numbers, actually the game on android has 200k downloads, which is a good number, but only 650 sales, which leaves us a 0,003% of conversion rate, far far away from expected (2%), surprinsingly the piracy was not important at all, 1k pirated copies, not bad at all. But in any case, our numbers are far away from expected and obviously we lost all our money on a game that so far gave us 1k$ (pretty much). This game took us 7 months working 2 seniors on it, 1k$ revenue means a total failure, even if we talk about a new project, after 2 weeks sales are going down as expected. Hard to maintain the "rate". And all of these incredible numbers are thanks to google, our game was featured and that helped A LOT to achieve those 200k downloads, with around 25k downloads per day.
On iOS things are very different, 7.1k download, 93 sales, which leave us a 0,013% rate, much better than android, but again far away from expected, we hope to increase the number as soon as apple approves the update patch and we add more features like iCade and a couple of new enemies in a future update (the enemies will be of course on the android version as well).
The countries were a surprise, we thought USA will be on top, but Asia and Europe had taken a much better place, impressive I would say.
iOS downloads by countries:
Android downloads by countries, pretty curious huh?. Russia being on top, interesting.
We had good press coverage, maybe we miss more international sites talking about FullBlast, but hey, competition is really hard, thousands of developers fighting for a spot on sites, reviews, there's no place for all of us, and only the best ones manage to get the coverage they deserve.
So, we've learned a lot in the process, even if we've failed like many others, we need to get all the feedback and apply it to the game (and future games). Now it's time to find other ways to monetise the game, moving away from the premium side and going into the IAP model with ads as it seems to be the most viable model for mobile games.
It's important to monetise the game properly, carefully pick up the places were you want to ask the user for his money, make the game as casual as possible, and of course release a good product :)