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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessDHG Games Sale Figures Released
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Guert
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« on: March 10, 2011, 07:40:40 am »

Hey people!
After 9 months developing games on the iPhone, we decided to release our sales figures publicly. Perhaps it could give some interesting info to people about how our iPhone adventure went.

The article is written by my partner and can be found on our website: DHG games.

Hope this can help you a bit Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2011, 07:53:21 am »

Interesting, thanks!
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 09:27:30 am »

The first two graph thumbnails are the same: they are linked to the correct images though.

Thanks for sharing this information!
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Guert
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2011, 10:08:27 am »

Thanks! I fixed the thumbnail issue Smiley
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moi
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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2011, 01:46:57 pm »

Thanks for sharing, I love sales stats and postmortems Hand Thumbs Up Left Wizard
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 02:25:55 pm »

Thanks for sharing, I love sales stats and postmortems Hand Thumbs Up Left Wizard
Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2011, 02:06:14 am »

Very interesting read! Thanks very much for posting this.  Gentleman

Quote
As you may have guessed, these are not solid enough numbers to make a living out of this.

Given this conclusion, what do you think you'll do differently third time around?
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2011, 05:18:51 am »

I saw this being linked to on the IndieGames blog too. Thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2011, 05:43:36 am »

Well, I can't speak for David, my partner, but if I ever do another iPhone game, I'd focus on what made Motocross Challenge more popular than Cowtopia. Also, I've been doing some research on the iPhone market in order to understand what works or not. To be honest, my personal opinion on our sale figures is that our games were never really completely designed for the iPhone market. Don't get me wrong; the games were adapted and designed for the iPhone device and we put a lot of care and time to make sure that the games were fun, interesting, and easy to play on the iPhone and iPod touch. David and I are both console guys. The console market is very different than the iPhone market and we didn't take that in concideration. We also did not do a lot of marketing. Not simply publicity, but also pr and researches on where to promote our game. We did some but it wasn't targeted enough.

If I ever do another iPhone game, I'm starting with a little research on what kind of product the iPhone market likes and then design a game around it. I would also try to go cross-platform and make the game available on browser, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and possibly facebook in order to promote the game. Creating free browser-based demo version of the game that can be easily shared from one player to another would help promote the game. People play the game for free in another device, they like it, wanna play it on other device, buy it. Of course, it’s still a theory and I still need to do some research to see if that would work well. That's of course if I aim for one big title.

One thing that comes out of the iPhone market is that the buzz around a game and the ear-to-mouth promotion is pretty strong. With the amount of games available for the device, most customers don’t, know what to buy and just purchase whatever has the spotlight and what seems to be most talked about. From a design point of view, Angry Birds or Doodle Jump aren’t the best games ever created but everyone talked about it. They offer a fun experience; they featured a decent amount of quality and generated a good buzz around their game. Most important of all, they offer an experience that fits the iPhone market.

I don’t know about David, like I said I’m not speaking in his name, but I’ll probably design an iPhone game tailored fro the iPhone market just for kicks and see what happens next. This time, I’m keeping in mind the market of the iPhone, not simply the device and how and when the device is mostly used. A lot of care was put in both of our titles to make them as easily playable as possible but we never really took the time to think about how we would promote the game and which audience to target.  In the end, you might have a well-crafted game, if nobody buys it, you ain’t gettin’ the check. The goal is to craft a game that is both well-crafted and attractive for your target audience. 
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2011, 07:51:06 am »

You should persevere. The money is not that bad for an indie develloper. It's not enough to live off but it should help you make better, bigger, better marketed games.
Learn from the mistakes and improve the areas where you're strong(IMO cowtopia was obviously not going to be a blockbuster due to the unappealing theme and the apparent complexity of gameplay)
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2011, 03:20:22 am »

Yes! Cowtopia gave me a lot of experience and knowledge about the business. I don't regret creating the game at all! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2011, 05:14:28 am »

Very interesting to read your analysis. Looking at the two games, Cowtopia looks more tailored to iOS platform than Motocross Challenge. It looks like the kind of thing I'd enjoy, but maybe it was just a little complicated. From the title I assumed it was like Farmville or Cow Clicker, so maybe a name like "Cow Rescue!" may have been better. I'll have a go at it this afternoon Smiley

I guess understanding what the market enjoys is very hard to do, and takes hard work, persistence and a willingness to experiment. So it sounds like you're taking the right approach.

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We also did not do a lot of marketing. Not simply publicity, but also pr and researches on where to promote our game. We did some but it wasn't targeted enough

I'm not sure what you mean by the distinction between marketing, publicity and PR. Do you think you could clarify that? What kind of marketing did you do, and where did you put it? Did you take out banner ads, for example, or use forums? And which ones? You don't have to go into specifics if you don't want, I'm just very interested to know more! Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2011, 05:56:58 am »

@Alistair: you could show your sales stats too Wink
If it's too early you can just say if it's going good.
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Alistair Aitcheson
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2011, 06:47:44 am »

@Alistair: you could show your sales stats too Wink
If it's too early you can just say if it's going good.

It is too early at the moment, unfortunately! The game's been out only two weeks so far, but once it's been out for longer I'll be able to show some meaningful stats Smiley

I had good sales in the first couple of days, but it's dropped quite a bit since then. At the moment I'm trying to sow seeds in as many places as possible, and see what generates most interest. I've mostly had sales in UK and USA so far.

@Guert
By the way, did you do any paid-for advertising for your games, and if so how did it work out? At the moment I'm sending a lot of promo codes out to review sites, blogs and magazines. I'm also trying to keep my blog and social media output interesting and full of worthwhile content. I've not really looked into paid-for advertising such as banner ads or flyers, and I wondered you had any experiences on that front.
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Guert
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« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2011, 01:38:03 pm »

Cowtopia was tailored especially for the iPhone device. We made sure the game was easy to play and control in most situations. We did the same with Motocross Challenge but the game is a port of the GBA title we had created. This means that the game was adapted and some “annoyances” can be found; emulating a 4 button + d-Pad control scheme on a small touch screen is pretty tough. What makes Motocross Challenge stand out from Cowtopia is the ease a player has to understand the game without ever playing. Cowtopia is an action-puzzler where you hypnotize cows in order to abduct and save them from a maniacal farmer by tracing paths around a field. Motocross Challenge is a motocross racing game. It doesn’t take a genius to know what you to expect when looking at Motocross Challenge. The same can be said for other major titles, such as Flight Control, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja or Doodle Jump.  Cut the rope, for instance, has an icon with the little monster standing next to a candy tied to a rope. The game title is “cut the rope”. In a fraction of a second, the player knows that the game will be to cut a rope in order to give a candy piece to a monster. That cannot be said about Cowtopia. 

Making a game that a market enjoys requires some research on who plays/buys game on that particular market. Cowtopia would have been a better Flash/browser game. Players try out weirder, more “out of the blue” games because it doesn’t cost anything. On the iPhone, you need to download it and may have to pay. 1 cent for a crappy game is 1 cent you want back. 1 minute on a browser game is a minute you won’t care about.  That’s part of a good marketing plan. I’m no expert but this is a field I’m getting much more interested in that field. Marketing isn’t just about publicity and PR. These two fields do work along side but they are part a whole.

What you want to do is to first is get the word out about your game and get in the attention of people with influence. Website, blogs, etc. Reviewers have strong influence on sales. One thing that really helped MC was the fact that we got some reviews on major iPhone websites, such as Touch arcade. Contacting influential people and giving them free copies is a good marketing move, in my opinion. We paid a service that sends a couple of hundreds of messages to a list of selected websites and blogs. I don’t remember the name of the service but I can check with David. It was worth the price (a couple of hundred bucks). Then, you need to get publicity going. Website banners and such can be a good move. However, that’s something we haven’t tried so far and it’s an option that involves investments. You can do other types of publicity, such as self-advertising on websites, blogs, forums and such. Facebook, twitter and all that stuff also helps, but only helps if you have some good networking going on. A facebook page is only efficient when you have many “friends”. One thing about advertising we should’ve done would have been to advertise Cowtopia in Motocross Challenge. We did the other way around though (MC ad in Cowtopia). If you have other games or other “products”, use them to help your sales. Or at least get the word out.

Marketing is also knowing your target audience. Who are you marketing the game to? Young boys? Soccer moms? Families? You have to know your primary target audience and focus on them. Sure, your game can reach out to many people, look at Mario games, but the core audience is focused (Mario is a family game foremost). This’ll need to show in your icons, websites, appstore page and game name. Like previously said, that’s something we didn’t do with Cowtopia. It didn’t have a core audience and players were puzzled when trying to figure out who should play the game. Some classified it as an action game, others a puzzle game, and some gave it the edutainment label. They thought it was a kids game Tongue   

Promo codes and free copies are great but don’t expect to get a lot of replies quickly. However, it’s okay to keep the reviewers updated with the game. For instance, sending an update notice to a reviewer that didn’t reply to your original promo might get attention the second time around. For example, when we started doing some pr and ear-to-mouth, Cut the rope was everywhere. It even outshined our “New and noteworthy” spot. It’s not all on the competitions shoulders but it really didn’t help. When you have a game that is hard to describe placed a game that can be explained in a split second, you’re not having the best odds. Tongue

If you want to work on the iPhone market today, it’s best not to put all your eggs in the same basket. Plan a couple of games ahead and don’t spend too much time (and budget) on a single title. Keep it simple, keep it straight forward and don’t aim for a large scale game. Focus on a time-waster. That’s what the iPhone market is all about anyway; Just quick games to pass the time. Sure big titles can work and big companies don,t make ports of their AAA titles for nothing, but the real hits on the iPhone market are the small time-wasters you can play 5 minutes while waiting for the bus. Of course, there are many factors that make a hit but one specific traits that seems to emerge from the strong top sellers is that they are small and short but highly replayable. Still, I’m not expert and I have only started my personal research on this market a few weeks ago Smiley

Well, hope this helps a bit Smiley If not, I can be more precise on certain topics: )
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2011, 03:06:22 pm »

I find it interesting that you say that reviewers have a strong influence on sales. From what I've seen on DSiWare and XBLIG, reviews don't matter at all. A new review coming out has never made a noticable blip on my sales data, regardless of the review quality.

I could very much see DSiWare and iPhone being different, as the markets are very different. XBLIG and the App Store seem extremely similar though, so I'd expect the trends to be similar.
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2011, 04:08:44 pm »

^I disagree, reviews do offer a boost in sales if
 1.)The game is good: If a game is bad it might drive sales away.
 2.)Customers want to know about it: Otherwise they wouldn't be searching for your game (marketing helps here)
 3.) It always helps if the review is on a larger, popular site. You get people's attention that way, and also more customers!
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2011, 04:33:22 pm »

Downloaded and played Cowtopia this evening. Really enjoyed it! Great work Wink I left a 5-star review in the UK store.

Thanks very much for your detailed responses, as this is all a very useful perspective to have. From the looks of things Greedy Bankers may have the same marketing issues as Cowtopia, so that'll be a challenge I'll have to work through. Many thanks for posting your analysis!  Hand Thumbs Up Left Smiley

If you remember the name of the press release company, let me know, as that would be awesome Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2011, 11:44:16 am »

Reviews act in different way depending on the market you are on. Reviews get the word out about your game. A lot of people will simply try the game out of curiosity. That is if there's a hook. I don't know about XBLIG nor did a lot of research on DSIWare, but there target audience is way different than the iPhone. The dmeographic, the accessibility to titles and the prices of games available on each market are very different.  Reviews might give a positive response in some cases and nothing on other markets. I haven't experienced a lot on the XBLIG and DSIWare to know for sure.

Now, in my case, reviews worked positively because A) the game was easy to explain B) had a simple hook C) Appealed to the main demographic of iPhone players and D) because it got a nice review. Not great, not bad, just nice. It didn't make us millionaires but it did tell people we existed. The common behavior regarding iPhone game is that, since they are cheap, players are much more willing to download a title just out of curiosity than other platforms. So any reviews that doesn't say the game's bad might help boost sales a bit. When, as a player, you are bombarded by thousands of games and the "worth playing/top games" list consists of hundreds of games, the "oh, I heard of that title on this website" effect becomes interesting.

Of course, this is from my personal experience so far. I'm not a certified expert.

Thanks for the kind words Alistair! Smiley I'll check out your game too Smiley

Edit: Company used for pr: PrMac mailer.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 01:22:17 pm by Guert » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2011, 12:09:20 pm »

i believe reviews boost sales for indie games even when the review is negative, because at least some new people will hear of the game from a review and give it a try. things are different for AAA games because people don't need to "hear of" the game, they already know about it and all reviews do is change their opinion on it, so negative reviews can hurt AAA games. but negative reviews don't usually hurt indie games unless the indie game is high profile and the review is *really* horrible (like buggy, didn't work, crashed every second, no collision detection, has malware, was a joke)

that said i've no experience with my games getting negative reviews (fortunately), all of my games' reviews have been positive so far /pat self on back
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