Saturday, 2 January 2016

Free as in 'free beer!'

Free at Last

I have now released my game (full version) for free for anyone to download from any country who has access to google play.

About a week ago I decided to give up marketing and promoting the app further. It was an extremely unsuccessful venture - even for the free app.

I will give some figures about both the free and paid versions of my app.

The approximate release date was October 1st for the game (both free and paid).

I did release earlier while I was in hospital and was not quite with it - I published and unpublished multiple times during this period. I was not well and didn't really know what I was doing. This was a mistake.

As mentioned elsewhere I tried very hard to promote the game through a variety of means.  I personally think it is a lot of fun - but I admit it is not everyone's cup of tea.

However even the free app managed a total of about 3 or 4 installs per day - which even if I earned money from them would never have recovered the development cost.

The development cost of the game was about $6000 and the marketing cost was about $1500.  All in all I recovered about $25 from sales.  

The free game hovered around 100 users most of the time in its lifetime.  I could boost it by about 50 or 60 if I paid for google ads - assuming the google ads weren't being all consumed by bigger fish in the pond which from about December onwards it was impossible to get even a handful of impressions or my advertising budget.  Basically I lacked the funds to promote it meaningfully.

The decision to cancel the paid version and release it as free was not too difficult in the end. It meant that I forfeit about $8 per month in income but it meant that the game may actually get a handful of people to play it.  

I doubt very much whether it will gain any users though. Not because of its quality but simply because it is so low on the charts that it will never manage to be visible to anyone.

The difficulty in the play store is that it is very hard to be visible.  

I expect that come about April or May the full version will have maybe 100 users installed for a total of about 20 using it each day.  

My server can handle that so I'm not too worried about the load.

The full version had the sum total of about 10 installs over the 3 months. The free version supposedly had 600 but I could only measure 200 from my metrics.  

I will post another blog post shortly with my full costing shown for people to see, in the event that there is any interest. However I severely doubt anyone will read my blog for the simple reason that I am a relative unknown in the world - there are millions of voices crying out for attention and only a handful ever really become known. Not that that was my reasoning behind the game.

My original intention was to make a space battle game I could play with my friends who enjoy strategy games.

Unfortunately most of them it turns out had non android devices which I didn't discover until long after I started development. Either way, I doubt they would have played it anyway.

My own tastes in gaming are very different from the mainstream. You're reading a blog from someone who doesn't like chocolate and has very little interest in mainstream yeah...I'm odd.

It does sadden me a little that my efforts went unrewarded. I'm not really fussed at all about the money -I'd budgeted for it as if it were a holiday just like some people go to Europe I would spend it on a game.  I'm more upset about the fact that no matter what efforts I put in to promoting the app it never gained any traction.  Nothing I did seemed to have a substantial effect.  It had a measureable effect, just extremely low.  

I put my heart and soul into this game. I spent 20-30 hours a week on top of a full time job for six months and even ended up in hospital for three months as a result.  I wrote pages and pages of design and testing.  I gave a lot of myself to it, in the end for basically no return.

It was hard work. It takes a lot out of you to develop something like this, and for it to fall on completely deaf ears was hard.  

I will still play it myself in coffee shops when I go on a weekend.  

I did notice strange behaviour in terms of user analytics.

My users activity spiked during the week on weekends.  I had roughly 40% of my total users engaged with the app on a Saturday or Sunday (free app) but then during the week it dropped to around 8-12%.  

It tells me that someone somewhere enjoys the game.  

The game was originally designed as multiplayer but what was more disheartening was that in the entire 3 months it was available as the two free/paid versions - only 1 group of players ever played it (other than me) multiplayer.  I noticed a couple of users (with my metrics) playing it all one night against each other but other than that - everyone else played singleplayer.

I also noticed that the majority of users played 1 battle - if any - and never played the campaign for any duration.  That was sad too.  

I went to a lot of effort to create this game and it turned out to be not really anyone's cup of tea.

I once joked, as a single bloke, to a good female friend that this game is almost a microcosm or reflection of my relationship status - a lot of effort at certain times of my life all for no result.  There is some truth to that...but that's a bit maudlin.  Honestly I don't really care though about being positive online.  

Sometimes things in life are hard, sometimes efforts are not rewarded. Sometimes people get lucky, other times people put in  a lot of effort for little reward.  It's the luck of the draw some times.  Generally effort is rewarded in many fields but in some - it's very difficult.

If you play the game - good on you - I hope you enjoy it.  A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this product.

The nice thing about no longer caring about income from the game though is that I couldn't give rats arse anymore whether it gets 5 star or 1 star reviews. Admittedly it has mostly had 5 star reviews. Although the day I received a 1 star review with no comment was a little upsetting as I could not communicate with the user to find out why they were upset with the game. There was no way of interacting to help resolve whatever issues they may have had.  Most likely they simply got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.

Oh well. Back to regular life again.

I'm not happy with how it turned out but what can I do.....oh well.  

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