Hey look - it's 2010! And also quite a while since my last post. Well things move fast in the world of iPhone gaming so let's see what has happened in the interim 2 weeks - again in brains spurts:
* Appvent Calendar Giveaway! So on 20th of December 2009 (soooo last year) I gave away MiniSquadron for FREE for one day only. I was originally approached to participate in the Appvent but had actually responded too late - but someone had dropped out at the last minute so I decided to give it a shot. A number of people have wondered how that works and so I thought I'd give out some STATS. In one day (less than 24 hours) MiniSquadron was downloaded a total of 77,000 times. Hey that's a massive number man! So that was pretty cool - and I guess really helped to spread the word of the game to a lot of people who just wouldn't have given it a go. Interestingly, the app was never in any Top 25 lists anywhere - so I presume a lot of people were actually watching the Appvent Website. So that's great for PR an' all - costing me exactly one day of sales, but what did it actually do for me AFTER I put the price back to £1.79/$2.99? Well...not much it would seem. There was a little bump (like 20 or so extra copies being sold than the average the following day) but then it continued to do the good ol' Logarithm Decline in sales.
The conclusion I came to was it was basically a very good way to get PR, and from what I can tell a lot of people enjoyed the game (well it WAS free), but they wouldn't have paid for it. Which actually brings me onto the second thing to talk about -
*) People who downloaded the game for free (and some who didn't) but "expected more". I think a lot of people are expecting too much for iPhone games and are either completely spoilt - or literally don't know how much it costs to produce a game. And the truth is they don't and shouldn't be expected to - this isn't common knowledge. Combine this with the fact that in order to realistically reach Top 100 you have to set a $0.99 price for any new iPhone game without a big fat publisher and the future for small companies look really difficult. The way I see it, the iPhone economy has now given us it's own idea of what games are to be expected and what is possible - cheap, short, "distractions"/small-scale games not costing a lot to develop, leaving the longer, fuller on games to be taken on by larger studios with fat marketing budgets to make sure it sells. If you like that kinda thing great - but if like me, you like quirky, fun and individual efforts that aren't just a single level or a 60 second diversion, and if you don't like the shit games that get peddled out with a big name license - it might be a lot harder for them to come by. But don't listen to me - have a look at the UK Top 25 Paid charts right now - 1/1/2010:
1) Doodle Jump $0.99
2) Where's Wally $2.99
3) Moto X Mayhem $0.99
4) Tetris $2.99
5) Bejeweled 2 $2.99
6) The Moron Test $0.99
7) Crash Bandicoot $2.99
8) Flight Control $0.99
9) iBeer Special $0.99
10) Who Wants to be a Millionaire $4.99
11) Scrabble $2.99
12) Talking Carl $0.99
13) Alarm Clock Pro $0.99
14) Flick Fishing $0.99
15) The Simpsons $4.99
16) Cartoon Wars-Gunner $0.99
17) The Sims 3 $LOTS
18) Ronnie Osullivan Snooker $0.99
19) Call of Duty: World At War $LOTS OF $$
20) Need for Speed
22) Jelly Car 2 (Walt Disney)
23) 2XL ATV Offroad
24) Tom Clancy's Something or other
25) Pocket God
From this TINY SAMPLE you can see that all the indie/small games are at the cheapest price. If you look at the Top Grossing you can see mostly its the big companies with the muscle that can charge more money for a well established brand.
I guess it's just disheartening to see that what was once a great outlet for small indies trying their luck - it's now so much harder without lots of MONEY to PR their stuff, or they'll have to keep their ideas short and sweet. Looking at that chart now I dont think I would have bothered doing MiniSquadron to as full an extent as it is.
SO, with all that - what is happening next? Well I've cut back on a lot of things I was gonna put out for MiniSquadron as free updates, mainly because they take a fair bit of work, and the updates are FREE and bring me no income or any new sales, and ALSO because there are now a significant amount of pirated copies out in the wild and I sure as hell don't want to KEEP giving them free stuff. Do expect a few more bits - but I will be saving the best ideas for another day. There's enough ideas and tech that I want to build up for maybe a second game since so much of it requires big rewrites of the code anyway.
Away from MiniSquadron - Studio FungFung/ Mr. FungFung / Me is currently working on a couple of secret titles and some RnD into what the iPhone can do. There may be stuff coming out on other platforms too. For sure it'll be a busy year ahead!! I've also gone and booked myself a plane ticket to SanFrancisco for GDC to maybe hook up with some Giant Publishers, interesting to see what comes out of that. Interestingly I haven't actually booked the GDC pass OR accomodation - I think I'm probably making a lot of this up as I go along....
Finally - thank you to everyone who reads this blog, enjoys MiniSquadron and believes in the possibility that the little guy can still take on the big guy with great ideas and a bit of heart. It is because of your support for this that gives people like me a reason to keep making games as opposed to working for a bank.
Bring on 2010 - lets risk some more and take no prisoners!
EDIT: I have to make clear one thing - MiniSquadron did well in terms of Sales for what it is, and also did very well critically in terms of being an actually fun and full on game. In a recent TouchGen Games of 2009 MiniSquadron was nominated as Best Arcade game losing out to Space Invaders and Pac Man. I can tell you it feels GREAT to go up against giants like that!