Floobz – Another depressing indie dev post mortem

Introduction

I love being an indie dev. Nothing’s gives me greater pleasure to turn my wacky game ideas into reality. This is true for many of you no doubt, and whilst we mainly do it for the fun factor, I’m sure many of us also hope that we will achieve some financial gain, enabling us to write more games as a full time indie dev. That’s my aspiration at least. But alas, with Floobz this dream was not to be.

In this post I will look at how well Floobz has fared in the hugely competitive App Store; for me at least, it does not make pretty reading. But you dear reader may find it useful, interesting and you may even find some hilarity in our dismal download figures. Let us begin…

The Big Day – Part 1

The paid version of Floobz was released on Friday 6th April 2012 for £0.69/$1.00. We felt that our previous game Bungee Ninja suffered slightly due to both a paid and free ad supported version being released at the same time. Therefore, with Floobz we opted to release only a paid version initially. Did it work? Well not really – we only had 24 downloads. The next day wasn’t better, with the Saturday banking us an extra 6 downloads and on Sunday a slightly unimpressive 0 downloads.

By any measure this is pretty poor. So why so low? Afterall, Bungee ninja achieved over 120 downloads on the first weekend. Given the almost immediate demise in download figures, it prompted us to have a rethink about our strategy. We felt that the reason was because we didn’t have a free version for potential buyers to sample the game. No problem we thought, we had the free version ready for submission to Apple and we always planned to submit it at some point, just not so soon! Anyway, Floobz Lite was submitted and we waited for the ever efficient submission process to run its course. Two weeks later…

The Big Day – Part 2

The free ad supported version of Floobz was released on Thursday 19th April 2012. The two weeks prior to its release weren’t great for us. The full version went on to have a further 14 downloads. So we were highly anticipating the second big day – surely this would be the answer! It was not – in its first day Floobz Lite had 78 downloads. That seemed too bad to be true, something must be wrong, why only 78? Well, I have a few theories and one in particular that I think was a major factor. Let’s start with that one.

Near Zero Visibility

When Floobz was released the App Store still had a dedicated New Releases section. This feature on the App Store allowed potential buyers to quickly see what new games were available each day and I attribute this to our relative success of Bungee Ninja (the free version achieved over 1000 downloads on the first weekend). Unfortunately however, we did not appear in this section at all, not once, not even for a few minutes. After contacting Apple, we were told there had been some problem with the way the online submission had been filled in and that as a result Floobz did not appear in this section. Unfortunately after several further emails, Apple refused to do anything about it.

Little Marketing Prior To Release

Prior to the release of Floobz I maintained a developer blog in an attempt to generate some interest. My attempts were futile and despite posting on a fairly regular basis, the blog only managed to attract a handful of readers. Perhaps I could have done more to promote the blog? This is something I guess I will be looking to address in my next project.

Game Critism

Of the little feedback we had about the game, one of the biggest critisms was that the user interface felt clunky. Another ciritism was that there was no way to skip the tutorials and dive straight into the game. Perhaps addressing these critisms sooner would have helped. Unfortunately I was left so deflated with the release of the game, that I just could not muster up enough enthusiasm to continue patching the game further. In hindsight this was probably a mistake.

Some Download Numbers…

This graph shows how the download numbers panned out during the first month. I won’t bother posting the latter months as the trend is pretty much what you would expect – a flat line.

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Free All Weekend

The only spike in download was when we made the paid version free for a weekend. This gave us a huge impact in sales in comparision to what had come before. Nevertheless, once the promotion ended sales quickly went back to normal. This has given me food for thought however. Perhaps in future this promotional technique could be used in conjunction with a major update in order to get word out about significant changes to the app.

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Conclusion

To date, Floobz has achieved the following download figures:

  • Floobz – 702 (£26.61 profit)
  • Floobz Lite – 423

I learnt many lessons from the project, but here are the important ones that still continue to resonate with me:

  • A game will take much MUCH longer to write than you initially anticipate.
    • Floobz took approximately 9 months to develop.
    • Floobz had 4 part-time developers.
    • Graphical assets were put together externally by Concept Creative.
    • Sound asset were created by yours trully.
    • Music was bought for a small sum via MelodyLoops.com
  • You cannot rely on Apple to market a product for you.
    • This is especially true now that the New Releases section on the App Store has been removed.
  • Unless you have a good fanbase that has been built up prior to release or are an established games developer, releasing only a paid version of your game is unlikely to attract many downloads.
  • Your first few games as an indie dev are likely to fail from a sales perspective.

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