Tag Archives: app store

A Post With Numbers In

Update (April 6, 2011): Hit 4,000 sales last month, and well on the way to 5k! :)

I haven’t made a real substantial blog post in a while but with my trip to GDC rapidly approaching and Red Nova being featured by Apple in “What We’re Playing” as well as a fairly significant milestone in sales of the game I figured it may be interesting to some to post some numbers, and talk a little about where Celsius Game Studios Inc. (oh yeah, I also got incorporated!) is headed in the near future.

First of all, the bit you’re probably here for: The Numbers™. Many developers are hesitant to discuss specific sales figures, either for fear of being seen as unsuccessful or because their sales are directly tied to their income, which I suppose is why these sorts of things are still generally interesting. I feel that Red Nova has been relatively successful so far and because sales of the game do not directly tie into my own income I think I can safely say that the sales of Red Nova are… *dramatic pause*… larger than a breadbox and smaller than an exotic super-car.

Okay, in all seriousness, and this is pretty exciting for me: as of this weekend Red Nova handily sailed past 3,000 sales. All over a period of just over 2 months.

While some of you may be looking at that and saying “big deal, Angry Birds sells that many copies in, like, thirty seconds” understand that the average iPhone app will see approximately 100-200 downloads over its entire lifetime. Sales-wise, Red Nova is already in the top 7% of games on the App Store! While I’m not popping any champagne corks just yet, considering that with no money spent on advertising, relatively poor circumstances surrounding the launch over the holidays and the fact that up until recently I was pretty much unknown as a game developer, I think I’m doing quite well for myself.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Red Nova still hasn’t hit its stride, and I don’t expect it to right away. Ultimately my plan all along was to release the game in episodic “chunks” to help make it easier to develop the game and grow its audience at the same time, especially seeing as, at least in the short term, I’m still limited in the time I can spend working on it. Also early sales help support the development of future episodes not unlike how Minecraft‘s sales model works, where the people buying the game now are getting an already good game for a low(-low!) price as well as a bunch of new content for free. So, I’d just like to take a moment to thank everyone that has already gotten the game so far for helping me realize my dream of becoming a game developer!

That being said over the next few months I’m planning on expanding Celsius beyond just myself, continuing development on new episodes and feature updates for Red Nova and, closer to the end of the year, beginning work on an exciting new game project I (cryptically!) hinted at a few weeks ago on Twitter which I think will be pretty damn awesome, and when I’m ready to talk about it in more detail I hope you’ll agree with me ;)

So, here’s to the future… it may still be up-hill, but it’s looking bright!

Red Nova: The Week That Was

Red Nova IconDespite my tendency to not frequently post to the blog here as much as I’d like, I figured I should probably post something about the launch of Red Nova seeing as it’s been out for a whole week. This isn’t exactly a post-mortem, but it’ll be nice to talk about how the launch went.

Cutting to the chase, the launch exceeded my expectations with the game racking up a number of impressive reviews from a bunch of review sites including TouchArcade, 148Apps and AppSpy (which I shall present at the end of the post). Sales for the first few days were also suitably impressive but due to a number of big-name launches on Thursday (expected) and EA lowering the price on over 60 of their games to $0.99 (unexpected!) enough noise was created to effectively put a damper on things. I knew I could probably weather Thursday’s big launch announcements because not all of those games would be at the same price point, but I’m fairly certain between pushing other apps down the ranks along with Red Nova and the $0.99 price point the EA sale had a negative effect on the launch.

In the below graphs, green represents Arcade, red Action and blue All Games.

iPhone US Chart

US iPhone Chart: This is a graph of both excitement and disappointment

Backed by a number of positive reviews the game shot up the charts, even briefly hitting 156 (or so) in the Top 200 iPhone Games on the US App Store. It hit 44 in Arcade and very nearly hit 50 in Action games as well. I even suspect if this wasn’t such a volatile time on the App Store those rankings would have probably been a bit stickier, and with hindsight being 20/20 there are definitely some downsides to launching during the holidays. However it’s entirely possible that had I not launched when I did things may have played out differently in other unpredictable ways and I can’t exactly take the launch back, so there’s no sense wasting time wondering what could have been. Also, the holidays aren’t even over yet, Red Nova is moving around in quite a few iPad charts, is seeing some good movement in Germany and Japan on the iPhone, and I may have an ace or two left up my sleeve so who knows what could happen in a week’s time ;)

iPad US Chart

US iPad Chart: The term "rollercoaster" comes to mind here

All that being said, I knew the risks of launching this time of the year and even if you could potentially call the sale an unfair move, business is business and I’d rather focus on all the positive things that came out of the launch instead of things I can not change. This is definitely a beginning, and a pretty damn good one at that.

Special thanks, as always, to Dave Frampton for the ever-awesome (and free) MajicRank.

Red Nova Review Roundup

Red Nova received a number of reviews in the first week. Most of which were overwhelmingly positive, and even the more negative reviews hit a lot of the good points so I think in this respect I’m off to a great start. I think my favorite part is how most of the sites caught on to the different things I was trying to bring to the table with the game’s unique control scheme that I designed for the ground up to be less frustrating (though by its nature less intuitive) than what we’ve seen in action games on iOS thus far.

TouchArcade – I’d call this one overwhelmingly positive. I couldn’t have hoped for a better review. “It has an interesting premise, one of the smartest control schemes I’ve seen, Game Center integration for high score bragging rights, and above all else it’s just a blast to play.”

AppSpy – Can’t go wrong with “almost flawless”. Also I believe this is my first video review ever, which was pretty exciting. “Red Nova may only be limited to the single gameplay mode, but its execution is almost flawless and perfectly suited for all iDevices.”

148Apps – A mostly positive review but Ben definitely put the game under the microscope. I don’t think that’s a bad thing as the only way to improve is to know where your flaws are. “From the superb control scheme to all of the small enhancements mentioned earlier in the review it is clear that Red Nova is, indeed, a very professional product.”

Slide to Play – Slide to Play gave the game a 2/4, which is not awful, but I have it on good authority it was very nearly a 3. A goal to strive for with future Episodes I think! “Red Nova has some interesting ideas, but they don’t always work out the way they should.”

Simple-Reviews – Definitely can’t go wrong with a 4.5/5. “Red Nova is a must have game for anyone who loves space shooter type games!”

Oaggle – Definitely seemed to really dig the game! “It’s well worth the $0.99, and I’d even say that it is a must have.”

Wifivoltage – Short but sweet review. “I’m not into making big gaming reviews, all I know is that I only bother to do some when I find something I really like and well… I did this one so, go get it!”

Meet – A pretty big Japanese website that gave the game a 3.5/5. I had trouble translating it but it seems that they had some trouble getting the shields to work correctly but otherwise they appear to like it! I suspect the control difficulty could be chalked up to the language barrier, but that’s only speculation at this point.

Touch my Apps – Not exactly a review, but Touch my Apps included Red Nova in a list of “10+ New App Store Games To Watch” which is pretty awesome, I’d say!

Chromodyne: A Successful Failure

I’ve been thinking for a while about writing up a postmortem of my first crack at making a Real Game, Chromodyne, for a while now. The worry is, of course, that someone may look at this as some sort of horrific waste of time and tell me I’m mad for trying to break into the App Store when… oh my god it has how many apps? However in all honesty, despite the less than stellar sales leading to what one might declare a failure on the App Store, for a number of other reasons, I feel Chromodyne has been incredibly successful and I wouldn’t have it any other way (well, except maybe the whole not selling well part).

What the hell are you talking about?

What I mean when I say “successful” I mean that on the whole, even considering the time I spent working on it only to have it sell a few hundred copies so far, I still learned a lot of valuable lessons, met a lot of awesome other developers, and it helped prove to me that I had what it takes to develop an entire video game from start to finish and to kick myself in the ass and finally decide that I should follow my dream of becoming a game developer.

What went wrong?

There were a few key things that I feel went wrong that, hindsight being 20/20, I would have done differently. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Not enough exposure – I didn’t enter into this whole App Store dealio completely blind to the fact that in order to become successful people need to know about your app. I definitely made a decent stab at it, but my relative newness to the whole scene plus working a full-time job at the time hampered my ability to really get the word out.
  • Poor branding - I fretted a long while over trying to give the game a neat and catchy title, as you should try to do, however I really didn’t think this whole “Chromodyne” thing through. After trying to explain the game to others in person, it’s definitely a clumsy name when spoken and makes it difficult for that whole “word of mouth” thing to work when people don’t know how to spell it to look it up online. Also, in retrospect, the icon could probably have used a bit more work to make it pop more on device and on the app store.
  • Fiddly controls – One problem you can not ignore in game design is how your players interact with the game. If the player is constantly fighting with the controls they will never truly get to enjoy the game and you run the risk of them abandoning it for something else. In the case of Chromodyne, I was well aware of the issues with the controls and tried to minimize their impact as much as possible, but by the very nature of the game field layout it meant that the inner-most rings were difficult to touch accurately. As well, I felt that with practice people would become better at the game and that’s what many of the reviews revealed. However, as the cliche goes, the first impression is the best impression.
  • Choosing an over-represented genre – Approximately 105% (or so) of the games on the App Store are match-3 games. Even though one cynical critic (the only bad web review I received, I might add) accused me of trying to jump on the App Store Gold Rush Bandwagon(tm) the reason I decided to try my hand at a match-3 game for my first game was because I felt it would be much easier for me to complete a game with a smaller scope in a reasonable amount of time. Speaking from experience, I have a tendency to come up with grand designs which would take a large team a couple of years to complete, so I had to learn to work within my own ability to actually make something.

What went right?

  • Learned a lot about game development – If anything I took away from this whole experience, it was a lot of experience about the game development process, including learning things about the iOS platform, the App Store, and various new programming techniques that helped make it a lot easier when I started work on my second game, Red Nova.
  • Made something I’m proud of - Despite all I’ve said about Chromodyne so far, it’s my creation and I’m really happy that I made it. It may not be perfect, but it has gotten some good reviews and on balance it may not be the best game in the world but it’s still pretty darn good. As well, I think the thing I’m most proud of are the story and characters I created for the game and maybe some day in the future Gary and Zarlax will ride again :)
  • I’m following my dream – As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve struggled over the years trying to figure out what direction I was going to take in my life. Games and game development have definitely been a passion of mine, and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do professionally, but ultimately I had to make Chromodyne first to prove to myself that I had the ability. So Chromodyne was the catalyst of this at times scary but entirely exciting new path I’ve taken in my life. Also, it helped to show the people at the Genesis Centre, the startup incubator I’ve been accepted into, that I have what it takes to, as they say, do this thang.
  • Met a lot of amazing people – Through all of this I’ve met and connected with some really great people in the game development community on the internet at large and it’s really helping me feel like I’m a part of the industry now, however small my part is at the moment.

What’s next?

After six months in development, I’m on the verge of submitting my new game Red Nova to the App Store, and from all I’ve learned and all I’ve worked towards I’m confident it will be more successful than Chromodyne. How successful, I have no idea, but hopefully enough that it will allow me to keep working on adding updates to Red Nova and to start making other even more complicated games in the future. That being said, I’m currently working on getting into a position where I’ll be able to hire a 3D artist early in the new year. In addition to taking Celsius Game Studios from “one guy hacking on games in his living room” status into “if you squint hard enough, it looks like a real company” territory, it’ll help me focus solely on game design and development and allow for the creation of a larger variety of and even better looking art assets than I can eke out with my meagre art ability.

Finally, in celebration of Chromodyne being on the App Store for a little over a year (since October!) I am going to, tongue firmly in cheek, declare Chromodyne and Chromodyne HD Celsius Game Studios Not-Quite-Greatest-Hits and drop the price permanently to $0.99. You can learn more about them at the game’s page.

Chromodyne Lite

Chromodyne Lite Icon

In an effort to try and increase the visibility of Chromodyne, I’ve done gone and created a Lite version! As it is FREE, I ask you kindly to check it out, as maybe you’ll like what you see :)

You can get Chromodyne Lite on the App Store here: itms://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chromodyne-lite/id369298294?mt=8

The Chromodyne Lite Press Release Follows:

Celsius Game Studios is proud to present Chromodyne Lite, the free version of its unique and exciting match-3 puzzle game, Chromodyne! Chromodyne Lite is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, on the Apple App Store.

Chromodyne Lite features a brand new 5 chapter story introducing the player to the Chromodyne as they work their way through the Chromodynamic Academy’s accredited Accelerated Chromodyne Operator’s Course. Through this program, you too can learn the skills necessary to save the world from impending doom from outer space!

“Course?” You say.

“That sounds like it might be expensive…” You say.

You would say that, wouldn’t you?

Well, you might expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars and rack up years of crushing student debt at some “university” to learn how to save the world. Not so at the Chromodynamic Academy. No, you too can learn all this today for the low, low price of FREE!

Not only do you get this valuable training, but you’ll also find that Chromodyne Lite offers fun and challenging 3D match-3 gameplay, colourful and striking visual effects, and an awesome soundtrack by Kevin MacLeod.

If you’re saying: “Well, I can’t possibly go wrong with that! Plus I can’t argue with free… Especially when you put it in all caps like that!” I’d suggest you follow this link and give it a try: itms://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chromodyne-lite/id369298294?mt=8

Did Not Finish

Cries of Hypocrisy Prevention Edit #2 (July 7, 2011): Due to IAP and free-to-play becoming a viable model for actually making a decent living on the App Store I have to say my previous rant just seems a bit too narrow-minded. While having a fixed price clearly still works, it is growing increasingly difficult as an independent developer to drive sales to a paid app. Free to play isn’t just a sales model, it’s an advertising model as well and it’s obviously working. Definitely food for thought, anyway.

Cries of Hypocrisy Prevention Edit (Nov 2nd, 2010): Just a note that due to the ever-evolving nature of the App Store and the whole Long Tail thing, I’m thinking there may be a place for $0.99 price points for older apps. Kinda like the PlayStation “Greatest Hits” and all that jazz.

They call it the “Race to the Bottom” on the App store, where everyone tends to price their app towards 99 cents because they feel that will compel people to buy their app because it’s so cheap. Well, I’m not so sure that is working anymore. Also with the new finish line apparently being set at $0, I think I’m going to pull out of this race.

Put a big “Did Not Finish” next to Celsius Game Studios in the Great Race to the Bottom as even if we reached the finish line, nobody is winning.

Partially inspired by this Gamasutra article “The 0.99 Problem” by Canabalt Co-creator Adam Saltsman, the huge amount of noise at the 99 cent level, and by the fact that if people want to play my games they’ll also more than likely pay a reasonable price for it, CGS games going forward will not be priced permanently at $0.99. To prevent future cries of hypocrisy I’ll state now that you may see a sale at $0.99, but at the very least that’s the new Free for a Day as far as I’m concerned.

On my part I promise I’ll continue to deliver games that are worth more than 99 cents to you, my wonderful audience.

To that end, the $0.99 “introductory sale” on Chromodyne for the iPhone and iPod Touch will be ending this weekend and as of Monday, April 12th, it will be priced at the still inexpensive $1.99.

Mark it in your calendar. Or not.

Mark it in your calendar. Or not.

Thank you for your continued support :)

Too Good to be True (So Far)

So yesterday I started using a beta version of MajicRank by the most excellent David Frampton of Majic Jungle Software. MajicRank is a tool that scours the App Store for your apps and checks to see if they’re in the Top 100 in any of the categories on the App Store. It’s pretty awesome.

Yesterday being the launch of the iPad in the US, and I having Chromodyne HD available along with the launch of said iPad.

However, whereas the iPad launch was hugely successful, Chromodyne HD? Not so much.

Now from my frantic Twittering, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell… as for most of yesterday evening Chromodyne broke into the Top 100 in Arcade and Puzzle for iPad games. That felt great let me tell you!

Great right up until I got the daily sales summary this morning, that is! Apparently that slight surfacing into the top 100 amounted to 1 sale. Kinda sucks, hey?

I suspect the reason I’m ranking so high in those categories is that there aren’t that many games in those categories (yet) and that Chromodyne is near the bottom of the pile, but the bottom of the pile is so close to the 100 point that a single sale will do something like this. This is quite possibly also why Apple is hiding category views for iPad apps in iTunes and only showing the Top 50 on the device itself.

What sucks for me, with my currently lousy non-existent advertising budget and lack of coverage due to bigger titles getting the spotlight yesterday, is that I can’t actually take advantage of that placement in those categories. Nobody can actually see that my cool little game is in the Top 100!

I'm at the top, of the bottom!This is what excitement looks like.

It’s still early days yet and my porting of Chromodyne to the iPad was a fun experience, which effectively didn’t cost me anything except a few days of time. So I’m not upset or anything, and I wasn’t expecting miracles. There are a few pending reviews of Chromodyne so I hope they come out eventually, and that should help :)

In the meantime, I do want to thank everyone who shared my (misplaced) excitement last night, at least I can say that Chromodyne made it into a Top 100 list!

Chromodyne… HD!

Well, the iPad is out and Chromodyne was successfully ported after a marathon session of epic proportions. Amusingly, Chromodyne HD was submitted after Chromodyne v1.1 and was approved before. Some may say I amuse easily, but I was amused.

The Port

Thanks to some experience writing game engines for other platforms before, about 90-95% of Chromodyne’s graphics code was already resolution independent. After updating my XCode to the 3.2 Gold Master, I clicked the handy little “Convert this project to iPad” menu option and was playing Chromodyne in the simulator in mere minutes! Though everything else was really horrible looking because none of the 2D assets were scaled properly and some of the menus looked like crap on the huge screen.

So really, most of my time was spent creating high-res 2D graphics (even though the cutscenes are pixel art, for the most part, those are seriously high-def pixels!) and fiddling with the perspective/view on the gamefield because it was way too freaking big keeping the same perspective as the iPhone version.

I don’t know about the final build yet, but the simulator in the GM release of the SDK didn’t have 3D acceleration! I can understand why some devs were reluctant to release their apps sight-unseen to the App Store.

The iPad Only Version

If anyone actually wonders why I went with a stand-alone iPad version of Chromodyne, the biggest motivator is that the app bundle for the HD version with its 1024×768 graphics assets is larger than the 20 MB OTA limit. Basically I still want people to be able to get the iPhone version over 3G.

The Price

I’m also selling Chromodyne HD for $1.99 instead of 99 cents. I figure the larger, higher resolution game experience warrants a slightly higher price point. We’ll see how that plays out in the days to come anyway… at least I can have a sale at some point without going directly to free. Definitely something I regret when I priced Chromodyne originally.

The Numbers

I’m half-tempted to post sales numbers for Chromodyne HD as time wears on. If anything to see how things are going. I’ve seen that the game lists for the iPad don’t have any top lists for subcategories yet, which is pretty bad news for small devs such as myself. Sales for Chromodyne have not been anything to write home about, but they’ve been steady at least.

Anyway it’s been a fairly exciting few days, and at least I can say I was here from the start. Whatever that actually means, only time will tell.


A Trio of Reviews!

More shameless horn tooting lies ahead! *toot toot*

DIY Gamer implores the world to “Buy Chromodyne, Now!” I couldn’t agree more! :D

Touch iPhone Games gets so addicted to Chromodyne that they kill their iPod battery after playing it for longer than expected!

And finally, Keri Honea from Examiner.com says “Fans of this sort of puzzle game should all give Chromodyne a try.” Difficult to argue with, I say.

I’m so excited that people seem to have mostly good things to say about Chromodyne, and that the few negative points will eventually be dealt with as I continue to hone Chromodyne into the best puzzle game I can deliver.

Woah.

So apparently Chromodyne took less than 2 weeks to make it through the approval process O_o

I just spent the last few hours sending out press releases and all that good stuff. I still need to finish up Chromodyne Lite, but don’t let that stop you from buying Chromodyne if it tickles your fancy ;)

Anyway, I’ll post more when it’s not 3 in the morning.

Hot Man-Program Love and Completing Projects

It’s too bad I’m already married, because I’m seriously in love with the Guard Malloc feature in XCode (don’t kill me Eva!)… it totally saved me having to step through every malloc in Chromodyne trying to find an insidious memory corruption bug :o

As some may have seen, I recently (last night!) submitted Chromodyne to Apple for approval. This is a pretty big deal for me, as I’ve always wanted to run a videogame company, or at least work in the industry. So I guess I’m doing both now and it’s a huge dream come true. I don’t know how I’m going to do on the App Store, and frankly I’ll just be happy to make back the dev fees and the cost of my iPod Touch, but hopefully this is just the first in a long line of titles from me to you. Thanks for your continuing support and I hope that lets me keep doing what I love doing.