So it’s been four weeks since we launched Drifter on Steam Early Access and I figured it might be worthwhile posting about our experience launching there. The short version is it’s definitely been a very positive experience so far and assuming that we can continue to grow interest in the game while we work on it this will be the best year yet for Celsius Game Studios.
I had originally meant to post this on my birthday a few days ago but a blizzard over the weekend with record cold temperatures followed by rolling blackouts necessitated by a sharp increase in demand on our electrical system and then ultimately a province-wide blackout for a few days kinda put a damper on any computer-related activities such as blogging.
That said, instead of New Years Eve, my birthday occasionally becomes a focal point of my life where I reflect on how things are going and look to the future. I think most importantly my impending 30th birthday, four years ago, became the catalyst that drove me down the path to creating Celsius Game Studios and attempting to follow my dream of creating my own video game company. While the road has been bumpy at times the journey overall has been great so far and despite occasional slowdowns and setbacks it feels like 2014 is poised to be an amazing year.
Despite 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.
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 😉
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!
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
With (many) apologies to Mr. Kubrick.
In other, more serious news not related to me cocking about making movies, I submitted Chromodyne Lite to Apple for approval in the wee hours of the morning. Here’s hoping it won’t be stuck there for long!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😮
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.