My match-3 physics game Kyobi went live onto BigFishGames today, and is currently sitting proud as the #1 game in the Online charts. At the time of writing it has a staggering 40,000 people currently playing it. I mean, whoa. That’s pretty incredible. That’s like the entire population of my home town all playing my game at the same time. I’m not sure how often the player count is updated, but it seems to be every minute.
Adding those stats into the mix the game has reached 1 million plays since release just under a month ago, and it’s not even out on the really big sites I’ve sold it to.
I’m well aware the reason it is currently #1 is because it’s the “New Game of the Day” – but so what, I still took a screen grab and will cherish it as my first ever BFG title
“How did you get so many sponsors?”
I’ve been asked this question quite a lot recently (along with “How is the iPhone game doing?” which I answer below)
When I put Kyobi onto FlashGameLicense.com (FGL) the interest was immediate and rapid. As well as having it on FGL I also spent time emailing sponsors directly. Most of them didn’t bother to reply, but 2 did and both bought licenses, so it was worth my time just for this. One of companies who contacted me was GameJacket, who offered a $1000 advertising advance on the basis that all other versions of the game I sold were site locked (which they of course are), and no-one else got the game before them.
I liked the sound of this offer. I was low risk to me, so I accepted it. This automatically meant that none of the other sponsors could have exclusive rights to the game. So I told them this and most of them re-adjusted their bids accordingly, understanding that they would get the game on the day of release, but on a non-exclusive basis. In effect, everyone got it at the same time.
So I persisted with this offer to the various sponsors and they all agreeded. I built custom versions for them all, with API work in some cases, custom logos and pre-loaders in others. All versions were packaged up and ready for launch day.
I also created a Media Pack they could download. This pack included a range of high resolution screen shots, game artwork, logo, description and thumbnails for them to use on their sites if they wished (and a number of them did).
To date I have sold Kyobi to 9 different sponsors. 5 of those had the game on day of release, 2 others contacted me directly as a result of having seen it on NewGrounds (where it got a Daily 5th Place Award) and asked for custom builds. The other 2 bought it via the FGL game shop service. Updated: 26th April (5 days after original article written) – Kyobi won 3rd place in the Whirled single player game contest, adding $1000. It has also been picked up by another 2 sponsors adding $600 to the figure below.
Combined I received $5,155 $6,755 (updated 26th April) from these deals. By making a lot of “smaller” sales I managed to effectively double what I would have got from the best “single sponsor” offer had I gone down that route. And of course the game is still on sale.
You can see some of the custom builds of Kyobi on Andkon Arcade, Hubits, Juegos Juegos, Whirled and even a dating site called Connecting Singles! A tie-in with GameJacket means a special version will also go across the Spil Group of sites shortly too.
2 very high profile sponsors are yet to release their versions, despite having had them for some weeks now. I’ll update when they do because I expect them both to deliver serious play figures.
Of course the GameJacket version carries adverts, and the daily income rate from those has been quite encouraging (at least compared to my experience with Mochi). It won’t set my financial world on fire, but it should earn back the $1000 advance relatively painlessly. And then the money from that point on goes directly to me. As I have a full-time job that I love, that pays all the bills money made by Kyobi is surplus income. After tax it helped pay towards a new kitchen and parts for me to build a top of the line Quad Core PC. Could I “live off” the income from this game? No, of course not. That is what Flash game dev contract work is for, but that’s another post for another day.
… and what about the iPhone version?
Kyobi was converted to the iPhone by my good friends at The Game Creators. The iPhone version is enhanced in several ways. It has a nice use of the accelerometer, more complex level patterns, blockers, bonuses and power-ups which improve the gameplay significantly.
In short it’s a really nice game, and my agreement with TGC meant I’d get a decent percentage from sales.
On the downside they renamed it from Kyobi to “Touch & Go”. In retrospect this was a horrendous move. Not only did it disjoint the brand, if you try searching for it on AppStore you’ll get about a million results back thanks to the generic title (have a guess how many AppStore games have the word “touch” somewhere in them! yeah, it’s a lot). Even direct searching for the exact title barely reveals the game.
It was quite literally impossible to find. The GameJacket release carried an advert for the iPhone game at the end, which helped lead to some small sales figures, but quite frankly nothing I could ever retire on. It was far removed from the “iPhone $$$ dream” the media hypes, to say the least. A “Lite” version was also released to help shift things along, but it of course suffered the same “invisible to search” problem.
So I pretty much wrote it off as a bad experience and forgot about it. That was until iDare hit the scene.
He who iDares, wins!
iDare is a free game TGC created over the course of 3 days. If you are old enough to remember the classic sci-fi film Aliens, you’ll remember the scene where the android Bishop holds down Hudsons hand on the dinner table, and spreads his fingers out and proceeds to stab a knife between his fingers as quickly as possible.
School kids worldwide at the time re-created this using everything from pencils to protractors! iDare is basically an iPhone version of this crazy game. It’s good fun, it’s original and it is free. Since release it has gone absolutely ballistic. Currently #1 in the UK charts and #2 in the Canadian charts and#4 in the US charts and still climbing – that is out of ALL free downloadable apps on AppStore. The net result of this is over 600,000 downloads since release and increasing every day. Edit Update: As of today (April 26th) iDare now has over 1.2 million downloads.
What does this have to do with Kyobi? Very simple: iDare was created with the express purpose of advertising the other games TGC had made, including mine.
I cannot give any specific sales data, but suffice to say that Touch & Go has gone from being flat-lined at a few sales per week, to selling 3 digits worth of copies per day (and the first digit is > 1). And of course the more it sells, the higher it climbs up the charts. And the higher up the charts it goes, the more it sells. It’s currently #19 in Strategy titles and edging ever closer to the magic Top #100 games. If it manages to hit that mark TGC and I will be very happy indeed.
At the moment direct income from the Flash version is greater than that of the iPhone one – but at current projections this could be reversed shortly. I’ll keep you all updated.
So in my very limited experience with the Flash to iPhone market here are a few bullet points to take away with you:
- Don’t screw your brand up! Keep the same game name where possible
- Ensure your game title and description is AppStore SEO friendly! Avoid this part at your peril.
- Don’t assume that just by existing on AppStore you’ll make any money at all. You need a method of promotion. Find what works for you.
- “Lite” versions are mandatory now. Create one. But again, the “free” app space there is flooded, so don’t assume just because you have one that “Full” version sales will increase dramatically. They won’t, but it will help.
- Promote, promote, promote! Find a way to pimp your game as best you can. If you don’t it will sink without trace, no matter how excellent it may be. If you have no promotion strategy then don’t invest a dime into your iPhone game.
- Just having a Flash version of the game doesn’t mean you’ll dramatically increase iPhone sales – yes the sales do cross over, but the conversion rate was pretty tiny for this game. Hopefully yours will fare better.
- Talk about what you are doing! Blog about your game, tweet about it, Facebook wall it, YouTube it, put screen shots on Flickr, write about it in forums. Do the whole social works. If you do this well enough it’s possible to build up a good “following” before the game is released, leading to an initial flux of sales that will give it a little kick-start up the App charts.
- Cross promote. If you know another iPhone game doing well, and know the developer, ask if they’d be willing to sell you some “ad space”. It could pay dividends.
- Be realistic. Even with a #1 AppStore download promoting your game, Apple still won’t be sending trucks full of gold bullion your way. That moment is gone. Live with it and set realistic goals, you’re in hell of a competitive market place.
- Please keep making games, no matter what happens
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