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The numbers behind Orangepixel's Gunslugs
by Pascal Bestebroer on 03/20/13 03:09:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I often get questions about "download statistics and income stuff", and I never really give any answer because it feels strange to, basically, tell people how much your game is making.

Since I have nothing to hide, I decided for once to give some numbers. However, just giving cold numbers without the context doesn't seem to make any sense to me, so I hope you can read through this first and not just look at the digits!

The people

First of all, I am Orangepixel, an indie developer doing mobile games since 2005. I do all the design, code, graphics, sound effects, marketing, website, etc. My girlfriend takes care of various support mail, business mail, and social media things. And I use the talented help of Gavin Harrison for all the awesome music.  My laptop is my office, where ever it's at, is where I work. So I have very low production costs.

The game

The stats I'm posting here are for Gunslugs, a game I released January 16th, 2013 on iOS (universal, meaning one version for iPhone's, iPod's and iPad's), Android (phones, tablets and a few more gadgets) and BlackBerry's Playbook and new BB10 OS devices.  I've worked on the game for about 8 months, altho I have to be honest I did a lot of other stuff in between those months and even managed to create and release Meganoid 2 in the same time period.

I decided to launch the game on all platforms on the same day, making it possible to do a bigger "marketing push" for the game.

The game will also be available on Ouya (at launch), is now available in GreenThrottle's Arena, and coming to the Gamestick (also at launch). Some other platforms are in the works, including a PC/Mac desktop version, but it's taking it's time.

Getting featured

At release time I actively pursued some featuring on the front page of the various app stores. I managed to get in contact with guys at Apple, Google and Blackberry. Getting a feature spot on the front page of those app stores can basically make a difference between a few hundred or a few thousand sales.

My contact at Apple was willing to help me out, but had the side note saying that since the game was also available on Android, the App store marketing guys might not pick it because "they don't really like that". Still I received an email from the marketing department to send in some marketing images, and I had hopes..   It never got featured.

My contact at Google was awesome, very willing to help and actually knew my games. All he could do, as with my Apple contact, was pitch the game to the "google play" guys. Luckily his enthusiasm for my game helped, and the game got an awesome placement at the front page for at least a week, slowly descending down the feature-ranks to page 2, 3, etc. Only side note they had was that the trailer linked from the Google Play Android shop shouldn't display any other OS's (it had a iTunes logo).  So a special trailer was created without that logo.

My contact at Blackberry was also very willing to help, but had a hard time getting the BB app world marketing team to respond and act. Luckily he wasn't about to let it go, so after some more mailing he managed to get the game featured on the BB App world in North-America.

Obviously getting featured requires contacts, luck, and possibly a good game. It doesn't work with all games and, I believe, it shouldn't work with all games!  I figured Gunslugs was good enough to really go for it and was lucky to find 2 out of 3 companies to help a small developer out.

The niche

One very important fact that should accompany posts like this is the type of game, and the audience it's made for. My games are generally for a very small niche. I create arcade games with a slightly higher difficulty level then your usual mobile game. My games also come in a retro style look, so very late 80's, early 90's.

I have noticed that a very large target audience enjoyes my games, but the initial attraction is with people who have been gaming around the 1990's game period.

Since this is a smaller niche, I also decided to have a slightly higher price set than the usual $0.99 or even Freemium model. I put a lot of time into creating the games, I add a lot of content and challenge, and the niche group that enjoys playing games like this will find a very fulfilling challenge trying to complete it all.

The iOS digits

The first week of Gunslugs on iOS saw 2087 sales, since I released on thursday, that's basically the first weekend. The second week was 1340 and that immediately signaled the start of a steep hill down.  I managed to get some download spurts of 100+ upwards a day, but this was only when dropping the price to $.99 cent for a few days knowing that many bots and websites pick it up and people make impulse decisions.

In the 9 weeks since launch, Gunslugs reached 4532 downloads.

The Android digits

On Android the downloads started nicely with a few hundreds in the first week, obviously a LOT less than the iOS version did. But once it got featured this quickly changed.

In the 9 weeks since launch, Gunslugs reached 5035 downloads.

The Blackberry digits

I honestly support Blackberry, because their OS's are pretty slick.. sadly, their market is crumbling more and more, and it shows in the downloads. The biggest download push came when the game was featured on Crackberry.com in one of the "BB10 must have" lists and not when it got featured on the BB App world's frontpage.. go figure.

In the 9 weeks since launch, Gunslugs has done 244 downloads.

The free digits

One special note: on Android I also uploaded a 100% free version of Gunslugs. It has all the content but also came with advertising from AdMob and Chartboost. This version now has over 150.000 downloads and obviously might have skewed the "paid featured" download figures.. or not at all.. no way of telling, but I can only imagine it makes a difference.

The other digits

And finally the Android version has also been made available on various "other devices" like special teen-tablets for example. Not a lot of huge download numbers on those systems, but in most months they actually top the BB downloads.

The side effects

Now here are some of the important facts for other indie devs to keep in mind. Having close to 10.000 (paid) downloads in total means a lot of people finding out about your existence. A fair share of people who bought Gunslugs, also checked out some of my other games and bought games like Meganoid 1, Meganoid 2INC or Stardash.

A smaller, but still fair, amount of gamers, actually bought like 6-8 of my titles within a minute. They are basically new fans, and will find their way to your social media sites and websites. Fair chance on your next game release they will also be there to support your work and enjoy your new game.

The business side effects

Besides, hopefully, getting new fans for your games. There is also the companies and businesses that are looking for games. No matter how shitty your game is, there will be "vultures" contacting you for stuff like advertising in your game, advertising for your game, telling you you could make money using their services, offering marketing help (dude, if you found me, my marketing already works), and a vast amount of other stuff from distribution to what ever. They mostly cost you money, and are never worth it anyway.

Ignoring the vultures is something you have to learn, first time you get contacted by a big looking company you might jump for joy, next time you'll understand it's just a mostly automated process for them. If they have huge portfolio's of games they look like a big distributor, and they are.. and they don't care about your game, just content-volume.

However there are also good companies contacting you! With Gunslugs I managed to get into contact with the guys behind the Ouya and they helped me out getting Gunslugs up and running for the console's launch in about a week from now by sending me a dev console and some great support.

I also got in contacted with the game loving guys at Greenthrottle, setting me up with two of their controllers and I now have Gunslugs 2-player coop mode running with their devices and shown in their Arena download store on Amazon Kindle (I believe as one of the first 3rd party titles they have).

I'm also talking to the Gamestick guys to see if we can get Gunslugs up and running before their stick launches in a few weeks.

I was also contacted by Sony's Playstation mobile devision, and still trying to sort something out on that front to see if Gunslugs can possibly find it's way onto a PSP Vita someday (any help is still welcome if you know or are a developer !)

And a few other things are running that I can't talk about yet but are very cool to work on!

Android vs iOS

Finally just wanted to add some words on this whole "android vs ios" war that's been going on for many years. Mostly it's iOS developers shouting that there is no money to be made on Android, or that Android is too difficult with all the hardware.

Basically this is just bullshit, there I've said it. There is the same amount of money on Android as on iOS, not based on these Gunslugs stats but based on my experience of doing both platforms with all the love I can give them. Simply put on iOS you can score big in release weekend, but the downloads quickly die to a 0-2 sales a day (mostly 0).  On Android, it might take months longer to reach the same amount of downloads, but the daily downloads can stay closer to 5-10 even after one or two years of release.

I might not make millions, but having ~5000 sales or having twice ~5000 sales makes a lot of difference to my wallet and is the reason I try to get my games on ANY market I can.


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