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Playing the App Store Lottery: Our first week's sales numbers.
by Ryan Leonski on 07/22/14 02:16:00 am   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.


App creation is like playing the lottery.

After a fast month of development we finally released our game Oh My Fat Guy for the App Store and Google Play Store. We were finally ready for the Lottery that is the mobile games market. Below we detail what we found from our first week sales data for OMFG.

Oh My Fat Guy  I wanted to write this post for those interested in the sales side of creating a game and illuminate what you may expect from your first weeks sales if you're a small time developer releasing their first game. The mobile game creation business, from what I hear, is like a lottery. It's like a lottery in that you are going up against a million other apps and game's on the mobile stores and you can easily get lost in the sea but if you're very lucky (or have very deep pockets) you may have a huge hit. Below we detail our app store sales for our first week. We released July 14th 2014 for the Apple App Store and July 15th for the Google Play store. It is a common trend that your first day sales will be your best when looking at your first week and die out from there. That is unless you have a marketing budget or have somehow gone viral, which we have neither. Our first week is rather a sobering experience since it shows how much goes into user acquisition when releasing a game. Below are the charts that show how many players install the game per day. As you can see it spikes the first day and then has a slope downwards, this is true between both platforms.

Apple Installs over a WeekAndroid Installs over a Week

These numbers are not surprising since the only "advertising" we have done is contact some press, youtube Let's Players, and tell our friends and family about Oh My Fat Guy. It's a very simple game mind you so it may take some time for momentum to start picking up. But what does this first week translate into real money? Oh My Fat Guy has two methods to generate revenue. The first being ads served from AppLovin and RevMob, and the second being In App Purchases (IAP) that allow you to customize your character with prices ranging from 0.99$ USD to 9.99$ USD. Any purchase of an IAP get's rid of the in-game ads. Let's first cover In App Purchases since it's expected that the userbase is less likely to purchase items.

Apple IAP Apple IAPAndroid IAP Android IAP

While the numbers aren't big with IAP they are way bigger than Ad revenue which requires thousands of active users generating hundred of thousands to millions of ad impressions to make a decent amount. When it does work though you can make quite a bit of money like Flappy Bird. What you have to look at while choosing an Ad Network to monetize your app is the eCPM (effective Cost Per thousand Impressions) vs actual Revenue. With both of our ad networks they have below decent eCPM during our peak impressions but the problem is that you must have users playing your game to gain that money. Here's our numbers from the two networks. 

AppLovin AppLovinRevMob Ads RevMob Ads


As you can see so far we've made about 0.82$ USD from Ads. You NEED users for this method to work. That's why free games work off of volume of users and the need of user retention. Does this mean that Oh My Fat Guy was a failure? No I don't think so. I believe that it means there needs to be a push towards advertising the game to acquire more users. We're also applying updates to the game that address issues with in-game mechanics to make our existing userbase happy and so the new userbase will more likely stay with the game.   I hope this post helps those who are developers or those who want to get into app development to create realistic expectations on your first app. Good luck with your game dev dreams :D

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Peter Eisenmann
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I wanted to download it, but honestly, I don' like the permissions it requires. Access to my pictures? Seriously? Maybe you should try a different ad network.

Ryan Leonski
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Pictures? Seriously? Woah Ok I'm going to check which networks I use. Sorry about that I never intended for it to access pictures.

Jesse Quigley
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Hello, I'm interested in app development. Could you please give some estimates of the size of the team that you worked in, also the length of development time? Thank you

Ryan Leonski
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For Oh My Fat Guy it was just my girlfriend, myself, and our musician. We did have one other guy help us out during the game jam when we first made the prototype for the game but other than that it was just us two.

The game itself took about a month to work on and about three weeks to get up on the stores since we failed our first Apple review for a clunky UX in the store. We wanted a fast turn around so we could do more updates at a faster rate and have something up on the store that was making us money, however little it actually was.

We're currently working on a new update to fix issues with the game and to post on other platforms such as Ouya, Windows 8 Phone store, Kongregate, and Amazon. We're hoping with the new markets that we'll get more eyes on them do to the smaller pool of apps.

Jesse Quigley
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Thank you for answering. Me and my two friends just graduated from college and we were excited about getting a game together. This gives me some hope!

Koray Agdemir
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Well, I don't want to be harsh but... I have downloaded the game and could stand it just for 2 minutes. First, as Peter said, pictures and identities? Second the size of the app, 32 MB? It is just too repetitive and controls are not responsive. Just not fun to play.

In order to help developers about realistic expectations, Flappy Bird is not something that you can give as an example, and advertising to acquire more users? Seriously?? For every 1000 USD spent on advertising, you can maybe, if you are lucky gain 10 dollars.

Putting these facts aside, there is something bothering me in your post. If you do something decent, you will definitely earn something although that might be relatively low as 100 USD per month or so. But it can also be much higher. But your point of view, the general quality of the game does not really matter, if you are lucky, you will win the "lottery" and you will be super rich just like Flappy Bird did. This is a bad way to encourage people, and too pitiful for the game industry.

Dustin Hendricks
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Yeah, it's funny what people's expectations are vs the reality of the mobile/game market. Paid marketing isn't a panacea either. There seems to be so many people flooding the game dev market after reading stories of companies like King making millions per day, when the reality is that the vast majority of games lose money. Thanks for getting this info out there. People need to know what they are up against. If people are in it solely for the money, they may want to turn back now. If you do it as a passion, then welcome to our world!

Ryan Leonski
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I do believe it is a passion for me, and I do worry about the people who are in it purely for business. This game may be simple but it was meant to be since it was a kick in the pants to get a product out, make it fun, and learn from the experience to make better games in the future.

Let's hope those who aspire for app market fame will be able to set their goals realistically and not go in thinking they will be an instant success. It does take work and you're right, most games lose money. We went into this knowing that and are taking this opportunity to gain a fanbase and learn what users are expecting from games on the mobile market.

Grigor Todorov
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My experiences with your game:
- Try google play search - not on the list
- Try google play search with full name -7th game
- Install (despite a ton of permisions)
- Oh, nice art and menu, let's customize
- Done, let's try the game
- Advert loads. Can't stop the ad. Tue X doesn't work.
- Try 10 more times
- Exit, Uninstall, give a 1 star (OK, I decided against the last one, that's why I'm here)

problems: no video in store, permissions on install, hard to find in store, the adds literally broke the game for me.

I honestly don't believe 0.80$ is worth risking a sad user from the start. Wait for getting lots of users and than add ads.

A question: Can you use a review from a lets player and put that on your apps google play page.

Ryan Leonski
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Hey thanks for the feedback on your experience, and I'm sorry that the ads were ruining it for you. I'm currently updating the game to streamline the UX and fix some other issues for gameplay.

In terms of permissions the scariest one is from from Kamkord which is a video sharing service that records gameplay in your app. I want to remove that permission but I also really like the idea of players being able to share videos of their playthroughs. I'm going to get in touch with them and see what can be done about that.

If they were interested then perhaps I could use a video from a Let's Player, though that may be something that I would want to do myself.

Again thank you so very much for the awesome feedback and for letting me know directly. I do want to give the best experience I can so hearing from someone who is honest like yourself is amazingly awesome. Thank you :D

Eske Knudsen
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Thanks for sharing.

Ryan Leonski
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Thanks for reading :D

James Fulmer
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Hey Ryan,

Downloaded the game; you have a fun concept thats just hampered by a few technical issues.

-Love the Art, neat and clean
-Social Media Features are a plus
-Ads definitely appear too frequently
-Download size on iOS is huge. over 100MB is too much for a game of this size

Fixing the cons will ensure people keep it on their phones longer and play more. Best of luck to you and good first effort.

Kevin Wolstenholme
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Hey Ryan,

very shocked to see such low revenue from your Ad networks - rip out revmob and replace it with either Chartboost or Upsight. You should definitely add some instructions/messages to you appstore screenshots, looking at those I had little idea what the game is about - and you've only used 4 not 5 with the last one kinda a mess.

Good luck with the updates and regardless of the technical fixes, you'll need to up the marketing on the store.