As of version 1.05, we have delivered our full core experience. However, though we have managed to drive a tenfold increase in player registrations month over month, we are still a long way from creating an iOS hit.
The good news is that now our UI flows, and players comprehend the gameplay mechanics. The bad news is that a large population of players seems uninterested in the game, our download numbers are low, and we have lost visibility on the App Store -- causing us to look elsewhere for discoverability.
Luckily, I happened to have developed a few popular games prior to friendly.fire. One of the first steps, therefore, was to use my old portfolio of iPhone games to advertise. So far, this has worked out pretty well -- but more so for the old games than for friendly.fire itself.
One such instance was a free release of Skyline Blade "sponsored" by friendly.fire. This netted about a quarter of a million downloads in a week for Skyline Blade. Initially, things were looking good for friendly.fire as well. The game went from next to no downloads to around 400 a day when Skyline Blade went free.
However, the trendlines for the games proved not to be synchronized. As Skyline Blade increased downloads from 10k to 20k to 40k day over day, friendly.fire moved from 400 to 200 to 100. As it turned out a price drop to free on friendly.fire was far more responsible for the download spike than the blurb about friendly.fire on Skyline Blade.
In addition to advertising with blurbs about friendly.fire on all the App Store pages of my older portfolio, we also ran three Admob campaigns. One was a national campaign for the U.S., another was a local campaign to support Norfolk game development, and the last was a house ad campaign appearing within my older titles that had blurbs about friendly.fire.
The results of these campaigns were very interesting. We saw a 3.87 percent click through rate (CTR) on the national house ads, a 0.41 percent CTR on the local external ads, but only a 0.01 percent CTR for national external ads. It seems reasonable to assume that players are more likely to click on the ads after seeing a blurb about friendly.fire.
Unfortunately, the conversion from a house ad click to a registered user is only 10 percent since the ads have been running.
Finally, with our primary goal being to build our player base before worrying about revenues, the spike created by fluctuating from paid to free on the app store has been far more effective than advertising (at least with Admob).
Having witnessed successful App Store climbs in the past, it is difficult to watch friendly.fire struggle to gain the traction it deserves. Moving onto version 1.06, there isn't much to add with the exception of a few tweaks and polish points for this game to meet our original expectations.
Moving into our third month, we have a number of options on the table, but it's looking likely that we will in fact re-brand Friendly Dots and friendly.fire. At the outset we chose the aesthetics, characters, and “friendly” branding so that we might reach ubiquitous status. After all, we have seen everyone -- from 3 year old girls to 40 year old men -- enjoy friendly.fire. However, we are now questioning whether our effort to grab "everyone" has resulted in most people feeling as if the game is actually just for "everyone else".