Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Post-Mortem of a Post-Mortem (Blog Update 13/06/2013)

Hello ladies, gentlemen and gamers and welcome to another blog update here at the Sonic Punch Line!

In light of releasing Bubble Virtuoso last week I will be doing a post-release post-mortem (... lol) of what happened immediately before and after the release!

*Note: I'm currently suffering from a cold so please don't mind if the stuff I'm typing is a bit incomprehensible - pretty hard to concentrate if I'm blowing my nose and coughing out phlegm and lungs every 10 seconds...

Pre-Release Grumbles

Two days before the release of Bubble Virtuoso, I literally spent a day sorting out the store listing for the game on Google Play. The reason - sorting out which compatible devices will be able to search for the game on Google Play.

I had previously done a test on Apkudo to see which devices are able to install and run Bubble Virtuoso -  as Google Play initially filtered compatible devices based on the minimum API level I had set when building the APK file for Bubble Virtuoso, it was necessary for me to use the Apkudo test results to cull out any additional devices from Google Play's list that it deemed unable to run the game. Despite Google Play's flaky categorization of Android device names, it was somewhat bearable adding 100+ additional devices to the list of incompatible devices.

The next bit was a bit of a tough cookie...

Due to the fact that Bubble Virtuoso doesn't support resolutions lower than 800*480 pixels, in addition culling out devices that failed Apkudo's tests, I also had to filter out devices that has native resolutions of less than 800*480 pixels. That task involved doing a lot of last minute research into devices that are below that specification. Along the way, I also spent quite a bit of time comparing the list of "compatible" devices against below-specification devices to make sure that there were no unsupported devices left. Thankfully, most of the devices whose resolution was below the supported resolution had API levels lower than the one specified in Bubble Virtuoso's APK build, so my work was cut in half.

After sorting out the compatible devices, I proceeded to start writing up the blog update that would coincide with Bubble Virtuoso's release. While half way through writing up the content I suddenly had the idea of turning the blog update into a press release post, but decided keep it simple for that time being since there were stuff that was best kept until later once I gotten all press material sorted out.

Bubble Virtuoso's Release Day

The big day has arrived! First order of day: release my blog post! Second order of the day: promote my blog post! Third order for the rest of the day: promote Bubble Virtuoso through Twitter, Reddit, and various other forums including the Playmaker and Unity ones!

And the result of my hard work? Very, very cold sales. On the first day of release I only had 2 sales, that came from myself (I had to test whether there were still something wrong with the game after uploading to Google Play) and a friend of mine. The day after the release saw better days as there were 4 sales, but that was after I promoted the game like crazy on IGDA Sydney's Facebook page.

The Week After Release

The week proceeding Bubble Virtuoso's release was not much of a story to tell; the only highlights to speak of was that I managed to have sales coming from Europe (1 from Germany and 1 from Great Britain). Much as I hoped that those sales would lead to the spread of Bubble Virtuoso via word of mouth, I was left disappointed.

What was more disappointing was that I suffered the first refund from a customer in Hong Kong.

Then a surprise came: Kim Heimbuch from Musing With Crayolakym purchased my game for her 4/5 star review of Bubble Virtuoso! Wow - just as I was planning to contact her later for a review!

And Kim, if you're reading this: Thanks for the 4 stars! I was surprised that my first game would be rated this high!

Statistics 1 Week after Release
  • Total No. of Unique Sales: 12 (Including my own test purchase)
  • Number of Refunds: 1
  • Total Revenue: $13.17 (NOT including my test purchase)
  • Average Rating: 4.8 Stars (based on 5 ratings including Kim's rating)
Lessons Learnt

Despite Kim's review, it didn't translate into any additional sales for Bubble Virtuoso. To be honest, I am kind of disappointed at the lacklustre sales performance despite all the Tweets, Reddits, Facebook posts and forum posts I've done.

Even though I'm not an expert in marketing, I can guess the reasons behind the lack of sales:

  • The store page of Bubble Virtuoso may be getting a lot of traffic but due to the lack of videos showcasing Bubble Virtuoso's gameplay, a lot of potential customers are probably scared off not knowing how the game plays except for a few screenshots on the store page, thus not willing to part with their $1 to try my game out.
  • Since Bubble Virtuoso is a paid Android app, there are currently no options to try the game for free. This was an oversight on my part as I believed that sales would be generated via enough marketing, not knowing that a lot of people out there are cheapskates, haha.
So what are my options now?
  • Create a video showcasing Bubble Virtuoso's gameplay.
  • As suggested by Kim and other people, I will need to create a free version of the game and then promote that instead. Will also have to make sure to link the free version to the paid version in some way.
Let's just hope that things will get better after doing all of that!

Anyways, this is where I will end this blog update. Be sure to tune in next week for more updates here at the Sonic Punch Line! Peace out!

EDIT: It turns out that the purchase and subsequent refund from the guy in Hong Kong was typical to an activity of pirating my game.

To those who downloaded Bubble Virtuoso and are playing it for free, not only you are partaking in an illegal activity, you are also ensuring that I will not be able to create games for others to play in the future. YOU ARE RUINING IT FOR ME, FOR THE OTHER STRUGGLING GAME DEVELOPERS, AND FOR THE GENUINE GAMERS OUT THERE.

If you want me to continue creating games as good as Bubble Virtuoso, then support Sonic Punch Studio by purchasing the game here!

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