★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Defying the odds: Prospectors - Nature's Slot Machine

12-14-2013, 02:34 AM
Defying the odds: Prospectors - Nature's Slot Machine

Hi everyone,

My name is Simon, I'm the owner of Digidiam Game Studio. Against the advice of numerous friends and loving family, I decided to leave a 15-year professional marketing career selling retail petroleum equipment and solutions at a multi-national corporation in order to pursue a deep passion of mine: creating and producing games. On Sep 21 this year, after more than 6 months of intense design and development work and collaboration with an outstanding Swiss-based software and graphics company, I launched my very first mobile game for iPads called "Prospectors".

Here's the download link:

With no marketing push pre-launch, we secured approximately 1,000 downloads the first week of the game's launch. This was probably due to a small feature by the U.S. AppStore in the simulation games category and a mention of the game on Appshopper.com. The downloads quickly deteriorated to approximately 30 downloads/day from different parts of the world which was not unexpected. My plan to postpone advertising activities until 30 days after launch was deliberate, concerned that we may have missed severity 1 bugs during QAT that would lead to major crashes or data loss and give a bad first impressions to hard-to-come-by users. Sure enough, a range of iOS 7 issues surfaced but we quickly squared them away with updates.

Starting late October, we revved up the marketing machine - deploying a range of promotional tactics including, but not limited to, game review site advertising, cross-promotions with gold prospecting hobbyist sites, Facebook and Twitter advertising. As of today, here are some of the results and the trends for key metrics look promising.

1. >25,000 downloads in 60 countries around the world after 11 weeks (not bad for iPad only devices I've been told)
2. Active daily and weekly users respectively: ~3,000 and ~10,000
3. Revenue per download: $.37 gross
4. Daily sales: $200-600 gross, excluding iAds sales of approx. $35/day
5. 36 ratings with 4.5 star average in AppStore (these are all real ratings)

Note that there are significant user acquisition cost that currently would still translate into a net loss, but interest and momentum seems to be strong and profitable sales could be around the corner.

The point of this thread is not to gloat - the game is well short of anything newsworthy. However, I believe Prospectors has potential and seems to have gained market traction. I need constructive feedback and actionable ideas how to build on the progress that has been made and believe many forum members here can provide invaluable input if willing. I want to prove that Indies like me can defy the odds. We need to be innovative, resourceful, bold, and diligent to carve out and cultivate a niche in this huge competitive mobile gaming market.

Last, I want to thank all the people who have and are supporting our vision. Monies generated are being entirely reinvested back into the game to develop engaging mini-games and feature enhancements or to help build the user base scale that is required to make this a viable business.

Warm regards!
12-14-2013, 03:44 AM
Are you making $35 a day with ads on 3K daily users?

12-14-2013, 06:44 AM
Originally Posted by Destined View Post
Are you making $35 a day with ads on 3K daily users?
Yes. This is based on 20-30k impressions served per day. ECPM ranges from $1.11-1.73. Is this good, average, bad?

I have screen captures of my iTunes account showing iAds revenues and impressions and eCPM for this past week but can't seem to be able to upload them using the manage attachment function. Perhaps some posting restrictions with new TA membership?
12-14-2013, 07:23 AM
Here's the iAd revenue screen capture. Still problems uploading the others...
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	image.jpg
Views:	19
Size:	175.2 KB
ID:	66866  
12-14-2013, 04:43 PM
Those numbers seem solid to me.

If you can sustain that it is a nice little income stream.
12-14-2013, 11:26 PM
Unfortunately, I'd say a great deal of the iAd and IAP sales numbers are floated by the costly marketing push that has helped acquire new users. Believe there will be substantial attrition in revenues when promotional activities subside.

Have you or anyone else here had chance to play Prospectors? Have ideas how to improve - what do you like and don't like?

We received strong negative ratings and reviews regarding specific design mechanics in our game that happen to be critical monetization mechanisms (i.e. Hard to find gold when user doesn't upgrade this respective ability and the probability of cutting failures on valuable diamonds without purchasing cut guarantees). We estimate that we'd see a 40-80% decrease in IAP sales if we relaxed these constraining points. So far we haven't been able to think of any good ways to countermeasure this dissatisfaction without unraveling our ability to make money and pay for development costs and expenses. Any good ideas from the forum members as to what we might be able to do to create win-win situation?

Also, what's a good way to get more in-depth input and feedback from users? In my previous life we conducted face-to-face interviews, focus groups, and behavioral studies. We're trying to get a FB fan page started to garner user more robust input but the data points and depth of insight are not actionable at this stage. AppStore reviews are important but again it's very difficult to not have a more interactive exchange with users to make sure we're not making wrong assumptions or overlooking better options.
12-15-2013, 01:50 AM
flurry is good to record user interactions.

If you are making $35 a day I would focus on keeping your userbase. Perhaps instead of buying those things in the app offer ways to get it free by sharing.
12-15-2013, 03:11 AM
Originally Posted by Destined View Post
flurry is good to record user interactions.

If you are making $35 a day I would focus on keeping your userbase. Perhaps instead of buying those things in the app offer ways to get it free by sharing.
Yeah, we're using flurry but what the underlying usage and retention drivers are remain hazy after combing through the large amounts of analytical data.

In terms of addressing users unhappy with our monetization methods, your steer is sensible. We're throwing around some concepts to give incentives to users to help spread the word about the game. Frontrunner idea is something we are calling "bless my diamond" where a user can invite up to five Facebook friends to "bless their diamond" before cutting so as to reduce cutting failure all the way down to zero. Kind of a spin on candy crush's social mechanism - the limited feedback we've gotten is mixed however, some like it while others think it's gimmicky. One group prefers to have our resources dedicated on developing some fun mini-games that will allow loyal players to fully appreciate the merits of owning virtual diamonds. That is, they really hope we strengthen the justification around "why I should care about virtual diamonds?" and "what can I do with virtual diamonds that I can't do with real ones?"

Customer voices are many and diverse while design and development resources are so few - lol.

Last edited by Digidiam; 12-15-2013 at 03:12 AM. Reason: Grammar
12-15-2013, 06:08 AM
My next game will just be ads, + 0.99 or 1.99 for remove ads + level unlock, so hearing you made that made me feel at least a little hopeful. I just make games for fun so really in the end I just want people to play them
01-17-2014, 10:58 AM
Suggestions For Prospectors - Nature's Slot Machine

  1. Allow an option to sell diamonds for gold.
  2. Add bonus locations to guarantee a certain one pan gold recovery.
  3. Increase the loop length for sound effects. Same sounds repeat to frequently.