Impulse GP and iOS Piracy
FIRST WEEK OF IMPULSE GP
Climbing Mount App Store on a Pirate Ship
Climbing Mount App Store on a Pirate Ship
After years in development, that involved a 3D Racing Engine, a Track/World Designer tool, and a complete pipeline, Impulse GP finally released last week. Regardless of whether or not the game is considered successful, we are very excited that our first game, which we put our heart into, is finally out and being played by thousands of people around the world.
Beyond the excitement, there lies expectations or at least hopes. The first of these expectations is for some financial reward to compensate for the years of work and the actual cost that it took to develop a game of this level.
We will not hide it, we did have big expectations. We didn’t want to make a puzzle game, a match-the-numbers or match-the-colors game, or another Flappy Bird. We wanted to make something bigger - a solid 3D racing game that pushes high quality rendering visuals at 60fps, has the right controls that actually work on touchscreen, and balanced gameplay that suits hardcore racing fans as well as casual players. Basically we wanted to help redefine the racing genre on mobile devices. We think we succeeded.
On the other hand, determining how to make money from the game did not take enough priority on our to-do list. We didn’t want to spend our time and effort on monetization and in-game economy; we thought the effort could be better spent on enhancing the game itself rather than spending it on building a money machine.
To make things easier, we decided to go with the model that we are most familiar with from our first days of gaming with Amiga and early consoles, i.e. you pay for the game once and it’s all yours to enjoy. This model is called Premium in the terminology of today’s market although it's hardly that, considering that a cup of coffee costs more than buying our game. At $2.99, we thought the price was right for the App Store especially since we decided to remove any extra optional IAPs and keep the game “Pay Once and Play”, the model that Apple seems to be promoting lately.
So did it work?
The question will take more than just a week of sales to answer, but so far it looks a bit dark, as in black with a skull in the middle. Yes, “Piracy”.
As you can see in the above figure, our analytics show a total of 11,998 new installs worldwide in the first week, yet the total units sold in the App Store was just 399. China has the majority of the installs with over 8,852 unique devices running the game and only 9 units sold (yes, nine only). But that's kind of expected as China is a different market and premium games don’t work well there.
On the other hand, for the first 4 days, the U.S. showed an average of about 60% of units sold to new installs. This is not bad at all, especially considering many people own more than one iOS device (one unit sold could be legitimately installed on different devices of the same user).
Day 4 (Sunday) was the best for us, with 84 installs and 54 units sold in the U.S., which pushed us to #24 on the U.S. Racing Top Chart (according to AppAnnie.com).
On day 5 (Monday) we watched the installs in the U.S. climb up to 204. Doing the math we expected at least 100 units sold in the App Store and hopefully a good boost in ranking. But when the units sold number appeared later, it was only 30 units. Somehow on day 5, the piracy in the U.S. spiked from ~40% to ~85% and it was on this same day that Chinese installs were skyrocketing. Day 6 in U.S. was even worse, with 174 installs and 11 sales, which is ~93% piracy.
Impulse GP was well-received as far as we're concerned. We got extremely positive feedback from players and the TouchArcade community were raving about it and nominated it for Game Of the Week. We received all 5 stars on the App Store reviews and the web reviews were mainly positive. Our average session time is 10min worldwide and 12min in the U.S. So, we still believe that we made a fantastic game, and for that reason, we will keep pushing it forward and find a way to get it to work.
We know that we can’t blame it on piracy. But it seems that the Premium path is much more bumpy than we thought. It seems to be much worse for us than Monument Valley reported a while back. So the question remains if it it's a wise idea to go Premium on the App Store, or if we should go back and restart our climb from the other side of the mountain, i.e. go Free-To-Play as soon as possible?
Last edited by metalcasket; 07-27-2015 at 12:11 AM.