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Impulse GP and iOS Piracy

07-26-2015, 11:53 PM
#1
Joined: Apr 2015
Location: Vancouver Canada
Posts: 12
Impulse GP and iOS Piracy

FIRST WEEK OF IMPULSE GP
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.
07-27-2015, 12:11 AM
#2
Joined: May 2010
Location: Deepest Circle, Hell
Posts: 8,673
This is heartbreaking. It's seriously disgusting to think that people can't spare 3 Dollars for an exceptional product. I'm under the assumption that this has nothing to do with visibility on the App Store, but just people seeing a racing game on a pirate site and downloading it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EcoTorqueGames View Post
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?
As much as I love and support premium, I don't know what the deal with Impulse GP is. Getting featured by Apple is a huge part in getting noticed and I believe Impulse GP wasn't featured. Perhaps it was because the game was released at a random time and not a day before the App Store refresh...but whatever. At this point, and as a huge supporter of the game, I'd say go Free to Play...if it's worth it.

Are you sure you'll gain visibility by going Free to Play? Those 11,000 people already have the premium version of the game...hell, I don't even know how pirated apps work...can they be updated? Like, is it worth the trouble of completely re-working everything in the app or should you just consider this a financial failure and change your business direction from now on?

IF you decide to change the payment model of Impulse GP, immediately introduce ads and a way to disable them. You may want to avoid timers and the like, but instead keep the regular race mode (and time trials) as an ad-supported free version and lock the Pro mode AND drag races behind a paywall. If that seems too generous, or you think that people won't want to unlock the rest of the content, offer just 3 tracks for free and then a single IAP to unlock the rest of the game.

Again, if you think it's worth making this a totally Free to Play game, with timers, energy, fuel, etc. then that's your call. But yeah...change something. Anything. It's better to piss off 400 paying customers than run your business into the ground.

Lastly: **** what the App Store has become...and **** piracy sideways.

"I am virgin, I'm a whore! Giving nothing; the taker, the maker of war!" - Black Sabbath, "I"

07-27-2015, 12:16 AM
#3
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: On the toilet
Posts: 4,283
Dang!! This is very depressing news. You made a fantastic game that I wish got more exposure. I hope you can get some kind of return for the time and money you spent making this game. From a person who payed for your game I hope you can stay premium however I understand you have to make money. One thing about piracy is that pirates will never pay for anything so I wouldn't necessarily think they would have spent any money to begin with. That's how the pirates mind works. Can't people also hack IAPs?
07-27-2015, 12:43 AM
#4
Joined: Nov 2013
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Posts: 2,262
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolpepper43 View Post
Dang!! This is very depressing news. You made a fantastic game that I wish got more exposure. I hope you can get some kind of return for the time and money you spent making this game. From a person who payed for your game I hope you can stay premium however I understand you have to make money. One thing about piracy is that pirates will never pay for anything so I wouldn't necessarily think they would have spent any money to begin with. That's how the pirates mind works. Can't people also hack IAPs?

IAP's are definitely hack able, and pirating is really easy too.

Lookup what vShare and HipStore is, the first being more structured. It's a shame.
07-27-2015, 01:22 AM
#5
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: Denmark
Posts: 1,040
It might be too late, but why not have a free to get version with a few rideable tracks and a full game unlock as a one time IAP?

Excellent game, sorry to see it go this way.
07-27-2015, 01:35 AM
#6
Here are my thoughts. DO NOT GO FREE TO PLAY.

What you could do is release another version like “Impulse GP Free”

In that version yiu can have timers and what not yet still leaving a separate premium version.

That said you could fill the free version with ads etc.
07-27-2015, 02:40 AM
#7
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 10,656
Depressing hearing stuff like this. I do agree one way to 'seem' to get round it is to make it free (eg first track to play on) and then a single IAP purchase to unlock the full game, bit like the 90's with PC games where you had a single level to try.

Its even more depressing knowing people pirate these apps when they are SO cheap. I mean if these games were $30 i could 'slightly' understand why a kid might pirate it (still 100% wrong) but when they're SO cheap and they have a $300+ device i'm stunned.
07-27-2015, 03:33 AM
#8
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: U.S.A., earth
Posts: 214
As much as I'd prefer to keep things on the premium over freemium side, freemium/f2p may be the way to go. AFAIK, the latter does offer protection against piracy, as I hear pirates can't pirate IAP that needs to be paid to the company (at least that's what I've been reading. AFAIK, there are always ways around almost anything, and I figured it'd only be a matter of time, if not already there)

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalcasket View Post
Lastly: **** what the App Store has become...and **** piracy sideways.
FWIW, the App Store may be better in warding off piracy, but it's never been any sort of safe haven. Folks say how Android has more piracy than iOS, and last I checked, it's true. However, iOS has quite the game and app selection, so I guess they're attracted to the call of that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by psj3809 View Post
Its even more depressing knowing people pirate these apps when they are SO cheap. I mean if these games were $30 i could 'slightly' understand why a kid might pirate it (still 100% wrong) but when they're SO cheap and they have a $300+ device i'm stunned.
People pirate because they can. [shrug] I won't pretend to be a psychologist and try to analyze it further beyond that.
07-27-2015, 04:54 AM
#9
Joined: Apr 2015
Location: Arendelle
Posts: 654
Definitely go free to play. You'll have to squeeze out as much as possible from this game after this financial flop. Going free to play won't have much to do with getting money back from those pirates, but it will broaden your playerbase and bring in more potential IAP buyers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psj3809 View Post
Its even more depressing knowing people pirate these apps when they are SO cheap. I mean if these games were $30 i could 'slightly' understand why a kid might pirate it (still 100% wrong) but when they're SO cheap and they have a $300+ device i'm stunned.
I really wouldn't blame pirates for this game not succeeding. I don't even think the dev is blaming them for this, he just wanted to share those statistics because they clash so much with what we thought we knew about the percentage of piracy on iOS and how inconsistent those percentages can be.

Pirates aren't stingy or whatever you think they are. They just prefer to not buy a game or a program just so they can spend that money on (in their opinion) more important things, like new devices with which they can then pirate better games. But most (or at least a lot) of pirates do it because they couldn't afford everything they play. I know people who have gone through 50.000$+ worth of games and software, which of course would be impossible for them to do the legal way. So yeah, they either can't afford to pay for all they consume and/or they prefer to spend that money elsewhere. And then there's some who would gladly pay for the product if they had as much money as some people are bragging about on this forum and if buying AppStore credit was made more accessible.

While piracy is wrong, I'm having way more trouble understanding people who buy games but never even play them.
07-27-2015, 05:20 AM
#10
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: On the toilet
Posts: 4,283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsa View Post
While piracy is wrong, I'm having way more trouble understanding people who buy games but never even play them.
Guilty of that, but it's sometimes more about voting with my wallet and supporting good games and devs. Buts it's also my OCD. Obsessive collecting disorder

Last edited by coolpepper43; 07-27-2015 at 05:24 AM.