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How to catch a break?

03-07-2010, 12:15 PM
#1
How to catch a break?

Last month, I released my first game on to the app store, called -Broken-. Being new to the world of iPhone development, I figured the App Store gave exposure to new games and that if I made a good game, I would get sales (the tried-and-apparently not true "if you build it, they will come" philosophy).

As many of you know, this is a horrible idea. So I decided I would create a lite version to promote the full game. Now, the initial version of my game (1.0.0/1.0.1) had a paddle that was hard to control (it's a type of brick breaker game). I got a lot of suggestions, but I got even more 1 star reviews. After updating with a very smooth-moving paddle, though, no one is buying the game, and few people are downloading the lite version (in part, most likely, because I have not gotten enough ratings on the current version to clear away all the 1 star reviews and the 2 star average rating).

I have been submitting the game to various review sites over the time it has been out. Looking at my sales reports, the game has only been looked at by 3 of these sites, and I have gotten no reviews from any of them. I even wrote up what I thought was a rather excellent pitch after reading articles on how to do so?

So here's my question: what do you have to do to catch a break? Paid advertising is out of the question, as being only 17, I'm pretty much flat broke after entering the iPhone developer program and getting the Torque SDK as well. At this point, my first goal is simply breaking even. I'm open to most any free advertising solution I may have overlooked.

If any of you would like to check out the game, by the way, here's the link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/broken/id354940023?mt=8. The App Store seems to be down right now, but when it gets back up, maybe you can check it out.
03-07-2010, 12:37 PM
#2
First of all read this thread, it was written by the funniest and coolest guy ever. Okay, it was written by me:

http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=47415

If you have already posted, look at your views. If you have between 0 and 800, I would say that your chances of getting a review are extremely slim. Up to 2000, you should see at least a couple reviews and up around 5000 you should easily have several reviews.

I'm only pointing out the above thread so that you can see where your potential is, based on current promotion and marketability of name alone.

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone

03-07-2010, 12:44 PM
#3
Well, that confirms that my chances of getting a review are extremely slim. How does this help though? I already knew my potential based on current promotion was bad, since I can't really promote it much...
03-07-2010, 01:08 PM
#4
I think it may just be too late for "broken". Not trying to offend you in any way, but the app store has certain genres that have been virtually done to death, and unless you bring something to the table that is unbelievably great the chances of gaining traction are slim to none.

If you really feel strongly about your game, it's time for an extreme makeover. Pull the game from the app store. Retro graphics are fine (I should know, Rogue Touch has no trouble selling with its looks ), but give the game some color. Add in leaderboards- custom made, OpenFeint, whatever. People love competition! Fix whatever your crashing issue is, stating in the iTunes description that the game may crash when run the first time does not inspire consumer confidence. Finally, modify the name, slightly or drastically. Then resubmit as a new game... have an upcoming thread here, create a youtube gameplay video, post often!

That's the bare minimum I recommend for you. If that sounds like too much work... set this game to "free" and move on, start working on your next game.

--- ChronoSoft ---
Support your roguelikes! Play Rogue Touch today!
Spirit Hunter Mineko: Demons Reach --- Work in progress! Follow us on Twitter!
03-07-2010, 01:19 PM
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderData View Post
I think it may just be too late for "broken". Not trying to offend you in any way, but the app store has certain genres that have been virtually done to death, and unless you bring something to the table that is unbelievably great the chances of gaining traction are slim to none.

If you really feel strongly about your game, it's time for an extreme makeover. Pull the game from the app store. Retro graphics are fine (I should know, Rogue Touch has no trouble selling with its looks ), but give the game some color. Add in leaderboards- custom made, OpenFeint, whatever. People love competition! Fix whatever your crashing issue is, stating in the iTunes description that the game may crash when run the first time does not inspire consumer confidence. Finally, modify the name, slightly or drastically. Then resubmit as a new game... have an upcoming thread here, create a youtube gameplay video, post often!

That's the bare minimum I recommend for you. If that sounds like too much work... set this game to "free" and move on, start working on your next game.
First point: The entire game is something new; the mechanic of it has never been done, which makes it stand out from the competition. It is a brick breaker, but one that plays differently than any other.

Second: Leaderboards could work, maybe of cumulative score across all levels. It could be worth a shot.

Third: While I would like to have better graphics, I can't do graphics to save my life, and I cannot afford to hire a graphic artist. I've tried to do the game in a retro, simplistic style because of this.

I'll look into your suggestions to see if I can use some of them to help this game, thanks for the post!
03-07-2010, 02:19 PM
#6
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 243
1.19 perhaps a tad overpriced for a breakout clone?
03-07-2010, 03:11 PM
#7
...possibly. I had tried going on sale for a while, though, and it didn't help.

Check out -Broken-, the new, addictingly fun game from Thaasophobia Games! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/broken/id354940023?mt=8
TouchArcade Thread: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=47541
03-07-2010, 03:37 PM
#8
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaasophobia View Post
First point: The entire game is something new; the mechanic of it has never been done, which makes it stand out from the competition. It is a brick breaker, but one that plays differently than any other.
Don't advertise it as "a new take on [genre]". You'll associate it with the old game which will negatively impact your sales. People have eyes and can see from the screenshots what genre it is. Better to play up its newness.

e.g. "Make your head spin 360 degrees in this fast-paced arcade game!"

That's not particularly good copy, but it should give you an idea of the direction your advertising should be going. If you find yourself struggling with creating gripping text, you can always consider hiring a professional copy writer. (i.e. A person who writes advertising text. Not to be confused with a copyright owner. )

Quote:
Third: While I would like to have better graphics, I can't do graphics to save my life, and I cannot afford to hire a graphic artist. I've tried to do the game in a retro, simplistic style because of this.
You can always advertise for a partner in the Dev section. There are plenty of young-uns looking to make a name for themselves, and several artists will work for a share of the profits. Just don't expect the *top* of the line artists unless you can pay up front.

Another option is you can look into free libraries like Ari's SpriteLib! Though be careful with these or your game will look generic! You'll need to make sure you develop a consistent and unique usage if you do use such a library. Otherwise players will spot the source of the graphics a mile away.
03-07-2010, 04:54 PM
#9
I've taken some of the advice here and lowered the price to 99 cents permanently and removed ties to the brick breaker genre in the description. I may start work on OpenFeint leaderboards too. Thanks for all the suggestions so far!

Check out -Broken-, the new, addictingly fun game from Thaasophobia Games! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/broken/id354940023?mt=8
TouchArcade Thread: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=47541
03-07-2010, 07:37 PM
#10
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaasophobia View Post
First point: The entire game is something new; the mechanic of it has never been done, which makes it stand out from the competition. It is a brick breaker, but one that plays differently than any other.
First, we're still talking about a brick breaker. A new mechanic goes a very small way to making it feel fresh again unless it's so revolutionary and different in an intriguing way that people can't help but sit up and take notice. The last game do to that I can't recall the name of (there have been so many brick breakers that you just can't keep track of the names anymore) but it involved drawing a line wherever you want the paddle. It was different, innovative, and very well executed, and it really did refresh the genre enough to make people take notice. But now that's been copied several times, and no offense, but making a brick breaker 360 just doesn't cut it.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, this isn't a new concept, not even on the App Store. Just have a look at Radial 50. Same concept, and possibly a better execution depending on whether you prefer flashy or retro graphics.

Second: Leaderboards could work, maybe of cumulative score across all levels. It could be worth a shot.

Also, if you're interested in 2D graphics I've seen a couple of people here in the Developer Services and Trade forum who offered 2D sprite graphics for free just to get the experience. Have a look at the forum and see if anyone wants to team up. You might also find musicians and FX designers. You can always offer a profit sharing plan as a means of payment, too. I did that with Tesla for the Galactic Chill app; I wrote all of the music and we share the profits down the middle. Worked out great for both of us.

Bottom line though is that you have to do a little research if you want to try and come out with something different -- and not just a well-established genre game that's different for its own sake.

[Relax with Galactic Chill] [Let me tell you a story.]
Currently working on: Music for Spirit Hunter Mineko

Last edited by Mindfield; 03-07-2010 at 07:40 PM.