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another 'going free' assessment

03-21-2010, 03:27 PM
#1
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 761
another 'going free' assessment

With the increased popularity of GOING FREE analysis reports, I decided to post my figures.

Flickitty has seen its success and failures since its release in November, and overall I can't complain about the sales. At this point, I'm not hoping to raise more awareness for Flickitty nor gain more sales, I think it has completely run its cycle.

NOVEMBER PROMOTION

Back in late November, I decided to make Flickitty free for 3 days. This was basically self-promoted. I posted the news here at TouchArcade and reddit.com. Several sites including pocketgamer.co.uk and toucharcade added Flickitty to the front page news of games that were free for the weekent. After each day of the promotion, I reported my numbers and status. This is the first of those reports

Here is a short synopsis of that report: Flickitty reached #53 it Top Free Adventure, with 1418 USA downloads in a 24 hour period.

CONTRAST

My latest promotion through freeappcalendar.com was a little bit different than my previous promotions. I had a site with a captured audience to back me. I did not announce the news that Flickitty was free- instead I pointed people directly to freeappcalender so that they could discover it for themselves. I only posted the news at Twitter, I did not use toucharcade or any other means of promotion.

Yesterday I saw 5063 downloads in the USA alone, with a postion of #19 in Top Free Adventure Games. No, these numbers aren't huge, but that eclipses the previous promotion by a large margin, and it required far less effort.

Does this tell us anything? Well, it was surprising to me that there is still a slight interest in Flickitty. I didn't self-promote, so my downloads were achieved strictly through freeAppCalendar alone.

I think this shows the power of indies banding together for promotional reasons. Even with the support and front page news at pocketgamer.co.uk and toucharcade, my original promotion pales in comparison.

My ratings were bumped up by half a point, which is kind of strange to see. Oftentimes, negative reviews are the scourge of free promotions.

Overall, I'm not sure how this will affect my sales, but I'm not really concerned, either.

A WARNING

Currently we have 3 different Free App sites (that I know of). I think this is good balance and I urge developers to resist the urge to start another site. Instead, join one of the existing sites. We don't need more fragmentation in the industry.

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

Last edited by Flickitty; 03-21-2010 at 03:33 PM.
03-21-2010, 03:44 PM
#2
i know 4, freeappaday, the one from qwiboo, the freeappcalendar, and then the OF one is like freegameoftheday

The Life Blog
Minecraft

03-21-2010, 04:28 PM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flickitty View Post
With the increased popularity of GOING FREE analysis reports, I decided to post my figures.

Flickitty has seen its success and failures since its release in November, and overall I can't complain about the sales. At this point, I'm not hoping to raise more awareness for Flickitty nor gain more sales, I think it has completely run its cycle.

NOVEMBER PROMOTION

Back in late November, I decided to make Flickitty free for 3 days. This was basically self-promoted. I posted the news here at TouchArcade and reddit.com. Several sites including pocketgamer.co.uk and toucharcade added Flickitty to the front page news of games that were free for the weekent. After each day of the promotion, I reported my numbers and status. This is the first of those reports

Here is a short synopsis of that report: Flickitty reached #53 it Top Free Adventure, with 1418 USA downloads in a 24 hour period.

CONTRAST

My latest promotion through freeappcalendar.com was a little bit different than my previous promotions. I had a site with a captured audience to back me. I did not announce the news that Flickitty was free- instead I pointed people directly to freeappcalender so that they could discover it for themselves. I only posted the news at Twitter, I did not use toucharcade or any other means of promotion.

Yesterday I saw 5063 downloads in the USA alone, with a postion of #19 in Top Free Adventure Games. No, these numbers aren't huge, but that eclipses the previous promotion by a large margin, and it required far less effort.

Does this tell us anything? Well, it was surprising to me that there is still a slight interest in Flickitty. I didn't self-promote, so my downloads were achieved strictly through freeAppCalendar alone.

I think this shows the power of indies banding together for promotional reasons. Even with the support and front page news at pocketgamer.co.uk and toucharcade, my original promotion pales in comparison.

My ratings were bumped up by half a point, which is kind of strange to see. Oftentimes, negative reviews are the scourge of free promotions.

Overall, I'm not sure how this will affect my sales, but I'm not really concerned, either.

A WARNING

Currently we have 3 different Free App sites (that I know of). I think this is good balance and I urge developers to resist the urge to start another site. Instead, join one of the existing sites. We don't need more fragmentation in the industry.
Thanks for the insight. Here is the 4th Free App site I know about: http://www.greatappaday.com/

Even though you said you weren't concerned with the sales afterwards, I'd like to here an estimate of how you're doing now.
03-21-2010, 10:24 PM
#4
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 91
Send a message via Skype™ to ylyu5
Agree that the free app sites are saturated and balanced

there is one more site announcing app in sale: http://appshopper.com
developers no need to join the site
It will update automatically with every apps on App Store under price reduction
03-23-2010, 01:19 AM
#5
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 761
At least one person expressed interest in sales so here we go.

March 19th, the day before Flickitty went free, I had a total of 6 worldwide sales, with 3 of those coming from the USA. This has been fairly normal for Flickitty in recent weeks.

March 21st, the day after Flickitty went free, I had a total of 28 worldwide sales with 9 of those coming from the USA.

I chose to provide real numbers rather than claiming a 466% increase. In general, I consider only the USA sales to be relevant, as they are the only profits that I see on a regular monthly basis.

The sales from March 21st could be a little higher, since I only used the 'preview' view to check my reports. However, 5 sales scattered between 5 countries isn't that big of a difference to me.

At least the 21st made up for the lost revenue of the 20th. Gotta remain positive!

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone
03-23-2010, 01:27 AM
#6
interesting input, thanks for sharing the information

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03-23-2010, 05:05 AM
#7
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
Here is a little more data, this time on Ground Effect.

We were extremely lucky with freeappaday as when we contacted them in late February they had an empty day on March 1st. This was all a little short notice and I wasn't 100% keen as i'd only dropped the price to 99c a few days earlier but a few emails and encouragement from Pam and I took the plunge.

We left Ground Effect free for four days. During this time we had half a million downloads. Ground Effect was the number 1 free racing game in most app stores including the US where it also got to 9 in free apps. It was the number 1 free app in several stores including france and italy.

Before the free period we had less than 4,000 Openfeint users, after it almost exactly 100,000. Two weeks later we have 128,000 users, I guess this continued rise is because people downloaded while it was free but are only slowly getting round to playing it, or at least logging on to openfeint.

As for sales since, from january 1st until the day before the 'sale' we were averaging 27 per day, some of these were at $0.99, some at $1.99. In the two weeks since we have been averaging 58 per day at $2.99. Are they tailing off yet? kind of, a little, check out the graph on appannie and see for yourself.

Basically, it's still selling more than it has since it dropped out of "what's Hot" in early december. I have to assume that these sales are coming from word of mouth or maybe from the "what my friends are playing" feature in Openfeint. Either way, it's that huge number of people who already have the game that are making me the extra sales now even though 97% of them didn't pay for their copy!

When I told other devs I was giving the game away for a few days certain people (posters on this forum actually) told me I was mad and that I would kill my potential market because anyone who wanted it, would now get it for free. I don't think it works like that. We need to get our games into the hands of people that didn't even think they wanted them.

-=< Fat Owl With A Jetpack >=-
-=< Topia World Builder >=-
-=< Twitter >=-
-=< Blog >=-

Last edited by GlennX; 03-23-2010 at 05:20 AM.
03-23-2010, 08:27 AM
#8
I had a similar experience with my game Buster Red last week (wednesday's freegameoftheday). The game had single digit sales prior to the promotion. During the day of the promotion we got about 26k downloads and shot up as high as #7 action and #11 arcade categories (higher in other countries). After the promotion it was getting double digit sales which are beginning to taper off now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennX View Post
When I told other devs I was giving the game away for a few days certain people (posters on this forum actually) told me I was mad and that I would kill my potential market because anyone who wanted it, would now get it for free. I don't think it works like that. We need to get our games into the hands of people that didn't even think they wanted them.
I would like to agree with glennx on this point - getting people to play/try your game (without being apple featured) is pretty hard in the current app store (even for free!). So getting all this exposure (and fans) through these free a day sites is fantastic for indies.

The only downside I see is that your ratings will get completely blasted! I was lucky enough to retain at least retain a 3* rating - now working my way back up...

+++Iskandar Inc+++
03-23-2010, 12:52 PM
#9
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,006
For folk wanting to give this a go, it's already been said, but I'd urge people not to rely solely on rss feeds to get you huge jumps in traffic after going free. If you want to get significant downloads, do your best to get promoted on one of the bigger sites with lots of eyeballs. Visibility for a giveaway in a calendar is a lot more sticky than a fleeting AppShopper price change notification that'll scroll off the page within half an hour.

here's a quick recap of some of the services out there and the pros/cons:

- FreeAppADay: costs ~$1200 up front. Given their current popularity, they can afford to be picky, and their selection criteria includes things like "has already been featured by Apple."

- OpenFeint: no up front costs to the developer, so no real risks, but their selection criteria and schedule are completely opaque, and apparently you must agree to split revenue with them after the promotional period ends. I don't know much more about this option since I never got even a canned automated response to an attempt to sign up.

- FreeAppCalendar: totally transparent about their selection criteria - any developer can participate, with public voting determining which apps are eligble to snag precious calendar slots. The site offers the ability to log in and directly set up/edit a promotional area, is fully automated, and has a responsive administrator that also happens to be a developer.

The good news is that even the youngest/smallest of these sites (FreeAppCalendar) is more than powerful enough to give your app a huge promotional boost. I decided to give FreeAppCalendar a try after seeing two card games leap to the top of the card category thanks to FreeAppCalendar.

The first day Pocket Boxing was featured was a Thursday, it picked up well over 13,000 downloads in the US alone, enough to propell it to top#3 in sports and top#8 in arcade.

Those 13,000 downloads were more than Pocket Boxer Lite had achieved in the months it's been out, despite being free from day#1. For some reason, people seem to get more excited about pay apps going free, than about apps that have always been free.

My goals were:
1. to get more OpenFeint users/competition
2. to build up a base of users that could be targeted with future updates cross promoting similar games
3. to get more feedback on the game itself, which is thoroughly retro, tough, and decidedly non-casual.
4. to confirm AppStore mechanics for transitions between free and pay and the effect on rankings
5. to spin the dice and see if going free briefly would have a beneficial effect after going free again
6. to explore what it would take to get Pocket Boxing to show up higher in search results for "Boxing."

The results:
1. there are now well over 10,000 registered OpenFeint players that have beaten Jersey Joe, about 20% of whom have managed to beat the 2nd opponent, Mad Moose McGee. Note that only a fraction of people downloading the game actually end up using OpenFeint.
2. I could have built up a much larger base of users if I'd left if free a whole week, but hindsight is 20/20.
3. I got plenty of feedback both in email and user reviews from fans. But the most useful was a 1 star user review. A fellow asserted that the game seemed unfair and devoid of any skill - that a monkey would be just as likely to win as a human. This is hardly the case as anyone browsing the OpenFeint leaderboards could attest, but encouraged me to push out the 1.3 update, which includes video help showing how to play, and to add additional tactical tips to the game description.
4. when you switch from free back to pay, your ranking is completely reset. It doesn't look like at this time any percentage of your free downloads contribute towards the new pay ranking. As an exception, there is a brief window where the AppStore's algorithms appear to be confused (particularly with order in search results) and your app retains good visibility, but then it promptly becomes invisible again and has to begin a new climb.
5. A few days later, Pocket Boxing sales are back exactly where they were before the giveaway.
6. The algorithm for search results is much more complex than the one for top pay/free charts. It's biased towards more expensive apps, with keyword and titles contributing to the order. It also appears to factor in total downloads and not just the (shorter) window of download activity that app rankings use. Immediately before going pay again, Pocket Boxing had managed to displace the pair of pay/lite Smack Boxing games. Immediately after going pay again (back on sale at 0.99), Pocket Boxer temporarily lurched to the #1 spot. This lasted about an hour.

An unexpected result:
- while the full version was free, this unexpectedly drove up downloads of the lite version, too. I would encourage any developer that has a pair of full/lite apps to add something really cool to your lite app, and to advertise that in your full app description. If your lite can ride the coattails of your full version while the full is on free, your lite has a good chance of retaining its ranking after the full goes pay again.
03-23-2010, 03:22 PM
#10
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stroffolino View Post
For some reason, people seem to get more excited about pay apps going free, than about apps that have always been free.
I think there are different markets, the freeappaday type sites appeal to a relatively small group of bargain hunters but cash in on the 'you have to get it now' factor. This catapults your app to visible in the charts where it's downloaded by an even larger number of people who never get anything unless it's free. They see the fact that it's 'temporarily free' as a sign of quality.

The market of people who are happy to pay and too cool/busy to check freebie sites is uneffected as they won't even know it's been free. These are the people who, in sadly relatively small numbers, buy your app because some percentage of your free downloaders are enjoying it and showing it to friends.

I believe, rightly or wrongly, that a tiny fraction of the half million people who got Ground Effect for free would ever have paid for it.

-=< Fat Owl With A Jetpack >=-
-=< Topia World Builder >=-
-=< Twitter >=-
-=< Blog >=-