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

Game Fail - Any ideas?

03-26-2011, 01:35 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 14
Game Fail - Any ideas?

My first iOS game, Star Rocket, appears to have become a total flop.

Now, I certainly didn't expect to be the next big thing by any means. But I've only had 140 sales in 6 weeks. And I've had only 450 lite downloads in about 3 weeks. (The lite version came out about 3 weeks after the paid version.)

Of course, most of those downloads were at the initial release and trailed off extremely quickly.

What's more, the release of the lite version totally killed paid sales. Before the lite version came out, I was getting at least a few paid downloads each day. After lite came out, it dropped to zero for several days and now I only get an occasional 1-download day.

I was looking at the sizes of some game center leaderboards for other indie games that came out around the same time and was surprised to find that they had way more users.

I'm simply confused. I've had tons of positive feedback from those who actually play. The main complaints are in regard to the controls. I understand that controls are a big deal - but they really aren't that hard.

My game has a lot going for it, and I know it could *at least* do better than it has. Any ideas, fellow developers?

Full: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-rocket/id419027792?mt=8
Lite: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-rocket-lite/id423038852?mt=8


Youtube link | Pop Up
03-26-2011, 02:42 PM
#2
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Portland, OR, Cascadia
Posts: 332
I would say the art style looks to be for young children. So older players will skip and younger players are going to want perfect controls. This happened to me with Cascadia Kart. Someone bought it for their 4 year old then was angry that the kid couldn't control!

03-26-2011, 04:15 PM
#3
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 143
Well pointing to the art style is hard to say. I mean angry birds and tiny wings are all very cute.

From the video the game looks good. It seems it would do better then 1 sale a day. Is there music in the actual game? I mean the gameplay looks to have potential but without music it seems kind of boring.

I will try the lite version and see if I can provide more feedback. As a few post have already mentioned it's important to have a really amazing icon that pops.

Then you do the usual marketing tactics.

Ok played it...some feedback

- Ok so SFX are really nice and they pop. But yea you need music!
- Might take a look at your level design as well. Personally the game was more fun when the levels are designed like a race track. Maybe split into race mode and challenge mode?
- You don't really up-sell your full version in lite. Most people might not even know there is a paid version
- I think you should tune the difficulty down a bit. Use more of the bumpers in earlier levels instead of the rocks since you die instantly. Since your game does seem to attract more family/kids it would be good to make it easier to start...or at least in the demo

I mean overall it's a very solid game. We are actually working on a collections type game but with tilt/gyro controls.

But yea I think most important thing missing for me in your game is music, and your lite version needs to tell the players to check out the paid version. Like what are the benefits of buying the paid version.

I'll leave a review too.

Last edited by tofusoup; 03-26-2011 at 05:01 PM. Reason: feedback
03-26-2011, 05:04 PM
#4
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 132
The answer is simple - your game is not good enough. The gameplay on a video is quite nice, however it's nothing extraordinary fun, artwork is good but not great. Nothing to catch attention.

It's actually an easy equation - the more simple your game is, the harder it is to sell it. With this level of perfection, you don't stand out of the crowd, so unless you have a good marketing campaign, you will not even get noticed.

You cannot expect any sales from "average" game - if that is your aim, just don't do it - or go and release it for free. Either you're making a hit or you're wasting your time.

Apart from that, here are major flaws too:

1. Space theme. Fabled to be the worst theme ever.
2. Unoriginal gameplay. Yet another 1979 Asteroids clone - with 350k apps you expect people to actually pay for it? Honestly, do you yourself ever buy such games?
3. The lite version conversion is negative, meaning either you screwed something in the conversion process (no direct link to full, too much or too little time/features in demo), or your game is not fun enough - so people try the demo and decide it's not worth it. After all, it costs just as much as Angry Birds.
03-26-2011, 05:09 PM
#5
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 515
Quote:
Originally Posted by FogleBird View Post
What's more, the release of the lite version totally killed paid sales. Before the lite version came out, I was getting at least a few paid downloads each day. After lite came out, it dropped to zero for several days and now I only get an occasional 1-download day.
You can remove the lite version from the store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FogleBird View Post
I was looking at the sizes of some game center leaderboards for other indie games that came out around the same time and was surprised to find that they had way more users.
Have they gone free for a while? Maybe they have higher rates of piracy, or simply better sales

Quote:
Originally Posted by FogleBird View Post
I'm simply confused. I've had tons of positive feedback from those who actually play. The main complaints are in regard to the controls. I understand that controls are a big deal - but they really aren't that hard.

My game has a lot going for it, and I know it could *at least* do better than it has. Any ideas, fellow developers?
Only 8 ratings in iTunes? That is hardly any.

Do you have a pop up at some stage in the game asking the user to review it? It should be after enough levels that people who don't like the game have quit, and people have had a chance to get used to the controls.

There are a bunch of free libraries to do this. The one I use is https://github.com/arashpayan/appirater
03-26-2011, 05:12 PM
#6
Honestly, the game looks good. I watched the trailer and thought it looked fun. Graphics look polished, icon looks good to me. So, I bought it... and its definitely fun. Simple and easy to play. Contrary to what jaguard said, I don't really recall a game with this kind of game play (momentum, time based, pick up x items as fast as possible)...

I will say if i looked at the screenshots by themselves I wouldn't have really been as interested as I was once I watched the trailer, which is no fault of the graphics, mind you, just maybe the screen selection. For one I would get rid of the "level complete" screenshot, and add another screenshot of the game play. I'd also have the screenshots be of the ship in action, picking up stars along a line of stars for ex to kind of show what the game is about (the first 2 pics are just of a static, unmoved ship in the middle of the screen). Maybe add some captions as well, describing the game ("collect all the stars", "over 100 unique levels", etc).

Unfortunately at this point well after release, I'm not sure there is much you can do to improve sales though, beyond a few things. For one, I would remove the lite version immediately. Next, I would pursue a site like FreeAppaDay and see if you can get on there. The game is quality, so its just a matter of getting noticed, and doing some sort of free campaign is the best way to do this (note that those sites do a revenue share for their services, but its worth it). If you can't get a spot on one of those big sites, you might want to try a free campaign on your own to see if it generates any interest. Going free has the potential to get eyes on your game... if its a good game, it has the potential to get people talking about your game and spreading the word once you switch back to paid. At this point, its at least worth a shot -- even if worst comes to worst you can't do much worse then now if you're making 1 sale a day, so you have room to experiment. I can tell you from experience that going free with N.Y.Zombies has helped us in the long term though.

But then again, this is precisely the problem with casual games... there is a LOT of luck involved simply because of the quantity of games you are competing with. What makes your game not succeed over a lot of lesser games that do make it? I honestly have no clue... Just don't be afraid to experiment at this point, considering you basically have nothing to lose.

Last edited by Foursaken_Media; 03-26-2011 at 05:16 PM.
03-26-2011, 05:21 PM
#7
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,006
From the video, it looks like a PacMan+Asteroids hybrid. Interesting idea, and well executed (getting N&N features from Apple is no easy feat), but doesn't seem like something that would be mainstream. Some feedback:
1. as mentioned, lack of music is probably hurting your lite->full conversions.
2. lite apps aren't what they used to be. They've come to be associated with annoying ads - many users shy away from them except as a trial for more expensive games.
3. are you prompting users to submit user reviews? I'm a little surprised that your lite does not have a single rating, anonymous or otherwise. This trick (with a delay, to try and encourage reviews only from people that are playing your game and like it) is used in almost all the top games.
4. the downloads you've gotten are typical. AppStore is feast or famine. Many games with big user bases have been out for a while or have gone free for a limited time.
5. don't trust the armchair quarterbacks here, or even your own instincts (yet). Put the game in front of people and collect feedback - not just gameplay or controls (they're the least of your problems) but name and icon and screenshots.
03-26-2011, 05:52 PM
#8
Nice game. I always appreciate polish. Not much to add, but I will say that promoting your game is twice as much work as making it -- you've got to be constantly putting yourself out there to get it noticed. You can add new levels in an update, do a contest, etc, etc. There's lots of threads around for how to effectively market your game.

Fuzzy Professor Head LLC -- Makers of Puppysaurus! On Twitter / Facebook
03-26-2011, 06:58 PM
#9
Your original query aroused my curiosity, so I downloaded the Lite version and played the first four levels or so (only about 15 minutes of play).

This app seems very polished to me. I guess I'd disagree with those who suggested various visual or sound tweaks. There's always room for improvement, but I doubt that those improvements would significantly change the fate of the game. You're already on the far side of "high quality."

However -- and I say this in the kindest possible way -- I don't find the game to be much fun to play. It's all bun and no meat. I don't think I'd pay for it. In fact, having looked it over, I don't think I'd be motivated to play any more of the free version in the future. I've had my iPad for a year, and I already have a backlog of 200+ games that I've downloaded but never actually played. Most of these were free.

That's the market you're facing. A game has to be insanely fun or distinctive even to get noticed. The situation is even worse for "quick little games" like Star Rocket. For every Tiny Wings, there are hundreds of other simple games than sink without a trace.

Ultimately, I don't think there's anything wrong with the game. It's your fundamental approach to the iOS market that's off-base. Wrong product, wrong timing, too much competition. I wish I could be more encouraging, but you've entered a tough, tough market.
03-26-2011, 07:39 PM
#10
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 14
Wow, thanks for all of the awesome feedback everyone.

The lite version does prompt users to upgrade, but only once, on startup, and only if they get past level 10. The paid version does the same thing but prompts for a review instead of an upgrade.

I did try removing the lite version, but only for a few days. It seemed to have no effect, so I put it back up. I'll think on it.

GSnyder, I think you're probably right. Most people probably just get bored with it.