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Old 02-22-2013, 12:02 PM
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polygonplay polygonplay is offline
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Default Why Did Lander Hero Fail?

In fall 2011 I released Lander Hero and it failed miserably in the App Store. I did the following promotion and marketing:

- I contacted about 50 major iOS related sites and got a nice preview here at TA and a review at PocketGamer.
- I spent around $500 on banner ads
- I had a trailer and a good promo pics I think

The sales were really really sad ($3 price)
- Launch day: 37 downloads
- After two weeks I was getting 1 or 2 downloads a day

However, most people really like the game and it has a 4+ rating. Personally I think I failed because:

- I released it just before Infinity Blade 2
- It was iPad only and I released it recently after iPhone 4
- The file size was huge 380MB
- It didn't have your typical cartoony vector artwork
- It was probably little too difficult for casual gamers

Later I added iPhone support, fixed all bugs, made it easier, tried free promotions, released free IAP version with smaller file size(170MB). Nothing helped, at all. So my question to you, fellow developers, is: Why did I fail so bad? Was there anything I could have done to save the game?

I am asking now because I'm releasing my next serious game(Zen Sand) soon and I really want to avoid making the same mistakes again. So my other question is: What can I do to make Zen Sand a success? I don't have big marketing budget, but I could use around 2k to marketing if I had to, but would it make any sense?

Also you are more than welcome to participate in the beta testing to get better sense of the game and help me out. (See the Zen Sand link for more info). I could really use some advice.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:53 AM
Bigmac1910 Bigmac1910 is offline
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As I haven't released my first game yet, this will be from my gamer perspective. I think it looks alright, maybe a bit on the stiff side. But other than that, I just don't think that game mechanic is fun anymore. I think Lunar Lander was cool back in the days and I have some nostalgia toward it, but game mechanics have moved on since then and so have I. I could be wrong but that's how I see it.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:28 AM
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polygonplay polygonplay is offline
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Thanks for your input. It's a very interesting point. There were several lunar landing games already on the App Store and I think some of them did ok. Maybe I was just late...
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:21 AM
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Moonjump Moonjump is offline
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$3 is a difficult price point for an arcade game without a big name licence. But at least it does offer some room for manoeuvre. Rather than making it free for a limited time, dropping the price to $0.99 for a while should be enough to trigger the price tracking websites to list it.

I used to sell ShootStorm at $1.99 when I launched it a couple of years ago. That price was possible then, but not now. I did find a boost in the days following a drop to $0.99, but outside of that I was selling better at $1.99. That changed over time though as even $0.99 became a hard sell.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:13 AM
squarezero squarezero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polygonplay View Post
In fall 2011 I released Lander Hero and it failed miserably in the App Store. I did the following promotion and marketing:

- I contacted about 50 major iOS related sites and got a nice preview here at TA and a review at PocketGamer.
- I spent around $500 on banner ads
- I had a trailer and a good promo pics I think

The sales were really really sad ($3 price)
- Launch day: 37 downloads
- After two weeks I was getting 1 or 2 downloads a day

However, most people really like the game and it has a 4+ rating. Personally I think I failed because:

- I released it just before Infinity Blade 2
- It was iPad only and I released it recently after iPhone 4
- The file size was huge 380MB
- It didn't have your typical cartoony vector artwork
- It was probably little too difficult for casual gamers

Later I added iPhone support, fixed all bugs, made it easier, tried free promotions, released free IAP version with smaller file size(170MB). Nothing helped, at all. So my question to you, fellow developers, is: Why did I fail so bad? Was there anything I could have done to save the game?

I am asking now because I'm releasing my next serious game(Zen Sand) soon and I really want to avoid making the same mistakes again. So my other question is: What can I do to make Zen Sand a success? I don't have big marketing budget, but I could use around 2k to marketing if I had to, but would it make any sense?

Also you are more than welcome to participate in the beta testing to get better sense of the game and help me out. (See the Zen Sand link for more info). I could really use some advice.
1) I think you basically hit upon a disconnect between gameplay, memory requirements, and price-point. For all its polish, the game is still a basic arcade title, not dramatically different from the original Lunar Lander. There are plenty of similar games in the App Store, and most of them are free or $.99 and, most important, they do not take up almost half a GB uncompressed. Games of these type need to work as impulse purchases, which gives you a hard 50 MB limit (what you can download over cell network)

2) iPad only at launch. These kinds of games are appealing as time-killers; you need to be able to play them easily on the go.

3) Competitive landscape. It's not just that there are many cave flyers out there: there are several high-quality, story driven, highly polished titles that have essentially the same gameplay.

There is no way to guarantee success in the App Store. But marketing missteps such as the ones above will most likely doom any title, no matter how good it is. Unfortunately, a lot of the marketing work for the next title should have happened before you wrote a single line of code. At this point, I would recommend that you catch up as much as possible by researching the market, doing some focus testing (to find out what's the unique feature that will distinguish the game from the competition--it's likely not what you originally thought it would be), and making a realistic assessment of what your chances are with this particular title.

Good luck!
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:14 AM
iPadisGreat iPadisGreat is offline
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Why is this casual game a 380MB download?

Not a technical question but a marketing one. Your prospective impulse buyer might first experience sticker shock at the $3 selling price and for those who are still interested, a 380MB download that might still expand once installed. There is a storage issue banging its head against the need to keep more music on iPhone.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:05 PM
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polygonplay polygonplay is offline
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Thanks guys for your insight. I really appreciate it! Lander Hero has a huge file size because all 50 levels have unique cave graphics. I probably should have reused a lot of the graphics, but I just wanted to make them all totally unique. I didn't even think about the file size back then. There is a free version with 10 unique levels that is under 50MB.
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Old 02-24-2013, 04:39 AM
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HeliApps HeliApps is offline
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If Lander Hero was Freemium or free with ads you would have made a lot more from it in my opinion. Maybe you should consider one of those models for the new game

Last edited by HeliApps; 02-24-2013 at 05:10 AM..
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:48 AM
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polygonplay polygonplay is offline
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Thanks HeliApps! Actually, I later tried and released a separate freemium version with reduced file size(still 170MB), but the sales were even lower. I did some marketing for that as well.

I have thought about these two pricing models for the new game Zen Sand:

(there are 4 level packs with 20 levels in each)

1. Free with one level pack(is 20 levels too much?) and $2 IAP for the rest three level packs
2. $1 game with two level packs unlocked and $1 IAP for the rest

What do you think? Which one is better?
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:23 AM
DannyTheElite DannyTheElite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polygonplay View Post
Thanks HeliApps! Actually, I later tried and released a separate freemium version with reduced file size(still 170MB), but the sales were even lower. I did some marketing for that as well.

I have thought about these two pricing models for the new game Zen Sand:

(there are 4 level packs with 20 levels in each)

1. Free with one level pack(is 20 levels too much?) and $2 IAP for the rest three level packs
2. $1 game with two level packs unlocked and $1 IAP for the rest

What do you think? Which one is better?
Number 1
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