Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Cyber Salesman

Here is an update after a few days on the market.

A couple of popular Italian sites quickly picked up the game, and the top spot in the Games/Racing section was mine in just a couple of days 8)
I've been there a few days, and now unfortunately leaving the spot for some other game (not sure which one).
I've also been high within the top 10 of the Overall section, which means that people just browsing for any application would bump into my game.

For daily raking overview, I like
It's not the best looking site out there, but I like the clearly visible arrows that show the trend (going down or going up).
If you search for "Final Freeway" you'll see that I'm going down today 8(
I paid the site the 1 EU necessary to get hourly rankings.. but it's a bit confusing (I think shows the ranks compared to the previous hour, rather than to the previous day).

Ranking is good in Japan, too. But not as good as in Italy. In Japan I touched #2 for Racing, but not #1 just yet.
..If only the App Store staff didn't elect some other motorbike game as featured, a game that has now been at the top of the Japanese store Racing sub-section few days. Even though it mostly collected 1-star ratings (the lowest possible). Power of exposure I guess !

Thankfully, my average rating is quite good: 4 out of 5 stars.
Ratings are a mixed bag. Some really help, some are enthusiastic, a fraction are expression of disappointment (some people hate the game for not being Out Run !), and some of the few negative ratings are downright unfair.
For example, some people haven't updated the firmware of their device in a while. Were they to browse for games using the phone, the App Store's application would prevent them from buying a game that requires a newer OS than they have.
However, I'm guessing that some bought the game directly from iTunes using a computer, and when they try to install the game, they find out that it's not compatible. As a reaction, they rush to leave a negative review for the game, even though the required OS version is stated in iTunes right below the game's icon.

Most reviews are good and present valid concerns and suggestions.. helpful, but it's not fair when someone purportedly leaves a lower rating only because there isn't a feature that they want.

Sales in the US and worldwide jumped sensibly the day that TouchArcade officially reviewed the game.
TouchArcade's forum has also been very helpful, with many users that keep giving suggestions and feedback.
It was especially useful today, when the first update of the game went live and a new feature turned partly broken on iPad 8(

The game is played in landscape orientation, and for this update the user could finally play landscape both ways (Home button on the left or on the right).
However, not having my iPad around (still waiting for Apple to change it), I couldn't test both orientations on the iPad (because the simulator doesn't simulate the accelerometer, and therefore one cannot see what happens when it's being rotated).
So, that was broken and I quickly wrote a warning on the game description and sent an update to Apple.
The first update only took 2 days, the new one may take more, and my only hope is that iPad users that update, will notice the warning about the iPad (live and learn: I just realized that I should have put the warning also in the Update message.. I did that now, but 200 people already downloaded the update! (granted, only a fraction of those are iPad users)).

About Sales!
It went well but they are already declining. About 4500 downloads so far. The peak day being 1100 sales, when TouchArcade reviewed it. The day after it went down to 512, and today it's 310.

From the reaction of the users, I see that the game has potential to sell much more. But the visibility is still not good enough.
I'm still waiting for a few more large sites to produce reviews that should bring more attention.

The plan for now is to add enough features to justify a price bump, and then increase the price by 1 dollar (to $1.99). Then I will start releasing a "lite" version to promote the paid one.

There are still a few things that can and need to be done.

About the price.. I can see how 99c is a stigma in a sense. At 99c some people sort of expect cute/scary/different games that play endlessly. Stuff that has 1 stage only by design.
So, coming up with 6 stages, in a way, is a bad thing because it's like putting a single digit number to the length of game play.
Also the 99c price tag may make people think that they must find a defect in the game... but this is only speculation !

Initial lack of play modes and some other things that iDevice gamers came to expect (like auto-accelerate and flexible landscape direction) are more important than one may think, and the 99c price perhaps sort of mitigates the reaction to those missing features.

I think now I pretty much know the basic features that people want, and once those are in, I can also get rid of the 99c price.
Between code changes, adding new stages, App Store review delays and review sites, it's probably going to take another month before the real prime time!