How I sold 22 copies of my game in 3 weeks on Android

To check previous article in the series click here.

Free on Android, paid on iOS

It’s been 3 weeks since Monstaaa! release on Android via Google Play, so I thought it’s high time I share some more statistics. In fact they’ve been rather shocking – in a negative way, unfortunately – when it comes to the actual revenues given great reviews (average around 4/5), very positive general feedback, high ratings from users (average around 4.5/5) and higher than with iOS number of downloads (over 10k). Apparently, Android turned out to be a very tough market for Monstaaa!

Keep in mind though that unlike iOS version which is paid at $0.99, Android version is Free with $0.99 in-app purchase that unlocks full game. According to my statistics, Android version has been played on more devices than iOS version and yet the sales have been roughly 50 times lower! Part of the reason for that surely was the fact that iOS version has been featured for one week by Apple themselves in New & Noteworthy (only Australia and New Zealand though!) whereas Android version hasn’t been mentioned anywhere at Google Play. Besides iOS version had a lot more reviews on gaming portals – probably result of me pushing a bit more with marketing when iOS version came out.

The thinking behind making the game free on Android was that Android users are, supposedly, less likely to pay up front without trying an app first. That was my guess at least. With Android release I also wanted to experiment with a different than pure paid app model.

Android statistics

Okay, so, let’s have a look at some actual Android numbers now.

Total number of installations/devices: 11135 (1599 installations via Google Play)
Total number of users who finished all 8 levels in free version: 2281 (20.5% of all users – not too bad!)

Total number of different device types: 1133 (seems a lot to me!)
And here’s more detailed breakdown of the device types:

Quite a fragmented market, isn’t it? As you can see, the most popular Android device so far has been Samsung Galaxy II (791 devices), then MI-One Plus (410 devices; popular in China), then Samsung Galaxy Ace (347 devices).

Here I shall also point out that even though the game is officially only available via Google Play, over 80% of all downloads have been made through other portals – this is quite common in the world of Android. Since the game is free, this doesn’t hurt at all (as opposed to paid apps which are just being pirated this way). That’s all based on the stats I get to see from within Google Play admin panel itself compared with my own stats collected from the game directly.

Let’s now have a look at the number of users and new users per hour over last 3 weeks:

Clearly, the game had its popularity peak at the end of the first week. Since then there’s been gradual decrease in both, users and new users counts. The peak in downloads most likely corresponds with some, very positive, reviews from iDroidPlay and AndroidZoom as well as “App of the Day” featuring by the latter.

Android and iOS sales

If you read the title of this post you already know – the full game has been purchased exactly 22 times! That’s right! With over 10k downloads, there have only been 22 purchases made on Google Play.

And with iOS, even though things look much better there, sales are still far from satisfying. Over first 2 months the game still hasn’t even reached $1k in net revenues with no more than $5 a day being made nowadays. With 7 months worth of development, even for a single developer, this obviously won’t pay the bills. Well, it won’t even cover basic out of pocket development costs!

Confusion

What’s the reasons for such poor Android sales? Too many levels in free versions? Too high difficulty level? Lack of additional in-app purchases / items in game? Oversaturated market when it comes to physics based puzzle games? Should it be made paid like on iOS? Or is it just lack of luck? I really wish I knew and I’d be really glad to hear others’ opinions!

Sometimes I feel like the more I try to understand things, the worse the actual results are. At least with Android that is the case. And probably the most confusing for me is the fact that the game had many really good reviews and has been mentioned but a number of prominent gaming portals or blogs. No review to this date (except for one) points out any significant flaws with Monstaaa! which I think suggests there isn’t any obvious issue there. In fact most of reviews highlight the good things about the game – things like good graphics and audio, fun game-play or well done tilt controls.

Here’s few game reviews if you want to check them yourself:
148 Apps
iFanzine
GigaOm
AppsOnTapp
PadVance
AusGamers

Ironically, if the reviews were bad it would have been much easier for me to understand the problem! ;)

And it’s even more confusing when you realize that over 20% of all users complete the whole demo version – this I believe is quite a large percentage. And yet, only less than 1.0% of these users unlock the full game.

Summary

But let’s not be too pessimistic! How many game devs succeed with their first or second game? Of course it’s a dream of every developer that their first game is success big enough so they can comfortably work on another one but one has to be realistic and the reality is that only very few succeed straight away.

My experiment with indie game development hasn’t worked out financially so far but I didn’t even spend a year on it and, fortunately, I also didn’t spend too much money on it. By making and releasing two games I learned a lot about mobile game development and I do plan to try again in some future! In the “meantime” I’m going back to more stable life joining one Electronic Arts studio in Melbourne which I’m sure will be another exciting chapter on my game development adventure!

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About Maciej

Game developer with passion
This entry was posted in android, indie game development, ios, mobile game development. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to How I sold 22 copies of my game in 3 weeks on Android

  1. Hi Maciej,

    I hear you! These stats are extremely poor, and I think I can kinda guess why this is happening. As a publicist (I think we’ve been in contact before) and a gamer, I’m guessing the main reason the game isn’t working out on Android is because of the IAP. I believe that a majority of the market on Android is through cracked and pirated apps. It’s because the ease of doing that is just really simple as trading an .apk. The game technically cannot be played fully and most probably just don’t care enough to buy it.

    I suggest there be an ad-supported version, and a paid version. That way, you can at least make a few pennies from the ads, rather than getting nothing. The true supporters or ad haters will be able to purchase the full version. I don’t suggest removing ads through IAP because many just won’t do it. I’ve read many developer blogs, and I’ve seen that IAP are pretty useless in the Android market.

    I can see why the game would also be unsuccessful is probably just no one knows about it. It’s not trending.

    Looking through your point of view, I can see how things can get difficult after the first few weeks upon release. That’s when you need to add updates, new content, new levels, to keep players engaged.

    Not just updates, but press coverage as well. I’m going to give a few suggestions as where you should send press kits to get more sales:

    http://mobilegn.com/

    http://mobile.indiegamemag.com/

    http://ifanzine.com/

    http://toucharcade.com/

    http://appadvice.com/

    I hope for your continued success in the future, and I hope to hear back from you!

    • Maciej says:

      Thanks for you comment.

      I’m considering some changes to how the game is being sold on Android but I’m still unsure of what’s best approach. In particular I get the impression that majority of level based games (i.e. ones where there’s fixed number of levels to complete) are paid. F2P model seems to be more appropriate for social or endless style of games.

      This is partially confirmed by latest gamasutra summary of paid and free apps on Android:

      http://gamasutra.com/view/news/174585/Top_Android_game_apps_Amazing_Alex_takes_on_Wheres_My_Water.php

      The “good” thing is that there’s not much to loose there for me which makes it easy to experiment a bit :)

    • unlying says:

      Where you read about IAP works bad on Android?
      I have rather good payments in my game “Mobile Dungeons” on google play. However gamers can pass through game even if they’ll not buy anything. But they do.
      I think that it depends from type of your game. It is possible that gamers have enough fun with free version and decide that it is enough.

      • Maciej says:

        I never said IAPs don’t work on Android. It’s just that some game types don’t work well in Freemium model – in particular level based puzzle games like Monstaaa! Link to gamasutra article shows that this kind of games is not popular (on Android); they’re all paid.

  2. bert says:

    This was a very interesting,although rather disappointing read. Thanks for being so honest!

  3. Stancis says:

    Total number of installations/devices: 11135 (1599 installations via Google Play)

    Curious. What other services do they use? Do you have data on that? I’m interested in what the popular marketplaces there are on the Android.

    • Maciej says:

      I have no data on where people download my game from because it’s pretty much impossible to know – it’s just a file being downloaded over network. If you type in Monstaaa.apk in google you’ll find plenty of links to download it.

  4. Tyler says:

    Try increasing your Android free content to 50% and adding Admob. Then have an in-app purchase which adds the other 50% and removes ads. This is the model we found worked for us after some experimentation with a successful iPhone game ported to Android.

  5. viktorvogh says:

    As you well say, don’t rely all your business model in the users who buy the app; The number will be minimum. Android users are not likely to pay for Apps, it is not a question of the App quality. Monstaaa! looks great. ads could be an interesting option. So you don’t delegate the money issues on the users, but on the advertisers.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Honziq says:

    After reading the article I tried the game on my android device and its pretty cool, but I’m having an issue purchasing the full game – touching the “Full game” sign just doesn’t do anything on my Nexus S device. Maybe there are some bugs preventing others like me from purchasing the app?

  7. chinagirl says:

    You have a good product. The issue is probably visibility in a highly competitive market. I would recommend a free version with adverts in it without IAP that you can use to drive awareness in other Android Markets. Release in Samsung, Amazon, Getjar, Androidpit, Opera Mobile etc and get as many downloads of free version as possible to drive awareness and advertising revenue. Pay for a formal a formal review and plan a relaunch of the free version to coincide with a new review.

  8. I’m not sure the issue lies with Android. I just wrote up about my experience (looks like we released nearly at the same time.) I did the exact opposite as you, releasing a paid app on Google Play, and a free + iap app on the AppStore. I had far more sales on Play as compared to the AppStore. Read my summary and let me know what you think. (PS, I also talk about piracy).

    http://sketchyventures.com/2012/08/05/monthly-report-july-2012/

  9. Matt Sharper says:

    stop charging .99 for a game charge 1.99 minimum

  10. podkwiatek says:

    What about Monstaaa status update? Any changes in the revenue values?

    • Maciej says:

      Not much change there. Well, I get maybe a dozen or so copies sold every week recently but this is, I believe, mostly thanks to ‘advertising’ the game on Steam Greenlight:

      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92982490

      Yes, the game works quite well on PC too! …even though people commenting there don’t seem to believe it ;)

      • podkwiatek says:

        And are you planning to release a sequel which could boost the game up? Or you just give up with indie development?

      • Maciej says:

        No plans for sequel at the moment but I’m not giving up just yet. Or rather, I’m never going to fully give up making my own games, it’s just too much fun :D But it might take some time until next thing pops up here.

    • podkwiatek says:

      Fingers crossed with the new game… speaking of the devil, will you do it again under Marmalade (you will have to re-purchase the license I suppose) or will you go with Unity3d?

      • Maciej says:

        I really don’t know anymore. It is even possible my next thing will be PC only. Things are changing fast, and it seems to me that the iOS/Android gold rush for small devs is largely over now. Unity3D is unlikely given I’m such a C++ lover but who knows.

  11. Andy Res says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, hope the things will get well.
    May I have one question regarding the implementation of Monstaaa game… Did you use any 3d party game engines, a cross platform engine, to build the game both for iOS and Android in the same time, or you built it separately, like the Android version first then started to build the iOS?

    If you used any engines, I would like to know which ones.

  12. podkwiatek says:

    Hi Maciej,
    Just by curiosity I’ve checked how the Monstaaa is getting on the market and it seems that it had some surge. Did you done anything, or is this a pure luck and is the change noticeable?

  13. Maciej says:

    There is indeed small increase in downloads on Google Play just recently but the problem is it doesn’t really translate well into purchases. And no, I haven’t done anything but I’ve noticed some gaming portals listed it recently on their websites – maybe that is the reason.

  14. Like developers, we are not really interesed in android. Maybe like prommotional channel, but not like commercial objetive. Over all other things, to buy it’ s an habit. Same people who tap “buy” with his iPhone download the app from an android, because this is what is expected. Not so simply like this, but android is becoming a no-commercial platform, try make the same game next time, but i think android only sell less units every time.

  15. CAV says:

    Im curious about what changes/tweaks/etc you made since this post and the results. I’ve found your experience pretty helpful as it has given me a better view of the commercial process involved in making a game.

  16. foljs says:

    “””Keep in mind though that unlike iOS version which is paid at $0.99, Android version is Free with $0.99 in-app purchase that unlocks full game. According to my statistics, Android version has been played on more devices than iOS version and yet the sales have been roughly 50 times lower! “””

    Android was always a much much worse market compared to iOS.

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