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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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!