I am glad my episodical iOS game is not a TV show. It would have already been canceled.
When I started work on my puzzle adventure “2 dreams” several weeks ago I kept risks small. This was just a little side project that I wanted to hit the app store as soon as possible. The goal was to make a small but atmospherical app that would be a good test run for deploying to the app store, a little bit of marketing and seeing how the idea of splitting app development into parts. The plan was to release part 1 first and expand the app every few weeks with a free update.
Today I want to share my experiences.
“2 dreams” hit the app store on monday the 14th of october after developing for about a month. I made a German and an English version to gain interest in my home country as well as internationally.
I knew that episode 1 was kind of short. An experienced puzzle gamer could play it in about five minutes. That was the reason why I decided not to contact gaming blogs because I was felt there was not enough content for a proper review. I wanted to keep that option for later.
Instead I relied heavily on the twitter community. My German account @zeitweise has about 11,000 followers, the English counterpart @sightwise about 375. I also mentioned the game twice on the well established Apple centered fanboys podcast which I am part of. The third puzzle piece in getting the word out was an article in the news section of a German board game website: Spielbox. This article came right out of nowhere but I am rather well known as a board game designer so this might have been of interest to the board gaming audience.
Sales figures on the first day were nice. The app spiked at position 89 in Germany followed by Austria and Switzerland. App store reviews were mostly favorable but as expected people noted the game was quite short. The volume of tweets mentioning the app was rather small. I saw some retweets but it was clear people were not really talking about “2 dreams”.
While I was quite content with the sales in the first days it is more important how your app does in the long run. And if you have a look at the graph you will see that sales figures were dwindling soon.
But hey: This app is an episodical. Things would recover with the first update. Do you see the orange line? This is when the first update hit the store. Almost no effect.
I have sold 525 apps until now (about 50 for a non German speaking audience). I know this calculation is barely legit but this would mean about 4% of my German Twitter followers bought the app and about 13% of my English followers. That are great figures.
But customers did not get the word out. Maybe it was a mistake to release the app so early. Maybe I should have produced more content beforehand.
Social media was nice for an initial spike but not enough. So should I have reached out to the press? Obviously. But I am still thinking that is possible in the future.
About updates. With iOS7 Apple has changed its update policy. Updates now are seamlessly loaded in the background so nobody is aware of it. This is a problem for an adventure game because people just don’t get back to the app. For future updates I will change the color of the icon so there is at least an indicator that something changed.
Do I regret my decisions and how does the future of “2 dreams“ look? If the game would be a TV series I would have to cancel it. Future updates may only cost money. But this is not how to think if you are an indie developer. There is still a story to tell with this app and I will release updates until this is done. Risks are low because even if I’ll lose money by putting extra work into “2 dreams” it is not very much. Some spare time. Not more.
All in all I have to say: “2 dreams” was an interesting experiment for me. And it still is. It is my first step into indie gaming and I think you have to keep trying. If I learned something with this app than it is the wisdom that being an indie developer is much more hard work than the fairy tales of super successful developers tell. I can live with that.
Get in touch: @sightwise
Update (Nov 14th): Episode 3 is now part of the App.
2 dreams (Universal iPhone/iPad on the iOS App Store).