We often hear about how the iOS $0.99 app, as well as Free-to-Play and in-app purchases are a bit of a saving grace for some of the challenges that game developers are currently facing in the market.
With the big studios all over the world closing, many developers are taking a crack at going independent and developing these small games for low price points. Australia, especially, is subjected to this – very few large studios remain open in the country, so the choices are to either move overseas or hope to land an indie hit.
So, here’s some numbers that are a little worrying. Aussie developer, Pixel Elephant, had some good success with its game, Monstaaa! on iOS. It was priced at $0.99, was features on New & Noteworthy in Australia and New Zealand, and sold reasonably well. It’s also enjoyed some positive reviews from both readers and critics.
It sold exactly 22 copies with its Android release.
There, it was released as a free-to-play application, as the developer in his blog said the expectation is that Android users don’t like to pay upfront for games. It was downloaded quite a few times – 11,135, and off that. 2281 users finished the eight “free” levels.
That’s a horrific conversion rate from people that finished the “demo,” and felt the desire to support the developer with $0.99 for the full game. The end result? Even adding in the nearly-$1,000 revenue from the iOS game, Pixel Elephant has barely made enough money from this game to live in Australia for one week.
Not long ago we wrote about another Australian developer going out of business on the basis of disappointing iOS sales. It looks like that iOS game development bubble is starting to pop, when genuinely good games are unable to net a developer even $1000.
Or it’s just a sign that Pixel Elephant needed a more aggressive marketing campaign. A little marketing investment generally helps to separate the cream from the crop.
Read more: Tsumea
I've never heard of this game on either platform and I do keep an eye on what games come out. You definitely need some good marketing to get your game seen and talked about and luck too. Right place at the right time and all that. As far as the conversion rate goes though maybe the game simply wasn't attractive enough for people to purchase it?
I did remember seeing it on the Apple "New and Newsworthy," though I never got around to playing it. You're right though, I don't think there was a strong enough marketing push behind it.
As for whether the game is attractive or not, I haven't played it, but the critical reviews would suggest it's not a bad game at all.
Given it's Android, it's possible those people that did enjoy the game simply pirated it.
market over-saturation? terrible marketplace interface? or simply bad at marketing? anyway, stories like this are such a shame. happens on the PC quite a lot as well.
Certainly the Android marketplace is horrible. That's a big part of the reason, I'm sure. 🙂
It's going to start happening on PSN, XBLA (especially indie games) and other platforms too – there are simply too many games being made – especially those small indie productions. Visibility is like trying to make a needle stand out in a haystack.