FlyBy has been on the Google Play store for nearly 4 months now. The game has been downloaded over 23,000 on the Google Play store and scored an average rating of 3.8 out of 155 reviews at the time of writing.
What went right
- People actually played the game
- Press and reviews of the game on various websites
- “Piracy” in China
What went wrong
- Game Difficulty
People actually played the game
When we released the game we really had no idea what to expect. I had read developers posting on various websites and forums saying how they were stuck with only a handful of downloads and were struggling to get any attention at all. At the same time I had seen similar games on the store with what seemed like really high downloads in comparison. I had decided that 1,000 downloads would have been a good result before release. So with 23,000, I am really pleased with the reception FlyBy has received.
Press and reviews of the game on various websites
Before the release of FlyBy we put together a press pack to try and make reviewers life as easy as possible. It include screenshots of the game, information about its development, and even a PC version of the game for press use only. I believe this helped us get reviews on some websites, and although non of the reviews had too much of a dramatic effect on the download count, they definitely helped. Our biggest feature happened when one of the other developers wrote to a local newspaper on a whim. We honestly didn’t think there would be a response, but to our surprise the newspaper decided to write an article about FlyBy. The online version of the article can be found here. Please excuse some of the quotes, the guy doing the telephone interview was a little nervous/excited, and not fully in the loop with the development of the game!
Some other reviews are as follows:
“Piracy” in China
One of the events that had the biggest impact on FlyBy’s download count was when the game got uploaded to some Chinese app stores. I noticed this was happening due to integrating Google Analytic’s. There was a few days where Google Analytic’s was showing very high new users but Google Play wasn’t showing information that agreed with all these new users.
Although these downloads didn’t get added to the Google Play page and potentially impacted the visibility of the game on Google Play, it was still positive to get a few thousand extra downloads.
FlyBy is probably too difficult. I was very keen on integrating Google Analytic s into FlyBy to collect more detail information about the users who would play the game, to hopefully be able to use to make improvements in later updates. One of the challenges in the game is called “Flying License” and is basically an achievement for completing what is considered the tutorial section of the game (flying through the first two caves for the first time). To date, this achievement has been earned 1,562/23,000 (more like 25,000 if you count the Chinese downloads). Considering most of the content in the game cannot be seen until this section is completed, and this section is suppose to be easy compared to the rest of the game, this is a tiny percentage of players. Most the people who downloaded the game never saw the ‘good’ parts of the game.
Giftiz is a company that has created an app discovery service. It largely evolved around users being rewarded to download apps from their app. The rewards can be built up for real prizes too apparently. Giftiz contacted us presenting us the opportunity for a free feature in their app, in exchange for putting a button that advertises their app in FlyBy. The featuring did give us quite a big spike in downloads.
So why was it bad? Well part of the agreement is you have to keep their button in your app for at least 6 months after the featuring. That is quite awhile considering the featuring only gave about 2-3 days worth of extra downloads. The company also claimed there was no pop-ups to go with the button. When I was integrating their SDK into FlyBy using a developer key they gave me, I never saw any pop-ups either. However it became apparent once released, that on the first time the game is ran, Giftiz forces a full screen page explaining about their product. Interactions with the company were often unprofessional. In e-mails they referred to FlyBy by the name of a completely different game (one that was getting featured around the same time), and they pushed back the feature date of FlyBy very near the agreed date (due to a paid featuring, which is understandable) meaning we got featured after our first month on the store had passed. All in all, this featuring was not worth the time it took to integrate their SDK or communicate with the company.
Since release there has been 10 different crashes reported roughly 150 times. Although I feel this number is relatively low, I think it could of been lower. The most common crash report is in “android.opengl.GLSurfaceView$EglHelper.throwEglException” which has been reported 110 times. 94% of these reports come from devices running Android 2.3.3-2.3.7. Considering the game probably does not run very well on these phones at all, I feel setting the minimum Android version higher and not allowing these devices to download the game could of had an impact on the overall rating of the game, by avoiding as many 1 star reviews from users who the game did not work for.
I feel there are more improvements that I could of made to improve the release of the game, such as working on updates after release. The game was released right before my final year of University began, meaning I did not have as much time to continue developing it. However, as mentioned before, the game has received far more downloads than I had anticipated and has been a great learning experiencing. I hope to use the what I have learnt from this process in the future, when I hopefully release more games.