iOS Release - Day 1 Analysis: A Rough Start

It’s always really interesting and disconcerting in equal measure when I see a different commentor post EXACTLY what I was going to say! :slight_smile: So I would like to double up on what A_Person said, but add more data:

  1. I already have GDT through Steam and have no interest in double-dipping.
  2. Even if I did want to, I own an Android.
  3. And I always download games from the stores (in this case Google Play Store) rather than emails.
  4. That said, I did open the email/newsletter and read it as I do all dev emails, for whatever that’s worth.

In addition, for me specifically (and I’m sure this data point will be absolutely worthless for you, but who knows?), I’m a Let’s Player and get close to a dozen emails from devs per day. I am not important, my channel is small time, and – aside from applying to work for you a year ago – I’m sure you’ve never heard of me, but over a dozen dev emails per day means I click VERY few links within emails just because I don’t have the time. Unless I want to cover the game for a channel and am requesting a key, just knowing the product exists is enough.

In this case my tiny audience is almost exclusively console and PC based, and have no interest in mobile games. I did signal-boost the news privately to a few fans, but not enough to make a general video about it. (My channel doesn’t do news anyway; I’m fully a Let’s Player.)

That said: in response to your reply to A_Person, PatrickKlug, apologies are not necessary! :slight_smile: I didn’t feel you were complaining about fans at all. When doing data analysis (or any sort of scientific breakdown) I know language tends to be a little blunt, but it’s just to focus on the facts and not editorialize too much. It’s awesome you are so transparent regardless! Transparency, especially for indie devs, is INCREDIBLY important. Most of us can’t trust the triple-A companies anymore, so trust is definitely an advantage of all indies (and why it’s fragile that if they blow it, they will sink).

Not to suck up, but I trust Greenheart Games a lot. The Piracy Experiment was awesome and showed you all care about your games, AND care about your fans (especially your paying fans), AND have the chops to do something different and fun. I’ll probably buy your next product regardless what it is just based on my history of experience with you. So definitely don’t give up; I wish you the best, and just because you declined to hire me last time doesn’t mean I won’t be happy to help you however I can in the future, whether that means a second application attempt or just my purchases of your products.

Take care,
Jon “PyroFalkon” Michael

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As with most of these comments that I’ve seen, I have an android device and plan on purchasing immediately as soon as the game is released on Android. I may be stereotyping, but it is a possibility that there is a significantly larger group of your consumer base that uses android devices. Gamers are significantly more likely to use PC computers over MAC computers and that trend may cross over into mobile devices as well with the Android vs. Apple divide.

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I might be repeating what others have said already, but I also greatly appreciated the transparancy and openness in the blog post, and once the game comes out on android I will definately buy it (don’t own an iOS device).

Furthermore, as one earlier comment mentioned, if it were a sequel, with perhaps some updated visuals and extra features, succes might’ve been bigger, as the game would become appealing and interesting again to explore for those who did before.

Regardless, I absolutely love your transparancy and attitude, and very much looking forward to any future releases from Greenheart games!

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About the link to the app store, you should remove the “/us/” part :
I’m using the french store and the ‘us’ link doesn’t redirect to the app store.

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I just wanted to drop a note and let you know how I responded to your email announcing the iOS release. I opened and read the email and got excited that the game had finally come to iOS. I had remembered the piracy story from a few years but had never gotten around to playing the game (I think I actually bought it just never played it). This is the type of game that I prefer to play on mobile and I was hoping one day that you would port it over.

I happily clicked the link in the email to buy the game, only to find that the link didn’t work. No problem, i’ll just search for it on the store, again no luck. At that point I was busy at work and decided I would check the next day to see if it had appeared. However later that day I got curious and decided to check Metacritic for the reviews and was surprised to find that they were not that great. I decided at that point that I didn’t need to bother trying to track down the game, and I moved on.

That’s where it would have ended had you not sent the “rough start” email today. I almost didn’t click on it, but the title had me curious so I gave it a look. It was a great read and I loved all the data, and was glad to see you address the concerns of the link not working. However the important part of the email was where you discussed how you had a low Metacritic score but had fixed the issues and now had a great score on steam. I checked steam and sure enough you are sitting at an impressive 95-96%.

I again clicked the (now working) link and have now happily purchased the game on iOS. I applaud your transparency and hope your numbers pick up! Now i’m off to found my own game company!


Hi Patrick,

Thanks for sharing and a good read, as always.

Can’t wait for the Android release. I play more on my phone than on my computer nowadays and have yet to “beat” the game :sweat_smile:

(If it matters, I came across GDT while perusing Windows Store after a fresh install of Windows 8. I remember playing the trial countless of times back in Uni!)

Also patiently waiting for Tavern Keeper. Hope it has an Android port also!


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I really like the transparency here, makes me feel a lot more enthused about supporting you guys. And hearing about stuff, even ports, is why I’m signed up for the newsletter to begin with:) Keep up the good work and I hope the sales pick up!

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Good points overall but I should say that I think everyone always underestimates someone else’s product when it comes to complexity. But even so, we didn’t plan for 190K as a budget; we went over-budget which I guess isn’t unheard of but we refused to compromise on quality and the look and feel took a surprising amount of effort to get right. We know it’s a gamble but the game is such a good fit for mobile devices and so many players kept asking for a mobile release that we took a chance.

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I like that you guys made that blog post. Transparency is great!

I’ve owned the game since it came out (5/2/13).

Did you guys intentionally release it during Black Friday? If that wasn’t intentional, then it was probably a mistake. I bet I’ve received 2000% more emails in the last 7-10 days then normal. Seems like a really bad time to release something that has nothing to do with Black Friday. A better promotion would be on Christmas Eve when everyeone is opening their iOS devices and looking for games.

This is from personal experience. Thing with social media, as you caught it is the amount of reach the other is the market. The problem with the mobile arena is market saturation, there’s a lot of garbage that people have to sift through. There’s a lot of absolute crapware and how do you stand out from being buried? The market you’re trying to reach(gamers), really don’t use twitter at all outside of directly following particular groups or outlets. Gamers themselves are more likely to follow niche sites, or specific websites(bluesnews, nichegamer, etc). But the biggest draw is almost always word-of-mouth in some form.

Facebook on the other hand is a good option for casual play-games, but catching that market is again a problem similar to app stores. Too much crap and not enough visibility. Instagram might be a better option, there’s a larger casual pull, larger “verified” userbase then twitter as well for example. But then you’re pulling at a higher female audience(~70%) and you’d need to directly pull them via marketing into that.

A gamer would be interested in a game-dev simulator because it directly appeals to them. But what’s the appeal to a women on instagram, who mainly use it for "fun stuff? Or people who microblog stuff on twitter, which is either garbage, politics, some inane thing or all of the above? Or general people on facebook, which seems to be more about drama and their own “wants” then anything else? Is there particular events going on that will cause these things to be buried(black friday/cyber-monday/thanksgiving/etc) as well.

I didn’t know the game existed until I read about the “anti-piracy” bit built into the game back in what? '13ish or so? That’s what caught my attention. That was unique, interesting, funny all at the same time. It also hit multiple gaming sites from small to large, including sites like torrentfreak.

I certainly hope you provide the same insight on your Android release. To be completely honest, I didn’t open that email because it’d be a waste of my time; I don’t have an iOS device, and your subject was very clear.

I certainly hope that your Android launch is much better, and I’m hoping that your analytics were abysmally low because a majority of your users are Android users. I know I’ll be purchasing the Android version on Launch Day. I bought the game when it was being self published, and again when it was launched on Steam (I had forgotten that you gave out free Steam copies to customers, so I gifted that key to my brother).

You guys are everything that Game Dev Studios should strive to be; you put out a quality, non-over-monetized product with a bigger focus on QA than on “making your deadline”, and you’ve always been open and up front about your practices. Greenheart Games is THE STANDARD on how to run a dev studio.

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You’ve got a really good point - marketing a low-ticket item is difficult to do and keep it profitable. Personally, I feel they’d do better to market to Facebook users by building a Facebook version of the game in the browser and integrating the social aspect into it. I know that goes against just about everything GHG has done with this title, but it would build their Facebook audience quickly, and people would ultimately search for the app in their respective app stores themselves.

I know that the piracy gimmick was probably not planned at all for how it was received, but it was genius, and it got them media recognition which certainly boosted their sales. You certainly wouldn’t want to pull the same stunt again, but use that insight for more brilliance down the road.

Hey, just as a heads up: your click rate may have been impacted by some unusual filter in gmail.

I never saw your release day email, or your iOS announcement. If I search for them in my inbox I can find them though. They were marked unread but that’s all, no spam or promotion tags. However, if I just scroll to that date, the email was never present in my normal inbox.

I blame corporate shade between Google and Apple!

Also, aren’t you the ones that programmed the game where making casual titles for a grApple device is rarely profitable? Tsk tsk!

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I didn’t feel like you guys were complaining. People either want it, or they don’t, sure, but there are a lot of other cards at play which are worth talking about, as you did. I played the heck out of it on Steam, but I still grabbed is on iOS (although I am one of those that hasn’t played it yet!).

I think the visibility still stinks on the App Store. I had a hard time even finding it through the search, and I knew what I was looking for! Seems like a lot of factors, outside of your control, are kind of sabotaging sales. I was surprised at my difficulty searching.

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You’ll find that a lot more of your fanbase uses Android and not iOS.
Anyone who buys a phone and games on it normally would get Android for the optimization abilities.
I think your main issue was not actually releasing it for both phone markets on launchday.

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Once I read the email, I clicked the link that sent me to a blank page. So I then tried to search for the game. It came up with a lot of things that were not you. So I searched for Greenheart Games and there it was. Bought it straight away.

Luckily I didn’t have the crashing issue. I am really liking the mobile experience on this one. It’s been a while since I played my PC version. If I hadn’t played this previously, I probably would have given up after the initial click failed, honestly. I did find your announcement video on Youtube and shared that with my FB friends. :slight_smile:

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Great Post … really refreshing to see something other ‘false positives’

I’m an indie developer that had to go back to a 9-5 after pouring my heart, soul and life savings into a game
It’s just really tough to make a living out of games - even when you self-publish and get to keep the lions share.

I guess I got the email because I must have bought the previous version … I remember it being well executed - which in may ways is as important as the depth or sophistication - I will buy the new one for my son as I can’t bare to own an Apple - irrational I know - but I sort of hate everything they stand for…

I hope it works out for you… I think it will - your disarming honesty is a great personality trait - never lose it.

Best of British luck to you

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Thanks for this write up. I dream of one day creating my own games and making living off that way. Your game helps me dream about that.

Its great to see Game Dev make it to the mobile platform. Really excited for the Android release as there are no iOS devices in my household. Keep up the good work!

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I’m so happy for this release. I would pay if necesary again if the update in steam is large enough.

In my case, I get the email that the game has been released, but instead of clicking directly in the email I gone to find it myself in the appstore. When I wrote “Game Dev Tycoon” I didn’t find nothing about the game, so this time I gone to my mail in the iphone and go to the link. Then yes I found the game and bought it. But it was so weird that I can’t fin the game just looking for it in app store.

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