Is it really July 19th already? Seems like productivity might have taken a hit, but it’s been a splendid summer so far here in Montréal, and you gotta live a little. So, another month, another milestone, this time with more graphs, more data, and more extrapolation! First up, let’s take a look at the overall download numbers, which now spans four games thanks to our newest child, Cave Worm.
Let’s start with the obvious: there’s a noticeable download spike right at the turn of the month (daily downloads are in green), due to two factors. The first is the release of Cave Worm onto the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, where presumably some eager gamers like you gobbled it right off the new page, for the two or so days it was there.
Cave Worm’s Release
The most noteworthy thing here is that the download spike upon release was smaller than we might have expected. As you may recall from last month’s status update, we got significantly higher download numbers from our first trio of games. Follow The Curve alone peaked at almost 1000 downloads per day for the first two days, while Cave Worm barely broke 200 on one of them. Now granted, we’re new to this game (pun sadly intended), so it’s hard tell exactly what type of sacrifice is needed to appease the Gods of Gaming, but we have some theories.
First off, and probably most importantly, Cave Worm was released in the “action + adventure” category, which has a higher number of new app submissions per day than “racing + flying” or “music,” the categories of Follow The Curve and RockSquare, respectively. In fact, as of this writing, Follow The Curve is still on the first page of “new” games under “racing + flying” over two months later, while Cave Worm is already gone after barely two weeks! Secondly, you can decide for yourself, but looking back, we think the Cave Worm icon might be less attractive. And since we all know that kids these days don’t read anything, that’s a big deal! Lastly, there’s definitely a factor of random chance that is hard to glean, which may have worked for us in May, or against us just now, or perhaps both. Moral of the story? Make a better game, with a polished presentation, but also don’t be afraid to game the system a little by putting it under less crowded categories!
Follow The Curve’s Surprise Review
The second factor that contributed to our turn-of-the-month download spike was a surprise Russian review for Follow The Curve! We had been noticing that our games were significantly more popular in Russia than anywhere else, with Follow The Curve averaging 4.5/5 stars over 20 reviews! But this really drove the point home, as we got an unsolicited positive review from a kindly Russian who enjoyed our game. As you can see, the effect was quite significant, doubling our download rate for about a week. And given that this was only a single review targeting a smallish audience in a single country, it goes to show that the effects of getting reviewed can really add up to give you much better numbers. So, get out there, harass (nicely!) the members of the mobile gaming press and show off what you’ve got.
A Word About Updates
Last month, you may recall us making lofty claims about game updates. Well, it’s still a good idea to update your games, mainly because you now have a better product to offer, and your current players will thank you for it, but it turns out we were a little optimistic about it magically increasing our download counts. It’s important to note that the Windows Phone 7 marketplace does not have any mechanism to broadcast newly updated apps, so the mere act of pushing an update, without any contributing external factors, should not have any effect on your download numbers. There is still the potential for word to spread via your blog or social media, but when you have a small following that effect can easily be lost in the waves of random chance.
Here is the same graph as above for Follow The Curve’s downloads, but this time with the approximate delivery times of our updates highlighted in red. As you can see, neither updates 1.1 or 1.2 caused enough of a stir to be noticeable in terms of download numbers. So, lesson learned, don’t just count on updates to give you extra downloads, spread the word as well!
There is some good news though: when an update is pushed, the Marketplace Live Tile will show a little “1” signifying that updates are available for a user’s apps. Even though this doesn’t result in another download, it serves as a reminder for your users to go play your app, so you may see an increase in play time, ads served, and the like. We’re still collecting data on this, so we’ll let you know the hard numbers some time soon. Stay posted!