We will try to make a small reproducible sample and share it tomorrow.
I sent samples to Defold team and can get them more if needed. It is super nice Defold team is so responsive with issues like this! Rarely does any other tool team work like this so it cannot be understated how grateful I am and how much they should be praised.
The Library update is now live on Steam!
Now for the most part we are moving on to Dire. I will be journaling that game as well!
Now I am finally getting the mobile versions up. Android first then iOS.
Amazon App Store was super fast to create project on and upload and review. I think it took 2 hours in total.
For the latest update Google Play is still stuck in processing after 12+ hours. It’s usually faster!
Are there any other Android app stores worth putting games on?
Recently I’ve been trying to get in touch with various mobile / casual review sites and basically every single one replied with a paid promotional package offer… it sucks that this is the new normal and acceptable to openly present conflicts of interest like this. I asked on reddit and the consensus seems to be don’t bother with these sites at all and instead build awareness in other ways (which we have been doing but there’s for sure more I’ll try in the future).
The outstanding wishlist balance for FSH on Steam is 5,038. Lots of people waiting for a deeper discount is normal.
Update on itch.io downloads / sales data. People cannot download the ios/win versions without paying $9.99 which explains why they are 0 but it’s still interesting that none of the people who paid downloaded them. We gave the Linux version free on itch.io
Here are the total Mac / Linux sales on Steam, rest are Windows, but I can’t share that data still. It is nice that there are some sales for these platforms but Windows still is the lion’s share. Thankfully Defold makes it super easy to support Mac and Linux it amounts to just a few minutes extra on build times. My release process is -> make bundles with a script -> upload all depots with another script -> test beta update on Steam -> promote to live if all is well. It takes about an hour in total to make a release for Win/Mac/Linux.
Here is lifetime data of FSH on Google Play while it was in the (Early Access) unreleased state. With the next update it is being promoted to live, I don’t know if that will change anything with the sales though. Even if this might make less than a F2p/IAP version this is still the road we are taking for this game. My plan is to make one of our next games (FSR) free and use it to promote FSH, see if that helps.
Obviously if we were a big team this kind of data would be a disaster but at the moment Subsoap is down to just my brother and I working together and we have other ways of getting income so it’s OK.
Still not planning to buy ads anywhere or do big spends. The game is solid, really well polished, but I’m not confident about being able to reach people who would buy it through marketing. And like I said before most of the mobile review sites are traps for developers to waste their money. But I still have plans, long term plans to make it all worthwhile, that’s the way to be!
FSH is now live on Amazon App Store!
It says there are IAPs but that’s not true, not sure how to fix that as I added no IAPs to their console ( In-App Items (0)) maybe a permission thing?
Looks like it was likely this in the manifest. I’ve removed it and uploaded a new version… awaiting for to be approved and see if it changes the store page.
That appears to have been it! The store description no longer says there are IAPs now that the last update I uploaded went live.
I’m preparing some builds for casual portals now (which I’m technically not allowed to name because of the contracts). One of the requirements is that it use DirectX.
32bit build worked without me needing to change anything at least ! I was only delivering 64bit to Steam but since it works I’ll begin to deliver 32bit too most likely as long as nothing breaks. Will be its own Steam depot and its own build/bundle step.
In the Library update something we tried to do is address people’s issues who left negative reviews on Steam while also making more content for the people who did like it. So far the result has been that none of the negative reviews have flipped to positive as far as I know, but several have updated. Most of the negative reviews also did originally mention they did not like the match2 mechanic and preferred the wheel up/down mechanic. So I think that is the fundamental issue still, and nothing we change in the game would flip those customer’s opinion on the game. So it’s a lesson to recognize issues like this and do what can be done to improve the game for people who would value the core mechanic. Other negative reviews are still useful for highlighting shortfalls, but improving on and reinforcing what people like who already value the product is a much better focus. Instead for those who prefer a different core mechanic they will be served with future products made more for them.
Finally FSH is live for real on Google Play! If it makes $100 a month on Google Play from now on it will be a “success” in terms of premium games on mobile. Yesterday I talked with someone who owned 4 super expensive mobile devices say that they just could not afford a $10 app. And even decent game reviewers who rail against IAP/ads refuse to review paid mobile apps because apps should be free. I still see a long term future worth going for in premium mobile but it will take a while to build up that trust.
It most likely took so long because of Google Play’s new policy where they put new apps into mandatory 3 day review periods, it also looks like currently you cannot schedule app releases anymore only schedule updates which is weird.
I have some other things to deal with but one of my next todos for FSH will be to make selective upscales of some UI and text on mobile to make it more accessible for smaller screens.
Yeah, that is just plain weird. What are the most common price tiers for mobile apps on the stores? And whereas the cut off point where people go from “it’s just a few bucks” to “man, that’s expensive”? I’m guessing there’s a lot of games in the 0.99 and 1.99 range. And the point where people start to think something is expensive is somewhere around 6 or 7 maybe?
The thing about mobile premium app prices is that it doesn’t really matter what price you set a game at there will always be people who say it costs too much. If it’s $2.99 it should be $0.99… if it’s $0.99 it should be free… we see the same thing on Steam where people say something that costs $29.99 should be $19.99, something $19.99 should be $9.99, and so on. How gamers value games is really weird like they could spend 100 hours in a game that cost $4.99 and say it’s not worth it wait until it’s on sale. All of this is mostly just worth understanding because it’s the way it is and it’s not going to change.
I picked $9.99 because it’s the same price as Steam and it’s also the same game. There’s no real reason to price it less other than the feeling mobile apps should be cheap by default just because it’s mobile.
I genuinely doubt the conversion rate between $9.99 or a lower price point would be that great because the main problem FSH will have on the app stores is discovery / reach / marketing. Another thing about price is if the price was lower we would need that many more sales to make the same amount of money, and I’d guess it’s easier to sell 1 game at $9.99 than 10 games at $0.99 when passive traffic is low anyway and people who go to it are probably as likely to buy as they ever would be.
Here’s a snapshot of top selling game apps on Google Play right now with Minecraft perpetually #1.
Fun FSH facts: 23% of players played more than 20 hours, 9% played more than 50 hours, 2% played more than 100 hours
One of the requirements from portal is that the game pause all audio/music while minimized, but since we use FMOD for audio it runs on its own, and since the engine pauses on minimize before anything is possible to be done about those audio levels this audio will continue to play. Not sure what to do about this.
Native extensions should get events when minimized/maximized. Maybe the FMOD extension could be configured to stop all sounds when minimized?
Do they get the event at the moment of minimizing or after the window is opened again? I’m not sure I’ve never tested it, but that’s what happens with window events.
Not sure, you’d have to try!
It is important to know about this with texture profiles. For the longest time I had mine in the wrong order.
Matters for us mostly on mobile as on PC we let the textures max size be 0.
Doing paint overs on all of the card art is something that has been on my todo for a while but other things have gotten priority… I will get to it eventually.
A sad thing about Google Play is that though you see sales live you also see refunds live. 2 sales have happened since making FSH live for real on Google Play that actually stayed purchased. The rest were refunded (didn’t like the game? copied apk then refunded? at least there are no pirate apks in the wild yet that I’m aware of - which itself is a blessing and a curse since piracy would probably be good marketing ) or payment was declined. It is what it is and I do not let it bother me but anyone else hoping to do premium on mobile should be aware of this reality.
On the Amazon App Store side there are no sales, but one review since Amazon lets you review things without owning them.
I talked with another mobile developer and he suggests we publish a “free” version. He has a few premium games that follow this model. I would have not considered it if there were not so many refunds happening, so maybe this kind of demo really is necessary. And there have been people who said they initially would not have given the chance (but I gave them a free key for user testing) and they ended up loving it so that may help this game. Here’s our plan for it.
Got the FSH APK down to 32MB last night, still a ways it can be reduced in size with what was cut. Got a beta up on Google Play. Woke up this this.
When you click the link that there is an error you get this.
Maybe they saw playing cards and thought that this automatically meant simulated gambling? We are all at the mercy of such fast and loose whims.
Found another way to contact their support and made my case as to why match2 solitaire is not gambling. Will see what they say…
I really, really admire your journals, there is so much useful informations, that I don’t how to thank you
I’m probably not exactly your target, but I’m very interested in the game since it’s created in Defold and because I don’t have a laptop to play (only business laptop) I’m getting more convinced to buy it for a mobile.
I was a gamer playing on a PC. Most of games I bought were on sale 1-2 year after a release. The prices of games are like 2-3 times more expensive for polish people comparing earnings to US, though players are buying them anyway, but, as you noticed, on sales
Being a twin dad changed everything - I want to take care of my family, job and hobby, a gamedev, so there is no time for PC. Here comes a smartphone - I play rather small, free casual games or sometimes engaging productions, which I’ll describe.
When it comes to mobile games Play store changed everything. You know, people (including me ofc too) got used to free games, they watch ads and rich people are making some microtransactions, so they think that’s enough for a developer. I bought without hesitation some popular premium games like (RPGs:) Crashlands, Baldur’s Gate II, Exiles, Ravensword, (Adventure:) Fahrenheit, Monument Valley 1 and 2, Amanita games, Lumino City, Old Man’s Journey and This War of Mine. Most of them were around ~3-10 zł (~1-3 $), the highest was 19 zł (~5 $)so you can see how some, not so rich, people are shopping - popular and checked games or indie games with a great reviews at low price.
There is of course one obvious conclusion - that 10$ is too much. I can’t understand why do you think it would be easier to sell one game for 10$, instead of 10 games for 1$? I’m not the best person to give advices, but I thought, that those 1-3$ games are selling very well (watching store’s charts), so the revenue is higher than for those more expensive, isn’t it?
When it comes to mobile games prizes, there is an argument that regards the market and its prize capabilities - so PC Life is Strange is about 5$ and Android version is free (first episode). GTA:SA is 17$ on Steam, while 8.5$ on Play Store.
I know it’s not fair, I agree with you that, how gamers value games is really, really weird, but that’s how it is, and as we can see even Rockstar or Square Enix won’t change it. We, as developers, need to adapt. Some people making and selling shoes try to sell them, so they earn for new materials and own salary, while big brands sell shoes made in China factory for so much money… I don’t believe the world is going to change, so we can only adapt. In our market, we can only blame free games on the store that, paradoxically, wasting the market, enlarged it, making games available for all, dads with responsibilities and no time, students with no salaries and a lot of time, women who didn’t understood PC gaming but liked Match 3, even grannies in trams who like gambling
What I’m trying to make is to convince you to promote your game at all cost, even if it seems unprofitable at the beginning - the only chance to get more money is to convince players, that your game is awesome, so more of them would buy it and recommend it to others
I respect you have chosen premium model without IAP and ads, but I think, for that model you need to have many good reviews and excellent marketing, so people will have more arguments to buy it
Thank you for your kind words! I’ve been told more than once that becoming a father changed things, and I believe it.
I agree about us being unable to change the market. I’m doing what I’m doing in part because I see a potential future shift. For example, in China it used to be no one ever bought what people made, always piracy. And now still the culture is F2P/P2W as the norm. But there is also an undercurrent of many people who are fatigued by this and want it to change, and are actually voting with their wallets for that change. I’ve talked with them, they’ve bought my games. Even if they are a small number it can grow, and small group in China is still BIG group of people. So even though the current reality is grim it is still toward an optimistic future. We are talking 10+ years to see full realization, to build a timeless library that people will agree is worth it to buy into.
Hyper casual games for example there may be serious market opportunity to make premium versions of these kinds of mechanics without ads/iaps/subscriptions. But it still has to be done in a big way, like a Nintendo way with strong characters, strong sense of value, and an ability to get and maintain a community of supporters who will buy and share the game with others as the better alternative. If I were to make such games I would target the $1-3 range for sure.
There’s always a chance we may change price, but we still will not for now. We will try the “FREE” version demo soon and see what impact it may have, hopefully it will work as promotion and convince people to upgrade to FULL version! Also with having such a “high” price the sales seem to have more of an impact like going from $10 to $1 is an event, but we will probably only do 30% off sales in the future for a while. I agree that there is a sense of what things should be priced on mobile, but I also see that there are no actual rules - everyone is guessing.
I will do more kinds of marketing, but they will all be low budget guerrilla style stuff, and I’ll continue to share here.
For one of the portals, their DRM wrapper (necessary because full games are downloaded and 1 hour play time is free) does not work with Defold programs it seems.
So I tried to make a window program which never showed a window to be able to be wrapped. It would run in the background and close once the game closes and vice versa.
It works with other programs, but not FSH or other Defold programs… it seems like something is opening but the full game doesn’t open. Any ideas?
It’s something like this
Maybe I’m misunderstanding something on how this should work?
Edit - got it working more ish will post solution once I’m sure it’s all working right.