Faerie Solitaire Harvest

#142

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. :upside_down_face: 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.

https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanFabulich/20190816/348850/Google_Warns_Developers_That_All_New_Android_Apps_Require_Three_Days_for_Approval.php via @britzl

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.

6 Likes

#143

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?

1 Like

#144

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. :upside_down_face: 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 :grey_exclamation:

11 Likes

#145

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.

1 Like

#146

Native extensions should get events when minimized/maximized. Maybe the FMOD extension could be configured to stop all sounds when minimized?

1 Like

#147

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.

1 Like

#148

Not sure, you’d have to try!

1 Like

#149

It is important to know about this with texture profiles. For the longest time I had mine in the wrong order. :astonished:

Matters for us mostly on mobile as on PC we let the textures max size be 0.

Before fix
2019-08-19%2016_09_18-Window

After fix
2019-08-19%2016_09_23-Window

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.

4 Likes

#150

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 :thinking:) 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.

2019-08-20%2013_19_49-Window

On the Amazon App Store side there are no sales, but one review since Amazon lets you review things without owning them. :upside_down_face:

2019-08-20%2013_26_52-Window

3 Likes

#151

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.

7 Likes

#152

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. :roll_eyes:

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…

4 Likes

#153

I really, really admire your journals, there is so much useful informations, that I don’t how to thank you :heart:

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 :smiley:

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 :smiley: - 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 :smiley:

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 :wink:

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 :wink:

2 Likes

#154

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. :innocent:

3 Likes

#155

Good news!

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

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/procthread/creating-processes

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.

3 Likes

#156

Here are the important bits for the portal DRM.

I’m not an expert so if you notice anything can be improved or would cause problems please let me know.

Launcher.

What this does is launch the Game.exe and passes it a secret command line argument. Of course anyone who knows what they are doing could figure this out, but this is only to prevent casual piracy of demos not prevent experts from launching this version of the game.

When the launcher detects that the game has closed it also closes itself.


	/////////////////

	TCHAR cmdArgs[255];

	wcscpy_s(cmdArgs,_T(" --config=drm.secret=777"));

	TCHAR path[255];

	wcscpy_s(path, _T("Game.exe"));

	/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

	STARTUPINFO si;
	PROCESS_INFORMATION pi;

	ZeroMemory(&si, sizeof(si));
	si.cb = sizeof(si);
	ZeroMemory(&pi, sizeof(pi));


	// Start the child process. 
	if (!CreateProcess(path,   // No module name (use command line)
		cmdArgs,        // Command line
		NULL,           // Process handle not inheritable
		NULL,           // Thread handle not inheritable
		TRUE,          // Set handle inheritance to FALSE
		0,              // No creation flags
		NULL,           // Use parent's environment block
		NULL,           // Use parent's starting directory 
		&si,            // Pointer to STARTUPINFO structure
		&pi)           // Pointer to PROCESS_INFORMATION structure
		)
	{
		return (0);
	}

	// Wait until child process exits.
	WaitForSingleObject(pi.hProcess, INFINITE);

	// Close process and thread handles. 
	CloseHandle(pi.hProcess);
	CloseHandle(pi.hThread);

	return (0);

	/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Then this is the game side. It first checks to make sure that the launcher is running. Then checks to make sure it was not opened directly but by the launcher. Then it periodically checks to make sure that the launcher is still running. This is important because the portal DRM will close the launcher (which it wraps) once the customer’s free demo time is over.

-- locks keep honest people honest...

local DRM_CHECK_INTERVAL = 10

local function drm_check()
	local check = os.execute("tasklist /FI \"IMAGENAME eq GAME_launcher.exe\" 2>NUL | find /I /N \"GAME_launcher.exe\">NUL && echo %ERRORLEVEL%")
	if check ~= 0 then
		print("DRM check failed!")
		msg.post("@system:", "exit", {code = 0})
	end	
end

function init(self)

	-- make sure the launcher is running
	drm_check()

	-- make sure the exe was launched with the launcher
	-- with the launch option --config=drm.secret=777
	local drm_secret = tonumber(sys.get_config("drm.secret"))
	print(drm_secret)
	if drm_secret ~= 777 then
		msg.post("@system:", "exit", {code = 0})
	end
	
end

function update(self, dt)
	self.time = self.time or 0
	self.time = self.time + dt
	if self.time >= DRM_CHECK_INTERVAL then
		self.time = 0
		drm_check()
	end
end
2 Likes

#157

I’ve been thinking about the mobile app market a lot. I actually (temporarily) gave up development on my first game which i was developing for mobile (playable demo here) because I couldn’t get it up to the high standard of the other indie titles there (at least, not without needing to make some €€€ later). And i felt like my publishing options basically were:

  • make it free
  • accept that nobody was ever going to play my game because it was €1.99.
  • Or put in adverts :face_vomiting::face_vomiting::face_vomiting:

Pkeod, I think you are facing the same problem: the casual mobile games market are so used to free apps that €10.99 is going to be a hard sell. It is of course deeply unfair. But i find it hard to see any way of creating a successful casual mobile game without having a large free demo, in-app purchases, ads, (or a great track record, like nintendo, GTA, etc.) etc. Good luck to you for searching for an alternative.

I am actually working on bikiniverse again now as I think I can convert it into another suitcase game, like my other project, which is doing quite well.

2 Likes

#158

Around the time of the original casual PC crash and the move to mobile I kind of got burned out / demoralized at the state of the industry. Especially as developers I respected like PopCap switched almost entirely to F2P/IAP/P2W and I saw the future of premium casual nosedive. Because even back then I didn’t like it and was conflicted even if it made good money and made sense… like it still has a place, and always will, will probably continue to be the future even for PC core games (many top games on Steam are F2P / even on Steam all of the most played casual games are actually F2P full of IAP) but I still currently now do see other bright opportunities.

There are of course opportunities to avoid doing the things we don’t like while also making enough money to continue sustainable development. I think some monetization methods even for F2P are consumer friendly enough to be good (like only selling cosmetics in a fully free game seems FINE to me but problem is once it’s normalized then even those are expected to be given away for free). But it’s still really hard no matter what you do, the hardest thing is the marketing. So that is why long term thinking and planning is necessary because you can solve the marketing problem over time, and the chance to make a big impact in visibility randomly (big influencer decides to notice for example) is always there.

Good luck with your future games!

We have published FSH Free now with 5 locations + lore only, most other things cut. APK went from 82MB to 34MB and I could have made it smaller but I didn’t want to compress some things. Realistically I could have probably gotten it down to 20MB with it mostly looking and sounding good but I’m not sure it’s worth it in MB and time invested. So far making FSH Free from FSH took about 2 full days so it’s not too bad. I did my best to create the upsells to be compelling but not annoying. There’s no interruptions at all unless people go to the screens that were cut for the demo. And there are zero 3rd party ads so it is a clean experience - the purpose is to sell our game from it not anything else.

This is an experiment. If the demo version does nothing in terms of increasing sales that stay in the full version I will delete it. If people decide to review bomb the demo version because it’s not the full game for free I’ll also delete the demo. Depending on performance of this demo we will either begin to include demos for future games or not bother, and I’ll share the details of how it goes here of course.

Here is lifetime data of FSH so far before FSH Free released

I plan to test a demo version on Steam too. And likewise if it performs badly or attracts negativity it will be deleted as well.

Oh, and look at those crashes/anrs! Only one crash and one anr! With any other engine than Defold there would have been dozens to hundreds in a testing period guaranteed. Defold is solid!

11 Likes

#159

Some comments after 5 mins playing the free version, hope this helps:

  • On the play store, Faerie Solitaire Harvest free has the message “not designed for children”. Weird!
  • The text, overall, is very small on my Pixel 2 phone. There’s also a bit of text where I was asked to choose a username that was basically unreadable because it was tiny, and it was the very first text-box that appeared, so be careful! I also think it would be much better to make some changes to the layout and make the game portrait, not landscape, like many casual games. This would be better for displaying cards which have very beautiful art
  • The icon is not one of the new circular ones, it’s an old square one, so android puts it inside a circle
  • Game works well, no problems.

Congratulations!

1 Like

#160

Hi… beautiful game.

Tried the free one too (for reference, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5):

  • on first screen when it asks for a name, clicking the field doesn’t brings up my on screen keyboard. I have to use one of the auto generated names to play.

  • when i got an egg, there is a message on top right side saying to “click to see”. Clicking that brings to a black screen with the loading animation on bottom right, but nothing happens. I can’t get back to the game either. Have to kill the game and relaunch again (good thing progress is saved though).

The game’s a beauty and has great potential. I wish you best of luck with it.

Sharing a bit from experience, the Amazon market is more willing to spend on paid apps than the Google Play store. Optimize the keyword on Amazon.

1 Like

#161

I had the same issues :confused:
I would also agree with:

Moreover, I can’t use wild card - is it this purple card in the left-bottom corner? If so, it can’t be paired (I have like x10 of them) with any other card. Because of that I was lacking a proper tutorial at the beginning, the wall of text was dettering, but I read it and still had some questions that I needed to figure out during gameplay. Some visual tutorial showing possible moves etc would be great :wink:

Except that, a really well designed game. I’m trying to play it as much as I can and catch more bugs, but generally - it is just addicting :smiley: I’m still wondering if it could be f2p with well prepared microtransactions, like for example @Dragosha made in his Look! Your Loot! But as you mentioned a chinese market and your ambitions to target a premium segment, I’m keeping my fingers crossed :smiley:

1 Like