Since you probably heard or read on the wall of some truck stop [possibly even the truck stop outside of Des Moines where I ate a four pound burger and my picture is on the wall] Knife Toss was OpenFeint’s Free Game of the Day on February 22, 2010. At this point I would like to pull over the Winnebago and thank the OpenFeint folks for allowing a bunch of greenhorn game designers and hobos to take part in their giveaway. Considering no one has heard of Crawl Space Games or our game, Knife Toss, we thought that the giveaway would be the perfect way to get some exposure. And we were right for the most part.
**that was a really choppy opening paragraph and I apologize. Please read on, I’ll try and find a rhythm
With much fanfare, Knife Toss was released on the app store on February 4th, 2010. And after receiving the keys to various cities and dancing all night, we discovered that 50 people had paid for our game. As the week progressed the sales dipped down to between 12 and 20 a day. That’s where sales pretty much stayed until we went free.
Now from the time the game was released in the app store up to this day, we have been working hard get some exposure in the sea of apps our game is flailing around in. Hundreds of emails were sent in an attempt to get sites to review our game. And to our delight, pretty much every website that reviewed our game gave it a favorable review. Thanks again to everyone that has taken the time to review our game. (You can see the list of sites that reviewed our game here.) So going into the free giveaway we had very high hopes that most gamers would like the game as well.
We were scheduled to be the free on a Monday and because there is a delay in the Apple system when you change prices, we decided to just to make the game free Saturday night to be safe and pick up some extra exposure. Also, I was all hopped up on Chris Anderson’s book Free at the time. (Download it, it’s a great book and free). In two and a quarter days we had over 120,000 downloads. On the OpenFeint day we had around 100,000 downloads. We may have had more than 120,000 but its close enough and I’m too tired to check the records. We made it up to #5 on the free games list before we switched back to paid.
So a few people have been wondering how are sales are doing since the sale. Drum Roll………………..maybe a little cymbal……..our sales are now between 50 – 100 a day. Sales have picked up and we are happy. A lot more people have heard about our game and of Crawl Space. And a lot of people find our game fun to play. Positive results. Now, do we still cry ourselves to sleep at night? Do we still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat remembering the time being pushed out of the locker room into the high school hallway in our underwear? Of course we do.
Have we made it onto Apple’s New and Noteworthy list?(**We made it on the New and Noteworthy List March 2, 2010) Or What’s Hot? Or even What We’re Playing? No yet.
Taking the game free was great exposure, but along with it came a lot of one star ratings and bad reviews. The increase of players brought to light a problem that never surfaced during testing. Some people actually struggle with the controls of our game. We tried making it as simple as we could—simply tilt to aim and tap anywhere on the screen to throw. It was designed to automatically calibrate, but for some people it must not have functioned quite right or we didn’t communicate clearly. As a result we received around 1,000 one star ratings. This unfortunate fact brings to light one of the problems with the rating system.
I am not claiming the game does not have any problems, but since customer reviews started coming in, we have taken actions to correct problems. Two consecutive updates have been pushed out trying to improve the calibration and correct issues people were experiencing. If you are one the folks that has experienced problems with the game I apologize and ask that you give the game another look. But one of the short comings of the rating system is that there is no in game rating module. Ratings tend to polarize to 5 stars or 1 star…….that statement is totally unscientific and merely my observations. Either people are zealots for the game and endure the hassle of going through the rating process, these are the folks that typically give very positive reviews. Or you have the people that are dissatisfied with the game and are deleting it off their device—1 star on the way out. Only 1% of people that downloaded our game have taken the time to rate or review our game. Its understandable, it’s a hassle. Its just unfortunate that the majority of the one percent seem to have been people rating the game in frustration as they were deleting it. While 98+% of people that like our game or think it so so haven’t voted.
So where are we, and more importantly what happened to these boxers I have on? Knife toss sits at 3 stars and we’re continually trying to push out updates to improve game play and get back some of those lost stars. We’ve learned so much in the process of making our first iphone game and jumping into the murky water of the app store. We come from the services industry, shameless plug for our design studio Paper Tower, and Knife Toss is our first trip off the diving board. If anyone has any advice or comments on these humble thoughts shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org