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开发者谈手机游戏《Hard Lines》营销过程

发布时间:2011-08-06 17:06:58 Tags:,,,

游戏邦注:本文作者是Spilt Milk Studios高管Andrew Smith,其为iOS独立游戏开发者,文章主要谈论营销和推广。

《Hard Lines》游戏

Hard Lines from appadvice.com

Hard Lines from appadvice.com

《Hard Lines》2011年6月9日问世。苹果曾连续几个礼拜在New & Noteworthy版块推荐我们的作品,随后我们便掉出榜单,后来作品又在What’s Hot版块出现1个礼拜。我们从媒体和玩家中获得积极评价,但我们也有不如意的时候。我们的应用图标有些缺乏生气;我们的名气不够,作品或将夭折;内容超过20MB,有些过长,同潜在3G用户失之交臂。

评论在手机游戏销售过程中的重要性如何?

我们因新推游戏成为媒体焦点。有些网站希望评论我们刚推出的iPad应用更新内容,但我们最后一次获得广泛曝光是在《观察家报》的星期天评论,对此我们期盼已久。评价非常正面,非常令人赞赏,但很多用户都没有阅读游戏网站内容,或跟进我的twitter消息。因此就没有出现所谓的销售高峰,只售出20份。

chart from gamesbrief.com

chart from gamesbrief.com

这不禁引发我的思考。我制作上表综述我们所获重要评论(游戏邦注:主要在小宅网、Touch Arcade、Pocketgamer和AppSpy等网站)同随后销售高峰的对比情况,坦白讲,读此内容我非常沮丧,即便是来自最大网站的评论也未能给应用带来大量销量业绩。仔细思考后我丝毫未感到惊讶,而是出现“搞什么东西?!”感觉。从本质来看,这清楚说明大多iPhone市场并不关注重要评论。很多评论只带来20份销量,有些甚至还导致销量下滑。

玩家如何发现智能手机游戏?

玩家定是通过其他方式挖掘游戏内容——Twitter和Facebook,应用销量定是受到好友、推荐及作品在各类iTunes榜单位置的影响。这毫不新鲜,只是有点小失望,但这并不是说这些评论毫无价值。舆论人士将通过这些积极评论获悉游戏内容,若你想要取得突出成绩,他们是你首先要吸引的群体。

chart 2 from gamesbrief.com

chart 2 from gamesbrief.com

所以我也开始探索其他令公司和作品获得关注的方式。最近几周里,我的名字频繁出现在某些专业报刊的文章中,致使某Twitter好友问我是否有从中有赚取佣金。我也希望这样!Pocketgamer对我关照有加,它们发布我最近在微博提及的游戏更新内容目前正在接受苹果审核消息,此外近段时间我也发布多篇文章。

首先谈谈个人看法,主要针对迈克尔·帕切特关于游戏开发危机和超时文化的观点。我觉得他的评论纯属恶意中伤。有人觉得我作为小型开发商这么说非常有胆量,但我这么做并不是为了吸引眼球。我联系Pocketgamer,想要知道他们是否已发布此文,随后文章引起很大轰动,但我发此文纯粹只是想要表达个人观点。太多开发商觉得自己的观点无关痛痒,但我仍旧记得自己那段时间是如何不知疲倦地梳理互联网信息,旨在获悉开发人员的思考和工作方式。文章当周最终在PG.Biz.获得最多关注。我为我自己感到骄傲!

我还适时把握观众提问环节,我决定在游戏开发大会分享自己的开发经验。我并不是重量级人物,但我依然觉得自己的观点会令某些人有所启发,我文章的内容是如何充分利用游戏大会。

conv from gamesbrief.com

conv from gamesbrief.com

我今年有参加Develop大会,也加入座谈小组,这让我能够获得大会免费入场券。其中有些非常优秀的讲话,但也有些我觉得没必要参加,所以我就没有去。我积极同开发同伴“社交”,有些人我只是通过Twitter有所了解。这是同有趣和杰出人士巩固关系的好机会。最终这并未给《Hard Lines》带来直接影响,虽然《Hard Lines》是Spilt Milk Studios的旗帜作品(游戏邦注:常识来看,公司曝光度的增加通常能够有效促进作品推广)。

iOS游戏采用免费模式的影响

下面谈谈头条新闻。游戏销量7月27日变成29份!这其实不是什么大新闻,但非常鼓舞人心。我突然决定当天《 Hard Lines》采用免费模式。我利用午餐时间在Twitter发布了消息公告,我得待到第二天方能获悉其中成果。这一消息出现在某些网站新闻中,我们因此获得的销量也非常令人震惊。

游戏下载量出现巨大突破,从前天的20份窜升至当天的1.2万份。换个角度来说,销量增长率超过16,000%,超过游戏此前的所有销量增长率之和。记住游戏发行初期,我们也得到苹果大力推荐,但此免费日的影响令作品真正成为关注焦点。我们1天内就把玩家数量翻一番。那么接下来情况如何?

从本质来看,这是个反常现象。游戏再次采用付费模式后,销量48小时内就重新跌到100份以下。看到变化如此迅速,着实有些令人沮丧,但这不过是次心血来潮的试验。有趣的地方在于其日销售量,虽然已重新变成“涓涓细流”,但相比之前还是翻了一番。用户数量翻一番,日销量翻一番。我不认为这是个巧合。这促使我们开始深入思考内置付费和扩充计划,坦白说,我们非常期待看到我们下个调整所带来的反应。

chart 3 from gamesbrief.com

chart 3 from gamesbrief.com

《Hard Lines》更新——应用内部升级

《Hard Lines》内容已过时!我们几乎添加玩家社群要求的一切内容——支持Game Center成就&排行榜,融入OpenFeint成就元素以保持公平,各种漏洞修复和调整,我们同时引入更加精致的应用图标,把游戏二进制码设在20mb以下。我觉得这非常关键,或者至少比某些开发商所认为的重要得多。值得一提的是,我认识许多所谓的科技达人,其实丝毫不关心iPhone是使用Wi-Fi还是3G技术。若你觉得销量大多源自口碑传播,那么推动酒吧人群相互告知游戏内容将是个很好的机会。若用户因未使用Wi-Fi技术而无法下载,你马上就会失去他们。

chart 4 from gamesbrief.com

chart 4 from gamesbrief.com

我们把握的另一机会是把《Hard Lines》变成一款普遍应用。这说明其当前在iPad运作良好,全屏呈现,我把握契机测试某些IAP。我们并未采用标准模式(游戏邦注:各个公司瞄准iPad单独制作的“HD”应用),而是把“HD EXTREME”模式变成IAP项目,这意味着用户不会错过游戏,作品有望在iPad用户中获得更多曝光度。升级后,你获得4倍大的活动场所,且植入排行榜。这几乎就是款游戏,坦白讲,到目前为止,反应都非常好。促销之后的游戏情况可以参照如下信息。

这几周我们既兴奋,又精疲力尽。我们如今开始着手添加新游戏内容,以响应Free App带来的巨大影响。

有趣数据:

下载量——约2.2万份

销量最突出国家——美国

巧妙之处——改编自电影&流行文化

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Spilt Milk Studios Development Diary 10: Marketing Marathon

By Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith of Spilt Milk Studios has been giving GAMESbrief the inside scoop on his experiences as an iOS indie games developer. Here he shares the ups and downs of marketing and promotion for the past few busy weeks.

It’s been slightly longer than usual since the last article, but blame Develop in Brighton – bear with me though as we’ve had an interesting and revealing few weeks. First, a summary for those catching up/with poor memories.

Hard Lines – the story so far

Hard Lines came out on the 9th June 2011. Apple featured us in the New & Noteworthy section for a few weeks, and we’ve since dropped off that list, as well as the What’s Hot section we were in for a week or so afterwards. We’ve had a great amount of really positive reviews from press and players alike, but we have messed up on a few occasions. Our app icon was a bit lacklustre, we released a crash-prone build on the eve of our biggest coverage yet and finally the game was over 20mb for too long, losing out on 3G-using potential buyers.

How important are reviews to the sales of smartphone games?

So our media coverage, in terms of being a hot new game at least, is pretty much over. There are a few sites that want to review the iPad build we’ve just updated to which is nice, but the last piece of wide-exposure coverage we got was in the Observer on Sunday review we’d been waiting for. Really positive, very praiseworthy, big audience of people who most probably don’t read games websites or follow me on twitter. No sales spike to speak of – 20 extra copies sold.

So that got me thinking. I’ve got a chart below showing an overview of the big reviews we had (Kotaku, Touch Arcade, Pocketgamer, AppSpy and more) versus the sales spikes we achieved on the following days. Frankly, it makes pretty disappointing reading – there seems to be very little boost from reviews on even the biggest sites out there. This doesn’t really surprise when I think about it, but the gut feeling is ‘what the hell?!’. Essentially it makes the point very clear that the vast majority of the iPhone market don’t pay much heed to critical reviews. Most are followed by a spike of many 20 sales, and some are even followed by dips.

How do gamers find out about smartphone games?

They must find out about their games in other ways – twitter, Facebook, whatever it is it must be driven by their friends and recommendations, as well as of course good placement on the various charts within iTunes. Nothing new, just a bit disappointing I suppose – but that’s not to say these reviews are without worth. The hardcore (the opinion-formers) will certainly find out about your game through these positive reviews, and they’re the people responsible for the first snowflake of attention that you need if you’re going to build an avalanche of success.

So I’ve been working to get the company and the game noticed in other ways too. I’ve been quoted a few times in articles in the specialist press over recent weeks, leading to one particular chum on twitter asking if I’m on commission. I wish! Pocketgamer has been particularly good to me – they spotted a tweet I made about our recently release-update going into submission at Apple and posted a piece about it (slow news day? Maybe, but I’m not complaining!) but more recently I’ve had a couple of articles posted.

The first was a response from me about Michael Pachter’s opinions about crunch and overtime culture in games development. Read it here, but suffice to say I called his comments poisonous. Some people have commented that may be a bit ballsy for a small developer like mine, but I didn’t do it to get hits. I got in touch with Pocketgamer knowing that if they posted it, then hits would be generated, but I wrote it because I had something to say. Too many developers assume their opinions are of no interest whatsoever, but I still remember the days when I tirelessly combed the internet for any insights at all into how developers thought and worked. In the end, the article got the most hits for that week on PG.Biz. I’m quite proud of myself!

I also put my hand up when a spot appeared for a guest opinion piece – and decided to write about my experiences going to games development conferences. I’ve not been to a ton, but again with the idea that my insights are of interest to someone out there, I wrote about how to get the best out of a conference trip.

Of course I went to Develop this year as part of a panel (which you can watch on YouTube or embedded below) and that snagged me a free pass to the conference. There were some really good talks, and some I felt I didn’t need to attend – and so didn’t. I spent that time ‘socialising’ (better known as networking) with fellow devs, a lot of whom I only knew from twitter. It was a great opportunity to reinforce relationships with a great many interesting and intelligent people. Hello if you’re reading this! Ultimately it was of little direct use for Hard Lines, though again as Spilt Milk Studios’ flagship game anything that increases the exposure of one helps the other.

The impact of going free on an ios game

So onto the big news. I turned 29 on the 27th of July! Well, that’s not the big news, but it is the inspiration. I decided, on a whim, to make Hard Lines free for that day only. Using twitter, and sending out a hasty press release at lunchtime, we had to wait till the next day to find out what sort of success we had. Not only did it get reported on a few websites, the numbers we got stunned us.

We saw a truly massive spike in downloads, from 20 the day before, to just over 12,000 the day of the promotion. To put that in some perspective that’s a rise of over 16,000%, and better than the entire lifetime sales of the game previous to that day. Bear in mind we had a lot of Apple coverage too early in the game’s life, and the impact this free day had truly comes into focus. We doubled our player base in one day. So what do the next days look like? Take a look below.

Essentially, it was an anomaly. As soon as the game went back to paid, we saw a drop back down to sub-100 sales per day within 48hrs of the change. It’s a tiny bit disappointing to see it revert so quickly, but hey it was just a whimsical experiment. What is interesting is that the daily sales, though dropped back down to ‘a trickle’ are now sitting at roughly double those as the period before the offer. Double the audience, double the daily trickle. I don’t think that is a coincidence. It has certainly made us think about our In-App-Purchase and expansion plans in much more detail, suffice to say we’re really excited to see the response to our next update.

Hard Lines is updated – and has an in-app upgrade

Which, speak of the devil, is already out! We’ve added almost everything the community asked for – Game Center support with achievements & leaderboards, OpenFeint achievements to keep parity, various bug fixes and tweaks, and we’ve also taken the chance to introduce a much more polished app icon, and take the game’s binary below 20mb. This is pretty key I think – or at least more so than most developers think. I’ve lost count of the amount of supposedly tech-savvy people I know who don’t realise (or even care) when their iPhone is using Wi-Fi versus 3G. If we run with the idea that most sales are through word of mouth, then some mates sitting in the pub telling each other about this cool new game are a pretty powerful opportunity. And one that is instantly lost as soon as they can’t download it because they’re not on Wi-Fi.

Another opportunity we’ve taken is to make Hard Lines a universal app. This means it now runs properly and full screen on the iPad, and we’ve taken the opportunity to test some IAP. Instead of the norm – where companies make a separate ‘HD’ app for the iPad, we’ve turned ours ‘HD EXTREME’ mode into an IAP item, meaning people don’t have to duck out of the game, and hopefully it gets more visibility with the iPad owners. When you upgrade you get 4x bigger arenas and tweaked modes with their own leaderboards. It’s almost a new game, frankly, and the response has been good so far. The results so far, after a day on sale, can be seen below.

So it’s been a really exciting and exhausting few weeks. We’re right on the cusp of getting some great new content in the game (more detail in the next article, no doubt) as we respond in force to the power of the Free App. We’ve always taken a long-term view on this game (and any in the modern digital markets) so come back next time for even more insight, figures and honest opinion.

Fun facts:

Downloads – ~22,000

Top Country by Sales – USA

Main source of Quips – our garbled recollection of
movies & pop culture

Donuts eaten during development – Less than 5(Source:gamesbrief


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