但是当iPad问世时，我们认为是时候再尝试一次了。因为我们这次面对的是屏幕更大，功能更强的设备，并且能够支持像掌机产品一样高质量的移植版游戏，所以我们更加具有信心。我们开始与Gil Carmel合作，并于2010年11月最终完成这个版本的游戏制作。虽然关于iPad版本的《粘粘世界》的开发没有什么独特之处，但是因为这是我们的第一款App Store游戏，所以从游戏发行前到发行后整个都是一个有趣的过程，并且我们也收集了一些关于App Store市场中的重要营销信息和经验，希望能够对其它开发者有所帮助。
我们发现，大多数iPhone或iPad玩家都更喜欢那些能够愉快打发时间的游戏，而不是那些需要耗费脑子思考或者具有挑战性的游戏，至少比起PC或掌机玩家是这样的。不管怎么说，《粘粘世界》在App Store中获得了许多肯定的评价，平均4.5颗星。而那些给出差评的玩家，他们的主要原因是受不了游戏的难度。以下是在App Store中给出1颗星评价的玩家的部分理由：
我们曾经在6岁小孩，家长，祖母，以及咖啡店中随机客人等一些不玩游戏的对象身上进行游戏测试，所以我们知道这是一款人性化且能够让玩家自我理解的游戏。我们也从未在PC或者Wii版本游戏中收到关于这种类型的抱怨。可能是因为我们忽略了iOS用户更加倾向于快速娱乐方式，这个平台用户并不欢迎失败的惩罚（不论轻重），因为这些玩家不论自己玩得怎样，都希望最终有所收获。为了解决这个问题，我们在更新版本中涵括了一个明显的功能即设置“略过关卡”按钮，并且允许玩家无限次的略过行为。我们设置了另一个功能，让玩家通过购买“Mighty Goo Ball”而自动完成某些关卡。
而关于第三点，即登上畅销游戏排行榜，我们并未投入太多的精力。当这款游戏刚发行时，《Indie Game: The Movie》（游戏邦注：一部关于独立游戏的电影）的制作人Jamie Swirsky跟我们说“这款游戏将成为下一款《愤怒的小鸟》”，而我们立刻回应道：“作为一款售价10美元的游戏它很难成为下一款《愤怒的小鸟》。”而后来我们也发现10美元并不是一个合理的定价。
5美元是最合适的初始价格。而10美元虽然低于人们买电影票或者午餐的费用，但对于App Store中的游戏来说这个价格还是明显偏高了，也因此流失了许多玩家。从下图关于《粘粘世界》的每日收益图表来看，定价5美元为这款游戏带来的收益远远 多于10美元的定价。而当我们在调整价格而再次发行时，那些增长的收益便能弥补10美元定价所错失的销售额。
观察了iPhone App Store中的最畅销游戏排行，我们意识到如果能够发行iPhone版本的游戏，并且希望它长存于最高销售榜单前列，我们就应该设置一个较低的售价。当我在写这篇文章的时候，我观察到iPhone App Store中付费应用排名前20的游戏有18款的定价是0.99美分，而应用营收排行前20名中有15款是免费或者售价0.99美分的游戏。
在11月初，我们与Gil确定了开发协议的相关细节，并决定快马加鞭地在假期到来之际推出游戏。整个开发过程我们都是与Gil以及来自Page 44 Studios的两名程序员Brian Morishita和Nick Tourte共同合作。
之所以要如此赶工，是因为苹果将在12月23-28日期间冻结App Store排行榜更新，即暂停开发者上传到App Store中的审查，更改价格，查阅收益等功能。
在《粘粘世界》发行后，我们始终关注该游戏在App Store中的排名与销售情况，并且发现当《粘粘世界》徘徊于接近销售榜单首位的位置时，第1名游戏的销售情况几乎是第2名的双倍。如此便很难根据畅销游戏的排行去判断销售渠道的发展状况。而如果你足够幸运能够攀上排行榜首位，除非你的游戏是《Castle Crashers》或者《愤怒的小鸟》，要不你便很难在此维持太久。所以，真正重要的是排行首位的游戏到底采取了何种销售发行渠道，以及排名前20名或者前50名游戏的销售发行情况又是怎样。
而《粘粘世界》在iPad上的发行让我们能够从另一个视角去看待这种发展趋势。在iPad App Store上发行的第一个月，《粘粘世界》的下载量就已经达到12万5千次（这主要得益于苹果的推荐机制）。相比之下，《粘粘世界》在WiiWare一个月期间最好的销量是6万8千份（主要依靠于任天堂的大众邮寄方式），而在Steam上是9万7千份（主要归功于两次促销折扣价）。如此看来，不论是从售出的数量还是收益来看，iPad版本都是这款游戏迄今为止最畅销的版本。
World of Goo’s iPad Launch
We attempted, and failed, to bring World of Goo to iPhone in the summer of 2009. Development was sporadic and slow as we worked with a series of four different contractors who, for various reasons, did not bring the project to completion. So we dropped it.
When the iPad came out, we thought we’d try again, this time with a fresh round of confidence that the bigger, more powerful device would be able to support a console quality port of World of Goo. We started working with Ron’s brother, Gil Carmel, in November 2010, who finally got this project done. There is nothing all that remarkable to tell about the development of World of Goo for iPad, but this being our first App Store title, the month leading up to launch and the month that followed were very interesting times, as we gathered information and lessons about the App Store market that we hope will be of use to other developers.
We found that the average iPhone/iPad gamer is more interested in pleasantly passing time than being intellectually engaged or challenged, at least when compared to the average PC or console player. Overall, World of Goo has been receiving very favorable reviews in the App Store, averaging 4.5 stars. But of the most critical consumer reviews, the majority express their frustration with the difficulty of the game (price too, but that will be discussed later). A sampling of our favorite 1-star reviews in the App Store:
“I don’t know how the heck you do this!!!!!!!!!! “Drag and drop to build the pipe”? WHAT???? Somebody please tell me how to do this!”
“I’m only on the 6th level and I hate this game. Levels are ridiculously hard from the start and are just stupid. I spent an hour on one level and still cannot beat it. Screw this crap. Worst. Purchase. Ever.”
“Don’t get it, it will get you very frustrated if you don’t beat a level bottom line don’t get it”
We playtested World of Goo extensively on six year olds, parents, grandmothers, and random people at coffee shops who either don’t play games or actively avoid playing them, so we know that the game is intuitive and self explanatory. We’ve also never received this type of complaint for either the PC or Wii version. What we neglected to consider is that the iOS audience might be looking for a different kind of fast-fun entertainment, where punishment for failure, no matter how slight, is not an option, and no matter how badly you play the game you always feel you have a reasonable chance of success. To address this, an updated version included a more prominently featured “skip level” button, and allows an unlimited number of skips. Another option we jokingly considered is to ask players to pay to auto-complete levels by purchasing a Mighty Goo Ball.
Even after making it easy to skip levels, the game will likely still be too challenging for some players’ tastes, but we’re OK with that. It’s a puzzle game, not a scenic tour of Kyle’s artwork.
For exactly these cases of false expectations and disappointment, we wish Apple offered a mechanism by which a developer can issue a refund to unsatisfied customers. We sell the PC version of World of Goo on our website directly, and any time we get an email from someone who was not pleased with their purchase, we offer them a refund. We’d much rather have a happy non-customer than an unhappy customer.
As far as we could tell, there are three ways an app can be effectively promoted:
1. Get it featured by Apple,
2. Get press to write about it, and
3. Be in the top selling / top grossing charts.
It was intuitively clear to us that the most important promotion we could get is to get the game featured by Apple. Promotion inside the sales channel is effective in both retail (the reason publishers buy end-cap space for their games and why impulse items are shoved in your face at the checkout line at the grocery store) and in digital (which is one of the reasons Steam promotions are so incredibly effective and why publishers buy dashboard placements for their XBLA games).
We assumed the same is true for the App Store, and this was confirmed by more experienced iOS devs we talked to. The only thing we could think of to increase the chances of getting featured was to build awareness of the the upcoming release within Apple. We emailed the one person we knew there and were fortunate that the news was received with excitement. We sent them a pre-release build, got some great feedback, and continued to work closely and seek advice up until release.
Considering both the quality and quantity of games being released around the holidays, we operated under the assumption that World of Goo would NOT be featured and did everything we could to generate buzz for the launch by working with the press to get the word out.
Our general approach to PR was the same as for every other platform we launched on: build up buzz by gradually releasing more specific/exciting information leading up to the release date. We asked experienced iOS devs for press contacts at the larger iOS review sites and sent them pre-release versions of the game. Because World of Goo has become fairly well known, we were fortunate to have a relatively easy time getting coverage.
The big difference this time around though, was that it had been two years since the game’s first release, and a large part of the audience that would read this news had already heard of the game, if not played it. Was there really a reason for them to play it again? We thought there was. On the large and beautiful iPad touch screen, the feeling of having your fingers dipping directly into the goo made this one feel like the Definitive Version of World of Goo. We emphasized this when writing about the iPad release and when speaking with the press.
As for getting the game in the top selling / top grossing charts, we didn’t really give this factor the attention it deserved. At some point shortly after the game was released, Jamie Swirsky (of Indie Game: The Movie) said to us something along the lines of “This is going to be the next Angry Birds” to which we instinctively replied “There’s no way this is going to be the next Angry Birds at $10”. And right then and there it became clear that $10 was not the right price point. Which brings us to the next point of discussion…
As proud parents, we wanted the perceived value of World of Goo to be high, and we wanted to combat the so called “price erosion” of the App Store. Plants vs Zombies was selling for $10 at the time and we thought World of Goo, being on par with with PvZ could support the same price. In a funny turn of events, PopCap dropped the price of PvZ to $7 less than a week after World of Goo was launched.
Sales held up nicely while the game was prominently featured in the App Store but started to decline pretty rapidly afterwards, as you can see here:
We were convinced that without intervention, World of Goo would fall off the charts and lose all visibility, so we decided to experiment with a price cut. We dropped the price from $10 to $5 about a month after release. We emailed press folks to notify them of the upcoming price change ahead of time, and over the course of the next 24 hours World of Goo shot up the top grossing charts from #51 to #2. We were hoping that this new price point would find a relatively high equilibrium point on the charts, but so far it seems that it provided a temporary (but very significant) sales boost without preventing long term decline.
One unfortunate outcome of any sale in any market is the possibility of alienating early adopters, a group which likely includes the most loyal fans. Before launch, we thought it would be better to start high and lower the price, as a pleasant surprise, than to start low and then anger people by raising it. We suspect that a vocal minority would have been angered either way, but if we could do it over again we might have launched at a lower price point and said it was a temporary promotion, essentially reserving the right to raise the price, but without angering early adopters.
It’s possible that $5 might have been a better price point to begin with. While $10 is less than most people pay for a movie ticket, or lunch, it’s still seen as a very high price for a game on the App Store and turns many people off. As you can see from the daily revenue chart below, World of Goo generates significantly more revenue at a $5 price point than it did at $10 (price was halved on January 14). The counter-argument would be that the second round of press we got when the price dropped could have more than made up for the missed sales at the $10 price point.
The higher revenue at the lower price point brought about a realization about “price erosion”. The notion that “App Store price erosion is bad for developers” could be a backwards way of looking at things. What is generally referred to as price erosion occurs because developers are optimizing their revenue. If a game earns 50% more revenue at a lower price point, it’s a pure win situation as the developer makes more money AND more people get to enjoy the game. And if those two things are true, does it really matter what the sale price is? If we all charged double for our games we might all earn more money, but we could also end up earning less money because people would buy much fewer apps.
That, along with examining the top selling games on the iPhone App Store made us realize that if we end up releasing an iPhone version we would need to sell it at a very low price point if we want it to be a top seller in the long run. At the time of writing, 18 out of the top 20 selling iPhone apps are priced at 99 cents. Of the top 20 grossing apps, 15 are either free or cost 99 cents.
In early November we finalized the details of our development agreement with Gil and decided to crunch in order to get the game out in time for the holidays. We worked on it full time along with Gil and two other programmers from Page 44 Studios, Brian Morishita and Nick Tourte.
The rationale for the crunch was that if World of Goo was going to get featured, releasing the game on December 16 would mean that the game would remain featured for an extra week during Apple’s holiday freeze of the App Store (December 23-28).
This is the same App Store “loophole” that EA exploited by dropping the price of all their games to 99 cents the week before the holiday freeze in order to gain chart position, and the increased visibility that comes with it.
The timing worked out very well. World of Goo was featured as iPad game of the week for two weeks straight, and sales were great.
The rush to submit the game in time for a Christmas release did have a couple of downsides. There were some bugs that we may have found in testing if we had more time, and performance wasn’t as good as it could have been. Both issues were addressed in an update we released shortly after. Overall, we feel this was a good trade-off.
Rank And Revenue
Having obsessively monitored World of Goo’s App Store ranking and sales numbers after launch, one of the things we found surprising is that when World of Goo was hovering near the top of the charts we saw that the #1 app was selling about twice as much as the #2 app. This drove home the point that it’s dangerous to judge the health of a distribution channel by how much the top selling game makes. If you’re lucky enough to reach the top of the charts, unless you’re Castle Crashers or Angry Birds, you’re not going to stay there for very long. So what matters more than how much the top dog makes is sales distribution. How much, on average, do the top 20 make? Top 50?
To begin answering this question, we took the sales and rank data we collected since the release, and created a scatter plot. On the vertical axis is the net revenue generated on a given day, and on the horizontal axis is the rank of the game on the iPad top grossing chart:
As you can clearly see, once a game breaks into the top 10, the amount of revenue it generates skyrockets. It’s the other way around, really, but you get the picture. It is encouraging to see that when a game drops off the top 10, revenue declines fairly slowly. Even the lowest data point in this scatter plot still represents daily revenue measured in thousands of USD.
One Last Observation…
In 2008, with the successful releases of Castle Crashers, Braid, and World of Goo, it became fairly clear that consoles were “where it’s at” for independent developers, and a lot of attention was given to which console provided the best distribution opportunities. Nintendo had the largest install base, XBLA had the largest number of registered users, and PSN had the strongest growth momentum. This discussion is still going on today and the landscape is constantly shifting.
World of Goo’s launch on iPad gave us a new perspective on that discussion. In the first month of sales on the iPad App Store, World of Goo sold 125k copies (thanks to being prominently featured by Apple). In comparison, World of Goo’s best 31 day period on WiiWare was 68k copies (thanks to a mass mailing by Nintendo), and on Steam it was 97k copies (thanks to two promotions at discounted prices). So far, the iPad version is by far the fastest selling version of the game, both in terms of number of units sold and in revenue generated.
What makes this even more amazing is that this is a two year old game released on a platform that is less than a year old. The iPad doesn’t have the benefit of an install base built up over several years.
In the short term, we still think that if an independent developer can get their game on a console it’s a safer bet than playing the App Store lottery, but one might wonder whether, in the long run, it even matters who wins the PSN / WiiWare / XBLA race.（source:2dboy）