The story of my first Android published videogame, and it’s commercial success.
TL;DR It wasn’t.
In terms of design, we have no design.
Design of the ShapeItUp is as simple as it could be. Reason for that is to make it easier for myself to develop the game in the first place as a solo game developer, but at the same time, there was no need to make it look any fancier from the mobile market standpoint. The game was supposed to represent the simplest idea possible — player taps the screen, when the game requires him to do so, without any overcomplicated rules or tasks.
I’m gonna tell you a story, so sit down and listen. I was hanging out with friends, and (sneak 100) opened ShapeItUp on my phone, handed my phone over to friends, and said :
This is my game, play it and tell me what you think.
So they did. And they liked it. Surprisingly, around 95% of the people instantly knew what to do — just tap the red dot where it appears. Due to having that last 5% I had to include the description of the game rules in the About section of the game anyway. Now that’s not too bad, and it proves that the game is quite simple and easy to figure out by yourself, which is a good sign, and certainly leaves a feeling of satisfaction after all.
For this particular game I chose Unity, as with my previous experience with Unreal Engine 4, I was quite confident of Unity’s mobile optimization and performance. Another reason was the coding language — in this case, C#. Compared to Unreal’s C++/Blueprints, it’s a lot easier to learn and debug any errors coming along the way.
Overall the game consists of around 10 scripts in C#, each handling different part of the game — shape manager (handling spawning dots), timer (handling timer and game over state), … The scripts are optimized in order to keep the integrity and performance up to the top notch quality.
Along the way was the most difficult part — adding new functionality, followed by looking for which parts of game stopped working. Every. Single. Time. Bugfixing took a lot of time, but it was worth the analysis and time spent, as it resulted in smoothly running and so far crash free mobile game.
I didn’t plan to pay for any advertising nor commercials, meaning the popularity of the game would be pretty low as expected. The only form of marketing was basically me sending the link to the app to friends and acquaintances and begging to resend it further, play it and leave a review on Google Play.
This tactics is not that efficient as it shows how many of your friends, do actually want to help you.
The decision to public the game just on the Google Play was rather simple and straightforward. As an university student, one-time 25$ fee for Google Play is comparably better to App Store’s 100$ fee per year. As I’m just a poor dude with a simple game, and no intention to invest in it, I decided to run just with the Google Play.
This strategy is also not so great, as many of my friends and potential users are using iPhones.
Lessons to be learned : when you release a game, prepare a lot of budget for publishing and advertising in order to get it to public and in front of potential users that will see your game.
Some of the graphs, as follow (after 1 month of being published):
The game is simple and easy to understand. With it’s simplistic and dumb graphics, you don’t need a high end phone to run it, meaning it’s optimized very well. The code has been brushed and optimized as well, so crashes or glitches are next to zero. Not only crashes and bugs are zero, so is marketing and advertising, resulting in not enough publicity and people seeing the game.
ShapeItUp has served it’s purpose — to try out the mobile game development and see how it goes. It’s been a fun journey, and I’m pretty sure I’ll return to this path someday.
Maybe when the phones will be able to run PBR graphics and have a meaningful story.