19 Apr Jimmy Pataya: beyond the launch
As you know, recently the Paladin team built an iPhone game in two weeks. It includes fun gameplay, nice graphics, music, sound and character voice, and highscores that can be shared on Twitter. In this post, I want to look back on what happened after we submitted the game to Apple on Friday April 2nd.
Wait for it…
The long Easter weekend afterwards, we all took some time off to rest. We had been working hard to meet the deadline, and quite frankly, it was exhausting. Plus there wasn’t much to do anyway but wait for the game to be reviewed and approved. On Tuesday we sat down and discussed what to do next. It made sense to start marketing the game.
Our great artists Niels, Lars and Thomas made a sharp website, which coder Tijmen implemented. Check it out here. Derk wrote a press release, with a focus on the two week-development sprint. And Lukas and I made a big list of iPhone game review sites, which we started sending requests for reviews to.
On Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning, Jimmy Pataya v1.0 was approved by Apple! Of course, we were very happy about this and many hands were shaken during that day. We quickly became addicted to checking sales numbers every five minutes, and quickly stumbled upon the cold hard truth about selling in the App Store: it’s pretty tough.
This is what our sales figures looked like in the first week:
On the Y axis, you see the number of units sold. The peak was 72 copies, which resulted in roughly € 35 / $ 44. Even though we had spent only 2 weeks on development, you can imagine that those kinds of numbers won’t pay the bills. At all.
So while we were busy contacting even more review websites, something magical happened: I received a mail from Apple, notifying us that we would be featured in the ‘New and Noteworthy’ category in the US, Canadian and Mexican App Stores. Lo and behold! It actually happened the very same day! Effectively, it means that anyone in those countries checking out the Games section in iTunes will see Jimmy Pataya!
So, truth be told, the fact that Apple took our little game and put it up there for all to see was pretty exciting already. But the real question was, of course: would this have any effect on sales? The simple answer: yes.
We, the People
Driven by this phenomenal boost, we decided this project wasn’t over yet. We’re on a roll now, and more importantly – in under two weeks, we suddenly gained over 2,600 customers. Jimmy Pataya is now a real product, and we better treat it that way!
The best thing about having customers (except maybe for earning money) is getting feedback. Fortunately, it’s mostly positive. Many love the game and seem to be playing it over and over again. A few quotes:
“Wicked game. Great for fans of doodlejump type games. Buy it.”
“This is one of those games I can play for hours on end. Gameplay is almost completely smooth on my iPhone 3G. Patayaaaaa!”
“Love it!!!!!! – Best game ever!!”
“Papayaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! – Just frickin awesome dude it’s an adrenaline rush”
Of course, there were a few bad and ugly comments as well:
“It’s nothing special and it’s not worth the price. Unless you have money to spare, avoid it.”
“very DUMB game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – THIS GAME WAS FUN FOR ABOUT 3 MINUTES AND THAN I DELETED IT OFF MY PHONE TOTAL GARBAGE DO NOT BUY THIS JUNK WISH I COULD GET A REFUND THE CREATOR SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO SELL THIS FOR .99 SHOULD BE FREE AND EVEN THEN DONT GET IT”
As a team, we dealt with criticism before. Rather than be personally offended or hurt, we ask ourselves how we can improve the game so even more people will enjoy it. Three things came to mind immediately: OpenFeint, iPad and extended gameplay.
From here and beyond
I actually submitted update 1.1 to Apple just two hours ago. It includes full OpenFeint support, meaning Leaderboards and Achievements. Players will now be able to check global highscores and see how their friends are doing. Achievements such as Rookie, Spin Doctor and One More Time will add extra reasons for replaying the game.
We actually have hires graphics for the iPad version ready too, but ran into an issue combining Unity, iPad and OpenFeint. Producing games is all about making tough choices and about making it work. There will be future updates, so for now, we’re not supporting iPad just yet.
And finally, we have lots of ideas for enhanced gameplay. Many of our testers and players came up with great additions too: power-ups, animations, time-trial, stunts… the list goes on. Tomorrow we’ll sit down and discuss what the next update will be. Jimmy is alive and kicking!