This past Friday (March 10th) I pulled the trigger and put Blobo on the market.
While working on this game for months (development spanned from Sept ’16 to March ’17), I’d frequently visualize what releasing would be like.
Sometimes I would fantasize about it as an impossible future, because of all the stuff I had to learn from point A to point B that I hadn’t even started to learn yet at that time.
As months went by, I’d think about more tangible futures, like the Facebook post I’d eventually put out there to my close friends, not-so-close-anymore-friends, and essentially strangers who had a vague idea who I was and vice versa.
It reminds me a lot of video I just saw about Sumo Wrestling, and how it’s months of training for about 15-30 seconds of competition. How do people handle that mentally (let alone physically)?
Anyway, it wasn’t like I could press the “Release” button and just be done with it! I immediately checked the store for Blobo. Not there yet. Google said it wouldn’t be for 3-24 hours. When it did show up, I had to test this third party module thing called iRate that supplies those “Rate Now” prompts in the game, and that didn’t seem to be working. Now onto writing that long-visualized Facebook post, Twitter post, etc…
There is a big difference between how you visualize that moment to be – pure relief, and what it really was – a continuation of the moment before it.
So you might ask, “OK Ryan, that’s a bit of a downer… so when’s the fun part?!” Well luckily there are a couple of fun parts!
I’d separate it out into pre-release, release, and post-release, following a U-curve like so many other things.
The first one had already passed without me really realizing it. Building the thing and figuring out what the hell I was doing (sometimes successfully) was incredible, and seeing each piece fall into place must be close to what the enlightened call the satisfaction of “working with your hands”. Something I really need more of.
Releasing the game occupies a strange little gap where there’s not much emotion. All of the hours invested don’t seem to amount to much, and you tell yourself it’s fine if nobody even sees the thing. Accompanied by some strange vulnerability at realizing your work is out there (and might crash at any second), this is certainly a sobering / surreal moment.
After release comes the next great part. Seeing people download the game and getting support / feedback from your close friends, distant friends, and strangers is pretty invigorating. It makes the previous toil seem meaningful, because games are meant for people, and once it gets out there in the light, you can start to feel some pride in your work!
This game works with online leaderboards, so people who choose to sign into Game Center get their scores tracked / can view competitors’ scores. The first level of the game already has more than 50 scores on it!
Players are mostly from the US, followed by Russia and China. How cool! I’m waiting on receiving a bit more data but I’m going to make a quantitative post about some of the stats of the app if you’re into that.
Marketing is going to be a bit of a beast. I’ve always known that it was going to be my least favorite, but most necessary part of this whole game-development process. I suppose those types of things are where you should look to learn / grow.
And oh how I’ve been trying to learn / grow! I can’t tell you how hard it was to make my first Tweet, and how awkward that experience was, but it was necessary. Twitter is a neat way to reach people. Hashtag isn’t just a word you don’t want to say out loud, it’s also a pretty neat cross-sectional way to be visible to a whole lot of people. Most of us have Facebook – think about how your posts are bounced around between yourself and your friends. What if you want to speak to a larger audience? That’s what Twitter is good at.
Twitter also provides some analytics which are really helpful. I plan on going more in depth on what I’ve learned from Twitter Analytics in the near future, but for now, take a look at this screenshot of the response to the release tweet:
Excuse my language, but holy s***. Just to give you some idea, I think that 3,300 impressions (views) is more than I’ve gotten in that account’s entire history of ~60 tweets.
That might have been the first thing you noticed. Next, 80 engagements is amazing for me. All of those likes and retweets speak to the strength of that indie gaming community / the crazy amount of support for small developers.
However, do you see the most alarming number in there?
Link clicks: 3
That evaluates to a very low conversion percentage (people who actually went to see the app store page, let alone download it)! Looks like I have some room to grow 😉
This also speaks to how difficult marketing actually is. And I’m saying this after only 48 hours of having Blobo out there. Every person who tries the game is a blessing. There is absolutely no “build it and they will come” effect. You are on your own, and have to put in some elbow grease to get the word out there! And don’t worry I plan on doing just that.
Anyway, I hope this has shed some light on the ups, downs, and stark realizations in this first 48 hours after release.
Like I mentioned, I’d also like to get up some posts about social media efficacy, app statistics, and maybe a “first lessons learned from Blobo” post once I get some more time and data under my belt.
In the meantime, thank you for reading! Catch you later.