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Breaking in – Nameless the Hackers RPG

Breaking into the mobile games industry. An indie development group’s retrospective on independently launching a Premium IOS J-RPG about Hackers. Coming from other industries, we knew metrics are important. We captured our “break-in” moment.

James Liu

May 3, 2013

7 Min Read

We're new to the games industry, but have had prior experience working in other industries. This gave us a one-time opportunity to capture our experiences as an awkward-unsure indie group.

With very little funding, we had to bootstrap the production as well as the marketing. Nearly everything was done in-house with a small working team of 2.6 full-time people. We actually had four people: two full-time, one part-time, and a friend that helped out for a few weeks.

Over the course of nine months, we made:

Nameless: the Hackers RPG for iOS

Nameless the Hackers RPG Youtube Thumbnail

iTunes Link: http://nth.box.cat
Reviews & Mentions: http://box-cat.com/

This is the first of multiple blog entries that will attempt to break down and analyze our metrics. Our goal is to share what we know, be objective, and make new friends.

Premium iOS - First Month Sales

Nameless: the Hackers has been out since March 16th, 2013. It's been quite a ride. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we decided our first game would be a premium iOS RPG.

Here's what our sales graph from March 16th, 2013 to April 18th, 2013 looks like:

First month's sales for premium iOS game JRPG

We launched Nameless: the Hackers at $1.99, which was 50% off from $3.99. We attribute the majority of our sales based on our pre-launch efforts.

Our Pre-Launch Efforts

As a small group, we felt pretty good about our launch. We don’t have a large war chest of funds, so we had to do our own pre-launch awareness. This is difficult since we have no prior games or relevant titles.

A friend has told us about http://Splurgy.com, it’s a social engagement site that rewards users by entering them into a sweepstakes. Out of all the solutions out there, we felt this one had the most value.

We decided to do multiple giveaways until the launch of our game. We purchased several $25 iTunes Gift Cards at 20% off following a SlickDeals post. Our thinking was that people who want an iTunes Gift Cards must also be willing to spend money on the iTunes store. Secondly, we wanted to compound the effects. We knew we wouldn’t be launching the game anytime soon and we had to keep their attention.

Here is a list of giveaways we did:

#1: Dec 4th to Dec 11th $25 iTunes Gift Code
#2: Dec 12th to Dec 24th $25 iTunes Gift Code
#3: Dec 24th to Jan 15th $25 iTunes Gift Code
#4: Jan 15th to Feb 15th $25 iTunes Gift Code
#5: Feb 15th to Apr 15th $25x1 $10x11 50 copies of Nameless

Each giveaway allowed them to do multiple actions:

  1. Like our Facebook (http://facebook.com/BoxCatLLC/)

  2. Share the Giveaway

  3. Follow our Twitter  (http://twitter.com/BoxCatLLC/)

  4. Retweet the Giveaway

  5. Commented and talked to us on our Facebook posts

  6. Visit our Nameless Game Trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZTgrpH8QT8)\

On launch day March 18th, we had 600 Facebook likes and 400 Twitter followers. The 5th giveaway was during our launch and has just ended on April 15th. We now have 886 Likes and 522 Twitter followers on April 22, 2013.

Splurgy did the following for us over the course of multiple giveaways:

-        770 Facebook likes (Duplicates count)

-        774 Facebook shares

-        706 Twitter Follows (Duplicates count)


-        433 Visits to our Nameless Game Trailer page

In total, we had 3379 engagements (social or action). Based on the cost for the rewards 5x$20 + 11x$10 + 50xFree Promo codes our total cost was $230 dollars.

Each user action was $0.07. On top of that, we’re giving our marketing dollars directly to the players.

It’s important to note that we had to provide the seeding for this. Visiting game websites, asking friends, and posting on sites. We noticed that if we didn’t push the giveaway no one would discover it and sometimes the social viral sharing/re-tweeting can die off. Here are some snap shots of our Facebook like graphs.

iOS Mobile Game likes marketing

Following week for indie mobile JRPG game

Likes generated by launching a game on iOS

No-Push Effort = No Response

If you look at the timeline for the beginning of “Giveaway #2” and “Giveaway #3”, you’ll see we didn’t do as well. We weren’t pushing to seed to the giveaway as much as our previous efforts and it shows! Also if you look at the last “Giveaway #5” on February 15th, you’ll notice it’s also quite flat until Feb 28th when we pushed it again. We were in development crunch and didn’t have time.

Facebook Likes after Launch

If you compare the download graph below to the March 21 – April 21 “Like Graph” (located above), you’ll notice there’s a correlation.

iOS Nameless the Hackers Like and Giveaway Link

In the lower left corner of our title screen we have a BoxCat icon that leads to our Facebook page. It seems to be around a 10% conversion from Nameless: the Hackers downloads to Facebook likes.  However, we cannot confirm if this is only a coincidence or actually due to the button, but we see a strong 10% correlation from sales and Facebook likes.

Our Thoughts on Pre-Launch Efforts on Mobile

  • We were happy to have stumbled on to a way to give our marketing dollars to the players. It may not be massiveily effective, but it's got a lot of value for very little cost. 

  • Giveaways seem to have a nice compounding effect. Each player stays for the next giveaway and you can get more value by doing more giveaways over time. 

  • We plan to continuously give away iTune gift cards for the rest of the year. 

  • Free Apps and Premium Apps are completely different. We're pretty happy about picking Premium even though it's not a block buster.

Next Upcoming Topics

It takes a while to make these, we have the following topics we'll be also touching on in the next few days. We'll be posting 1 every 2 days until we're done.

Stay tuned! 

Check out our website: BoxCat Games

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