- Waking Mars sold for $4.99 instead of $2.99. Casual gamers who might be willing to make an impulse purchase on a game from an unknown, indie developer at $2.99 are less willing at $4.99.
- The marketplace is significantly more crowded, with a higher quality bar, and there is greater value available at lower price points (including free). In particular this makes it harder for long-form single-player games to succeed over time. Waking Mars is not a game that was created to engage people repeatedly over a long period of time; it is designed to be played and (hopefully) appreciated over 6-12 hours. When you're done exploring the content, there are few reasons to continue playing indefinitely.
- Perhaps Spider simply has a broader appeal, being a game that is grounded in the present day and a familiar environment, whereas Mars is sci-fi, built around the strange and unfamiliar. We believe that we were smarter about designing specifically for the iPhone demographic when we built Spider, whereas, by comparison, Waking Mars is a deeper, more traditional console-style game that might have been a more natural fit on another platform.
9 min read
Indie studio Tiger Style breaks down key trends in its iOS sales data
Tiger Style co-founder and indie developer Dave Kalina breaks down the sales numbers for his studios' existing iOS titles, noting some important sales patterns that emerge after a game's launch.
[In this article originally published on Tiger Style's official website, studio co-founder and indie developer Dave Kalina breaks down the sales numbers for his team's iOS titles, noting some important sales patterns that emerge after a game's launch.] Waking Mars has been on sale for two months, and we just released a big update, so it seems like a great opportunity to reflect on its progress in the App Store. While we're at it, we'll also show you the sales numbers for Spider and Spider HD -- something we've wanted to do for a while now. I hope you find it interesting! Why Share Numbers? We believe strongly in the spirit and value of sharing information. When we were starting Tiger Style, there were many 'gold rush' style news articles and blog posts highlighting small garage developers making significant money in the App Store. These articles (viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism and pragmatism) were useful to us, and helped steer our business toward the App Store, rather than some other distribution or hardware platform. Looking honestly at the available information about the marketplace, and considering our faith in our own ability as game developers, we entered into the iPhone market believing that there was a legitimate chance we could make a living, given the right approach. By giving back, perhaps we can serve as a data point that other developers can use to make informed decisions in their own business. Encouraging Risk-Taking The App Store has been a boon to a small independent developer like Tiger Style --we can choose to create any kind of game that we want and the barriers to selling our product globally are minimal. We don't need to pass through the strong filters of a more closed ecosystem, nor do we need to appeal to some publisher's idea of a nebulous target demographic. As a result, we take on a lot of risk. We care a lot about innovating and inventing new forms of gameplay and moving the medium forward in some small way. Broadly speaking, these goals have been of greater importance to us than the goal of "being a mega-profitable business." That said, we always keep an eye on the market and our own ability to make an impact there. For Tiger Style to continue its existence and stay independent, we literally have to sell copies of our games. Lots of them, in fact. Our very existence should hopefully demonstrate that it is possible to survive with a company focused on innovation and gameplay, but that doesn't mean that it's an easy thing to do. By sharing our sales numbers with the public, perhaps we can encourage others to take similar risks -- with a cautious eye on the potential pitfalls. Hey, Over Here! This week, we coordinated a bunch of efforts in order to make news. An update with iPad retina assets and new jetpacks. We commissioned an updated app icon from our excellent graphic designer friend Cory Schmitz. We updated Spider for the iPad. Maybe we can generate some news and goodwill and interest simply by virtue of openly sharing information with the public. Your support is truly valuable to us. We're a tiny company and we're really committed to staying 100 percent independent and continuing to do meaningful work. Every week there are literally dozens (hundreds?) of new game experiences clamoring for your attention. It's hard work to stay relevant and visible in such a crowded gaming landscape. If you haven't tried Waking Mars, please consider checking it out. If you think this post is worth sharing, please share it. Any way we can reach new people is valuable to us. Two Months In The App Store Waking Mars was released on March 1, 2012, and we sold it at $4.99 for the entirety of its first two months. We sold over 44,000 copies, which puts our net revenue at approximately $150,000 USD. $150K in two months would be amazing if the curve was flat and we were guaranteed that income forever! Alas, the curve -- as you can see -- is not flat. We earned more than half our total revenue to date in the first 7 days. During this week, we were featured by Apple as both the iPhone and iPad Game of the Week in the US. On the iPad, we peaked as the number 9 top selling game in the US store, whereas on the iPhone, we peaked at number 35 -- both on our second day of sales. Let's look at Spider's sales over the first two months of its existence, starting back in the stone ages (umm, August 10, 2009): Spider for iPhone earned roughly $244k in its first 2 months of existence and has gone on to earn $577k to present day. For sake of completion, here are the first two months of Spider HD (the iPad only version of Spider, released in July of 2010): Comparing The Products Looking at the Spider-iPhone chart next to the Waking Mars chart highlights some interesting differences. Waking Mars actually peaked at a higher single-day revenue, but the revenue fell off much more sharply than Spider's. Some theories on why this is the case: