Dragon Fantasy, 3 weeks later

Three weeks ago, we launched Dragon Fantasy (for background on the game, see my last Dev Blog post, A game 16 years in the making...)

So today let's look at how the game turned out, what we've done since launch, and most importantly, how much more there is to come!

The Love

More than anything I think we've been overwhelmed by the hugely positive response. As of this morning we have a 5 star rating for the latest version, and a 4.5 star rating overall. This just validates what we believed from early testing - pretty much everyone who plays the game has loved it. From that early point we knew one thing was going to be a challenge still - getting people to play it in the first place!

We contacted no less than 30 media outlets, ranging from smaller app review sites, to bigger RPG sites, to the biggies like Destructoid and Kotaku. While we did get some good reviews (such as this one from TouchArcade) most sites never got back to us. As in maybe 10% response. This means other than the TouchArcade review, the majority of our sales have come from the TouchArcade forums, our Twitter and Facebook pages, and the live shows done by our musician, crashfaster. We just had an interview posted on RPGamer.com that will hopefully drive some interest as well.

The Business

This part's about to get a little businessy...we'll be talking sales, CTR, CPC, and UAC. If you don't know (or care to know) what any of those are - scroll down to the next section about what's coming next!

So how did this minimal coverage we got affect our sales? Well here's a quick peek at the first 2 weeks of sales, in handy but unrevealing bar-chart form:

On the 24th the game started to go live (11pm eastern, 8pm pacific) and sales started coming in. We had a pretty huge jump on the 25th when it was properly released, along with various reviews and posts about the game. And then the falloff started. Our assumption was that as reviews were completed, we'd get more sales bumps along the way. The problem is, those reviews never came.

So then we decided advertising should go into our mix. We went with 2 avenues, BuySellAds.com for placement on TouchArcade, and Facebook ads. Why these two? They were easy to setup, and cheap to get started! So how'd the ads do? Well I suppose there are a few ways to measure performance:

Click-Through Rate

Our CTR was either good or depressing depending on what you believe to be the "averages". Our TouchArcade ad has a CTR of over 0.4% - with the "average" being a reported 0.2-0.3% this is supposedly good. Our Facebook ad had a CTR of 0.02% (sadly typical for Facebook due to the HUGE number of impressions) but a Unique CTR of over 0.7%! That means of all the people targeted, after seeing the ad enough 0.7% of them eventually clicked it (and each person saw the ad on average 26.1 times).

Cost per Click

This is another area where the TouchArcade ad seemingly bested Facebook. The CPC on TouchArcade ended up being an estimated $0.66 (this is estimated because our ad run is only 60% completed...so we're assuming we maintain roughly the same CTR. On Facebook, our CPC is $0.73 according to their own Insights reporting.

The great unknown: User Acquisition Cost

And now the downside to advertising your iOS game: you have no clue how many ad clicks actually turned into sales. That is to say, we haven't found any way to track this yet. Apple doesn't' seem to give up any data regarding sources for sales which means that if your had as a CPC or $2 or $0.02 you still have no way to know if any of those clicks are turning into sales! With Dragon Fantasy selling for $2.99 (meaning our cut is $2.10), we could theoretically profit even with a CPC of $2, if 96% of those clicks turned into a sell (no, we don't assume anywhere NEAR this rate) whereas at $0.02 we'd need less than 1% of clicks to turn into a sale to make it profitable. With the current CPC's we have (approximately $0.7 on average) we need 1 out of every 3 clicks on our ads to result in a sale. That's pretty unlikely by traditional web marketing analytics but again, this is a space where no one really knows the analytics because Apple shares nothing with us!

So with sales declining, ad profitability unknown, and a lack of response from most media outlets, does this mean we give up? No way! We're going to keep contacting every site on our list until we get their interest (or happen to hit them on a slow news day where they need filler - being indie means sometimes you take what you can get). Luckily, we'll keep having new things to tell them...

The Updates and The Future

We came into this game knowing there was a lot more story to tell, and we fully plan to keep telling!
So far since update we've already released one minor feature update, 1.0.2. In this we added support for pre-iOS 3.2 devices, improved performance, added little things like quick-save, and fixed up a bunch of bugs.

About a week ago we started teasing the next update, 1.1:

This is the first real content update. We're adding a whole new (short) quest line following Prince Anders, the "other" prince from the opening sequence, knocked into the castle by the Dark Knight. You'll follow his adventure, see his story intertwine with Ogden's and begin to see that Ogden's adventure is really part of something much, much bigger! Anders' story will feature new locations, new enemies, new puzzles and a brand new feature in Dragon Fantasy: multiple people in your party!

And this is just the first content update! We have a number of adventures planned for this game to continue adding more content, more features, and a maybe even a little conclusion to why a game named "Dragon Fantasy" doesn't have any dragons...yet.