Operation: Eradicate, has been in the AppStore a bit over three months now, and I wanted to give a report of the ups and downs regarding the financial outlook of the game. Eradicate was a great game for us to create, laying a good foundation for our studio both from production & technical standpoints for which we can launch our newly announced game: Sheepo (A Kickstarter just started to help our artists).
For a bit of background please read about Post Launch Marketing Analysis and our game dev Post Mortem.
Quick Take: Not a Flop, Not a Success
According to a survey last year of indie developers, 50% of first time games don't clear $500, and 75% of indie developers don't make $10,000 off a game in a year.
As of this writing we are a couple days away from $10,000 in NET Revenue (after Apple's cut), which only took three month in the AppStore to hit. Thus regardless of my own personal expectations, we shouldn't call Operation: Eradicate a flop. But until we cover about $20K in net revenue, I can't really call it a break-even game either, as far as time and money spent.
This graph is the fast way to represent where we have been since launch. As can be seen, being listed as a Staff Favorite for iPad games isn't a game changer. It moves the needle a bit while on the list, but doesn't fundamentally change sales like a New & Noteworthy featuring, or a What's Hot notice (two years ago I had a free app featured, 15x downloads for that week).
But we do feel that our quick update to include Retina Display ready images from the new iPad is what placed us on the Staff pick list. Thus continual maintenance of a game, may get rewarded by Apple in the long term. But, other's experience may vary.
Also, we have been playing with the price every couple weeks, moving around from $3.99 to $1.99. The further we get from the initial launch the harder it is to retain revenue at the higher price. We feel now that for our niche Strategy game, the $3.99 was briefly sustainable, but now $1.99 is the highest we can go, and will in the future do periodic 1/2 off sales to $0.99.
Where we are headed now
Besides working on our next game, we will continue to support Operation: Eradicate. We are currently translating it to German, and will do a few other translations next month.
We are weighing the cost of adding in new game modes and possibly charging for them. We are also toying with the idea of setting it free for a few days (not using any paid service, just free on our own) and see how that affects sales. Partly we will do that to establish a baseline if we later try a free app promotion type thing.
I hope some of these facts and figures encourage other indies, or at least show a transparent light on what happens around small iOS studios. Skejo Studios is committed to the long haul. We have much personal and studio financial reserves to keep us going for a while, and a great budding team to keep pressing our game designs as we strive for fun and successful games.