The first week of Card Crawl
The first week of Card Crawl is over and it was a fantastic ride.
After 7 Month of development, together with Max Fiedler (Art) and Oliver Salkic (Sound), we’ve launched on the 12th of March exclusively on the App Store.
Even though we had to go against Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter V and Sid Meyer’s Starships we could get a top 3 featuring spot in the “New Best Games” category on the US App Store (and several smaller stores).
Pushed by this super important featuring we could climb the charts and peaked at rank 37 US and 21 Games US. In our smaller categories “Cards” we could reach 2 US and Role-Playing we could climb the throne at rank 1. In Germany, the other very important store, we could not get any featuring at all, which was quite disappointing since the game is even localized in german. Non the less through the help of our loyal german fans, friends and family, the help of the fabulous InsertMoin Podcast and several german app review sites we could peak in Germany at 20 overall, 7 Games and each Cards and Role-Playing we also reach rank 1.
After 1 week Card Crawl got 484 ratings (US) with 4.5 Stars. In Germany we have 136 ratings with shiny 5 Stars. Overall Card Crawl has a solid 4.5 Stars rating in the most countries. Most of the Feedback so far is super positive and people really enjoy the game. Most complaints are raised due to bad game performance on older hardware like the iPhone 4 / iPad 2 and several smaller bugs which we did not catch before the release.
In the tradition of our games we also want to share real sales numbers for Card Crawl. But before you marvel at those numbers you have to factor in the following points. Since 2014 I (Arnold) have started my freelancing / full time Indie adventure. Prior to that i was already working on our several other games since 2012 so roughly about 3 years of game making. None of the other games could get any financial successes what so ever. In 2014 i invested about €13.000 (ca. $14.000), which i saved up from 2 years of full time working, in my freelance year only paying rent, food, taxes and health insurance.
Additionally i share the revenue with Max and Oliver, which i can’t disclose in detail but i’m not the only one getting a part of the money.
Card Crawl costs $1.99 US and has no Ads in App purchases or any other monetization. In the time from the 12th to 19th the game was downloaded 22,988 times and could generate $30,824 in revenue.
Financially the game did very well from our perspective and i could recoup my investments of 2014 in one week. The App Store is a very crowded space and only a few games make any money at all. In this regard we can also be quite satisfied with the numbers so far. The good thing is that we can now continue working on the game and creating more interesting content for our existing players and also the ones who haven’t played the game yet.
In conclusion we are super happy about our launch week! I could recoup my investment and we are confident that we will continue to add more content to Card Crawl as plenty of people demanding it. I’m also thinking about a Desktop version, but we have to fix plenty of bugs and performance issues first before we can make the next steps.
Again Mobile is a tough platform and the odds of you not getting featured and thus failing to sell a game are still astronomically high. It took me more than 3 years and €13.000 of my savings to create a somewhat successful game. This is like many other stories one of endurance and patience. I still believe in the mobile market as a place where small games with a well executed idea can make an impact, but it will only get harder in the future.
In addition to this short summary i also created a small more in depth “Launchweek Log” which i also want to share.
Day 1 (12.03)
My day started early with checking if everything went live over the night. Breakfast was served with a wonderful episode of InsertMoin in which Kramski (Constructed Mode Champion) precisely described whats good and also not so good about the game, but all in all a very positive review. I was mainly checking Tweetdeck and the Toucharcade-Thread the whole day. A lot of awesome feedback and also a few bug reports, especially the “Steal” card is horribly bugged right now. I created a small Twitter querry to see what happens around Card Crawl on twitter:
In the afternoon a few reviews showed up. Pocketgamer, iPlayApps, 148Apps and also this super awesome review of Dave from Pockettactics, who i think really understood the game and played it a lot.
In the early evening my excitement began to rise as we came closer to the App Store refresh. I wasn’t checking it actively but did the mistake to take a look at my emails where Marcus from Badcrane wrote me that we weren’t featured in Germany at all, but in some smaller Best New Games features in UK and Finnland. This was around 18:00h and i was really quite shocked, that we didn’t get anything in the German store.
The time between 18-21:00h is pretty blurry in my mind as i was anxiously waiting for the US refresh. But than around 21:15h the US App Store refresh hit and there it was: Card Crawl #3 Best New Games iPhone and #6 Best New Games iPad. Holy Crap! After some screaming and jumping i called Max (the artist on the project) and some friends and family. What a relive since we all know being featured in the US store is the difference between life and death for most paid apps.
After that i went to bed pretty quickly!
Day 2 (13.03)
Day 2 started pretty excited due to the great feedback and featuring i was awake 7:00h already. Checking Twitter the forums and Emails took the whole morning. A short break at the doctor while playing some Hearthstone in between.
Over the course of the day quite a few new reviews showed up. Inlcuding: AppGemeinde, Appgefahren, Ladebalken, JayIsGames and the long awaited Toucharcade Review – all very positiv with minor critics regarding the randomness of the game. Which obviously splits some of the players. We do still have the issues that the monsterspawn sometimes kills you instantly or really bugs you in the end of the game. On the other hand there is a lot of motivation coming from those moments where you lose with 1 or 2 hp. And actually i got some feedback that the game is way too easy. So Randomness is perceived very individually by each player.
In the evening we recorded a Podcast first time with Max together here at Angespielt. While the Podcast was recorded we revealed the first stats of Thursday which are quite impressive since the Featuring wasn’t running for all countries the whole day yet.
On Thursday we got about 3200 downloads which translates roughly into $4300 on day 1. I assume that Friday will even have better stats with the featuring push.
We are super happy that the game is well received and even if the barrier to entry can be pretty high and losing a lot in the beginning can be frustrating. We have quite some good reviews on the App Store also. Germany has 5 Stars with 48 ratings, UK 5 Stars with 9 ratings and US 4,5 Stars with 102 ratings.
As you can tell Day 2 was a blast!
Day 3 (14.03)
Saturday continued with more great feedback. Another really strange but obviously not to dramatic bug is the “pair-bug”. A few users recognized that sword an shields always come in pairs. This is a bug that even i just noticed the first time when someone told me. It seems my shuffling improvements inverse some of the random elements and ordered some of the cards nicely in pairs. Well this is going to be fixed soon, as i will submit a fix for the major bugs and the shuffling today/tomorrow.
In terms of numbers we are doing very good. Friday was a little bit stronger than Thursday with about 3850 downloads and $5290 earned. What still surprises me is that we are ranked very high in Germany even though we don’t have any featuring there. It seems that InsertMoin.de and also some of the other German reviews show quite some impact on the sales. On iPad we could enter the Top 10 in Germany with rank 9 as a peak so far. On iPhone we couldn’t crack the Top 20 yet but sitting comfortably at 22 right now. In the US we are not getting that high but still high enough with the iPhone version peaking at rank 33 and the iPad at 43.
We have our first 2 official 1 Star reviews which i like to share:
“Sometimes you die in 4 rounds, sometimes you die in 2. I haven’t had that much fun since i lit $2 on fire and burned my fingers”
“Terrible. Absolutely worthless. Don’t spend your money on this game. You can’t win. You will always lose even if you have just one card left to defeat.”
I’m curious to see how the weekend will affect sales and when we will reach the peak and the hopefully slow decline will start.
Day 4 (15.03)
Sunday was the first day i actually got back into working on Card Crawl. After some very good feedback from a lot of players who found some nasty bugs. First thing on my list was the deck shuffling which was less than optimal. I fixed the pair bug and also came up with a new way of distributing the monsters in the deck so that impossible situations would not occur every 3rd game. The way it works now like this: All Items cards get shuffled randomly, than a few monster are random but evenly distributed into the deck. This is how i avoid cases like 8 monsters in a row for example. Then the other monsters (1/4) get in shuffled randomly so that tougher situations can occur. This way i was able to fix the shuffling and still keep the challenge.
The other things i fix were the Steal-Bug, some crashes while restarting and a bug where a monster card which is >13 is not correctly transformed by “Midas-Scarf”. I submitted 1.5 to the App Store in the afternoon.
After that the next numbers rolled in. Saturday was a bit weaker (about -5%) in comparison to Friday. We could reach about 3600 downloads which translate into $4960. Still pretty awesome! In 4 days total we could break the 10000 downloads and $15000.
One nice thing that happened in the evening was that Gabe of Penny Arcade recommended the game to his 110000 followers. I could not check if it had any real impact on the sales but it still was an awesome free marketing.
Day 5 (16.03 – Monday)
Monday was relatively quite. First thing i did was porting Card Crawl over to Unity 5, which worked out after some plugin updates and some mysterious sound bug hunting.
Card Crawl seems to have quite some issues on older hardware such as the iPhone 4/iPad 2. People reporting of stuck and unusable cards. Another one reported a redraw bug where instead of four – eight cards are dealt by Hoerni. I have the suspicion that due to the low frame rate of the older devices some of the animation cues/timings are messing with the execution order of some actions. Main goal for me will be to optimize as hard as i can. Hopefully Unity 5 will bring some more mobile performance out of the box.
Sales on Sunday were still very strong: 3465 dls with $4757 earned. A quick look at the curve says Sunday was stronger than Saturday by a few 100 Downloads particular in the US. I’m still curious what happens when the week begins and the hype will die down.
Max posted some cool sketches of his unpublished work:
Day 6 (17.03 – Tuesday)
I started to optimize the game more. With the new Unity 5 i finally have access to the Profiler and i can see how shitty my game is optimized in terms of memory. I hope to make the game stable aka. no random crashes at least on the iPhone 4S. I also started to implement some of the small feature request people suggested.
Tuesday was the first day we saw a drop in sales due to the weekend being over. On Monday we could peak at 2500 downloads and $3,460 in sales, which is (don’t get me wrong) still a shit ton of money for me. It’s really strange how you brain perceives earning “less” money day by day as a very negative thing. Again, i’m more than happy that Card Crawl is the first game with a great success after putting in 2 1/2 years (not real dev time, but overall experience) and more than €13.000 of my savings.
Ratings also still look very nice.
US: 356 – 4.5 Stars
DE: 120 – 5 Stars
UK: 42 – 4.5 Stars
Day 7 & 8 (Wednesday / Thursday)
The last two days where rater quite. As expected the hype died down pretty much. Still we got plenty of messages via Twitter, Mail and the Forum. A Japanese site (it seemed popular) featured Card Crawl as their game of the week which led to some sales in Japan. As posted on Twitter some of the communication with the Japanese fans was quite difficult as google translate is basically useless when translating Japanese to english. One really cool thing was this post by a Forum-User who wrote and really in depth Card Crawl Guide where he describes and rates all ability-cards and also gives some great general advice and also feddback on what could be improved. I think this is the ideal state where a game can inspire someone to create some kind of content for it and thus i’m pretty proud of this. The other cool thing was a Tweet by the official App Store Twitter Acount.
The featuring ended as expected on Thursday with no additional featuring afterwards. After the featuring the game has started is decent. Wednesday and Thursday were, again as expected, weaker than the days before with 1970 and 1249 downloads / $2680 and $1690 in sales.