March 1, 2014 - Tinytouchtales
this is the Weekly Update #8. We were thinking what we could write about Muffin Munch this week, but as the changes are very small we thought we could talk a little bit about the road that lies behind us as Tinytouchtales. We found this big post Arnold did 5 month ago in the Stencyl-Forums and thought we could post it here so maybe some of the aspiring Indies could see what we did so far, to get our dream to come true. This is the original post with some improvements:
So at first, you have to consider our history.
We have 5 Apps out since August 2012, where we started with Super Zombie Tennis. Since then (1 years 6 month) i’m trying to build a community around Tinytouchtales. I talk a lot to other devs and fans. We are active in multiple forums (Stencyl, Tigsource, Toucharcade, Indiearena, Unity) and try to share as much information as we can to get people notice us. I visit local meetups (Berlin) or game events like the GDC Europe to get the word out. I do Gamjams like Ludum Dare, Global Game Jam or the Stencyl Jam to get more people see our work.
All of this i have done while working 8-9h a day in my fulltime job with only evenings and weekends to work on Tinytouchtales stuff. This is the amount of passion i have put into my dream. Which means i work a 14-16h day, almost every day since the middle of 2012. I don’t want to brag about it, but that’s what it takes. I enjoyed it, but this is one point why i’m now working full time on Tinytouchtales and have quit my fulltime Job. To basically have a life besides Tinytouchtales again, because at times there are more/other important things in life besides making games, believe it or not.
When we released our kids book Katrins colorful Moonstory we made a first contact to Apple. Which means by contacts from another dev we know we could directly mail/pitch our App to the Head of App Store for the german speaking stores. I do believe that our Apps have a certain amount of quality in gameplay and graphics and that’s what Apple likes. Additionally we had a lot of luck
a) to get the contact at all (direct result from networking with other devs about 1 year) and
b) our Apple contact is kind of a fan of us as a team.
I already wrote it somewhere but once we pitched Katrins Moonstory to him it got featured as the #1 iPad App in all German speaking stores. After that we pitched him our game Matchagon, which was released about 6 Month at this point with ca. 2500 downloads. A week later we got a Matchagon featuring in some smaller categories (“What we play” and “Puzzle”), which resulted in about 42.000 downloads in one week, from which 800-600 people a day play Matchagon until today.
After Matchagon was recognized in the UK (from a featuring), a person from the iAds team in the UK called (via phone, so direct 1 to 1 communication) us and encouraged us to integrate iAds into Matchagon because they believe it has potential and said we are loosing money on the game.
At first i was worried about cluttering the game with ads but i did it because this is how you can ask for favors. As we were about to release Zuki’s Quest i pitched it again to the German App Store guys and also, even though not related to App Store stuff, to this other contact at Apple and told him that i integrated iAds in the last Matchagon update. So this time we had two chances to get a featuring. Two weeks later Zuki’s Quest was massively featured in 123 countries with a #10 featuring in the US Store which is still the most important one. Even though our launch was great, financially it was a huge disappointment which we wrote about in detail here.
I don’t know anything about the featuring process that Apple has and i can only tell you what we did, but it works out for us so far. With every Game you will release you have to grow your community and try to engage them in your games. The more people know the better. One very important thing is that you have to show your game to real customers. Posting your games in hip indie forums will get you feedback from other developers, but real customer feedback is something very different. For mobile i prefer the Toucharcade forums because there are real users (who are no devs) looking and commenting on games. So even for ideas or early feedback this is a very nice place, because those users tell you when they think your game is shit.
Optimizing your luck
Another thing that happened now, because of the featuring and good feedback from iOS Players: The guys from the 100% Indie Platform, the guys from the Gamestick and
just today a guy from Google contacted us, because they are interested in our Games. Those things can snowball but you have to reach a critical point, which is immensely hard and even though those people are “interested” does not make them buy your product. It took us 1 year 6 month and remember: we have never made any significant money from our Apps yet.
You have to watch Zach Gage’s talk on surviving in the App Store, where he explains that the normal duration before you earn any money without having a hit is 3-8 Years.
I hope that explains some things. You will need to work very hard and be lucky several times to make your dream come true. There are no overnight successes in a 5 year old market, the gold rush is over, but it’s not impossible!