January 13, 2017

Breakout Ninja, first week

Phew, what a week!

Breakout Ninja's success was obviously a big surprise to me. I figured it'd likely do a bit better than Monkeyrama, but this was very unexpected. The original plan was to release it, get the few thousand downloads and be done with it. Obviously now I'm very enthusiastic about releasing the next update!

If you haven't downloaded it yet, do so now
https://itunes.apple.com/app/breakout-ninja/id1181855058

As with my previous games, I wanted to share the numbers and details behind the first week, as I believe this is something that interests at least many indie devs and can be learnt from, to some extent.











LAUNCH METRICS (First Week)
  • 650K+ downloads
  • $1.1K+ revenue (uncut) from IAPs (No Ads IAP, conversion ~0.08%)
  • $23K+ ad revenue (~$18 avg. eCPM)
  • 4.5/5 average rating
  • Featured in multiple countries, most meaningful US #7 New Games We Love
  • Download chart achievements
    • Top5 Games in 12 countries, including US
    • Top10 Games in 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany
    • Top100 Games in 110 countries, including UK and what have you
The game has been covered on multiple media outlets such as Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, 148Apps and Cult of Mac (see links at the bottom).

Yesterday Apple again updated their featuring spots (happens every Thursday) and it seems Breakout Ninja has vanished from all lists. It will be very interesting to see how the current chart positions behave in a scenario like this; whether the game comes crashing down instantly, and if not, how long of a tail does it get. Will make another post about this within a few weeks.

Another positive surprise arose from all of Ninja's success; the implementation of my cross-promotion to my other games seemed to have work well. Before Breakout Ninja, Space Bang and Monkeyrama downloads had dropped to 10-50 per day. Within the last week they've been downloaded about 10K times together, and have made about a fifth of the revenue that they had made in their entire lifetimes. So, cross promotion definitely pays off to some extent!


DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The game took about 2 weeks and 3 days to finish, give or take a day. I used ~3 days on prototyping the game about 3-4 months ago and dropped the project, as I didn't think it was good enough to continue. About a month after that my girlfriend Eeva suggested (insisted) that'd I'd continue it since she really liked the game. I figured welp I have nothing better to do really, so why not. From that point two weeks later it was done and good to go.

The inspiration came from Ketchapp's Summer Sports. It has a similar mechanic but instead of circles they show where to tap on the ground. Figured it was quite fresh, and wanted to put it in use in a more fast-paced environment - hence the Ninja.


VERSION 1.1 (Planned Release 9th of Feb)
Breakout Ninja's first update, v1.1, will get 5 all-new levels with 3-star rating and a hard mode in each. Most of the "meta" work is already done, and one level almost finished. With limited user-testing it has proven to be even more fun and addicting than the endless game-play. A sneak peek will follow.

Unfortunately, as I didn't plan for the success, I had booked an un-cancelable holiday for two weeks starting from tomorrow - which is the reason for the late release date for the update. But after the holiday, with fresh eyes, the update will be better!


36 comments:

  1. Fuck man, you really are good :) Congrats

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  2. Is there a specific reason why you don't support Android (yet)? And are you (still) using Unity to do these?

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    1. I've never done the android specific features that are required to be considered for featuring on Google Play. I'm a little afraid my programming skills (or patience) wouldnt be enough to do it. But something is brewing under the hood.

      Unity, of course. There's no other candidate that would even come close.

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  3. Hey Tuomas, good job!

    You are showing only skippable video after 3rd player death?

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    1. After every 4th, otherwise correct.

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    2. Thanks! Last qestion about AdNetwork - Unity Ads?

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  4. Hey Tuomas, just found out your game and blog, they're awesome! Especially considered you're doing everything by your own.

    Indeed cross promotion works, I've downloaded Monkeyrama too and liked it a lot.

    Since I also run a small and young indie studio, was curios about where and how do you search for and find the right fx sound for you games.
    We have most things in check, having a good art designer, awesome developers, but we can't still figure out how to look for the right fx sound.

    Would be glad to know how and where do you look for them.
    Thanks!

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    1. Hey Chris! And thank you. :)

      My audio comes from multiple places. Some I do by myself by recording foley things, I speak/yell/shout (and edit it) or I record my friends being silly.

      Some of it comes through sites like freesound.org and audiojungle.com. Unity Asset Store also has good sfx packs for very cheap. I may find something close to what I'm looking for and then edit it.

      Some of the audio is provided by a friend of mine, such as all the Ninja's yelling sounds and the dubbing for the sensei when you reach a new goal. I could recommend him and connect you guys if you like? Not exactly sure how busy he is as he's a professional singer and does gigs etc. :)

      And most of the music I compose myself using Fruity Loops. Breakout Ninja's music was an exception though, I bought it from Audio Jungle.

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  5. Hey Tuomas! Well done! :) I really like your story! My only question is why didn't you try to apply to Ketchapp, se they could publish the app in their network? DId you consider it or you want to stay on your own or did not think of it?
    Thanks!
    Andras

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    1. Hey Andras! My hopes and dreams are in making it on my own without any publishers or outsiders. I did consider contacting publishers but then the process would've become far longer with all the paperwork and implementing their SDKs and filfilling their change requests etc...

      Much nicer and faster to just work alone. :)

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  6. Great game man! and thanks for this post!
    I saw that Breakout Ninja is still featured in games we love (#16), isn't it?

    btw, my wife asks if you plan to release this game in Android too? :)

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    1. Thanks!

      Yeah I also just noticed that it's still here and there in smaller featuring slots, which is awesome!

      Android may happen at some point, more about that a little later. :)

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  7. Hey great work! Really fun, really clever game.

    Was just curious if you did anything to court Apple's attention for the features? Did you send any emails before or after having your app reviewed? Did you do anything timing-wise? Or were you just pleasantly surprised to see Breakout Ninja on the front page?

    Congrats again!

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    1. Thanks!

      I have a direct connection to Apple who I update 3 weeks ahead of any releases I will have. They will never guarantee a featuring and will only tell that the information have been forwarded and it may be taken up for consideration, or not. So basically there's not much you can do.

      But I would recommend starting off by sending your plan and a sneak peek to appstorepromotion@apple.com at least 3 weeks before your launch.

      So yes, the extraordinarily good featuring spots surprised me, as I was expecting much less. :)

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  8. Hi Tuomas, I like your blog. Can you tell me what ad network are you using? iAds? Admob? Chartboost?
    I am android developer but very interested to iOS now ;)

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  9. Great app man! I downloaded the other ones as well! My question is when you say send your "plan" and sneak peek video to the apple, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean video trailers and your release date? I'm also making a app for iOS. Any feedback would be awesome thanks!

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    1. Thanks!

      I usually send a few sentences long description, short feature list, submission and launch dates, a sneak peek image (to attract the eye), a YouTube sneak peek video and possibly an update plan.

      If they get interested enough through appstorepromotion@apple.com they will likely give you an Excel template for all the info. But it's basically the same thing, just listing specifications and dates etc.

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  10. One more question does Apple really care about developers integrating Game Center into your apps to be featured. I hear this a lot however, I don't really see to much support for Game Center at all.

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    1. To my understanding they do. To my experience all, or at least most featured games do support GC. It's quite easy to integrate, especially if you're using Unity.

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  11. Thanks!!!! And how does one go about getting an Apple contact like you have?

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    1. My advice would be try and befriend other developers who might have one, and show them your game and skills so that eventually you'd come into a natural point in the discussion where you might ask for the connection or they'd offer one.

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    2. Another way would be to attend events where Applers go, and try to connect with them.

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  12. Ok thanks you will do you have been very helpful!!!

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  13. Hi Thomas,

    Congrats on the success of Ninja. And thank you for sharing the story and numbers.

    You mention that you only display Unity Ads. Do you have a fall back ad network if there is no ad to show?

    Norman (ENORMACE GAMES)

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    1. Sorry for the late reply! I don't have any fallback ad network after Unity Ads. Unity's fillrate has been top notch so far, and there are no incentivized ads in the game (except a few with today's update), so I didn't see it that necessary.

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  14. Congrats on the success of the game, what a great story!
    Your girlfriend must be really happy that she suggested you finish it!
    Thanks for all of the games stats, I'm blown away by your openness!
    Really looking forward to following your path and seeing where it
    leads you, hopefully you will still have time to keep your blog up to date ;)

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    1. Thanks, Richie!

      I will keep on updating as I have something to share. :) Today Ninja gets its first update, so there will likely be a follow-up blogpost soon-ish!

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  15. Hey! Awesome stuff. You really are doing a hige service to the community! Could you by any chance explain a little about your marketing process? How you the word out pre/post launch? Would be really interesting!

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    1. Hi, and thanks a lot! :)

      I haven't done any marketing really. All I did with Ninja was that I sent an email with a preview of the game to Touch Arcade, and communicated my release schedule to Apple. That is all.

      With small games like these it's pretty much like doing the lottery, except that you have one attribute to make the odds in your favor, and that is the quality of your game. Good games with appealing visuals will get some visibility on the stores pretty much always.

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    2. Thanks for the reply. Much appreciated! Could you briefly go through your process of contacting Apple? Sorry if I'm being annoying hehe but sitting on the outside looking in makes it all so abstract. This is the game we are going to release: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=305313

      Thanks again for caring :)

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    3. Not a problem at all. :) Usually devs have their own direct Apple contacts who they communicate their schedules to. The best way to get one (in my opinion) is to try befriend other devs who are willing to share the contact once you've shown that your game and you as a developer can be "trusted", if it makes sense. :)

      But without a direct contact you can communicate your plans to app_store_promotion@apple.com. They might reply or not, but I assume they still at least read every email sent to that address.

      Your game looks visually fantastic btw, so you're definitely on the right track!

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    4. Having studied music all my life, I haven't really dabbled with gamedev or other devs until I started with this game (September) but yeah (just like with most things in life) my contact pool will hopefully grow with time because I won't be stopping anytime soon, making this game was the most fun I've had in years.

      Alright I will try to directly contact the App Store promotion and hope for the best!

      Thank you so much :) means a lot coming from you and thank you again for the priceless insight!

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