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Here's what DID work for you -- summing up all those failures into a well written, entertaining and light-hearted article that is genuinely helpful to anyone else in the iOS game.

Oh yea, and the front page of HN this time around.

It sounded like you got your hands wet in a lot of different things. That doesn't necessarily mean you are going to retire on this game, but think how many people are aware of you now and when you do Bullet Factory X (where you skeet-shoot puppies and elderly people) you'll have that much more information on how to promote the game or where to spend your time. It also sounds like you had a successful working relationship with your sister (as an artist) which is half the battle for any game title. So that's a big win right there for your next game too.

I'm not that surprised as the lack of feedback from bloggers though. I think I get 10 emails a day following the format:

  OMG, Super Games Factory, LLC has just released the
  most amazing game on the planet: Dish Washer!
  Wash dishes in amazing stick-figure 3D! Contact us for
  a free evaluation code!
It just wears you down after a while so ignoring something like Bullet Factory isn't an insult, it just falls into the 'spam' category of garbage announcements I'm sure most bloggers get every day.

Bullet Factory is a fun/simple concept, but it seems better as an ad-supported title (it's too simple) than a 99 cents title when you compare it along side other 99 cent titles I've seen in the app store. The bar is getting higher and higher and unless I see something amazing in screenshots or a trailer, it's not even worth the purchase barrier to entry for me to try it. Unrealized value (purchasing a game for 99 cents only to realize I hate the gameplay mechanics) is so frustrating to me, I'd rather just not buy something I'm on the fence about.

I would take the low-sales-since-december-even-though-you-are-marketing as an indicator that it isn't a high-demand game. Release a free ad-supported version of it "Bullet Factory FREE" and move on to your next title. Keep track of the download differences to learn a bit more about what worked, what didn't and where the bar is.

That's not to say your next game or the game after that won't hit -- keep pushing, you'll have a success and it will catch you by surprise.

They always do.

Addtionally, if/when you make your app free, you'll hopefully get more people to download it. These people may leave you reviews on the app store about what they did like and what the game was lacking... information that you could then use to make it better and maybe learn some ideas for features that you could add to the "premium" version for pay. Additionally, having this 2nd free version of the app could then serve as a marketing tool to promote the "premium" version.

It is quite amazing how much your download rate will go up when you make the game free. Try the freemium model.

This is definitely true. I made my game free and it jumped to the top 100 lists in a few countries overnight due to bunch of those automated sites that list app "sales" picking it up.

I appreciate all of this.

The purpose here was to take a quote-unquote negative experience and spin it into something hopefully helpful for other devs, and myself (hello, hn front page).

The plan has definitely been in the back of my head for a while to release a free ad-supported version. I just wanted to get this postmortem-type thing out the door first, and it's been difficult to force myself to sit down and take a hard look at how things went.

A few more thoughts:

- When you do put together the ad-supported version, include a mechanism for it to pull text from a web address and display it in a popup -- that way when you release Bullet Factory: Super-Bullet Edition, you can update that text file and all free versions will tell the players (pirated or otherwise) that the new release is out.

I'm always surprised more devs don't do this.

- I didn't want to sound critical or insulting about "not worth 99 cents" comment above, let me further qualify it.

I am not saying your app or your effort isn't worth 99 cents in a vacuum, I am saying given everything else I have to consider along side it, I may want to spend that 99 cents on a different app.

It is the same reason I won't buy $5.99 new releases on VUDU to stream them -- it's a hell of a lot cheaper than a theater, but along-side "free" on Netflix, it seems insanely expensive.

So when I compare Bullet Factory along side some of those top-10 or top-20 games that are 99 cents, I'm hesitant to spend to even get my foot in the door to check your app out, which doesn't help you at all.

A free version with an announcement feature (that maybe checks every 10 launches) would give you nice marketing for whatever game.next() is.

Hope that helps.

I would be very interested in some sort of summary how this HN post increased your sales.

Seriously: we (Blade Polska s.c.) have been through this also. We did everything according to common marketing wisdom about Tap4Two (even the landing page! [1] and real-life video [2]) -- it concluded in 10-20 sales each day. Mostly on the German Store.

We're planning runnig a facebook campaign targeted for Germans, spending all the revenue game has made so far. We will share the outcome for sure.

Your game looks like a lots lots of work with 3d engine, very impressive. What framework did you use?

[1] http://www.tap4two.com [2] http://tumblr.com/x1a1pmizw9

Yeah, I definitely plan on follow-up posts with any changes that occur.

As for engines, I used cocos2d for all of the 2d (imagine that) stuff like menus and the HUD. The 3d objects I made using blender, modified some code I found online[1] to load them into the project, then pretty much just cobbled together a physics and rendering engine by hand. Good times.


You should definitely go the freemium route. There are so many games out there and the variation in quality is so wide that I can't justify to myself spending a cent. I have so many games on my phone (most are free) that I formatted it and started over.

Unfortunately, you aren't EA or Activision, you are relatively unknown and people have a hard time giving something a chance when there are so many options around. Ad-supported may not be optimal but atleast you get it into people's hands (and earning a few pennies is still better than nothing). Use that to leverage people into buying your future games.

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