Hey all, Ben here!
It’s an exciting time here at Trinket Studios. Our brains are in high gear and storms are brewing! As part of our ramp into pre-production on the next title, we’re taking some occasional breathers to document our experiences with Color Sheep and Orion’s Forge. To that end, we’re very excited to finally share some sales numbers from our two 99 cent games with everyone!
First off, I regrettably must report that we don’t have any cool analytics data tracking player statistics. The backend service we used for cross-platform leaderboards and analytics shut down mysteriously and without warning near the middle of March, and all of the data that we had from the launch of Color Sheep up until that time was lost. We ended up replacing the backend service with a different company and shipping an update to fix the global leaderboards, but we didn’t opt to reintegrate any statistics information.
Suffice it to say that we will be looking to either roll our own backend or find more reliable services for the next title we work on.
Secondly, I should mention that the sales graphs below have plotted points every week. We did not set up integration with any sales tracking services until recently, and as a result the daily data from prior to 2 weeks ago or so is longer available to us. This is a bit of a drag since there were some notable events that took place on specific days which we could have correlated to changes in the units sold on that same day. In any event, you can still get a sense as to when something big happened for each game. We’re using AppFigures.com now, in case you’re curious or in need of sales tracking yourself. So far I’d highly recommend them!
Let’s start with a graph showing cumulative units sold through the period February 21st to April 24th:
Note that the graph above is for both games on both platforms, so really it’s an aggregate of all our marketplaces. Technically it doesn’t include sales data from 100% Indie (Samsung Apps portal), but relative to sales from the traditional Play Store and App Store, those numbers are fairly insignificant. As time goes on maybe we’ll do a quick post about the result of our experiences with 100% Indie.
All told, we’ve done way better than expected considering the size of each game. Players really seem to connect with Woolson and the short, bite-sized arcade experience that is Color Sheep. We’re super proud of Orion’s Forge too, but as you’ll see below, it’s been a lot harder for our celestial smith to gain traction…
Units Sold Per Game Per Week
Let’s walk through the spiky events in the weekly sales first. Please note that Orion’s Forge wasn’t released until nearly a month after Color Sheep (Orion’s Forge was released March 14th, whereas Color Sheep was released February 21st).
Color Sheep iOS: The two high points in early March correspond to a quasi-review of the game we had in a weekly app round-up done by @Vsauce3. You should check it out here! The review was favorable, funny, and we were the first game on the list (and featured in the title) and we had the advantage of being the video’s preview thumbnail. We’re pretty confident that this is proof that it doesn’t always take a glowing endorsement review to generate sales — the first and hardest challenge is getting people aware of your game! And as we’ve said before, thanks VSauce3! You’ll see that that with one exception, that spike proved to be our best bump. We’re still not sure what triggered the second spike, but to whomever it was: thank you!
Color Sheep Android: Convention holds that the Android market has poor ROI and that Android users are far more likely to simply pirate your game simply because they can and it’s SO easy. While that may be true in some cases, we had two things in our court that helped propel Android sales past iOS sales. The first is that Unity’s deploy everywhere philosophy made deploying to Android effectively free (short the $25 developer registration fee). Come launch time, it was really a no-brainer. And while you can see that Android sales slagged behind iOS for quite a while, we were fortunate enough to have Google feature our game on the front page of their ‘Games’ section. This was, as you can see, HUGE (to us, anyways)!
Orion’s Forge iOS: Our narrative physics puzzle game has been a LOT harder to market and sell, and the numbers reflect that. You can see that we have a tiny bump in the beginning of April which we’re not sure what to attribute to. A handful of favorable reviews came out, so it was likely one of those.
Orion’s Forge Android: Here we can once again thank Google Play for featuring the game on the front page of the Games section. It definitely helps to have had a game featured previously. I think the high level take away here should be to aim for quality and then strive to maintain that quality. Both App Stores are probably much more likely to keep you on the radar once you’ve proven you can (sometimes) make the cut!
Sales by Country
It’s interesting to look at this data, but not really clear (to me at least), what sort of take-aways can be derived from it. I think that Color Sheep had an advantage in that the tutorial and game are playable even though the text is never localized out of English. Colors are universal (at least within the set of people who can see the full spectrum), and our buttons pulse to indicate the correct input we look for.
Color Sheep was featured in games roundup articles for both Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times. We’re still surprised and elated that printed media picked us up at all, especially considering the other titles with which we were featured (Temple Run 2, Ridiculous Fishing). The practical reality, however, is that the features themselves didn’t actually seem to influence sales at all. I think that the biggest problem is that there’s no driver to convert readers when they read our feature. It’s really cool to think that Color Sheep has physical paper representation nationwide, but there are just too many steps on the journey from reading the feature to purchasing the game where we can lose the subset of people who read the article AND would have bought the app. However, I DO think that it’s super useful to have positive reviews and features from big name reviewers in our pocket, even if those reviewers aren’t courting the gamer demographic.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that Tom, Eric, and I are simply ecstatic about our experience with Color Sheep and Orion’s Forge. It’s very validating to know that we have released two games, had both featured on an app store, and demoed both at a major convention. Moreover, it’s been super encouraging to connect with people who are genuine fans. In everything I’ve worked on before, there’s always been a disconnect between developer and consumer. Working in an indie studio gets us as close to the end user as possible, and having that relationship is so gratifying. I can’t wait to see what we cook up next!