Happy Birthday, Demolish!

Demolish! Pairs celebrates one year since its launch on iOS.

One year ago today, Digital Gamecraft launched the original iOS version of Demolish! PairsDemolish! Pairs 1.11 is a challenging puzzle/arcade game for iPad and iPhone.

Demolish! Pairs 1.11 for iOSDownload and play Demolish! Pairs now!

Here are the top 5 reasons that you should get Demolish! Pairs:

  1. It is fun to play for gamers of all ages.
  2. It exercises your brain to help keep you mentally sharp.
  3. It provides relaxation during less interesting activities (such as watching Nigeria versus Iran in the World Cup).
  4. The programmer just got hit in the forehead by a fallen tree and could use any sympathy and support that he can get. [*]
  5. It is FREE (for one day only)!

As promised, to celebrate this anniversary, Demolish! Pairs 1.11 is completely free for TODAY ONLY.  There are no strings attached, though when you do take advantage of this special offer, it would be nice if you would rate and review it on the App Store.

Also, for those who already have the free-to-play version, Demolish! Pairs FTP 1.0.1, all in-app purchases are free for today only as well.

For more information on the game, please visit DemolishPairs.com.

[*] Medical Update: The injury was not at all serious, causing no extra brain damage. 🙂

 

Please… Download and Enjoy!Demolish! Pairs on the iOS App Store

Demolish! Pairs 1.11 for iOS

Another update to our challenging puzzle game is released.

Digital Gamecraft has published Demolish! Pairs 1.11 on the App Store, where you can buy it for only $3.99 (US). This is, of course, a free upgrade for all existing customers, downloadable from the ‘Updates’ tab on the App Store.

Demolish! Pairs 1.11 for iOSDownload and play Demolish! Pairs now!

Demolish! Pairs 1.11 is an upgrade that simply lowers the minimum version of iOS to 5.1.1, making it (again) playable on the original iPad. For more information on the game, please visit DemolishPairs.com.

Please… Download and Enjoy!Demolish! Pairs on the iOS App Store

Demolish! Pairs 1.10 for iOS

An update to our premier arcade/puzzle game is available.

Digital Gamecraft has published Demolish! Pairs 1.10 on the App Store, where you can buy it for only $3.99 (US).  This is, of course, a free upgrade for all existing customers, downloadable from the ‘Updates’ tab on the App Store.

Demolish! Pairs 1.10 for iOSDownload and play Demolish! Pairs now!

Demolish! Pairs 1.10 is an upgrade that updates the program interface for iOS 7.x and adds 64-bit support.  For more information on the game, please visit DemolishPairs.com.

While supplies last, readers of this Gamecraft blog may receive a code for a free copy of the game simply by sending an email request to marketing@digitalgamecraft.com.

Please… Download and Enjoy!Demolish! Pairs on the iOS App Store

FTP: Early Results

In a word: Inauspicious. 🙁

On Wednesday, Demolish! Pairs FTP was released on the App Store.  Here are the initial results for this launch, keeping in mind that, so far, it has been fairly low key to remain in line with the initial launch of Demolish! Pairs to allow a comparison between “paid” and “free-to-play” editions.

Day 0: partial day

The app was first available on the (US) App Store shortly after 5:00pm EST, and it became searchable/discoverable about a hour later.  Therefore, the results, which are reported around 7:00am the next morning, represent only a partial day.  I am not sure when a “day” actually ends in Apple-land, but I assume it is around midnight in the Pacific time zone (3:00am here), so this data probably represents about a third of a full day.  Also, this also means that the release only hit part of the globe in prime app time.

That last part proved particularly true, as all downloads for the first (partial) day were from only two countries, the United States and Mexico.  Interestingly, and disappointingly, when compared to first day sales of the “paid” edition (at $1.99 each), free downloads only exceeded this figure by ONE.  This is, of course, an apple and oranges comparison, but I still would have expected more downloads.

One primary reason for the low download count was the huge number of “free” releases every day (even relative to paid submissions), so while Demolish! Pairs FTP was on the category front pages, it was beyond the “fold”, so users would have to scroll right to even see the icon.  I also discovered that, unfairly, the free releases are not put in chronological order, but alphabetical order, so beginning with D put us off the visible part of the main page, and the poor bastards whose apps start with I through Z never have them appear on the front page at all.  This meant that, while the “paid” version had a couple of days visible on the main category page, the FTP edition never had that at all, and partway through day 1, it was swept off the page entirely by the next group of freebees.

Day 1: first full day

As stated, day 1 (Thursday) was the first full day of downloads, and things looked a little bit better.  The first indication, via hourly iAd updates, was that the number of countries requesting ads went up significantly throughout the day.  When the final results came in, there were downloads from 24 countries, which exactly matched the iAd country count (though, oddly, iAd also had a few “unknown” requests).

In sheer numbers, downloads for the second (first full) day were up 544%, which was more than double the expectations if day 0 were 8 hours (and downloads were level), so the trend is positive.  Also positive (I guess 🙂 ) is that the number of day 1 downloads exceeded total (lifetime) purchases of the “paid” version, which means that our free-to-play edition is now in more hands than the original (and, as iAd shows us, almost all of them have been played, not merely downloaded).

Now the Bad News: I have not mentioned IAP sales because, thus far, they equal precisely $0.00, so our game is being played more, but nobody has paid us anything.  Of course, some of the incentives may take a while to work, so I am not jumping to conclusions yet.  Not at all unrelated (as a causal factor) is the fact that iAd has received thousands of ad requests yet has served exactly 0 ads.  None.  Nada.  Not one.  I have lots of strong words and strong feelings about this, but I will compose them (and myself) in my next post.

Conclusion

It is actually far too early for any conclusions (except that the iAd 0.00% fill rate is a major problem), but the data is enough to decide to delay the next marketing step for at least one more day, to see what kind of falloff we get for a full day with Demolish! Pairs FTP not on the front pages of each category.  After that, experimentation continues!

For the scientifically-minded of you, please do not worry about skewing our data, and just download Demolish! Pairs FTP from the App Store already. 🙂

Demolish! Pairs FTP 1.0.1 for iPad

Our first “Free-to-Play” game is now available in the App Store.

Demolish! Pairs FTP, the free-to-play iPad version of Demolish! Pairs, our hit arcade/puzzle game, has now been released on the App Store.  Price: FREE

Demolish! Pairs 1.0.1 for iPad

Download and play Demolish! Pairs FTP here (no charge).

This version is our initial (and, perhaps, terminal) entry into the mobile free-to-play marketplace.  We would truly like to see this fun game in the hands of as many players as possible, and if we can recoup something for our efforts (on a simple game that took more than a dozen years, during which time half of the development team died), that would be nice, too.  Seriously, it is important to us to get this product as widely spread as possible for the integrity of the data/results, which I intend to (mostly) share on this blog.

Download and Enjoy…  and then please Rate and Review it on the App Store!

Charitable Results

Our late October promotion flopped.

While we wait for Demolish! Pairs FTP to be reviewed (currently on Day 8), I figured that I would write about some results we got with our tiny promotion that ended almost a week ago, attempting to earn some money to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The basic numbers are based on tracking provided by Facebook, so perhaps we should start there.

(Cheap) Advertising on Facebook

Back in late August, as an inexpensive experiment, we decided to dabble in Facebook advertising.  At the time, our Digital Gamecraft page had an embarrassingly low number of ‘Likes’, all from people who I knew personally.  In order to increase this number, I clicked on ‘Promote Page‘ to suggest this page to other people.  In conjunction with this, we created a short 75% off sale for Demolish! Pairs, to provide brand new content (and a deal) for the page.

The results of this “campaign” were fairly decent, increasing our ‘Like’ count to more than 50 (from fewer than 20) in just a few of days, and for around $15.  The real benefit, though, turned out to be the availability of Facebook Insights once we passed 30 likes; this puts a figure for the number of people “Reached” on each post, giving an immediate idea of how well propagated your message becomes.  That initial post reached fewer people than had liked the page, but it gave me data to consider.

The next step was making a new post, warning that the sale was going to end in 3 days, and then, rather than continuing the page promotion, I instead clicked on ‘Boost Post‘ to advertise the sale directly.  This appeared to be more successful in terms of sales, and also brought a smattering of new followers as well.  The reach of that post was 5862 people (a 27814% increase from the previous post).

The first campaign, to increase the number of page followers, was successful in its goal, with the added benefit of providing more marketing data, but did not increase sales much.  The second campaign was more successful with sales, but not quite enough to overcome the decrease in income from the sale.  Still, it was a good amount of experimental information received for only about $25 total, with costs offset by the minor sales bump.

With improved copy, a better plan, and perhaps a somewhat more profitable price point, Facebook advertising could prove worthwhile (or, at least, break even).

Game Promotion for Charity

Armed with little more than Facebook data and good intentions, I decided to make the offer to donate $1000 to JDRF if our game could sell 350 copies in the last week of October.  The target sales number was chosen to be feasible, if the promotion caught on, and would amount to a donation of all proceeds, plus a small additional contribution from us.  In truth, I would (and probably should) have gone further to authorize the donation of all profits from the sales to charity, but I wanted to see how a target number might work.

To “promote” this offer, I (only) posted it at the end of this blog post, on the Digital Gamecraft Facebook page, and on the Digital Gamecraft Google+ page.  From my personal accounts, I liked/+1’d and shared both posts, and then sat back to watch.  Though my friend (and indie game developer), Gianfranco Berardi of GBGames, shared the post on Google+, I am only using the Facebook numbers and total sales figures.  (You will understand in a moment why this does not affect the results.)

The results were notable.  The impact of an offer for charity seems to bring in views, as the reach of that post, without any paid promotion, increased 385% from the previous non-sales post (and 1724% from the first sale post).  That was promising…  until the sales figures came in.  Despite the significantly increased reach, not only did we not meet our target figure, but there was no discernible change in sales at all.

The Bottom Line

It is going to take a lot of community building and experimentation, and probably quite a bit of luck, before we start figuring out marketing and social media, but this is a start.

Free-to-Play Take 1: Rejected

The first submission of Demolish! Pairs FTP was rejected by Apple.

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to embrace the free-to-play concept fully (if perhaps halfheartedly).  Unfortunately, my first attempt for iOS did not result in reciprocation, as Apple reviewers rejected the IAP (In-App Purchase) products submitted with the product, Demolish! Pairs FTP.  (Alas, it took the product 8 days to get a review, which then lasted only 15 minutes before the rejection notice.)

I had designed what I thought was a well-balanced menu of (4) IAP products, ranging from a “Golden Ticket” at $3.99 (the current price of the “paid” game) down to an inexpensive “Two Day Pass“.  This last item ran afoul of a guideline I had overlooked:

Content subscriptions using IAP must last a minimum of 7 days and be
available to the user from all of their iOS devices

The inclusion of that product was intended to mimic a standard overnight video rental, which is a clearly established mechanism for viewing movies, instead applied to a downloadable video game.  I felt that the inclusion of a $0.99 item (subscription, in this case) was important to anchor the bottom end and provide a quick, low resistance, purchase option for the customer.  The economics also basically require that a product priced in such a manner be something of a standalone, since the gap between pricing tiers is 1 dollar US, so this lowest (non-free) tier does adequately fill the space between any two other tiers; the short subscription would have met the need quite nicely.

I accepted the decision (since I had completely missed this restriction in my earlier review of submission guidelines), but not without registering my thoughts on the matter:

I realize that you do not have the authority to overrule the cited guideline, but I personally feel that it is misguided and stifles innovation.  In particular, overnight rentals have been well-established in the video rental industry, and our “Two Day Pass” option was intended to be analogous.  Now we have no method to test the acceptability of this approach (to customers) under iOS.

Indeed, I do intend to experiment with this option under Android, if possible (and I will read payment guidelines with this in mind), since one major goal of this whole procedure is to learn what does and does not work in this arena.

Preparing a second submission

Clearly, Apple was not going to allow me to experiment with this idea (as is), and I was convinced that extending the subscription to 7 days would unbalance the design, as would increasing the price of what was, very deliberately, the most inexpensive choice.  Besides, the “Two Day Pass” idea was already engraved in button artwork. 🙂

Rather than taking a bat to my IAP product design and hoping it remained stable, or delaying release long enough for a redesign to accommodate a different low end option, I decided to simply remove the “Two Day Pass” entirely, initially offering only 3 IAP products for sale.  Although the anchor I wanted is no longer there, this whole exercise is somewhat experimental and, certainly, incomplete data now is better than complete data delayed (and, hence, no data in the interim).

It pained me, due to the many hours of design, implementation, and testing, but it was far easier to remove the option than to add it in the first place; the second submission of Demolish! Pairs FTP was completed on the same day as the initial rejection.

Planning for the future

The design for the free-to-play version of Demolish! Pairs already envisions several updates to the IAP system that were not (fully) implemented for the initial release.  A replacement for the inexpensive subscription product was just added to the list of features to be added in future upgrades, and an idea is already in the works.

With the removal of the fourth product button from the store page, the “hole” in that page looks even larger than it did previously.  However, the view actually contains (hidden) controls for some of the upcoming options, including the fourth product button, so the store will look progressively better as we roll out these features.  Of course, all of that is premised on the free-to-play edition actually registering on the income needle.

So, now we wait (again)…

Demolish! Pairs 1.0 for iOS

Our arcade/puzzle game has been released!

Digital Gamecraft has published Demolish! Pairs on the App Store, where you can now buy it for only $1.99 (for a limited time only).

Demolish! Pairs 1.0 for iOSDemolish! Pairs represents a true milestone.  This is the first truly self-published title we have released in more than 23 years, and at the same time, it is the very last title on which we worked with our late friend and partner, Rick Tumanis, who did most of the artwork, and all of the sounds, for this game prior to his passing in 2011.

We are providing a limited number of free review copies to press (traditional or online) and, indeed, to the first three people who send an email to us at support@digitalgamecraft.com and tell us you read about Demolish! Pairs on this Gamecraft blog.  [Editor note: Press copies are still available, but the giveaway codes are gone.]

Please…  Download and Enjoy!Demolish! Pairs on the iOS App Store

Seeking a few great Beta Testers

We need people to playtest our arcade/puzzle game.

Demolish! Pairs for iOSToday, Digital Gamecraft is making an open call for iOS beta testers to help us test Demolish! Pairs in preparation for its upcoming release on the Apple App Store.

Anybody with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch is eligible to join our team and get early access to this fun game, while helping us make it as good and solid as possible.  All you have to do is play the game (and then tell us about it 🙂 ).

For more information, and to sign up, see our call for iOS beta testers on the Demolish! Pairs site.

DemolishPairs.com

The spiders already have it, so it is announced.

Demolish! PairsToday, we unofficially launch our brand new web site, DemolishPairs.com, in support of our upcoming release, Demolish! Pairs.

Demolish! Pairs is an arcade/puzzle game, initially for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, where players remove pairs of bricks (or other blocks) and attempt to entirely clear the grid for each level.  Players compete in either Arcade Mode or Zen Mode, depending whether they want a challenge against the clock or a more relaxing experience.

So just how new is the web site?  It is so new…  Only a couple of pages were published when Google stopped by and added it to their database (#1 for “Demolish Pairs”), caching the main page in the process.  Because of that unexpectedly accelerated schedule, the number of pages that are actually ready will depend on how quickly you visit the site. 🙂

iPhone screen shot of Demolish! Pairs

Demolish! Pairs on the original iPhone [8 x 5, 4 colors, ‘Brick’ block set, ‘Darkness’ background, toolbar hidden]

What I can say with some confidence is that there will be a call for beta testers within a few days.  In the meantime, if you have any comments about or suggestions for DemolishPairs.com, they will be greatly received at webmaster@digitalgamecraft.com.