Newgrounds and Letter Quest Demo

We recently started selling an early access version of Letter Quest over at www.letterquestgame.com and wanted to find some ways to market it and get the word out. Someone suggested we look at Newgrounds and post our new Letter Quest demo there. We’re very familiar with Newgrounds, and have been watching and playing content on there for many, many years. But we also know that there aren’t a lot of game demos on Newgrounds, generally it’s full games, and quite often they are games that are not available in any other form. But we decided to take a shot and see what would happen. Two days ago, on July 1 (Canada Day!), we posted the Letter Quest demo on Newgrounds. We clearly marked it as a DEMO in the description, and it says DEMO on the title screen as well, to hopefully avoid any confusion. And you know what, there hasn’t been any backlash at all! We’ve had a lot of really constructive and positive comments and reviews. And no one has said anything negative about it being a demo. It’s gone very well too, we’re just on the verge of 7000 plays in just under 2 days according to the stats on Newgrounds, and are sitting at a rating of 3.84/5 at the time of this writing! We’re really happy about that! Here’s our number of demo players (from all sources) – we actually did have some demo players before July 1, but were getting about 10-20 per day, so they don’t even show on the chart now! Our stats will be ticking over to the next day in about one hour, and it looks like we’ll break 2500 unique demo players today! And here’s how long people have spent playing the demo. The numbers are actually lower than what they should be due to how our reporting works – it only sends the play time stats for a session the next time you try the demo, so if you only play once and never come back it won’t count that play time…so as you can see people are spending quite a while with the demo! We’d say there’s a good hour or more worth of content in the demo. In the chart for “Today”, it works out to just over 58 days of play time today! And since I took that picture it’s gone up by over 2 days! We need the exposure for the game too, since we’re entirely self-funded, and quite honestly I’m running out of money! We’re hoping for really great things for the desktop version of Letter Quest, and have been getting some great feedback so far, and have seen a few sales from demo players. Every little bit helps! So if you have a game that you’re really proud of, and are looking for a way to get some exposure and become involved with a really awesome community of players, consider posting your demo on Newgrounds! We’re sure glad that we did! Oh, and one awesome side effect of posting the demo – tons of small (and some large!) Flash game sites take content from Newgrounds everyday, so in two days we’ve seen our demo pop up on over 15 different Flash game sites…and we don’t mind, it means more people are seeing the demo! To make all this work we had to make a single .swf for the demo, with no external file loading, and that took a bit of work since the game wasn’t designed with that in mind. How did we make that work…that’s for another post in the...

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Choose Your Words Carefully!

When making the page for our new Letter Quest demo, we decided to add a nice frame around the demo, with a button just above the demo. The point of the button was to get players to click it if/when they wanted to buy the game, and it would take them to the page where they could do so. We keep reading about how your “call to action” button should be nice and large, and be highly visible, have attention drawn to it, etc. So this is the button we made: Now, there’s a few things wrong with that. First off, when you’re on the demo page, that button is just above the game, and the ALL CAPS text makes it seem really “in your face” the whole time. That’s not cool. And second, the text of “BUY NOW” is a bit overpowering/too strong. We had a few people comment that it felt too pushy, and looking at it now we would tend to agree. We realized that the demo already gets people engaged, and at the end of the demo there’s a nice splash image showing what the full version has, and it politely asks the player if they’d like to buy the game or not. And chances are, if someone doesn’t reach the end of the demo, they probably weren’t going to go and buy the game! So we made a minor change, and ended up with this button: It feels a lot friendlier. The text feels less “pushy”. And it links to the Letter Quest landing page, where players can get more info about the game and make an informed decision about their purchase. We’ve had several people tell us they like the new button much more, and prefer to not feel like they’re forced into a decision…and that’s certainly not what we ever want our players to feel! We want players to enjoy the demo, be excited about playing more of the game, and either go and download the game on a mobile device, or purchase the PC version (currently in “early access”, with a free upgrade to the full game when it’s ready, and a Steam key if/when we get through Steam Greenlight…help us out by voting on the web if you have a spare minute, or click here to open Steam to our Greenlight page, thanks!). So just remember – even one or two words can make a difference, so try to think about how players are going to interpret what you...

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Letter Quest now available on Amazon Appstore for Android!

As many of you are well aware, we’ve been having quite a bit of problems with bringing Letter Quest out worldwide on Google Play. The trouble is how Google handles taxes on app sales…or rather, how they don’t really handle them at all! They forward the tax on to us, and then we’re responsible for squaring things up with every single country’s tax authority at year end, which is a nightmare! Recently we started looking into Amazon Apps. Turns out they handle taxes in a much more straight-forward way: they collect the income, taxes, etc. from sales and handle it all internally, and then send us money as US income. This is much easier for us to deal with, because all we need to do is fill out a W-8BEN, which stops Amazon from having to send 30% of everything we make to the IRS. We provide them with our EIN, and that’s it, good to go! We do have to settle up with the IRS once a year for our year-end, but that’s pretty minor (and why we have an accountant!). Now that we got that out of the way…the great news: Letter Quest is now available worldwide on the Amazon Appstore. So for all of the Android players that have been wanting the game, now you can download it through Amazon Appstore! The game is $2.99 on Amazon Apps, and has no ads and no IAP (in-app purchases). It includes the in-app purchasable content (second character, all weapons, all custom letter tiles) from the App Store/Google Play version. We hope that everyone can now finally get a chance to play Letter Quest! Please help us out by spreading the word, and if you have a spare moment after purchasing the game, consider leaving a review. Have...

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Letter Quest In-App Purchases and Revenue

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to find an in-app purchase strategy that is both fair to players, and makes us some money. When we first launched Letter Quest, we went with a very simple IAP model of a $1.99 gem doubler, and some gem packs. The issue with that was that we were very fair with the gems that players earn as they play, as we spent a lot of time balancing the game…so of course very few people actually bought the gem doubler. We honestly expected that might happen. Several nice players bought it anyway and then toggled it off, just to support us. The game was free, and because of that we were able to get over 100,000 players in the first few weeks after release on iOS, and around 5,000 players on Google Play. In a later update, we added in a bonus shop that contained several optional weapons and letter tile sets. We charged $1.99 for all of this bonus content, and gave it away for free to anyone that had previously bought the gem doubler because we wanted to do something nice for our “early adopters”. We also added in an option that let players donate $0.99 to us. We did much better with this new strategy, since the new bonus content looked good and was desirable to players. The donate a dollar didn’t do very much, but we didn’t expect it to – we added it because many players asked us for it, saying that they’d love to donate a dollar to help us out. A huge thank you to those players, and to all players that have purchased something! Unfortunately we still haven’t made very much money with the game. We’re going to be doing a full-disclosure post once we can find the time, and share all of the sales stats with everyone in the hopes that it will be useful to some other indie developers. But for now we can tell you that we’re not making anywhere near enough to continue doing this for much longer. One of us has been doing this full-time for a year now with no pay, and the other part-time while working a full-time job. I’m (Mark/Code Bandit) the one that is doing this full-time. We’ve made a bit of money, enough to cover our legal fees and software expenses, but honestly that’s about it. I haven’t made anything for my year of time at this point, which is pretty scary. So we’re trying a bunch of different things in the hopes that we can make some money and continue to support this game, and make more games (one of which we’ve already started). First up, in the next update we’re going to be adding another hero/playable character. At that point, the bonus shop will include an optional character, six optional weapons, and five optional tile sets. The weapons can now be leveled up. The heroes can also be leveled up, and gain unique stat boosts at each level to further differentiate them from each other. We’re going to bump the price of the bonus shop to $2.99 or $3.99 since it’s a huge amount of content. We’re also changing it so that players can see all of the content in the bonus shop before purchasing it. And Grimm and his default weapon will be upgradeable even for free players, the hope being that they’ll enjoy how all that works and will want to pay for the bonus content. The next update also includes a fourth star type for each stage, a crystal star,...

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Affiliate Program for iTunes

I recently saw the topic of the iTunes affiliate program come up over on My-Indie-Story. First off, that site is fantastic, and if you’re a mobile game developer you should definitely check out all of his articles! He’s very transparent with his revenue, and gives very detailed breakdowns about what works, what doesn’t, etc. Now back to affiliate programs. Up until now, I never really knew what that even meant. After reading up on it, it turns out that you can make money with iTunes just by sending people there with special affiliate links. Basically how this works is, you provide special URLs to take people to products in the App Store, and if they buy anything, you get paid a commission! It’s pretty sweet! At worst you’ll end up making little or nothing, so you’ve really got nothing to lose! For Bacon Bandit Games, we now use affiliate links on our website, twitter, facebook, in our custom in-game ads, and anywhere else that we can. In a few months I’ll update this post with the revenue we’ve earned from the affiliate program! On Review For Dev they published an article back in 2012 about how to sign up for the iTunes affiliate program. While very helpful at the time, those steps are now outdated due to several changes in how the affiliate program works. It used to be that you had to sign up for multiple different sites to cover different countries, integrate all of those into georiot (more on that soon), etc. As of April 1, 2014, all countries for the iTunes affiliate program will be handled through PHG. Thankfully, it’s way easier to sign up now than it was a few years ago. Here’s how: Sign up for the iTunes affiliate program at http://affiliate.itunes.apple.com/apply If everything goes well, you’ll eventually get an email saying that you were accepted into the affiliate program. In that email there will be an alphanumeric “Affiliate ID”, you’ll be needing that soon! Log in to PHG at https://itunes.phgconsole.performancehorizon.com and set up your payment details so that you can get paid once you’ve made some money! Sign up for a GeoRiot account at http://www.georiot.com/home – the site explains why you want to do this, but in short it’s because even though you’re now part of the iTunes affiliate network, you’ll still have the issue of sending people to the wrong store frequently. For example, say you put a link to a product in the US iTunes store, but someone from a different country clicks on it – they’ll get an error. GeoRiot takes care of all of this! Now sign in to GeoRiot, click Affiliate, then “Connect an affiliate program”, and then enter your Affiliate ID/token from step 2. This will connect your PHG affiliate information to GeoRiot. You should now see a huge list of countries, all having your PHG Affiliate ID. Now you’re ready to start creating affiliate links! To make a PHG affiliate link, you need to add your affiliate ID at the end of the URL. Here’s the affiliate URL I used for our game Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey in the US App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id836458509?at=11lvAL To make your own link, use: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id00000000?at=AAAAAA where 00000000 is your product’s App Store ID, and AAAAAA is your PHG Affiliate ID that you got in step 2 In GeoRiot, click on Links, then paste your link into the “Add a link” box. You can even create a custom URL, here’s my custom URL for Letter Quest http://georiot.co/letterquest and for Mr. Ghost’s Journey http://georiot.co/mrghostsjourney. That’s it! Just use your GeoRiot links anytime you want to link...

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Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey now out on Android!

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey is now available on Google Play! Our official release date is Feb. 5, 2014 but since the Android build was ready to go, we thought we’d get a little head start on that version! We’ve already had lots of positive feedback about the Android version, and everyone seems to be enjoying it. This makes us super-happy! So give the game a try, see what you think! Feel free to leave us a comment or a review if you get a chance, we’d love to hear your feedback....

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