I thought it would be nice to start with a numbers post as they’re usually popular!
There is a focus of this particular post and it’s not meant to be a negative – more of a ‘this is a problem we have’ and ‘now we want to fix it’ – advice / support is very welcome!
“Very slick + addictive”; “Fantastic value for money.”; “Hugely addictive.”; “Perfect for snackable gaming”;”QuizQuizQuiz is the ultimate iPhone trivia game.”;”QuizQuizQuiz sets the bar for trivia apps.”;”QuizQuizQuiz is a breath of fresh air in the trivia genre.”
- An addictive pick up and play trivia game
- Packed with over 36,000 professionally written questions for English US, English UK, English Australian, English New Zealand, English International, French, Italian, German, Spanish markets
- Specific topics related to each, i.e. less ‘soccer’ questions for the US, no baseball questions for the UK.
- Adjustable difficulty setting offering a challenge to everyone from children to masterminds!
- Features a unique sub-category selection feature letting users pick the topics they want as they play through
- 4 different game modes (2 single player, 2 on-device multiplayer)
- Beat The Clock – answer as many questions (correctly) in a specific time
- QuizMaster – 3 lives, 3 lifelines, how will you do?
- Challenge – Head to head multiplayer all players answering the same question
- Passaround – Select a category and all players answer a different question from that category each round
Personally I believe that as long as a trivia game modes are fun the question content is the main value in any game of this genre, our cost to the user per question is probably 3 times lower than any competitor. The questions are also written and checked by professional quiz writers.
What shall we do tonight Pinky?
World domination wasn’t quite our plan but we felt we had a very strong title upon launch though we knew we were up against some big traditional trivia brands.
A chart of worldwide sales then
Just looking at the chart and ignoring the numbers this looks like a lot of initial sales charts I’ve seen (or even a retail sales chart) – high initial sales with a long tail.
Including the numbers however we were very lucky and had high initial sales (on this chart around 70,000 at $0.99 – $2.99, more the lower end), unfortunately the long tail numbers are fairly small right now though do pay for the free drinks and beers for everyone in the office I guess!
The main reason for our high sales was mainly due to being featured by Apple after a strong start in both UK, Europe and US. Our support for all the major markets helped massively with this we feel.
Once we were in the top 10 charts (and #1 or #2 Paid App in some European stores which was an awesome feeling!) we wanted to stay there and so dropped the price when we dropped below 5th. We believe this kept us up there longer and I think this was the correct decision as it kept us in front of peoples eyeballs and allowed us to build something of a recognised brand – at the time at least.
Time to order the Aston Martin? Not quite!
If you’re not in Europe it’s likely you’ve never seen our game anywhere on the charts, if we look at US sales it unfortunately doesn’t match sales in Europe.
This is further illustrated on the following piechart (which also shows Spanish localisation support wasn’t that worthwhile!)
When we were enjoying the success in Europe we were praying that we’d get a staggered mirror of the results in the largest App Store market, this didn’t happen and our US sales before Europe took off were actually higher than anything we did later on bizarrely
To be honest though we didn’t expect sales to ever be massive in the US and Canada due to the lack of brand attached to the product.
Speaking to other local British developers not as informed about the product they assumed we didn’t have US specific content and therefore we were putting people off but we had custom written App Descriptions explaining the content for each.
Riddle me this!
Of course with this kind of App Store evaluation you never really know why at a particular time something didn’t sell.
I do think A/B testing is possible on the App Store I imagine it’s just a bit of pain (both in setup and maintenance) and still has uncontrollable variables depending on how you do it. i.e. Release a separate app in different regions you believe to be similar, try a different price in each, release under two different names / icons across certain regions (possible to upset people buying twice here though).
- Lack of brand
- Still our main theory though this doesn’t seem to matter for all iPhone games (see Doodle Jump / Angry Birds – although I guess they did become brands in their own right?)
- Losing featuring in the US store
- We lost feature in the US pretty quickly, this is most likely directly linked to lack of sales during the featured week however. I’ve not checked what else was released / featured that week but something probably took our sales if this was the main issue.
- Poor initial reviews in the US store
- We had some pretty harsh reviews early on, I seem to remember someone getting one of the few incorrect answers in the 5,000 US questions we have. Obviously some sneak through the QA and we’re quick to correct them. When people see something featured the current reviews is the only other guidance to go off I guess (as there is no indication of that items chart position).
- People thinking that we didn’t have US content
- I put this on here as lots of people say this to us, I don’t really think someone looking on the App Store at the game would actually think this – please let me know if you think otherwise though!
- The US don’t like trivia games
- I’ve been told that some of the popular multi-platform trivia games don’t do full releases in the US due to lack of interest in the genre. This may be true but obviously we’d still be higher up in the specific Trivia category chart if this was the case.
Avast, me hearties!
We were told by other developers that piracy was a big problem, at the time I posted a few times on twitter saying this either wasn’t a problem at all for us or our piracy test was broken. I had tried to find someone posting the game online and it just seems the pirates weren’t big fans of trivia.
That was until almost 1 month exactly after launch when a version got posted up on a file sharing site. The current stats show that 23% of the people who have played the game were playing pirated versions.
As I mentioned we do detect pirated copies but we didn’t do anything about them as we hoped they’d convert to purchases or encourage friends to try (though I guess they’d encourage them to try for ‘free’ as well!). We also have stats showing these people did play just as much as paying users though they tailed off a little earlier (due to less investment in the product I would think).
What we did next
With Christmas fast approaching we decided to try a ‘Lite’ version in the form of a Christmas edition, this featured around 300 questions for all the markets we supported in the full product. It contained a splashscreen which popped up quite a bit with a link sending people to the full game on the App Store.
The chart above shows around 210,000 downloads.
Believe it or not this still gets downloaded a lot and we think it has helped maintain our long tail of sales of the full product.
This again failed to touch the US market but did have a massive uptake in the Italian market which encouraged us to increase the amount of Italian content in the main game in the first update we did.
The first update fixed a couple of question selection issues, some of the incorrect answers and added even more question content making ours the highest value quiz game on the store.
What we should have done (maybe?)
So what should we have done next – or what could we still do perhaps?
- Engage with more US journalists sooner, we mailed and tried to get their attention but they’re busy guys and Trivia is a hard sell (or it feels like it is!). We sent out review codes and had offers of reviews but unfortunately few materialised at the time. We met a few of them at GDC and this will hopefully help in the future.
- Actively look for potential buyers on twitter and forums, we could have done this while we were in the European top charts and talked about the success a bit more to help that transition to the US.
- Buy advertising space focused on the US with the money we were making in the UK/Europe.
- Produced an actual lite version rather than just the Christmas version. I’m not sure if this would have helped.
- Produce more updates. This is one I really would have liked to do though we didn’t have much feedback after the first update which perhaps caused us to lose momentum on this, people seemed generally happy with the changes and we saw playtime increase.
- Maintained the website. I’m not sure how much this does effect things and due to various reasons we didn’t have much access to site analytics. It’s still pretty out of date however and in the future we plan to make website updates something we schedule in with other marketing updates.
What we’re currently doing
We’ve been working on lots of different projects this year and now QuizQuizQuiz and our other trivia brands are getting even more of our attention.
We released QuizQuizQuiz World Football as a 59p app as a mid-way point lite version before the World Cup, this unfortunately got a little lost in the World Cup app frenzy. It did seem to gain us some extra fans though and the content is valuable for the future.
We’re currently working on updates for the app for the upcoming iOS features to see if we can revitalise sales of the game as the content is still very current.
Another trivia game You Are The Ref (a football / soccer trivia app based around the amazing artwork of sports artist Paul Trevillion) which we have developed is gradually growing its fanbase and we plan to cross-promote all of our apps in the near future.
We’re also listening and learning more as we go along, at the end of the day we’re developers trying to do marketing which is really good fun but we’ve learnt that we need to be disciplined in the approach we take and make sure we don’t let the ball drop at anytime.
That post certainly ended up a lot longer than I imagined!
Any feedback / ideas for us would be very welcome (and indeed any comments on the article or the blog in general).
Thanks for reading! (please check out the mini section below, will see how long I can maintain that too)
Things we’ve been enjoying this week
- Some fun new hardware in the office including a HD camcorder for filming our antics!
- http://www.pixelprospector.com/2010/06/235-free-indie-games-in-10-minutes/ – Awesome video of 235 FREE Indie games, some really interesting ones I’d not seen before in here
- http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html – David McCandless giving a talk at TED on Data Visualisation
- http://volpinprops.blogspot.com/2010/08/mass-effect-m8-avenger-assault-rifle.html – Awesome prop construction with a howto guide!
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKogQf9ooR8 – Time Crisis Live Action!