It’s been over a year since Punch a Hole got released to the AppStore. It’s time for a Post Mortem!
What went right
User reception. Despite marginal sales, those who did buy the game seem to be pleased with purchase. Here’s a little screenshot I took a month after release.
Although current ratings hang around 4.5 stars, this still makes me very proud. Additionally, it appears that I’ve got myself a tiny fan base that will eagerly await my future releases .
Idea. Since Portaball was heavily Portal inspired I was excited to come up with something truly original. Board-based puzzle games seem to have a lot of potential since every new puzzle piece makes it easier to create more levels. If I decided to release a level editor, I’m more than sure that brighter minds than mine would find brilliant puzzle mechanisms that would put the original levels to shame.
What’s more the board idea made Punch a Hole easy to control – it’s a great match for touch input. Swiping feels great on both iPhone and iPad, and the game can be controller with one hand on a busy commute. I personally find it crucial – the vast majority of my gaming time is spend on the iPad and I only use iPhone on the bus. On those occasions I can’t afford using two hands to control my device, so I only launch the portrait oriented games (like Polymer!)
What went okay
Graphics. I like the way Punch a Hole looks, I really do. Plenty of users seem to agree, but there is no doubt that the style is very technical, almost app like. I could outsource graphic design, but I love working in Photoshop. Crafting those UIs, pushing every single pixel to the limits and self-debating whether buttons’ corner radii should be 3 or 4 pixels – those things make me very pleased.
My problem is, I can’t see the big picture. I can’t layout things perfectly and I suck at matching colors, that’s why I always fall back to gray (not to mention that I love gray).
Even if one doesn’t like the way Punch a Hole looks, it’s a major improvement in comparison to Portaball. Arguably, I get better at my craft and hopefully my future projects will look better and better.
What went wrong
Difficulty. This is game’s biggest flaw. The difficulty is extremely uneven, some of the hardest levels are positioned somewhere in the middle of gameplay. How on earth did that happen? Well, as I’ve been testing the game for the n-th time before release I’ve managed to punch less holes in some of the levels. I’ve adjusted the stars requirements accordingly, but I didn’t bother to push those previously “easy” levels to later stages of the game. Yup.
Coming up with ideas for over 80 levels is hard enough as it is, but ordering them correctly is very laborious and requires a lot of iterations. It was something I didn’t do and that’s a lesson learned.
Sales. Here are sales number to this day:
- Total copies sold – 928
- Highest one day sales – 106 on launch day
- Total revenue – $669.78
Here’s the daily spread:
Let’s face the elephant in the room, sales are disaster. Creating iOS games has to remain a hobby for me.
Over last two year the AppStore has taken a huge leap forward and I believe that games like Punch a Hole will find it harder and harder to get to the top. Things got real very fast and one should notice that it’s been a while since genuinely indie game has made it to the top of the charts. There have been some smaller breakthroughs that got some popularity (e.g. 10000000), but it would require a masterpiece to make it the first place and I’m aware that’s it’s highly unlikely that I will ever make one.
I’m not bitter though! I’m going to keep making games, as for the most part the process of creating a game is the ultimate reward.