Punch a Hole has been available for week now, it’s high time I wrote a little summary of how the game has been doing and what I think about it.
As I submitted Punch a Hole to the App Store I set release date late in future. Unlike Portaball, which released as soon as it got approved, I wanted to make a little more buzz ahead of release. It turned out that Punch a Hole has been approved on August 29, merely 5 days after submission. This meant that Apple has greatly improved their reviewing efficiency, but also I just had two days to prepare for the release on Thursday. Why so quickly? I figured it wouldn’t make any difference if I took 2 or 9 days to show the game around, especially with no marketing budget and limited appeal of screenshots and trailer. Additionally, I wanted the game out. It’s quite a struggle to wait patiently when the game could be winning all the awards already
Since I had promo codes available before release, it was a great opportunity to send e-mails to all the major review sites. I’ve sent two dozens of promo codes and I’ve started a contest on Touch Arcade forums.
The launch day
As usual, Punch a Hole launched in New Zealand at first. The game quickly got its thread on TA forums, with little interest however. It was cool that both Pocket Gamer and Touch Arcade found Punch a Hole worth mentioning in their launching tonight sections. I’ve also gotten huge support from Trainyard creator Matt Rix. It was heartwarming to see him enjoying the game, not to mention the buzz he generated.
The following days
At the very beginning, it was really good. The first site to review Punch a Hole was App-Score. The score of 10/10 was the first one in site’s history. It felt great! I’ve gathered some user reviews with AppReviewsFinder and it resulted in 6 five stars reviews. The MajicRank showed raising trend in ranks. At this point it occurred to me that Punch a Hole may succeed. Oh how naive I was.
Touch Arcade is the biggest site out there and it’s sort of indie dev’s dream. Naturally, I was really hoping to get noticed. Bam! On September 2nd, Touch Arcade reviewed Punch a hole. It got over 30 retweets and… the results were unnoticeable. Sure, the review wasn’t praising. It pointed out few drawbacks that I agree with. Should the game got 5 star review, it would probably helped much more. But for me, it dispelled the myth of TA review being that important. It is considered true that Apple uses TA as a reference when they choose which app to feature. However, the review in itself won’t make a game successful overnight, at least in my case.
Unless I make millions, my intention is to be completely clear as to how Punch a Hole sales. Here are the numbers:
- total downloads: 269
- sales: 249
- promo codes sent: 37
- promo codes redeemed: 20
As you can see, it sucks. After the initial hype I was genuinely disappointed. The good thing is, I mostly got over it.
What am I’m going to do now? To be honest, I’m hoping for tomorrow to be featured for New&Noteworthy by Apple. I honestly think that Punch a Hole is good enough to appear over there.
Regardless of the verdict, I’ve started working on the Lite version. I’m going to do this the Trainyard Express way, i.e. I’m going to create 40 or 60 completely different levels, letting everyone get some magic for free. I’ll also create a new level set for the original version, probably with a new game element.
I’m not sure what to do with a little problematic difficulty curve. I’ve heard that the game is too easy for too long, but this is something I can’t change easily now. Even though the user base is small, it wouldn’t feel right to throw away some levels and put in new ones instead. That’s something I have to think about.
tl;dr: I was hyped then sad, sales sucked, moving on.