Although Punch a Hole hasn’t succeed I still haven’t given up and I’m going to make one , most likely last, effort to push it a little further.
Quick sales update
Before we delve into my plan, let’s have a look on Punch a Hole latest sales numbers:
Total number of sales so far: 356
As you can see, the curve has flattened lately, right now I’m only selling 2-3 copies a day. To be honest I didn’t expect that massive reduction this quickly. It’s been less than a month and sales are just a bit bigger than those of Portaball.
The Lite version
Even though the lite model has been less significant lately, it’s been only a year since Trainyard’s tremendous success caused by a free version. Considering it’s the same genre and probably the same audience, I’ve decided it’s worth trying. Unlike Portaball Lite which shipped with the very same levels as full version, I opted for a brand new set of puzzles, thus still following the path set by Trainyard Express. The 1.1 version of Punch a Hole will feature the total of 100 levels. How many had I put into the lite version? Almost half the number – 48 to be exact. It’s a lot, but it’s important to note that levels are cheap. Seriously! The majority of game development went into design and programming, I’ve created levels in a spare time. When I’m focused, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to come up with an idea for a unique puzzle. Additionally I was forced to include some very primitive levels, in order to explain the game’s mechanics, making it not that difficult to create the remaining ones.
The catch? It’s not Punch a Hole Light, it’s Punch a Hole MINI.
The MINI version
I didn’t want to blatantly use the exact same gameplay. I figured it’s a good occasion to introduce some kind of limitations, but make them creative enough, to seem like a feature. So I’ve made the board smaller:
Simple reduction from 6×7 to 5×6 not only made the play-field smaller, but also it flipped the orientation of “central row/column” of tiles. Since many puzzles are designed with symmetry in mind, it changed the most common direction of striking and thus solving puzzles. At least I hope it did since I mostly made this up right here on the spot
What’s equally important is branding. There is plethora of “lite” apps in the App Store and while it’s easy to figure out that a given app is free, it also makes it, at least for me, a second class citizen. This is not the case for games like Quell and already mentioned Trainyard Express. Their names don’t feel like “just a demo version of our main app, you’d better go get the paid one already”. I wanted my game to belong to this elite club and thus I’ve set on the MINI suffix. It fits perfectly with the shrunk board theme and, despite not making a correct phrase, it’s still somehow connected with the title (one can punch a mini hole for sure).
I’ve gotten rid of one feature to encourage people to get the full version – the achievements. Achievements in Punch a Hole are mostly connected to the game progress (though it’s going to get better 1.1). It didn’t make much sense to implement a couple of them, just for the sake of it. After all it’s free version, one can’t have everything . However, both the MINI and full version are going to have Game Center Leaderboards. They will rank both Collected Stars and Completed Levels. It’s going to get much more competitive and will allow me to easily track how people are doing in general.
I’m going to release both MINI and 1.1 version on the same day. I’m going to leave it mostly on its own, apart from one more round of spam addressed to review sites. If the game succeeds I suppose I’ll make another update or two. If it does not however, I’ll abandon it and move onto some next projects.