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Making, Marketing, and Releasing Your Masterpiece
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It’s the dream developer story: you have a fantastic idea for a game, you make the game, and release it on the app store. Poof! Two weeks later you’re a millionaire.

Wait, this didn’t happen for you? No worries, it didn’t for us either. But we did make, promote and release our first mobile game, Monster Chase, and we have learned some valuable lessons along the way (maybe not $1M lessons, but lessons nonetheless).
 

MAKING THE GAME

What we did: We knew going into production that it is not enough to simply make a game; to be successful, you need to make a great game. Monster Chase is a mobile game that is based off of the award-winning board game of the same name, which allowed us to have a strong idea of playability and it’s ‘fun factor’ before production. The digital adaptation remained fairly true to the original after production, which gave us confidence in it.

How it turned out: Although our team was proud of and excited by the way Monster Chase turned out, you can not be positive of how it will be received before actually getting it out to the general public. After releasing it, however, reviews were great with most at around four of five stars. Once receiving these third party opinions, we were sure that we had a good product.

What we learned: Although we made a good game that was fairly well liked by those who tried it, the production of Monster Chase took longer than expected. In the future, now that we have had experience developing an app we realize we need to be more realistic in development time (or even slightly pessimistic) so that customers receive the game when expected.
 

MARKETING THE GAME

What we did: Our next step was to get people thinking about our game. To do so, we made a game website, trailer, media kit, and press release making it easy for anyone interested to get to know the game. We forwarded this information to various media sources, including gaming websites, blogs, parenting websites (as it is a kids game), and more.

Level Up News Review

How it turned out: Although the overall response rate was smaller than expected, we did end up getting some good coverage and reviews for Monster Chase. We were picked up by App Advice, Board Game Geek and more for full articles, and we received over 50 reviews, listings and press release postings on other sites including Gamasutra.
What we learned: Something we are keeping in mind in regards to media attention for our next project is that reaching out to media takes more time than we expected. If contacts are to see value in your product and therefore the need to include it in their content they need fully personalized emails, phone calls, etc., which takes a significant amount of time. Further, once you have reached out to everyone you need to be patient; it takes time to put together a listing, article or review.
 

RELEASING YOUR MASTERPIECE

What we did: Monster Chase was released on as many mobile platforms as possible including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry so that we as a company could gather and compare experiences (both in development and marketing). We also released a ‘lite’ version in addition to the full one about a month after the initial release to see how the freemium model affects downloads (for both free and paid versions).
How it turned out: The first-week sales for Monster Chase were good for the paid version, seeing a gradual decline in the weeks after release. When we released the ‘lite’ version it saw about six times the amount of downloads as the full one in the first week, and also resulted in a significant increase in the paid version’s sales. Over the last month or so we have seen similar spikes when articles are written, press releases are sent out, etc. for the Monster Chase game.
What we learned: In terms of the different platforms, there are differences between them that we will take into account for future releases. In addition to the above occurance of a trial version for generating significant sales of the paid version, we learned that primary countries of download differ according to device, suggesting targeted distribution in the future in accordance to localization. Second, the platforms differed in the distribution of free vs. paid apps, possibly affecting platform selection in the future.

The experience developing, marketing and releasing Monster Chase was great. After putting our research into action we were able to learn a lot from it, and hopefully we will be able to apply this knowledge in future projects.

Who knows, maybe we’ll make a million dollars out of it?

For anyone who has released an app of their own, does any of this feel familiar? We would love to hear about your experience and learnings!