Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Our first mobile release

The last two years have been all about learning. Now we have encountered yet another possibility to learn when we launched our collectible card game Permia - Duels in Windows Phone store at 14 Dec 2013. After about one and a half months and almost 100 000 downloads later we have had first few small ideas what it means to publish a game in a mobile market place.

Earlier we only had experience of releasing game in a small social network Habbo hotel and it has been very much different experience.

Update delay
First of all, we cannot update the game currently whenever we want to. We have not yet implemented the feature that allows us to update the content for the game directly without going through store certification. That is something we definitely want to do in the future. Already we had an issue where Lumia black update changed the way some configuration for the viewport of the game were defined and our game was broken for all the high end devices with HD resolution. You can imagine how grateful I am for Microsoft Store certification team that handled the update in two days instead of one week just before our promotion all over the world started.  All the previous review periods were closer to that one week. Even if the certification goes as fast every time in the future it is still at least couple of days after we have the new version ready before the players can use it.

All the data we gather from the game and feedback that we follow have helped us to react to the problems much quicker than it would have been possible without these. We have found couple of bottlenecks in our server code after the release and both times it has been the same. First active user tells that something does not work like it should. Then our ratings start to decrease. These are enough reason to start studying what is the problem. Then simple analytics that we gather from the game pinpoints the place where the problem lies. Both times we were able to fix the bottlenecks in one day after they first started to encounter. For the team that is as small as us I feel that it is amazing to react that fast.

These seem to have power of the god. When we did not ask our players to rate us at all, we mostly got bad ratings. It seems that people remember to tell if they don't like the game or the game does not work much more often than if they like the game and we don't remind them to do that. Permia - Duels average rating was less than 4 before we implementeda "rate us" dialog in the game. We don't want to interrupt the player, but it is crucial for our game to have good ratings. Without good ratings, we don't get promotion from Microsoft. Without good ratings, players do not download the game and because our game is multiplayer game, our game cannot live without plenty of players. Everything starts from ratings. How cruel that is when you are not going to buy those ratings for you. We don't want to buy ratings so we decided to add the dialog. After we had the rate us dialog in the game our ratings have gone up to 4.4 average and still growing. We have had much more ratings than before and it has helped us to get promotion and more importantly the players as well. Yet another story is that only good rating is five stars. All the other will weight ratings in wrong direction. Average 4.3 is minimum that is expected from us.

We had an excellent review from WPCentral. We advertised that in our Facebook and Twitter accounts. One day after that we got an excellent review from WP player ratings. We advertised that as well in our Facebook account. I was quite amazed how big difference was with the impact those messages had. The player review was seen by six times more people than the WPCentral one. With this case it seems that people are more interested about what other people say than what media says. The article in WPCentral reminded us about importance of the social media. We really have not been active enough to promote our social media sites. We have had over 1 000 000 players playing our games and we have little over 160 people that likes our Facebook page and little less than 100 people who follows our Twitter. We will test with next update if we can get little more players to follow us because social media is currently best way to notify our players what is happening.

Some final words
I have to say that we feel very welcome in Windows Phone environment. All the great feedback has given us strength and motivation to continue with the path we have taken. We are long way from the product we have in our vision. With the help of the players we will go towards that vision and continue delivering new features one by one. First couple of months we will use to make sure that everything works like it should. We create small adjustments to the game and after we are satisfied with the maturity we will start bringing new features to the game. If you have Windows Phone 8 and you have not yet downloaded the game, now is the perfect time to download it. :)

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