A Dark Room is (finally) on the Google Play Store. I’ve waited a few months to write this chapter primarily to gather as much data as possible before reaching the following conclusion:
Deploy to iOS first. There, you’ll have your best chance for your mobile game to succeed. Revenue on iOS is 3x to 10x higher on iOS for what I’ve observed in the past six months. Other games Monument Valley, Badlands, Alto’s Adventure, Heads Up! have seen similar breakdowns in revenue when comparing App Store to Google Play.
My most direct advice is:
Keep it simple. Don’t worry about going cross platform for now, just make sure your game runs well on an iPhone 5s and get it to the App Store as quickly as possible. Iterate publicly, listen to the feedback the reviews give you. From there, you can decide if you want to take it to Android. I can’t recommend with clear conscience going in the other direction, even though the development environment and devices are much much cheaper (and free to some extent).
So, buy a Mac and get to work. Target iOS only. After you’re done building the iOS version (and have some revenue numbers), take the annual revenue potential on iOS and divide by seven (divide by three if you feel hopeful). If that number is more than the cost of building/supporting your game on Play, don’t build for Play. Period. Build another iOS game instead.
Each section will have the Android download numbers, historic iOS numbers, and same month iOS numbers. Honestly, no matter what angle you view it from, Android isn’t viable (unless you’ve already had a very successful iOS deployment).
When A Dark Room first released on Play, I expected a modest initial number of downloads. And that’s what I got the first month.
There was definitely some “press coverage” the first week of A Dark Room Android’s release. It took a week for the game to be searchable in the Play store. After that, /r/AndroidGaming picked up the news and I got a good bump for about a week. A total of 1,700 downloads came from that Reddit post.
Each month contained “spike” events (which I’ll talk about later). But before I talk about that, I wanted to find a long enough steady period of time to see what my “low end” looks like. Generally speaking, when these “spike” events occurred, the Web, iOS, and Android versions of ADR all benefited.
Not sure what to say honestly. After the initial hype died down about ADR on Android, I’m left with 583 downloads while iOS (for the same time period) gets eighteen times the number of downloads. Also, month two to three on Android was lower than month two to three on iOS back in 2013: 981 and 2,580 (keep in mind no one knew about ADR iOS). Guys and gals, no matter how you slice these “leveled off” numbers, Android loses. Android loses. Do not build your game solely for Android. You will make an order of magnitude less than on iOS.
There were two occasions during this the first five months of Android that ADR got some good notoriety. Specifically this BuzzFeed article, and this /r/AskReddit post. During this time period, all versions of ADR saw significant spikes over their daily averages. Here is the revenue captured the day of and five days after.
Downloads from BuzzFeed Recommendation:
Both Android and iOS saw a spike, albeit Android shot up big time (but fell just as quickly).
Downloads from /r/AskReddit post:
I love Reddit. Reddit loves ADR. But as you can see, the numbers just aren’t as high on Android.
This was of course an exciting time when ADR started climbing the Play Store. Here are the numbers for its rise.
I’m not sure how many different ways I can show you how much your limiting the success of your game by deploying to Android only. There is a 10x difference in revenue at the same spot.
The framework I was using didn’t gain support for Android until 2015. And during that time, I was buckling down to pay off a house so I can take some more time off.
Even if the framework you choose supports multiple platforms, supporting Android just isn’t fun:
Do I regret deploy to Android? Nope. Over the five month period, I’ve made $12,717. That’s a good chunk of change. But, during that same time period, I’ve made $57,600 on iOS. Once you’re at these kind of levels, of course you should deploy to Play. But if you’re just starting out, with no idea if your game will be successful, cut the Android overhead and get your game out on iOS.
This is an excerpt from my book. It’s finally finally done. Clocked in at a little over 300 pages. Here is a link to download the book for free, enjoy (if you end up buying it, 10% goes to a charity that helps kids learn to code).