We decided to make our top puzzle-solving game, “Rainmaker: The Beautiful Flood”, free for lifetime. It was originally $US 1.99 before.
Rainmaker is a minimalist puzzle game first released on 1 Feb 2016. It got featured by Apple as the best new game and obtained:
#1 iOS Puzzle Game in 3 countries
#13 iOS Puzzle Game in UK
#23 iOS Puzzle Game in US
It’s also reviewed by multiple mobile presses:
“interesting gameplay mechanic…music is calming” 4.5/5 — AppAdvice
“beautifully designed, wonderfully fluid and an all-round pleasure to play” 4.5/5 — TapSmart
“it looks really pretty…well worth a look” 7/10 — Pocket Gamer
We made the Rainmaker prototype back in Global Game Jam 2014 and saw the potential of the game so we decided to dedicate ourselves making a releasable version. The development continues from choosing a minimalist style and get the artist to redesign the whole graphic, and added 120 manually-made levels. It’s been a long while because we were also working on another project. Finally, we finished the first release on Feb 2016 and Apple featured us as the best new game globally. Few trending game-review websites also reviewed the game. We were very excited and hoping it will be a big hit.
However, it seems not going as well as we expected. We only sold 2.7k copies. Even we had a big update with the online level editor in July and got another best new update feature, we sold 5.4k copies in total. Although we do release Rainmaker in Google Play too, the downloads there are almost negligible. For $US 1.99 each copy we sold, we were only getting $10k back, which barely covered our cost. However, it’s a very good branding and commerce image for us, having a high-quality graphic game that is featured by Apple multiple times, which also helped us to get the investment funding.
Some reasons I believed the game couldn’t achieve a big hit:
- Localization: We didn’t do it although it’s featured globally. The game has very little text so we decided to focus on the game instead of localization.
- Not fully puzzle: It’s a puzzle game but with a bit physics randomness. Not like other puzzle games, some of the levels require players “Hit-And-Trial” to find out the physic pattern. Some puzzle-players complained about it.
- Paid App: Freemium games were started to dominate the market, paid app from an indie studio hardly get people’s attention.
- Marketing: Besides the reviewing websites, we nearly did no marketing nor advertisements.
We liked the game so much but sadly we had to leave it and continue our another project. After 3 years almost abandoning the projects, there’s an opportunity we can actually bring it back to life. Recently No Humanity had a big hit in Chinese Tik Tok instant game, which also brought up the download in app stores (I will share this story later). Maybe for this reason or just back chance, we were contacted by couple publishers that they want to publish our game, including Rainmaker, in China Android market as well as the local channels in other countries.
We again felt excited about it and really want to bring it back to our players. We’ve already known that paid app cannot work so we followed the success story of No Humanity, making it free with ads and 1 in-app-purchase item to remove ads. We probably will add sharing later too, just like No Humanity to increase the share-ness and user acquisition. We also added Chinese and Korean translation in the game.
It seems that it taking the effect where 2 Chinese websites wrote articles about the game and making 53k download in a few days.
Although the traction is getting less and these definitely won’t have a long-term effect, it still too early to say is that a good move to making a paid app free and worth our effect making the update and adding ads in the app. Hopefully I will post an update for that soon.