The shelf-life of Smiles

Smiles has been available for nearly 6 months in the App Store now. From the stories you may have heard, not all iPhone titles necessarily do well. But if you consider that the game was developed by one person in 4 months, it lives under the charts, and has only 1 Apple mention to it’s name, it’s actually done alright. I’m hardly “rolling in the dough”, but I can make ends meet.

It’s been a great ride. Smiles scored itself a nomination in the IGF, which is something I’m immensely proud of. It’s also been collecting extremely high regards on nearly every website that’s taken a look at it. One of the cooler ones to date has been the Silver Award from PocketGamer, which I just recently found out is actually more than a mere banner graphic.


Pretty awesome. 🙂

But in the perspective of things, given the whole pace of the iPhone market (30k Apps in less than a year), I’d say it has finally run it’s course.

I launched Smiles at $4.99, a price point that was ballsy at the time, and even more so today. I was offering quality and content comparable only to the top tier titles, and games for other high profile systems as the DS and PSP. Those that noticed appreciated it, but it was message that was hard to communicate to people. The only way I could really say this was with the price itself. So I stuck to my guns. For nearly 5 month, I sold Smiles for the benchmark price of $4.99. I never really sold in high volume, but I sold in enough volume.

In the iPhone market today though, I no longer think $4.99 is doable. Unless you’re one of the lucky few featured in Apple’s banner or TV campaigns, you need to play the impulse volume game. The higher the price, the more a user will think before buying.

After my IGF sales bump during GDC, I put Smiles on sale for $2.99. This revitalized my already declining bumps sales, and gave me a solid few weeks of record earnings.

As a test, I put the prices up to $3.99 earlier in the week. I was going to give it until Monday before considering any further price changes, but my sales dropped so much the past 3 days I had to put it back to $2.99. Statistically speaking, Monday and Tuesday are my worst days, but Monday at $2.99 was far better than all 3 days combined (and then some).

Smiles has exhausted pretty much all the major iPhone gaming sites. In promoting the game, I contacted nearly every major gaming blog and site that covers iPhone games (even off hand). Obviously with a very cutesy casual game look, and being a matching game (one of the most tired and done genres of casual games), it would be a battle getting though the e-mail tips box of larger blogs like Kotaku, TUAW, or IGN. It was still worth a try though.

And now… it’s not quite bargain bin, but I have to be conscious of what people will actually pay in the off chance they discover it. Lite version to full version up-selling, and finding new ways for it to be seen.

I’ll continue talking about the Smiles ports soon. I’m finishing up my writing project shortly, taxes today, running Ludum Dare this weekend, and perhaps attending something in a few weeks.