So, I’ve been making Indie games for years, with very little success, usually because I write obscure little games that don’t usually see much action. So I decided to write something that many gamers do love, an Idle Upgrade Cookie Clicker. I decided to go with the same format as the original by Orteil because IMO its the best and I much prefer the straight forward layout compared to modern idle games. I also decided to theme it around climate change as it’s something that I care about (hoping that it rubs off on a few others). I decided to make it free to play (because obtrusive ads are horrible and paid is DOA) with the option of video ads to generate coins for those that don’t want to spend any money on coins. I opted to integrate Facebook for backup / restore and the usual social features such as login, inviting friends, sharing, gifting, leaderboards.
So how does a cookie clicker perform these days? Lets take a look at some numbers since release a couple of months ago:
- iOS – On Apple’s App Store 633 installs
- Android – On Google Play 696 installs
- Facebook Web / Gameroom – Around 1.4k users and around 10k plays
Note that the above mobile downloads required me to spend around $200 across Apple search ads and Google Adwords, so I’ve made quite a loss.
So the game wasn’t performing well, but was performing slightly better than most of my other games. With this I decided to put out a version on Kongregate and Newgrounds, (both great game portals with some pretty decent games) to boost the games visibility, which is ok as long as you can put up with the extremely toxic communities. Seriously some of the users (calling them gamers would be a serious stretch) on there were absolutely dropped on their heads at birth, if you are fine dealing with petulant kids then you can turn it into a pretty fun pass time.
Today I have:
- Kongregate – 12,288 plays
- Newgrounds – 7,039 plays
After placing the game onto those portals I did see a nice jump in mobile installs, but it was very short lived (a couple of days), its just not an effective marketing tool, especially considering the toxicity of the community and the abuse that you will have to deal with. Also, take note, when you do place a game on a web portal, expect it to be lifted (without permission) and placed all over the place so that some blood sucker can earn ad revenue from your hard work (the word cunts springs to mind).
So in summary, paid ads do drive installs works, but you will need a LOT and I cannot stress this enough a HUGE AMOUNT of money to get your game noticed. Web portals like Kongregate and Newgrounds help the game initially but once the toxic community has done with you, your game will have 0 visibility, so any visibility gains will be short lived. Take a look at the ratings for my game:
- iOS – 5 stars
- Android – 4.5 stars
- Facebook – 4.8 stars
- Kongregate – 2.65 stars
- Newgrounds – 2.68 stars
Indie game development for making money is dead, will I still continue to make indie games? It’s fun creating games, so maybe, do I expect to ever earn money from it? No, very unlikely.
If you are thinking of becoming an Indie game developer, I recommend only doing so if you get enjoyment from it, if you expect to earn a living then try something else.