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Spilt Milk Studios Development Diary 17: Tale of Tails

By on December 2, 2011

This is one of a regular series of guest posts by Andrew Smith (Twitter). Feel like you’ve missed something? Then go and check out all the Spilt Milk Studios Diaries.

Hello! That’s it for this entry.

Had you fooled huh? I’m in a playful mood because I’ve had a haircut.

A serious point will be made about this at the end. Promise. I’m just worried you don’t read that far. You meany.


So in the last few weeks we’ve seen a period of very slightly declining sales. We’re sitting bubbling away at maybe 20 a day, with the occasional spike; being featured in the Popular Puzzlers section is a nice, if genre-confusing, treat. Noting to really write home about, and I’m refusing to moan either. We’ve not update the game significantly since the IAP launch, and despite the initial wave of negative feedback about some of the decisions we’d made we forged ahead and have since addressed most of them in smaller patches. Some of you may be thinking ‘units is less interesting than income’… and you’d be right, especially since we have IAP in the game.

So when we factor in the IAP – especially the ‘Lionel’s Hard Cash’ £54.99 pack – we get a much more positive picture (seen below) because of the wonderful effect this business model has. We seem to sell one or two packs of it every fortnight (so far at least) and this is enough to seriously skew our profits. I’ve done some maths. Are you ready? Since the IAP update, this is how the income from the various elements of Hard Lines breaks down:

Game sales: 71.3% (£0.69)

Small IAP: 1% (£0.69)

Med IAP: 3% (£2.99)

Large IAP: 7% (£5.99)

Huge IAP: 18% (£54.99)


So the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed a downward trend in the unit sales. Shame isn’t it? We’re going to be fixing that soon, oh don’t you worry, but for now it’s interesting to talk about. It’s pretty flat overall, but a bit of forethought looking at the last seven days of sales gives the game sales of zero on the 5th January 2012! Argh! That said, you simply step back to the last month and that trend line is almost perfectly flat. As is, crucially, the profit trend line.


So what have we been doing if not updating the game with amazing new modes and addictive new gameplay twists? Well, we launched another buggy update! Seems to be our ‘thing’ these days. We’ve got a fix in review, of course, but when we moved the £54.99 IAP off of the mode select menu, we also added a neat little ‘please rate the game’ prompt after a certain amount of plays. And iCade support. It seems some unlucky people have been getting a crash whether they agree to rate the app or not. Peculiarly mean of us, right? Well we did see a huge spike in reviews (good ones too!) after we added the prompt, but to get the crash out of there we chose to remove the prompt entirely and add it again when we’re less rushed.

What are we going to do to avoid buggy updated in the future? Well it’s obvious we’re not doing enough now, so I have decided to use  Testflight (join us!) in the future. After a day’s prompting people solely via Twitter and our newsletter we’ve got over 80 people signed up for our updates… admittedly with the promise of beta access to our next game (to be honest that was the main selling point) but regardless it took us 3 or 4 days to get 25 people willing to test Hard Lines while that was in Beta. This means a 4x increase in interest in our games (and obviously then 4x the sales for the next game, right?) that occurred over a quarter of the time. Brill!

To end on another positive note, we’ve still got loads of people getting every update we do:


So all in all, the kind of sales and behaviour over the past few weeks you’d expect from a game that hasn’t really been significantly updated in a while.

But what about my opening randomness? Well then. I’ve been asked about PR and marketing a lot since we launched to such critical acclaim, and widespread awareness of Hard Lines too. It gets me thinking. This diary is a PR exercise. A business chum of mine (not Nicholas!) often questions why I do these? Am I not sharing all of my secrets? Am I not endangering my competitive advantage? I give two answers.

One is that no – if you’re only learning from what I’m saying (instead of using the information to think ahead and push some boundaries for your own product) then you’re not going to be competing with me. The other is that I might be lying. When I said that I’m being weird because of the state my hair is in, you had to believe me. You tend to believe everything I put in this blog too. My frequent moaning about lack of funds on Twitter might even be a carefully thought out PR exercise!

If only I was that clever.

Fun facts:

Fact 1 – I’m running out of fun facts

Fact 2 – I’m not sure this will get through the editing process

Fact 3 – I’ve gained roughly 1000 followers since the launch of Hard Lines

Fact 4 – We have a list of over 23 potential new modes for Hard Lines

Fact 5 – We have a list of over 500 new quips ready to go

About Andrew Smith