Amazing Brok Post-mortem: What $600 can teach you

It’s been over a month since we release Amazing Brok (available for iOS and Android). It’s been over a year since we started developing it. We took away several lessons that, hopefully, we will apply going forward. It is also our hope that this will be helpful to others.

The Ninety-ninety Rule Is Real

I have heard this cliche so many times, and still I was fooled into thinking we had dodged it somehow. I can be hopelessly optimistic at times. For the last 4 months of development, I was self-deluded into thinking that we were 2 weeks away from completion. I was even aware, at several different points during that time, that my previous 2 week estimate had expired. And yet I still thought 2 more weeks!

This wasn’t the end of the world for us. We both have day jobs, so we weren’t depending on sales to pay rent. If you happen to be in that (bad) position, I’d suggest making financial arrangements for at least 3 times as long as you think it’ll take. Well, first I’d suggest getting a job with a dependable income.

Finishing Is Hard

Know the Tools

Do the Math


Monthly Report – July 2012

The month of July, 2012. The month we released our first project ever, Amazing Brok. The lessons learned are coming hard and fast, but that’s for another post. This will be all about the numbers. So let’s get to it, shall we?

To start, I should briefly mention the setup. We released Brok on the Apple AppStore as a free app with limited content, and an in-app purchase for more. Currently there is only one level pack you can buy, priced at $.99. On Google Play, we have a paid app with all the levels, also for $.99. How well did that work out?


iOS Downloads for July 2012

The huge spike is the initial release day, and it’s been slowly going down ever since. Total downloads for the month landed at 6616. For our first attempt ever, we’ve been pretty pleased with this number. Sure, we had no frame of reference. But still, we were fairly pessimistic at how many people would even see the game.


Sales for July 2012

With such a small sample size, the graph isn’t exactly helpful. Other than showing that sales are going down roughly with downloads, not much can be gleaned. It’s maybe a bit interesting to note that a paid app for Android devices did much better than an in-app purchase for iOS. Total sales for both stores for the month were 122 units (76 for Android, 46 for iOS), for a total of $83.79.

Store Rankings

It may be relevant or interesting to some of you, so here are the ranking charts for the Apple and Play store separately.

Apple Store Rankings for US in July 2012

I shortened the time frame. After July 11, Brok doesn’t appear again in Apple’s store rankings. Here’s the Play store.

Play Store Rankings for US in July 2012

It seems like there is an issue with AppFigures collecting data from the Play store occasionally. It will sometimes go several hours without an update. I’m not sure if AppFigures fails to collect data, or if there’s an issue finding the rankings off the Play store. Either way, you can still see the plot points showing the declining curve after the 16th. That sudden spike at the end of the month is when I released an update (I’m still waiting for Apple to review that update for iOS devices).


We’ve done practically zero marketing. I posted in a few subreddits, and told friends and family that the game was released. We haven’t spent any money on ads. We haven’t done any press releases. I haven’t emailed any review sites. It looks bad when I put it all together like that.

I do plan on emailing sites when I get the first update approved. That update really improves the levels, adds some graphical niceties, includes more free content, and more. The update gets the game closer to what we wanted to release. Once it’s approved and live, I’ll feel better about people reviewing the game.

That said, we have had 3 or 4 sites review the game already. They were small sites, but the reviews were favorable. I’m not sure if they helped with downloads or not.


One fun thing to learn was the piracy rate. I knew it could be high; I’d heard numbers as high as 95%. Also, lots of posts had mentioned it being worse on Android than iOS. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. However, in this case it almost certainly has been. It’s a bit more difficult to set up the reasoning, but we saw a minimum of about 98% piracy of the Android version. Here’s my data.

We used CoronaSDK to build this app, which bakes in it’s own data collection code unless you explicitly turn it off. I decided to leave it in, since I could see the data via their dashboard and I was curious about what it would reveal (did I mention that this has been a major learning experience?). They collect a few pieces of data which interest me, but in this case I was looking at the number of unique daily users broken down by OS. (They claim it’s unique users, but my guess is that it’s really unique device IDs).

Unique Users by OS

As you can see, at a high point we had 4630 unique devices playing Brok in a single day. That establishes a minimum number of Android devices that Brok could be on. All the other days’ users could just be a subset of the users from July 12. Some (slightly oversimplified) math shows us that 76 (legit users) / 4630 (min # of devices with Brok) = 1.64% legitimate users.

Now obviously it’s not quite that simple. There could have been legit users with multiple devices. Or pirates with multiple devices. Maybe I should be counting the number of units sold by July 12th, instead of using the total for the month. Lots of different ways you may want to look at the data. (I’m happy to oblige, btw, if you want a specific piece of data that I haven’t given here. Let me know in the comments).

Looking Forward

I’m considering releasing a second version of Brok on Play as a free app, with ads and an in-app purchase to remove those ads. I’m also considering putting the app on the Amazon AppStore for Android and Kindle Fire, as well as the Barnes & Noble store for Nook Color and Tablet. We’ll see what happens.


Despite the terrible sales, we have both been really stoked about the whole process. This is something I do in off-hours, so I’m not depending on the income for anything. My first milestone goal for the company is to just break even after the CoronaSDK license and developer fees, and I have 5 more months for that.

I intend to post a report every month about how we’re doing. I think that’s something people would like to see, especially other developers. Also, I’d love to hear any comments or criticisms you may have, about our overall approach, the game, this report, whatever. And thanks for reading!

Edit: Added in rankings data and marketing info as per user onewayout in /r/gamedev

Amazing Brok v1.1: There were… complications

So, we’ve released an update for the Android version of Brok. Complete with the new levels, some bug fixes, graphical and performance improvements, etc. We also removed the permissions that Corona bakes into your app. We had a (small) boost to purchases after releasing the update, and at the time of writing this we’re are in the top 200 again (after dropping off the chart). So updating does appear to help. And based on an incredibly small sample size, I’m guessing the permissions thing was the cause of about half of the cancelled orders we were getting before.


There’s this Apple AppStore thing, and it’s causing me some issues. Convoluted story time. When we originally released Brok, we were using CoronaSDK build version 704. I didn’t know it at the time (probably wasn’t paying attention), but there was a newer build, version 840. In 704, both armv6 and armv7 architectures were supported. To people who don’t know or care what that means, basically all generations of iPhones could “run” my game (although older phones, like 3Gs couldn’t render fast enough to actually let you play it).

After releasing, I set out to fix the terrible performance on the older devices. I noticed that the 840 (newest Corona version) build included some features that would improve performance in a huge way. As I said, the game was unplayable on 3Gs, and even iPhone 4’s struggled on a few of the levels. Using 840 and including the new features, I produced a build of Brok that ran smooth as butter on Adam’s iPhone 4. I was excited. Then I got another friend to test on his iPhone 3G. My excitement turned to fear, then anger, then hate.

My friend couldn’t get the game to install. We were using, which we had used before. We figured out that the app itself was failing to install, since it was only built for armv7 architectures. The iPhone 3G is armv6. So this new udpate that I’ve been building, the one that would make the game playable on this older model of phone, couldn’t be actually be played on it. Awesome.

Well, after I deliberated for a while, I decided that dropping support of the 3G phones (supposedly only ~6% of the iOS market) was the way to go, since that still gave the noticeable improvement to those with iPhone 4 or better. This will make some people upset (possibly) but it seemed like the right thing to do. Ah, doing the right thing. That’s just not the world I live in, however.

It turns out, Apple has a policy that I’m not allowed to submit an update to an app that would eliminate support for a particular hardware spec. If the app previously worked on armv6, I will always have to support it. I can up the minimum OS requirement, but I can’t drop hardware.

Sorry this is getting so long. But here’s the current plan: submit the update anyway, upping the minimum OS version required, and see if they notice. If they do, I’ll have to figure out other ways to improve performance. If not, however, then yay me!

Amazing Brok v1.1 Nearing Completion

We’ve made all the bug fixes, changes, and improvements that we’re going to make. Starting tonight, Adam and I are just doing playtesting on the new levels, and adjusting the timings and scoring system to make it a bit harder to get gold.

I’m not allowed to show you all the visual changes we made. However, I can tell you that getting gold on all levels in any stage unlocks a surprise. Further, each stage holds it’s own surprise. Further still, getting golds on all levels will get you yet another surprise. Lots of surprises. Surprise!

On iOS, there will be a significant performance improvement. Several of the images have been touched up for higher resolution displays. We added a Facebook link on the title screen. We also added a periodic prompt for the user to rate the game. Finally, we added a banner in the level select menu to make it easier to buy the game. Some users mentioned not knowing how to buy the full game; we had previously hidden the buy button in the settings screen, or you had to complete all the levels before it prompted you to buy.

If all goes well, we’ll be submitting the update this weekend. Then it’s on to the next project!

Adding in a Facebook “Like Us” Button using CoronaSDK

We’re going there. We’re moving a little bit closer to this newfangled social media fad the kids are talking about these days. I decided to add in a Facebook icon on the title screen of Brok, just for the purposes of giving our players an easy way to keep up with our scuttlebutt.

The idea is to offer the most painless way possible for players to “like” us on FB (btw, we have a FB page, you should check it out). I began by looking at the various Corona tutorials and examples to see how the integration should work. Corona has a Facebook api baked in, giving the developer an easy way to get a user logged in and make requests against the FB social graph. Below are a handful of the many posts that could help you get up and running.

Continue reading

Amazing Brok is now available on Google Play!

Forgot to post this here on Sunday, but Brok went live sometime Sunday morning. We’re trying an experiment. We’re testing the semi-conventional wisdom that says paid apps are ok on iOS, but you must go F2P on Android. We’re doing nearly the opposite. The app is available for free on iOS with a limited number of levels, and an in-app purchase of $.99 unlocks the rest. On Google Play, we’re doing a straight-forward paid app, $.99 for the complete game. I plan on posting the results after the month ends for all to see. Stay tuned!

Get it on Google Play!

Amazing Brok “Demo” Rejected

I got an email from the Apple appstore today that Amazing Brok was rejected. I assumed it would be, since I was sure I’d do something stupid. Turns out I was right!

Amazing Brok is a 2D platformer with over 70 levels of pure awesome (if you ask me). We planned on provided the game for free, but with just a limited number of levels (11 at last count). Then you could buy the remaining levels through in-app purchase. This is a fairly standard set up, or at least I think so. Plus, it gives the user a chance to play the game before deciding to shell out $1 to play it. We preferred this approach to just linking to the full version’s app page in the store since we didn’t want to track multiple product codes and split the rating/review counts.

My mistake was that I used the term “demo” in the app description. In my defense, that’s exactly what it is. However, calling it that is bad. Call it “Lite” or “Free”, but not “Demo”. Who gets a Lite version of an app expecting the full version? I understand Apple’s argument: they want to provide complete experiences. They don’t want your app to promise features that it doesn’t deliver. However, I didn’t want to call it Lite since once you buy the full game it’s not Lite anymore.

So I’ve decide to offer Brok for free, but only include 11 levels. Then, if you want, you can purchase all the levels available at this time via in-app purchase. What you get for free is a complete, stand-on-its-own experience, but there’s an expansion if you want more content. How’s this any different from what I started with?

  • I removed the reference to the term “demo” in the appstore description and in one of the popup dialogs in game.
  • I changed the in-app purchase SKU to be called Brok: Origins Level Pack, instead of Amazing Brok (Full Game).
  • I hide the level buttons that aren’t accessible in the free version.
  • I included a circus level, so that there are now levels from all stages in the free version.

I suspect that it’ll get rejected at least once more, due to the level buttons being grayed out when they are locked. You unlock them by playing through the game, but it’ll appear to the reviewer that there is still functionality that is inaccessible. However, if that happens, I’ll probably just explain that mechanism (I should have done it before, because there doesn’t appear to be a place to leave comments after submitting.) Fingers crossed!

Much later than expected…

but Amazing Brok has been submitted to the (Apple) appstore. Fingers crossed for a short turnaround, so we can schedule a launch party and start planning where to put the piles of cash the trucks are about to start dumping on our lawns. While waiting for my Scrooge McDuck vault to be built, I’ll try to write up a postmortem on Brok for anyone who might be interested in that sort of thing.

Also, we are participating in the National Game Development Month (see details at We’ve decided on an idea that we want to prototype. I’ll try to post frequently during this event, using the tag nagademo.