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Thursday, February 3, 2011

My first Android game - how is it going?

I published my first, and only at this point, Android game titled Grid Hunt back on December 9th. I decided to go the ad based route and hoped to make back the cost of the phone. Seemed like a small dream and believe me the dream became even smaller.

Stats at this point:

1759 Downloads / Installs with 424 of those active.
$4.50 or there abouts (AdMob site is having issues this morning) in ad revenue.

At this point I have not had a single deposit made back to my checking account as I have not hit the minimum for that yet and have not even covered the $25 it takes to put something on the market. So I would say it is rather disappointing. I did not have huge dreams of Angry Birds money or even making it into the thousands of dollars but this is a pretty solid hit of reality.

I have only had 4 comments on the game so far and just as many people have bothered to rate it. Friends and family seem to enjoy the game but even they don't post comments. I have had one crash the first day it was out and fixed it right away. It is at version 1.8 as I have made various improvements over time. Of course with this massive success rate the desire to pour more time into it is rather low. I would like to add a two player mode but I don't know if that would spark more than an extra 50 cents into my Ad Mob account.

The only marketing I have done is via this blog. Not sure where else to try and do things and I am not a spam king who puts a comment in every stinking website they can find that will allow it. I did submit and have the game accepted on Amazon so I am curious if that will drive any more traffic to the game.

I have some ideas for some other applications that are not games. I should give one of them a shot to see what happens. I am doing Android programming at work so I am keeping active but I have not done any more personal work on it since the release of this game. Since this is a newer job, just started it in October, I am mentally burnt out by the end of each day so it has been hard to sit at home and do more work. Add to that my younger son has been using what it technically his laptop a lot more and I don't have something to use out with the family while watching TV.

I guess you hear a lot of success stories around iPhone and Android applications and few stories like this where the dollar amount is below a sawbuck. Should I have charged 99 cents for it? 5 sales and it would beat what I have done so far. I doubt switching to a paid app now is a good idea unless I could find some super awesome way to market it.

What did I get out of this experience? My new job involved Android development. I needed to learn more about it and did so by writing a game during the week I had off between positions. I always recommend to anyone to take a least a few days off between jobs. I learned a lot about the API and how to code a lot of things I would not run into coding business applications - advanced graphics and sound being a few of them. I already knew Eclipse but I learned how to set it up for development and debugging. Installing the proper USB drivers for my phone to get ADB to recognize it on my main machine and my son's laptop helped me do that a lot quicker at work. I learned the ins and outs of the Android Market. Small device variations came into play as I watched someone play it on a Samsung Tablet and I made modifications to make that a better experience. All in all the new job came out way ahead on this so I actually came out ahead too. Anytime you can be better, faster and generally more productive at work it is a winning situation.

I still enjoy Android programming more than I do iPhone programming. I have run into a ton more hassles working on our iPhone application at work. Between the oddities of Xcode, the ugly syntax of Objective C, the massive pain of the iOS Developer website, the inability to place code I have written on any device without the consent and written approval of Apple has pushed me to always write, test and debug for the Android first and port to to iPhone second.

I have a feeling the mobile arena is the future. Writing for a small, limited device is fun again and it kind of reminds me of writing for the Atari 800. Honestly writing for the PC has almost gotten out of hand. Everyone expects so much for each PC program. Hey, you don't have a ribbon control like Office for your one off utility! Where is the animation? I need more colors and every button needs a high quality icon designed by a graphics artist. Why can't this import every graphics file format known to man? Seems you need to know your base language plus about 10 different 3rd party support tools to write anything. When you hit the phone you say "these are the widgets, let's use them and get the information to the user" and that is accepted. I have written some custom controls already but they have been small and limited just like they should be.

It has only been a few months. Things may pick up or maybe it has already peaked. There are new apps on the market daily pushing mine further down the search list. I guess I can dream of hitting the $25 mark so I can call it a wash...