Binary Helix are the developers behind a game we have talked about in the past called Dangerous and the newest graphically enhanced version of the game called Dangerous HD. Linh Ngo from Binary Helix decided to post an interesting Post-Mortem about their experiences with both Google Play and the iOS App Store and how Google Play, in their case, is better for them along with dispelling some of the myths behind the Google Play store.
While this post-mortem was originally posted over on Gamasutra in the user's blog section, it ended up making the front page over there and because of this, we won't just put the entire post-mortem here but instead highlight the key points from it and should you choose to read the entire entry, you can do so over at Gamasutra.
Dangerous has been out for roughly 6 months on both Google Play and the iOS App Store and during that time, Binary Helix has learned a few valuable things. For those of you unfamiliar with this game, it is a single-player space combat RPG with a pretty big storyline and some pretty interesting in-game features. The HD version sports even heftier visuals than the regular one and requires more storage (500MB external space) to compensate for it.
Interestingly enough, since the release of Dangerous on Android, the game has always been priced at $4.99 due to is being a bit of a niche game. When Binary Helix dropped the price for a day to $2.99 to see what would happen, there was almost no notable change in sales, instead of a rush of people snatching up a copy at the discounted price. In fact there were no complaints about the initial $4.99 price on Google Play.
Android lesson here: price drops don't do much for niche games like Dangerous. People are willing to pay for deep games. The biggest factor in our success was achieving consistent sales until Google's algorithms kicked in to link purchasers and viewers of Dangerous with other games.
On iOS it was almost the exact opposite for Dangerous where lowering the price boosted sales numbers instantly but only for a short period of time. It seems people are more adapt to buying a game on sale on iOS, looking for deals, than on Android where people are willing to pay a decent price for a deep game. When Dangerous launched on iOS for $4.99, the sales numbers where not as good as Android sales.
While there are plenty of faults with both markets, which Binary Helix points out in their post-mortem, there are advantages as well, specifically with Android. One myth they want to talk about is that piracy, at least in their case. They are not saying that it isn't rampant on Android but what they are saying is that it is no worse on Android than iOS, something that has been pointed out in the past by other developers including the recent move by Madfinger Games to make Dead Trigger free on iOS as well for that very reason.
Other myths that aren't necessarily true include the costs of support for your games making Android untenable, the need for ongoing and consistent PR to drive sales, or the fact your game has to be $0.99 or Free with in-game purchase to be successful.
If you are a game developer already with titles on Android or are looking at the possibility of jumping onto Android, this is a great post-mortem to read in full. In the end, Binary Helix states that "those who dismiss the Google Play store out of hand due to rampant piracy or to the notion that an unknown developer cannot compete with established brands are clearly mistaken as sales of Dangerous has demonstrated" . Definitely some food for thought.