Windows Phone

The first full year as a Windows Phone developer

Posted by admin on January 11, 2012
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments

A few days ago, it was MonsterUp’s first birthday (happy birthday MonsterUp!) and a little more than a year since we released our very first Windows Phone title, Tetrada (R.I.P.). Tetrada was developed using a Zune HD originally, since we had no access to a Windows Phone, but when we did get access porting it was a relatively easy process, since both share similar technologies. When Tetrada was released, most comments were positive and many people also compared it to the “official” Live title Tetris, actually preferring our implementation. Of course, Tetrada was nothing more than what it was, our first try at Windows Phone game development, and as such, it fulfilled its destiny. It also put Karios Games on the WP Games map, where we have stayed since then.

After than came MonsterUp, our flagship product. MonsterUp was based on the simple “always-jump-on-never-ending-platforms-and-get-as-high-as-you-can” idea. It was accepted with very good comments, even winning a Game of the Month award, the month it was released. But we didn’t stop there. The game has got 13 updates since then, adding new game modes, extra characters, extra themes, special powers, online scoreboards and so much more. The game received numerous awards, including the honor to be the only game in the Top 10 of Microsoft’s App Challenge which took place in Los Angeles during the annual Microsoft Worldwide Conference in July 2011. The game was definitely a success, having received hundreds of reviews and keeping a constant 9/10 mark on the reviews average. We have learned a lot from MonsterUp, but I think the most important thing we have learned is that we have to make games for gamers and the gamers’ opinion matters. We tried to respond to feedback as best as we could and we took your ideas seriously when developing the next iteration. I mean, when you think about it, it makes sense that when you create a game, the end users are the ones who are going to play it after it gets released. So why not keep them happy? This was exactly our goal over the past year, and we hope we have succeeded in doing  just that.

Our third game, Galaxium, was released in summer 2011.  With Galaxium we wanted to see how rapid we could come up with a complete game, using our experience and engine elements we have been developing with our previous games. The answer was a little more than 1 1/2 weeks. Immediately after its release, Galaxium won the first prize in the competition which inspired us to create it in the first place. Since Galaxium was a rather simple game, a top-down space shoot em up with powerups, spaceships and asteroids, we decided to try to keep it simple even when updating, and also provide an ad-based free version alongside the ad-free paid version. This allowed us to take a look at the ad-based business model and have an opinion on the viability of such projects. The things we have learned were not surprising. First of all, people love free stuff. Not only do they love them, but they can also get quite demanding, even though they paid nothing for them :) People also, some times, confuse price with value and feel that if something costs nothing, it is of no value. As an example, our free version has an 7.5/10 while our paid version has 9.8/10. And it is exactly the same game.

After Galaxium, we decided to experiment a little bit with apps on the Windows Phone platform. As a result, we have released 2 apps, one companion app for current or prospective students of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and another one for enjoying your favorite Aesop Fables wherever you go. Although we are game developers at heart, we rather enjoyed the apps development enviroment, with XAML and the combination of Visual Studio with Expression Blend proving to be quite a powerful combination for Apps development.

So looking back we want to share the following to current or wannabes Windows Phone developers.

-Listen to your users and consider their feedback

-Designing and developing your app/game is most of the time less than half the work you have to do. If you don’t have someone dedicated to promotion/advertising etc, prepare to work a lot after you release it.

-Don’t expect a return of investment right away. In fact, it might take a while since Windows Phone will start to take off, in our humble opinion, this year.

-Enjoy the Windows Phone development platform. At the moment, it is a large part of the satisfaction of developing for it.

-Experiment with the different business approaches you can take. Go paid, go free, go ad-based, try and see where it takes you.

-Learn and adapt along the way. We all do it :)

So what happens in 2012? Many things! First of all, we are really excited with all the Windows Phone news, the Nokia devices, the larger-than-average satisfaction rate of Windows Phone users and the positive things that finally start to show in the media. We have a lot to look forward to, including Skype on our devices, an awesome Windows Phone – XBOX – Windows 8 ecosystem and, of course, fantastic devices to support all this.

Finally, from our part, we will continue to support the platform. The sequel to MonsterUp, called MonsterUp Adventures, is progressing quite nicely and we expect to launch it sometime in Q1 or Q2 at the latest. And it’s going to make a big splash, we promise :)

App Hub statistics bug

Posted by admin on January 11, 2012
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments

Happy new year everybody!

Downloads for my apps and games seemed to spike in the beginning of the year, only to be followed by a bug that dropped the elevated number to zero. I am pretty sure it is a bug:)

Windows Phone 7 Manufacturers (updated)

Posted by admin on December 28, 2011
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / 1 Comment

So happy birthday Windows Phone and all that. It’s been most than one year for Windows Phone and still not many people have it. Recent estimation speak of a 2% market share which is, at least, a pity for such a wonderful mobile OS. Windows Phone has the highest satisfaction rate and lowest return rate out there, does not suffer from fragmentation like Android does, provide variety by allowing many different manufacturers to focus on different aspects (some have bigger screens, some have better speakers, some have better cameras – so there is a choice even though they all run more or less the same OS). In my opinion, it provides the best of all worlds, and for the vast majority of end users, it should be the number one choice. Nokia has come in the game recently, and things look promising, but we will have to wait and see.

So what manufacturers sell most phones out there? It’s really hard to tell. We do have some data to share with you today though. During the last year, people playing Galaxium and MonsterUp (all their versions) gave us the following data for their manufacturers. Enjoy.

3 Acer
6 NA
586 FujitsuToshibaMobileCommun
1153 NOKIA
2200 DELL
42774 LG
162458 HTC

So, first of all, more than 40.000 people played our games (the data above count game runs – not unique devices). Thank you for that;) I wish this meant 40.000 sales for us, but we are giving away Galaxium Free and MonsterUp Lite so these numbers are far far from our sales. Anyway.

Second, HTC seems to be dominating the WP7 market (assuming players play our games a similar number of times), with almost double the number of the second, which is SAMSUNG. The first 3 phone manufacturers were of course the first ones to release devices to the market, so they have the lead anyway, Nokia is still behind, being brand new and all, even lower than DELL.

And if you like Pie Charts, here is one for you:

(click for a larger version)

Update: We are also including another chart for your statistics viewing pleasure. In this chart, we show how many times our games (Galaxium and MonsterUp including their free and paid versions) have been executed in each of the manufacturers. Since the original post, a new manufacturer appeared, Qualcomm. Interesting :) Also, Nokia devices have more than doubled the executions of our games.

(click for a larger version)


Aesop Fables for Windows Phone 7

Posted by admin on December 27, 2011
Apps, Development, Windows Phone / No Comments

While you wait for our next big release (which is coming and it’s going to be awesome!), here is a little something to keep you happy! We just released Aesop’s Fables for Windows Phone 7, to you can enjoy the ancient Greek storyteller’s wisdom anytime and anywhere. The app should be available in a few days in the marketplace. Here is a list of what you get in version 1.0:

  • 5 fables
  • supports 6 different languages (English, Greek, German, French, Italian and Spanish)
  • includes original Ancient Greek text
  • original animated artwork for each fable
  • have the story read to you in 5 languages
  • learn more about Aesop’s life
  • share your favorite fable with your friends

5th Student Guru event in Patras Greece

Posted by admin on December 10, 2011
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments

A few days ago I was invited to give a small speech about our work on MonsterUp and Galaxium during a WP7 Development event in Patras. We attended through the internet and talked for about 15 minutes. Here is the video (in Greek):

(more info and full video here)