$20,000 in 10 months from two small games, how? and what next?

Between January 2017 and November 2017, I have made a little over $20,000 in advertising revenue alone from two small mobile games on the Android App Store – Google Play

Admob income Nov 2016 - Nov 2017
Proof of income to back up my claims

Up until now, I’ve been writing small simple Android games as a hobby, but now it’s getting serious…

If you’ve have told me a year ago, that I’d be writing this article today, I’d think you were joking around. At that point, my total earnings on the Google Play store, amounted to $43.75, if it hadn’t been for some extra income from my YouTube channel showing simple games programming tutorials, I’d have never of received any money from Google up until that point. But as of the time of writing, I’ve earned just over $23,000 in the last year, all from just two games:

Invaders

An pretty simple Space Invaders clone I put together in a few weeks to learn how to use the Libgdx library with the B4A Android programming language.

screenshot_2016-11-07-11-09-04
Invaders

And Invaders Deluxe

An upgraded version with vastly improved graphics, running at a higher screen resolution and adding additional features like weapon upgrades.

playstoreicon

Overall, the games between them have had just over 400,000 downloads in total, with 90% of those being for the older Invaders game.

 

So what happened???

To be honest, up until November last year, Invaders was getting around 2 or 3 installs per day, and making pennies a week. But in mid November, I noticed an uptick in the daily install numbers.

Nov2016Invaders

By the end of November, I was seeing over 350 downloads a day. I couldn’t believe it! What was happening?

I reacted as you’d expect, I decided I had to fix any bugs I could and try to make the game play better and smoother.

Over December 2016 the figures carried on soaring:

Dec2016Invaders

By the end of 2016, I was seeing nearly 3000 downloads per day!

I searched the web for what was causing the massive increase in my fortunes and found the following article on the site DroidViews:

http://www.droidviews.com/4-retro-games-for-your-android-phone/

I’ve not found anything else, so I have to assume it was this article, since it was published just four weeks before my downloads started to rise.

After getting over the intial shock, I decided to do something to try to keep the ball rolling.

I decided to make another space invaders game, but this time with some extra features like different weapons and better graphics. Something I felt I now couldn’t do with Invaders, since that had already become popular, so making big changes now would be a big mistake. I may come back to Invaders some time in the future to improve the way it looks, but right now, it still looks like it did in 2014 when I first uploaded it.

I wrote “Invaders Deluxe” and released it in March 2017. I updated Invaders so that on the title screen, instead of having “Rate” and “More games” as links at the bottom of the screen, it had “Invaders Deluxe!” instead.

In the first month after release, “Invaders deluxe” got 3625 downloads, it took ten days to get to over 100 downloads a day. It’s best day was 270 downloads. The following month April saw 8296 downloads, an increase of 228%. Using the Google play console, I can see that 811 installers cam from direct links, which would be either my in game link in Invaders, or the multiple posts I put on game forums. So my advice, put links in your existing games to pick up new players!

In April, I saw over a thousand downloads from direct links.

This trend continued until now. Last month (October 2017), Invaders saw 9447 downloads, Invader Deluxe had 10348 downloads. Showing that Deluxe is slowing taking over, which isn’t surprising, it looks better and has more features.

How do I make money?

My games are free, all my games on Google Play are free. The way I make money is by serving adverts in those games, whether it’s a banner ad at the top of the screen during play, or full screen ads in between screens.

Basically, when a player clicks an ad, a small amount of money is paid to me by the advertiser, anything between £0.05 and £1.00, it depends on the country the player is in, and the type of advert clicked. It’s a huge area of to get into, but putting it simply, the higher the value of the product being sold in the advert, the higher the advertiser pays for the click, so a real estate advert might pay £1, where as another game developer might pay £0.05 for clicks. All these clicks add up, and as your player numbers grow, the amount you make grows. So the only thing to know about making money with ads in games, is to get as many players as possible. Oh, and don’t show too many ads, this will cause your players to uninstall the game and may end up getting your ads account banned for abusing the system.

How have I spent the money?

This bits easy to write. I put 40% aside in a bank account for tax at the end of the year. I’ve upgraded my aging home PC to support the new Oculus Rift I’ve bought in order to get into VR development in the future.

I’ve also bought new carpets for my house and paid for some nice treats for my wife 🙂

 

What next?

More games!!! The key to this industry is to keep making games. Not just sit still and hope your games do well. Keep working, keep getting games out, don’t spend years on a game hoping it will do well.

Since Invaders Deluxe in March, I’ve released “Invaders Mars Defender”, which is up to 2830 downloads in it’s first month and I’m hoping to release “Earth Defence Fighter” (a shooter, but not Space Invaders based) before Christmas.

Next year, I have plans to release at least six more games. Maybe more if my income goes up to the level of allowing me to quit my full-time job and go full-time making games.

 

 

Thank you for reading. I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to see that you can succeed as an indie dev working a few hours a week on simple games. For more inspiration, check out the back catalogs on the store of developers like Scott Cawthon (Five nights at Freddys fame), Robtop games (Boomlings has  100k downloads, Geometry Dash has 50m) and Galaticdroids (Galatic Attack 5m downloads, but tons of games with hardly any).

 

Good luck with your projects and keep going!

4 thoughts on “$20,000 in 10 months from two small games, how? and what next?

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