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

Featured

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!

Space Invaders success!!!

Our game: Space Invaders 2017, has now passed 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store!!!

Needless to say, we’re overjoyed at this, and never expected it to take off as it has, it’s currently still getting over a thousand downloads each day and we expect to hit two hundred thousand downloads within a few months.

 

For those interested, here’s the store link:

Space Invaders 2017

I’m adding gamepad support right now for a new update.

 

I’m also working on an upgraded version called Space Invaders: Deluxe, with higher resolution professionally produced graphics.

 

 

Support Coffee Induced Games

To help support us producing our games, can we suggest purchasing the language we use? Basic4Android from Anywhere software.

And what would really help is if you’re thinking of purchasing B4A, please use the following link to visit the Official B4X site.

B4X Official Site – www.b4x.com

For every purchase made here, we will receive a small amount of the sale and help give us the means and motivation to continue producing quality games produced using Basic4Android and publishing work in progress blog posts and Youtube videos.

So what are you waiting for? If you’re on the edge, go for it! What do you have to lose? B4X offer a full 30 day money back guarantee!

 

Our sister blog easyandroidcoding.wordpress.com also feature a series of tutorial articles you can use to get going on creating your own games using B4A and LibGDX. (LibGDX is free)

Update on level loading for Grenade!

I’ve completed most of the level loading code for Grenade now, so the Android version can use the PC versions level files, the below screenshot shows the current state. Nearly all objects are loaded from the map and are displayed. I might change the scale of the soldiers as they look a bit small compared to the level and still need to load in other level details like objectives and the collision map (to stop soldiers walking over rivers and through buildings)

wipshot_290416All the graphics will get improved for the final version before release, the trees need better texturing, the rocket packs are too big, the rivers need to be darker with animated water, the bushes need to be cut down a bit (pruned) and given more variety and the grass texture could do with some variation too. I’ll also improve the look of the buildings, although that’s not in shot right now.

After I finish the map loading, I’ll start working on the interface, there’s going to be a button for grenades, one for rockets, and one for air strikes, then a minimap button and a menu key to pause or abort. The solders will also need healthbars, which I’ll put in a side bar box.

I’ve also decided to reduce the soldiers to two per mission, it will improve performance a little and should make route finding much easier, it’s also easier to manage for the player on smaller phone screens.

Mid April update on Android conversion of Grenade!

Okay, time for a quick update on the early work on this PC to Android conversion.

I’ve written a task list as shown below to follow in order to convert my game. I’ve tried to make each task achievable in a small amount of time, anything from 30 minutes to a few hours. I’ll generally try to work down the list until the game is complete. The list will change over time and I’ll update it here when it does.

convert all graphics to png or left as jpg – done
add transparency to all graphics – done
check all sounds are mp3 or ogg (check online) – converted to OGG – done
redesign control system, write design doc – done
generate 500 name list – done
create all types required in b4a
test loadmission code on b4a
draw level on b4a
scroll around map on b4a
add simple movement code using screen taps
add enemy movement
add fire code
add grenade / rocket dragging
add enemy AI
add enemy bullets
add collision detection
add map collision detection
look at route finding using a* code
add prisoners
add crate pickup code
create database for storing names and soldier details

As you can see, I’ve already completed the first few items on the list. The PC game was written using Blitz Basic which didn’t support 2D transparency in sprites and needed a set colour to use to blank out as a background colour.
Here’s what I mean:

 the PC image has a white background which BlitzBasic was told to treat as totally transparent and the shadow itself is not see through.

 after updating the image using Paint.Net I remove the white background and half the transparency level of the blak image, when drawn as a texture using LibGDX this will give a much better looking shadow allowing for the grass or other ground features to show through.

The other changes to graphics have been removing graphics that won’t be required in the Android version, like custom mouse pointers, some of the animated menu items and also converting everything from BMP to PNG format.

The theme tune has been converted from MOD format to MP3 using a free online tool I found on Google.

Regarding the control design, the PC version required you to hold down G then click to throw a Grenade, R to fire a rocket, or T to call in an airstrike. Obviously I can’t do this for the Android version, so I’m going to copy the methods used by the game Tiny Troopers, and use the method of having a grenade icon which you can press then drag to the target to fire a grenade or rocket.
for airstrikes I’m toying with the idea of using a minimap to call in a strike, as done in Call of Duty on PC, if this doesn’t work then I’ll use the same drag method.

One feature I love in Cannon Fodder is that every soldier has a different name, my PC game didn’t have this but I’m going to add it to this game, I’ve used an online name generator to make a list of 500 unique names, I use Excel to remove any duplicates. When Cannon fodder was made, the first soldiers on the list were named after the developers, so let me know if you want to be on the list! When each soldier dies, he’ll be given a grave in a graveyard and the player will be able to press any of these graves to see who it is and how they died. I’ll use a SQL database for storing this.

I’ll leave it there for now, I’ll do another update when I’ve completed some more points, feel free to comment and like this post if you want me to continue.

Plans for 2016

This is a quick post to say where I’ve been and what my plans are for 2016

I’ve been focused on my day job and family for the last year and therefore have not been doing much games development.

This year I plan to dedicate several hours a week to this, my plans for the year are…

 

Add features to the Orchard Crush game

Write a series of blog posts on how I wrote this game

Add features to the twin stick shooter game

write blog posts to show how I wrote this

Write 2 new Android games using B4A and the LibGDX library

Write 2 Android applications

Review the best Google Cardboard Apps I can find and post videos on my Youtube channel.