The Sandbox - POST MORTEM - Story of launching a mobile game


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Slides from the presentation by Sebastien BORGET, COO & CO-FOUNDER at Pixowl ( on November 30th, 2012 at Game Connection Paris

Sharing Development and Marketing Tips on The Sandbox (

The Sandbox is a unique powder game that provides you with your very own "physics sandbox" and gives you god-like powers, right on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad! Imagine creating your own universe (complete with amazing Pixel Art), composing your own music, and much, much more. The universe is yours to create or destroy, and the only limit is your imagination!


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The Sandbox - POST MORTEM - Story of launching a mobile game

  1. 1. POST MORTEMA story of launching a mobile game Sébastien Borget - COO / Co-Founder
  2. 2. "Pixowl is working on the next big thing since... well, Illjust come out and say it... since Minecraft. There, I said it.” Rob Rich, 148appsTouchGen, 4.5/5, un-missable"... a wonderful time killer that is perfect for people whoenjoy experimenting, destroying and building in a funsandbox environment"TouchArcade, 4/5 stars"... rewarding players for creativity while giving themnear-infinite possibilities”
  3. 3. Release Date: May 14, 2012 Genre: Simulation Game Size: ~35MB Target: Everyone Age 7+ Languages Supported: EN, FR, ES Price: Free with In-App PurchasesThe Sandbox is the best powder game made upentirely of pixels, where you assume the guise of oneof God’s assistants- Amazing pixel art graphic style- Touch based controls: everything reacts at your finger- Create your own universe through the exploration of resources such as lightning, lava, sand, glass, and many others
  4. 4. Trailer Video
  5. 5.  One programmer with a project  Genre: Powder Games  Kongregate
  6. 6. Our results 6 months after launch on iOS:6 (major) Updates launched – 1 more under preparation1.7+ Millions downloads4.5/5 average score on AppStore with 20.000+ ratings50.000 DAUs – a very active community!100.000+ universes shared by players225%+ content than original version70+ elements71 missions / 5 campaigns30 daily questsMonetization, low but acceptable
  7. 7. What went right?
  8. 8. INNOVATION Full strong team “Powder game” revival Platform innovation Aim to high quality
  9. 9. Documentation for everything  Campaigns  General design  Elements design  Artificial stupidity  Menus  Flow  ...
  10. 10. Creative process 100% integrated to prototyping  Game design team cooperative  Brainstorming on google doc  Comments in the docs  Ideas convergence  Ideas filtering  Feasibility (tech team)  Milestones planification (time)  Company goals (management)
  11. 11. Creative process 100% integrated to prototyping  Prototyping & Iteration  Game Design + Programming side by side  Quick Protos: Processing  Tweeking & Visual testing on Protos  If everything goes OK:  Implementation + Final Art  Test
  12. 12. Several gamers type covered: Deep gameplay -> hardcore players Missions / story -> casual players Narrative & tutorial integrated as story Free-mode -> creative players Sharing galleries -> social players (not perfect) Achievements -> collector players
  13. 13. What went wrong?
  14. 14.  Milestones rushes = dirty code Story mode took 6 months to be defined Economy definitions came TOO late
  15. 15. Technology and MaintenanceUnplanned tools updates every few months iOS 6 xCode 4.5
  16. 16.  Last minute integration of Flurry & Tapjoy Piracy – hormonal guerilla 90% of the time: adding last minuteunplanned tasks  Multiple campaign  Daily quests (come back strategy)  Online Gallery  Headless server side development  Pink pandas running naked in a soccer match
  17. 17. Very hard genre to understand and to teachSimple Mechanics Complex Dynamics
  18. 18. Cheat CodesFor a successfull launch!
  19. 19. It can only do you good  !- Distribute via Testflight your build to friends and testers- Create a Beta Application Form, post it on Forums, Twitter and your website to recruit- Minimum Test Period : 2 – 4 weeks- Iterate! Send more than 1 build to the testers- A/B test if you can.- Collect Feedback via Forum and Forms… and Analyse the results.- Go for very qualitative testing, with, or equivalent services
  20. 20. Every 2 month updates with lot of new content Blueprints Backgrounds Campaigns/Quests ElementsCome back strategies Daily Quests (random) Constantly Updating Community support (contests, announces)
  21. 21. Leverage the power of communitymanagement!- Facebook Page with regular updates (banners, announcements, posts etc.)- Twitter Feed with fun facts- Official Game Forum to answer questions: Organize regular Contests with Prizes (real or in- game)- YouTube Channel: 53 videos – 127.000 views in total Feature the TOP of your players’ creations (Daily screenshot on FB / TW + Weekly Best Of Video on YouTube)- Answer Emails!
  22. 22. If you have other apps, cross promote them Very easy to do with Chartboost Don’t forget to use PUSH messages And traditional medium: FB, Email etc.Developers should help each other! Ask developers you know to promote your title Get better rates on CPI / CPC Know who are the players audience Make friends at conferences like now 
  23. 23. For the launch… 1st week of marketing matters the most Get ready to boost spendings if Top 25… and after! Keep in your budget enough $$$ to promote your next updates Reinvest your earnings So many ways to acquire users... Limit your tests to $2000 Split your budget in a limited number of campaigns Rework your budget every day!
  24. 24. The Tools Set you need AppFigures / AppAnnie Flurry or ApSalar wih Events, Funnels and Cohorts Analytics in Chartboost MobileAppTracking (by HasOffers)Our recommandations Choose wisely your campaigns: CPI vs ARPU Target only countries where you make Profit Profits matter more than Revenues
  25. 25. Sébastien Borget seb@pixowl.comskype: borgetsebastien