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1. ## Composition 101: Balance

In physics, Balance is that point where a specific distribution comes to a standstill. In a balanced composition, all elements are determined in such a way that no change seems possible. The piece must give the feel of steadiness, otherwise, it will just seem off. Rudolf Arnheim, in his Art and Visual Perception book, stands that there are 3 elements to balance: shape, direction, and location. He also says that in the case of imbalance “the artistic piece becomes incomprehensible […] the stillness of the work becomes a handicap”. And that’s what gives that frustrating sensation of frozen time. In this simple example, you can see all this. Having the sphere off center gives the sensation of unrest. The sphere seems to be being pulled to the corner almost. It’s if like an invisible force is pulling it from the center. These pulls are what Arnheim calls Perceptual Forces. And with the sphere in the center of the walls, you have the sense of balance, where all the forces pulling from the sides and corners of the square are equal. Returning to physics, we can say that when talking about Balance the first thing that pops into our heads is Weight. And that’s what it is all about, what we think. Because, as I said before, perception is just the brain processing images. So, if when we talk about balancing something we think of weight it definitely has to have something to do with it in art, right? Exactly. Arnheim talks about knowledge and weight in balance referring to the fact that anyone who sees a picture of a scale with a hammer on one side and a feather in the other knows that the first one is heavier. If the scales are perfectly balanced it will just seem off. But balance does not always require symmetry, as we might tend to think. Isn’t equilibrium that brings balance. If the scales tilt to the “correct” side (the hammer) perceptual balance would have been achieved. In Art, as in physics, the weight of an element increases in relation to its distance from the center. So an object in the center can be balanced by objects to the sides, and objects on one side of the frame must be balanced with objects in the opposite location. But this doesn’t mean that the objects must be the same (symmetry and equilibrium), for there are properties that give objects weight besides their actual apparent weight. SIZE. The larger the object, the heavier. COLOR. Red is heavier than blue. Also, bright colors are heavier than dark ones. ISOLATION. An isolated object seems heavier than the same object accompanied by smaller ones all around it. Arnheim puts the moon and stars as an example here. SHAPE. Experimentation has shown that different shapes affect the way we perceive weight. Elongated, taller, figures seem heavier than short ones (even though they both have the same area size). To expand on this matter I recommend you to go back to the books I will reference in the sources down bellow. Even though these are really simple examples, I plan to move on with this theory applied to environment art. The whole take on Balance gives all the world building process a solid base stone. Embracing these principles will help you understand and better plan object placement in your scene to avoid the feared feel of steadiness Arnheim warned us about. There is still a bit more to explain about Balance so I will be expanding a bit more on this matter in future posts. Thumbnail art: Madame Cezanne in a Yellow Chair, c.1891 - Paul Cezanne Sources: Arnheim, Rudolf (ed.) Art and Visual Perception. A psycology of the creative eye. University of California. 1954. Bang, Molly. (ed) Picture This. (1991) Baker, David B. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology. Oxford University Press (Oxford Library of Psychology), 2012.
2. ## Planescape CRPG Last Rites Product Review Pack

Last Rites is an isometric role-playing game that takes place in TSR’s Planescape setting. It uses the Bioware Forgotten Realms engine with Interplay artists supplying the Planescape ambiance and feel. The player creates a single character. Over the course of the game, the player picks and chooses a series of allies (pals and romantic interests) to join his party and allow him to kick ass more efficiently. The maximum party size at any one time is five. Download: Torment_Vision_Statement_1997.pdf
3. ## Metal Gear Solid 2 Grand Game Plan

During the development of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Hideo Kojima came up with a Grand Game Plan for the sequel to Metal Gear Solid and how it would be utilized on the PlayStation 2. The Grand Game Plan was included in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, although only in the original Japanese text. In July 2006, Marc Laidlaw of Junker HQ released an English translation of the Grand Game Plan: MGS2gameplan.pdf
4. ## Ion Storm Design Docs

Scanned collection of design, planning, and concept documents from Ion Storm. Download: Ion Storm Design Docs.pdf
5. ## Thief 4 - Game Concept Submission Document

The Thief 4 Game Concept Submission Document from 2004. From the document: Download here: Thief 4 Submission Document.pdf
6. ## The Sims Design Docs

A collection of design documentation from the development of The Sims from Electronic Arts and Maxis, dating back to 1997. 3DPeopleQuestion.pdf AnimationClassBreakdown.pdf AnimationDocumentation.pdf ArtDepartmentPostMortum.pdf BrainstormProblemListForArtTeam.pdf Ch00-TableOfContents.pdf Ch01-Goals.pdf Ch02-World.pdf Ch03-Objects.pdf Ch04-People.pdf Ch05-PetsAndPests.pdf Ch06-Simulator.pdf Ch08-Framework.pdf Ch09-Architecture.pdf Ch10-Graphics.pdf Ch11-Movement.pdf Ch12-CharacterAnim.pdf Ch13-Sound.pdf Ch14-Resources.pdf Ch16-Tools.pdf Ch17-TDSB.pdf Ch18-ContentDevelopment.pdf Ch19-SoftwareDevelopment.pdf Ch20-Documentation.pdf Ch21-Happy.pdf Ch22-ContainedInteractions.pdf CharacterRenderingDevelopmentPlan.pdf ComprehensiveArtAssessment.pdf ContentCreationRules.pdf CuckooClock.pdf EdithDocumentationOverview.pdf EdithPrimitives.pdf FailureTrees.pdf FigureNG.pdf FloatCompression.pdf GuineaPigCage.pdf HappyFriendsHome-2-10-96.pdf HitSoundRevivew.pdf HitSystemDesign.pdf HowToPursueHappiness.pdf JeffersonCharacterMotives.pdf JeffersonDemoTutorial.pdf JeffersonTools.pdf MasterIDAndSubIndexOverview.pdf MaxisSimRules.pdf MooseHead.pdf NotesFromMaxisNewPencilPostmortem.pdf ObjectFileFormat.pdf ObjectIFFFileFormat.pdf ObjectList.pdf ObjectMakingProcedure.pdf ProgrammingObjectsInTheSimsV3.pdf ProgrammingSimsDialogs.pdf ProposalForExtendingTheSimsFranchise.pdf QuickReferenceGuideForTheBewSimsSpriteExporter.pdf ResourceEXE.pdf ResourceFileOverview.pdf SimsBoxXSpecAndDesign.pdf SimsContentLibraryNotes.pdf SimsFileFormat.pdf SimsScripts.pdf SimTransmogrifierDesign.pdf SimTransmogrifierTODO.pdf SlotMachine.pdf SpriteGeneration.pdf Storytelling.pdf Strategy.pdf SuitConventions.pdf TDRObjects.pdf TDSB.pdf TDSBInfo.pdf TechnicalEmail.pdf TheSimsDesignDocumentDraft3-DonsReview.pdf TheSimsDesignDocumentDraft5-8-31-98-DonsReview.pdf TheSimsDesignDocumentDraft5-DonsReview.pdf TheSimsDesignDocumentDraft7-DonsReview.pdf TheSimsPieMenus.pdf TheSimsProjectCompletion-18-12-98.pdf TheSimsQuickStartGuide.pdf TheSoulOfTheSims.pdf TheStateOfTheArtAndGoingForwardToE3.pdf Tools%20Proposal%20Updated.pdf TransmogriferRenovationPlan.pdf VirtualMachine.pdf VitaboyOverview.pdf VM.pdf VMDesign.pdf WallLights.pdf XAnimatorDesign.pdf JeffersonDevelopmentMilestones.pdf JeffersonGameDescription.pdf JeffersonSpectrumOfChallenge.pdf SpriteRotations.pdf TDSEditToDo.pdf
7. ## Why Do Mobile Games Often Fail at International Expansion?

According to WSJ, the global mobile game market is expected to increase eightfold from $3.77 billion in 2010 to$29.6 billion in 2017. And among all the countries, the Asia Pacific region, with China and Japan as leaders, is the biggest market for mobile game developers with 48% of the global revenue and three times more paying gamers than the second biggest region, North America. Considering these statistics, itaEUR(TM)s no surprise that there are countless mobile games trying to expand abroad each year; however, very few can claim success. Part of the problem is that mobile gaming has become a modern-day gold rush. Worldwide developers flooded the market hoping to strike it rich, making todayaEUR(TM)s mobile game market extremely competitive, no matter in domestic or oversea markets. But the biggest factor is that developers often underestimate the challenges and importance of mobile game localization. In our experience of helping mobile games go global, here are six common mistakes they make when jumping into the international market. Avoid these, and you will greatly increase your chances of success. 1. No explicit international strategy and plan The most basic and early stage mistake a game developer can make is failing to understand that localization is more than word-for-word language translation. Whenever you plan to take your game global, first establish a localization strategy that answers questions like: What factors characterize an attractive market for your company? (e.g population, GDP, mobile penetration, competitors, language, regulation, cultural factors, partners...) WhataEUR(TM)s your prioritized list of the top 10 world markets based on these criteria? Can we test the demand of a market before going all-in? What are the market needs of each? Can your company address multiple markets at the same time? Should you find a local partner? WhataEUR(TM)s your go-to-market strategy for each country? Lack of commitment and understanding in localization often kills an international initiative. Therefore, make sure your company has a strong corporate champion to drive the in-depth research, explore the markets and own the execution once the strategy is done. Without formulating the right strategy and translating it into actions, your game will fail, no matter how many languages it supports. 2. Ignoring localization in the early phase of game development Many game developers try to postpone localization-related discussion until the end of the development cycle, but they donaEUR(TM)t realize that they have made a huge mistake from the moment they write their first line of code. What this typically equates to is a lot of rework and additional costs to go back and modify your code to work when you add new language and localization requirements, costing your company thousands (or millions) of dollars and months of delay in getting into overseas markets. Instead of doing costly rework down the road, your team should make an explicit decision on internationalization upfront. Is your code well-prepared for the pre-translation phase? Are your UI strings all externalized? Have you given careful consideration in international non-text elements such as symbols, colours, time and date formats, and currency symbols? If your code isnaEUR(TM)t localized in the beginning, the problem is getting worse with every line you add. 3. No aEURoeculturalizationaEUR? process To increase the odds of a titleaEUR(TM)s success in international markets, great attention must be paid to the cultural aspects. Basic language translation is the bare minimum that any game developers should be doing. Ideally, your translators should be able to adapt your game content to the local culture because culturalization is a necessity. aEURoeWhat we learned about international markets is that itaEUR(TM)s not enough to localize the content by just translating it. Instead, we have to culturalize it,aEUR? Craig Alexander, VP of Product Development for game studio Turbine, said. In order to create the best gaming experience, your translators have to understand foreign cultural traditions, the latest pop culture in the targeted country, local points of reference, etc. The same applies to non-text assets. For example, while showing a peace sign is normal in the USA, a reverse peace sign suddenly becomes an insult in places like the UK. Why did EAaEUR(TM)s Plants vs. Zombies become one of the biggest mobile hits in China? Just look at the localised design of the zombies and the Great Wall background in the picture below. Keep in mind that you can build gamer loyalty by fully capturing a regionally exclusive experience within the game. 4. Underestimate the challenge of global mobile game distribution If you think that all the mobile game distribution channels in every country are similar, you are making a big mistake! In the rush to launch overseas, this is often the most overlooked problem by game developers. Do you know that China doesnaEUR(TM)t have Google Play? Instead, it has around 200 Android app stores creating a highly fragmented market. Without a system in place to track the performance of these channels, you basically canaEUR(TM)t have accurate strategies for distributing your app in this country. Each of those app stores serve a different audience with their own characteristics. You need to look at their different behaviours and adapt your games to different situations. For instance, market leaders often create different versions for different app stores. In other words, if there are 20 app stores they want to target, they will create 20 different versions and marketing strategies for their games. Due to these complexities, many western game developers work with local publishing and localization partners when they are trying to expand to China now. When your team comes up with the localization strategy plan, make sure to discuss whether a local partner is needed. 5. Failing to localize the monetization strategy Although your code and content may be the most obvious localization candidates, your revenue model is equally critical. In some developing countries, like China, their game players donaEUR(TM)t make as much money as the average US gamers. Your business model needs to reflect that reality as a result. When Plants Vs. Zombies 2 launched in China, they initially tried to optimize for the monetization too much, making the game way too hard and expensive to play, which backfired on useraEUR(TM)s reviews and dropped their rating from five star to two at one point. To overcome this, they learned from the experience and tried to figure out the right balance of difficulty and how to reasonably ask for money by changing the gameaEUR(TM)s economy. Now they get far fewer negative reviews than before. When sharing his learnings at the Game Developers Conference, Leo Liu, GM of EA Mobile in China, said, "The Chinese market is so different, you have to be prepared for anything unusual from the Western perspective.aEUR? Make sure you wonaEUR(TM)t repeat their mistakes. 6. No on-device testing and translation review prior to release This is an amateur problem that is so easily avoidable and yet we came across it time and time again. You work so hard on the game, create a great localization plan, translate UI strings, it launches, and suddenly, you realise something is broken. You find out that some extra long German words break some of your game UI! But the worst part of this scenario is when your CEO asks you how this happened, and you say, "I thought the translator was taking care of itaEUR|aEUR? Never assume and never leave anything to chance. At the end of the day, if something does go wrong, and you could have easily prevented it, the responsibility is on you. Professional translators are human and people make mistakes sometimes, especially in the complex, fragmented and rapidly evolving world of mobile. Make sure your localization partners provide localization testing and review services on a number of mobile devices because you canaEUR(TM)t afford to disappoint your users with buggy games. After youaEUR(TM)ve received a poor rating, there is no way to hide poor quality in the world of mobile. Conclusion ItaEUR(TM)s true that international expansion is hard to get right. Therefore, clear ownership, good strategy up-front, and great execution are critical. That way your mobile game will be in a great position to take advantage of the huge international opportunity! If you want to learn more about whether your mobile games are on the right track in terms of localization strategy, I invite you to get a Free Assessment with our Localization Managers today. WeaEUR(TM)re here to help! Simply click the banner below to join the invitation. Note: This article was originally published on the OneSky Localization Blog and is republished here with kind permission of the original author.

10. ## 5 Premium Currency Pricing Trends and Tricks used by Mobile Free-To-Play Games

Most free-to-play games on mobile sell some sort of premium currency: gems in Clash of Clans, donuts in Simpsons Tapped Out, gold in Game of War and so on. I spent some time analysing how 32 games on the App Store sell their premium currency, and some interesting trends and tricks emerged. The Games Before we proceed, meet my data set. The 32 games analyzed are: 8 Ball Pool, Angry Birds Go!, Boom Beach, CastleVille Legends, Clash of Clans, Clumsy Ninja, CSR Racing, Disco Zoo, Dungeon Keeper, Empire, Farm Heroes Saga, Game of War, Hay Day, Hobbit: KoM, Jelly Splash, Juice Cubes, Kingdoms at War, Kingdoms of Camelot, Knights & Dragons, Modern War, Monster World, Moshi Monsters Village, Papa Pear Saga, Pocket Village, Puzzle & Dragons, Real Racing, Royal Revolt 2, Samurai Siege, Simpsons Tapped Out, Smurf's Village, Subway Surfers, Top Eleven. My method for selecting games was pretty unscientific... just a mix of games I had played, wanted to play, or were in the AppStore top grossing. Perhaps I'll expand on the list some day. Trends & Tricks 1) There is not much variety in pricing A lot of games offer the same 5 price points: GBP2.99, GBP6.99, GBP13.99, GBP34.99, GBP69.99. Those are the 5 big bubbles you see in the diagram above. (That's $4.99,$9.99, $19.99,$49.99, $99.99 for American readers). The most popular thing to do is to offer those 5 price points exactly with no changes, as is done in Supercell's Boom Beach for example. This exact price progression accounts for 1/5th of all games surveyed. If you also count price progressions that are within 1 price of the most popular (meaning they can be reached by either adding, modifying or subtracting just 1 price from the progression), you've got over 3/5ths covered. Extend it again to count price progressions within 2 prices and almost all games are accounted for. Very few games deviate from this formula... Moshi Monsters Village and Empire are tied for the most unique price points award, with each offering 4 unique prices that no other game does. It's nice to see someone trying something a little different, it will be interesting to see if their pricing catches on. 2) Players agree on a minimum price, publishers don't The only price that games seem to disagree on is the minimum to charge. I wanted to know: is it worth offering a minimum price cheaper than GBP2.99? The App Store most popular purchase ranking reveals some interesting information. In 100% of cases where GBP2.99 is the cheapest price, it is also the most popular purchase. 17 games had both a starting price cheaper than GBP2.99, as well as a price point at GBP2.99. For the majority (70%) of those 17 games, GBP2.99 was still the most popular price point. The same information visualized: It appears that even if you offer players a minimum price point cheaper than GBP2.99, chances are they will probably still prefer to buy the GBP2.99 option. But some questions remain... a) When GBP2.99 is the cheapest option, how many sales are lost from players only willing to pay less than GBP2.99? b) And how much revenue is gained from players that would have preferred a cheaper option but paid GBP2.99 anyways because there was no cheaper option? c) And most importantly, which is greater? A or B? Unfortunately I don't have enough data to answer it. But it did make me think back to a talk I watched long ago in which a publisher claimed "you'd be surprised how many people who are willing to pay a dollar for something, will also be willing to pay 5 dollars". He goes on to express regret for setting the price too low. If it was up to me, I would probably start pricing at GBP2.99 and then lower the price later through special starter pack offers if need be. It's always easier to lower a price than it is to raise it! 3) Buying more is not always a better deal for the player I assumed that by buying a larger currency pack, I would always get more currency per dollar spent. This is not always the case. The most significant example of this I came across was in Angry Birds Go: Pay 2.5 times as much, but only get 2.1 times as many gems. If you want 2,500 gems, you can save money by buying 2 x 1,200 gems + 1 x 100 gems for a total cost of GBP29.97 - a whole GBP5 cheaper than the 2,500 gems priced at GBP34.99. Those are savings you could use to buy another 300 gems. It's hardly an isolated incident. 70% of the games surveyed do this kind of thing. Sometimes, you see the same thing happening in the US store. Other times I think it has to do with price localization. When something is priced at$4.99 in the US it is typically sold for GBP2.99 in the UK. But for some reason $9.99 (double 4.99) becomes GBP6.99 (more than double GBP2.99) whereas it really should be GBP5.99. Take Hay Day for example. Not sure how or why this practice originated, but I didn't see any games adjust the premium currency given as a result so sometimes we end up getting less currency per GBP1 than you would get per$1. 4) 'Most popular' doesn't have to mean most popular As a player, don't trust everything publishers tell you. In only 1 out of 8 games that prominently displayed a "Most Popular" badge next to a currency pack, was that also the actual most popular purchase in the App Store ranking. Angry Birds Go, the only one to correctly label the "Most Popular" offer: Does this mean everybody else is lying? I guess if at some point in the past or in a different territory the offer tagged as "Most Popular" was actually most popular, then you could say it's just out of date. In any case, it wouldn't be in any publisher's best interest because in all 7 cases where the "Most Popular" was mislabeled, a cheaper offer was the most popular and who would want to encourage players to buy a cheaper pack? Apparently only Rovio is honest enough. 5) There's more than 1 way to calculate a bonus A few games like to tell players exactly how much of a better deal the larger currency packs are. There are different ways of calculating this which can make the discount sound more or less impressive. This first example is from Kabam's Hobbit game. The lowest amount of gems per GBP1 is found in the GBP6.99 pack: 100 / 6.99 = 14.3 currency per GBP1. At this exchange rate, for GBP13.99 you should get 13.99 x 14.3 = 200 currency. But they give you 240 for GBP13.99 instead of 200. 240 / 200 = 1.2, thus you are getting 120%, ie 20% more than you should get. The numbers have been arranged so as to maximize how impressive the bonus sounds while remaining 100% truthful. Not everybody calculates it the same way. Here's a different example from flare's Royal Revolt 2. Like Hobbit, they use the lowest exchange rate which again is from the GBP6.99 pack. At that rate, you should get 5,256 currency for GBP34.99 but instead they give you 7,500. This is where the method diverges from Hobbit. The extra amount of currency being given is 7,500 - 5,256 = 2,244. 2,244 / 7,500 = 0.299, so we can say that of the 7,500 currency you are being given 29% for free. First off, they could easily have rounded 29.9% up to 30%. More significantly, using Hobbit's method you could say that 7,500 / 5,256 = 1.43, therefore it is equally honest to say that you are getting 43% extra. Another interesting example is Monster World. If you try to calculate the bonus using any sane method, it just doesn't make sense. It had me stumped for a little while. Then I checked the US AppStore pricing and it all fell into place. If you use the US prices, the bonuses make perfect sense using the same method as Hobbit. So it appears that when the prices were localized, the bonuses were not. In reality, the bonuses in the UK AppStore are far less generous than their US counterparts (eg 7% UK instead of 25% US for 100 potions and 70% UK instead of 100% US for 4,000 potions). Final Words I hope this information helps anyone working on (or simply curious about) f2p game premium currency pricing. There's certainly a lot more going on with the prices than is obvious at first glance. The more I looked, the more I found. Still not satisfied? Try my spreadsheet. It's full of extra figures and graphs I didn't consider important enough to single out. And if you find something in the data I missed, let us know! Note: This post was originally published on Wolfgang's blog AllWorkAllPlay, and is republished with Wolfgang's kind permission.
11. ## Communication is a Game Development Skill

It's been two years since we launched Taptitude on Windows Phone, and we're still going strong! Keeping with our tradition of openly sharing our download and revenue stats, we'd like to take a look back at the last two years to see how far we've come, and where we have room to improve. This article will primarily focus on the Windows Phone version of Taptitude. We've recently ported Taptitude to Windows 8, Android (Google Play) and iOS, but we haven't been out long enough to collect meaningful numbers. Later in the year we'll do a follow up to see how those platforms are turning out. Let's start with some high level observations and then dig into the details. Windows Phone continues to be a great market for indie developers. The mini-game collection model continues to resonate with our users. There is significant headroom for future growth. Downloads We recently announced that Taptitude has broken the 1 million download mark on Windows Phone. Let's take a look at how these were distributed. As you can see we had a fairly slow start with < 1,000 downloads per day for the better part of the first year. Near the end of the first year we saw a large spike which added over 200k downloads over a two month period. This spike (middle of the graph above) aligned well with a number of things that worked in our favor. The first was that Nokia started releasing solid Windows Phone devices and our daily downloads started to grow faster than normal, and second we worked our way up the top downloaded chart which has a feedback effect adding further to the download spike. After the spike died down we went back to < 1,000 downloads a day for the rest of the summer. Around the time Windows Phone 8 came out (fall 2012) we started to see the numbers pick up again. We've had a relatively long stretch where 2,500+ downloads per day has been the norm. Let's look closer at the last 5 months. As you can see we haven't dipped below 2k/day in quite a while. From time to time we get a spike over 5k and in some cases over 9k. The spikes correspond to getting featured in the marketplace, and the higher average is likely due in part by Windows Phone 8's growing marketshare. WP8 brought with it changes to the marketplace that feature top rated games. Taptitude is one of the highest rated games on the marketplace with over 26k ratings and a 4.7 star average. Crashes Microsoft provides crash reports in their Dev Center portal. We find it helpful to monitor these reports weekly and fix any obvious bugs before we ship the next update. Generally our crashes per day are reasonably low compared to our user base, but from time to time a bug will slip through and we'll see a spike. As you can see we generally have < 200 crashes per day. Around November of 2012 (a) we started seeing a huge number of crashes due to a bug with Bally Bounce (a popular mini-game). Unfortunately once a bad bug like this gets through our QA process, we have little hope of fixing it in a timely manner. The first day the bugged version was released we started getting reports and had a fix for the bug. We submitted the fix later that day, but since Microsoft's cert process takes nearly a week we knew we were going to pay. In a more mature platform, we would have been given the ability to roll back to the previous version instantly to stop the bleeding while the fix is in cert, but we weren't that lucky. In the following week many of our users picked up the bad version and we were helpless until the fix went in. Even then, some residual set of users who didn't update to the fixed version. It took over a month before our crashes were back down below 200 per day. On the bright side, we're now under 200 per day again, which is better than the 200 per day we were getting last year because our user base is considerably larger now. With 30,000+ active users, the 200 remaining crashes represents a broad spectrum of hardware malfunctions, hard to reproduce race conditions and memory leaks. We fix them as we isolate the problems but most of the low hanging fruit has been picked. Advertising Taptitude is still primarily an ad-supported game, and we've enjoyed considerable success pursuing this business model. We keep things simple; showing a single ad on the screen at all times, and cycling once every 30 seconds. Users can remove the ad by purchasing Taptitude Gold from the in-game store. Over the last two years we've grown steadily up to ~40 million impressions per month. We had a dip after falling out of the top downloaded chart, but have since worked our way back up to a new high of nearly 50m impressions per month. We haven't increased the number of impressions per user per minute, so the growth is coming from an increase in both active users, and time-in-game. While impressions are growing, unfortunately eCPM (dollars per 1000 impressions) has been on the decline. This has been widely reported by other users of Microsoft's pubCenter Ads. The data from the first year averaged in excess of $1 eCPM, however this was when we were first ramping up, so the revenue wasn't ridiculous. The second half of this year has been netting us in the area of$0.35 eCPM, which some say is good compared to other games at the same time period. The combination of increased impressions and decreased eCPM has almost exactly cancelled each other out. You can see from the graph above that our monthly revenue from Taptitude is pretty steady around $15k/month. We peaked (a) at the end of our first year with a$40k month due to good eCPM (~\$1) and great impressions (~40m). This dipped (b) mid last year due to a bug where we weren't showing ads for over a week. Not our bug, mind you, but one Microsoft kindly left in the pubCenter control. When you submit an app to the store it scans your app and looks for certain things to trigger capabilities. One update (of the over 100 we've done so far) we removed an unused component that happened to load the web browser control, which caused us to lose the browser usage capability. That was expected, but unfortunately pubCenter manually checks for this even though the XNA version doesn't use the web browser. We worked around the bug, but not after losing substantial revenue. The important thing to take away from the graph above is that games don't have to have a hockey stick revenue graph. We've seen tons of games that have a good start, but don't retain users and revenue dies off after a month or two. Many of them spike way higher than Taptitude, but the important thing is the area under the curve. We have optimized Taptitude to be the go-to game that you come back to every day for a long period. In-game stats show that many of our users haven't missed a single day of play time in well over a year, and this has led to fairly steady income. In App Purchase We added IAP to Taptitude at the beginning of 2013 and have seen pretty steady uptake. IAP still accounts for a very small fraction of our revenue (~5%), so we can't say we've nailed this business model yet. We feel like Taptitude's rich virtual economy would mesh well with the IAP model; however we're hesitant to push it too far for fear of turning off customers. We'll dive deep into IAP in another article, but for now let's just say we're working on monetizing IAP better in a customer friendly way. Summary Now that we've seen the numbers, let's look back at my original observations: 1. Windows Phone continues to be a great market for indie developers. Taptitude has been more successful than we had ever dreamed, and even after two years we're still bringing in significant revenue off of Windows Phone advertising. While eCPM has dropped, the market has grown, and we're happy with the results. IAP was added in WP8, which opens up new revenue streams, but we've yet to fully realize this potential. 2. The mini-game collection model continues to resonate with our users. Taptitude has grown from a small collection of only 5 mini-games to over 80 mini-games with increasing quality and complexity. We can see from in-game stats that our users are very sticky, some of which have put many days of in-game time into Taptitude. We have optimized for bite sized fun, getting users to come back every day, and continuously expanding the game so users stay engaged for months. This has yielded consistently high impressions per user. 3. There is significant headroom for future growth. While Taptitude is doing well on Windows Phone, we've only just begun. We've recently ported Taptitude to iOS, Android, and Windows 8 and we look forward to having enough data to compare. By some reports, Windows Phone only has ~5% of the market share, so with the addition of Android and iOS we could be looking at substantial gains in the next 6 months to a year. We've nailed the ad-supported model, but we have a lot of work ahead to monetize IAP without impacting the game negatively. Conclusion We hope sharing this data will help other indies understand the market and make better decisions about how to roll out fantastic mobile games. It's too tempting for most developer to see huge numbers on iOS/Android and think that these are the only platforms worth targeting. We're living proof that Windows Phone, even with its smaller market share, is a great platform to kick start your game project while you get it ready for the big (and more competitive) markets. If your game isn't developed with a million dollar budget, you might consider a similar strategy.