As you might have read somewhere on this blog already, I’ve worked on a nice little runner game for android phones. It’s called RunnersHigh and started off as a side project at the university. But we kept polishing it as a private “just for fun” project. We improved a few of the gameplay features, the sprites, and the stability. We had thought about publishing the game to the Google Play (formerly known as android market), but quite couldn’t get the energy to do the last bit. What finally made us do it was that there was a competition for mobile applications in Austria. We wanted to submit RunnerHigh there, but that required it being published on Google Play.
My collegue Chris worked for Sony DADC for some time and had access to a quite large set of test devices which he was allowed to use to test RunnersHigh. This proofed to be very valuable when we released the game. When developing an iPhone game you have a quite limited number of devices which you can focus on. With android games that’s a different story altogether. My guess would be that you have thousands of different devices. It’s the same when you compare consoles vs PCs. So what we did is: Test with as many devices as possible and fix the bugs. And then pray on the release that only a small margin of users encounter errors.
So what were the last steps which were necessary to publish our game to Google Play after the actual game development was finished?
Well you get a good idea about that in this post.
Since we never wanted to earn any money (only fame lol), we didn’t have to decide much in that regard. So I set up all the graphic assets needed for Google Play and Chris helped me to make the .apk file publishable (building, remove debug stuff, signing etc). I payed the 25$ for the developer account and then set everything up.
I’d say it’s pretty easy to make it happen, but does of course require some time and some parts can be a bit of a chore. But in the end we made it.
Now to the business perspective. When we started developing RunnersHigh in 2011 there were very few games on android market which had a decent production value. If we would have published by then, I’m sure we would have been able to reach more people with the game. As it was in February 2012 when we really published the game and as it is now, there are tons of really polished games, with good graphics and sometimes even good/innovative gameplay. So the competition is tough.
What annoys me as a user and as a developer is that there is no “New Games” category to browse on Google Play. This makes it all the harder for new good apps to be spotted. So what I did to give us a good start was to search for android and android games communities and promoted the game there. So I made forum posts, emailed editors of review sites, reddit, Francoise made a twitter account etc. So we basically tried everything which was free.
And this actually proofed to be a successful. The game downloads quickly went up especially in regions which we got some attention from communities. What surprised us a lot was that RunnerHigh was very popular in Brazil. I never knew that there was such a huge gaming community there. We also received some reviews, all were very positive.
As it is now RunnersHigh was installed ~7000 times and there are ~1500 active installations of the game. It have a 4.5 star rating with 30 votes on Google play.
We didn’t make a single cent of money with it, but that’s fine because we never aimed for that. The experience was enough profit for us.