For this week’s iDevBlogADay post, I’m going to try to explain all the things that have happened since last week’s The Story So Far post. I’ll probably miss some stuff, but this’ll at least give you a general idea of what happened.
My experiment from last Tuesday worked exactly like I hoped it would. The moment the price dropped to 99c the sales shot through the roof. Within a day, Trainyard went from #48 to #9 in the US charts, and by the next day, it had reached #2, achieving my goal of overtaking Angry Birds. It was a crazy plan, but it worked. Trainyard stayed at #2 for around two days, and then dropped to #3 for a few more days. Yesterday it was passed by Cartoon Wars 2, so it’s currently sitting in #4. I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops even lower in the next couple days, but that’s just how things go.
The past week has been absolutely surreal, and I’m pretty sure the life-changing-ness of it hasn’t really hit me yet. It’s been a blur and it’s been exhausting. I’m getting TONS of support emails, which isn’t really a problem, but it takes a lot of time. I think I’ve already been asked to port the game to Android over 30 times (for the record, I’ve only been asked to port it to Palm once).
Spreading the word
News of the game’s rise up the charts spread around to a variety of Apple and gaming blogs. It received a great review from TouchArcade and mentions from heavy hitters like Boing Boing, TUAW, Gizmodo and Joystiq. A lot of people seemed to be more interested in last week’s blog post about the story of the game than the game itself, which was fine with me. When I wrote that post, I had a feeling it would be a popular one, but it blew away all my expectations.
All aboard the express
Trainyard Express was also influenced by Trainyard’s success. When I wrote last week’s blog post, Express had just over 500,000 downloads. Right now, it has over 2 million. Knowing that over 2 million people have played a game I made is mind boggling. Obviously I’m hoping that the soft-upsell works, but even if it doesn’t, just having that large of a user base gives me an opportunity to reach way more people than I did before. When I come out with a new game or a new feature in Trainyard, I’ll be able to tell those users about it and hopefully get some good release-day sales.
The massive number of users playing Trainyard Express also put a huge toll on the trainyard.ca server, but it’s held up quite well so far. There are now over 380,000 solutions available to view on the site, and that number is increasing at a rapid pace. At its peak, over 100k solutions were submitted in a single day. Just for comparison, in the first three months of Trainyard’s existence there were less than 4,000 solutions submitted.
Everyone has been awesome, especially in the indie iPhone dev community. I’ve received many great comments and compliments about the game and the story behind it, and I’ve loved every single one. It’s really cool to be part of an industry where despite the fact that technically we’re competing against each other in the App Store, everyone works together and is genuinely happy for each other’s success.
The local indie dev community here in Toronto has also been awesome. I’ve received a few offers to speak at events (something I’m honestly a little scared of, but I guess I’ve gotta learn sometime), and I’ve already met a bunch of other cool local people. I regret not participating in the community a bit more in the past, but I figure now is as good a time as any to start being more involved.
I’ve now made enough money that I can live comfortably for the next year, but I’m not leaving my day job just yet. I’m planning to stick around at Indusblue till the end of the year. I really want to finish off my current projects, and I think it’ll give me time to plan exactly what I’m going to do next year.
I know that I’ll be staring my own small games company. At first I’ll probably be the only employee, but depending on how well Trainyard keeps doing, I may be able to expand to actually hiring another person or two. Starting a company means I have to come up with a company name, which is one of those things I find really hard to do. Luckily, I’ve created a Company Name Generator to help me out with the process.
At the time I released Trainyard Express I was already hard at work on a new game, one that was completely different from Trainyard, but now I’m having to rethink my plans. I’m going to refocus my attention back on Trainyard for the foreseeable future. I always had big plans for it, but it didn’t really make business sense to spend hundreds more hours updating a game that only 3000 people owned. Now that it’s popular, I’d like to really focus on it and implement some of the most requested features, like Game Center support and user created puzzles. I also have a couple unique things planned for the game that I don’t think anyone is expecting.
A month ago if you told me all this was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t believe you, but here we are. It’s been an incredible experience, and I just want to say that I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to be in the position I’m in right now.