I have two PlayBooks apps available in BlackBerry’s App World: Poker Solitaire (available for $0.99) and Marblous (a free app). I recently noticed a bit of a spike in sales of the former and downloads of the latter, and while I was looking at the numbers, I realized that I’ve never done a sales/stats post. So here’s a sales/stats post. The numbers for both apps are overall pretty low (I’m not retiring off this income), but I think what’s interesting is the trend that they both indicate, which is that the market for PlayBook apps seems to be growing.
The bulk of my income is in client work, so my main goal in developing/distributing these apps wasn’t necessarily the income they would generate. I don’t do any marketing, unless you want to count as marketing a couple of mentions on Twitter that I’d released the games (but you probably shouldn’t). So these numbers can perhaps be seen as what happens if you create a game and then essentially neglect it (but you probably shouldn’t).
I ported Poker Solitaire to the PlayBook because it was a good exercise in familiarizing myself with AIR development for the device (and because I like the game). Marblous is a very straightforward collapse clone. I’d originally created it because I wanted to figure out the logic for finding matching neighbours - this was back in about 2006 when I was doing Flash Lite 1.1 work. (Side note: the algorithm had to execute over the course of multiple frames because Flash Lite was pretty slow on a Nokia 6620 - I also had to walk uphill in the snow to and from the mobile phone store; you kids these days have it easy). Then early last year, during the brief period of time when I was under contract to write a book on AIR for Android game development, I dusted off the code and ported it to AS3 with the intent of using it in the book. Ultimately, I never did finish the book, but I had the completed game code sitting around, and figured that since at least something should come out of all that work, I released the game for free for the PlayBook.
So all that said, here’s the sales chart for Poker Solitaire, broken down by week (Excel is the one that figured there are 53 weeks in a year, for what that’s worth). The game was available at the launch of the PlayBook - note the anemic launch sales. I’d have expected at least a moderate bump at launch, given the small size of the app market for the PlayBook at launch:
The sales are pretty inconsistent, but overall there’s an uptick starting in week 53 of 2011, which would of course be right after Christmas. As far as total numbers are concerned, there have been 138 sales altogether. 43 of those sales have happened since week 53 of 2011. Of the 138 sales, 105 were from either the US (42) or Canada (63). So sales to Canadian PlayBook owners accounts for almost half of the total sales.
My guess is that the price drops on the PlayBook meant that there were a lot of them showing up under Christmas trees, which would explain the relatively recent increase in sales. This is even more pronounced in the chart of Marblous downloads:
First off, the scale of the chart is obviously much higher, which is to be expected from a free app. But the trend is most consistent and more apparent with the free app, too: after its initial release in July, it settled down into a pattern of about 30 to 50 downloads per week. However, the same spike in week 53 of 2011 occurs here too, only it’s much more pronounced. Now, the game is being downloaded about 200 times per week, give or take (since week 8 isn’t yet complete, it’s a bit lower than the others). Although the chart doesn’t show total numbers, it turns out that Marblous has already been downloaded almost as many times in 2012 as it was in all of 2011, more if you include week 53 to capture all post-Christmas sales.
Also, the PlayBook is a predominantly North American and overwhelmingly Canadian device, if the downloads broken down by country are any indication (sorry for the small print):
In terms of actual numbers, Marblous has been downloaded 3422 times since it was released. 2271 of those downloads are from the US and Canada, and 1691 (49.4%) are from Canada alone.
From my perspective, I think this points to the PlayBook as an attractive development target - I suspect that this is true of it were a developer’s primary target for development, but I’m pretty confident that it’s worth the time and effort required to port to the PlayBook an application that was originally developed for a different device/platform. It also means that I’d give serious thought to using Adobe AIR, since it would mean less work in porting to the PlayBook (as compared to something like Corona, which would require a rewrite to a different language).