Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Google Play blues of Indian Developer. Are Over!


[Update: Oct 19, 2012
India is now included in the Google Play Developer merchants list. Which means you can now sell app on Google Play's vast android market while developing the app in India. So the blues are hopefully over! This post is now a log of milestones in the development cycle of the game that I am working on. Hopefully, it will be of help to someone in future.]


[This a rant. And only meant for tech geeks, And maybe for people who wonder if my job isn't making me mad. Well it is. And it is making me hell mad! And yet I blog...]

I have spent last three years developing/designing MMORPG games for social networks. And right here in India. It was a small game development company. One of the games I worked on had millions of installs on two different social network portals (targeting two different demographics, US and Netherlands). It was a simple mafia based game. This was a time when Myspace was in. Then Facebook became the in-thing. So I worked on two city building games for Facebook.  Not a great success in term of numbers but good enough to get a favorable industry review and first of its kind made entirely in India. But maybe not enough to take on big developers outside of India. After a long cycle that involved talks with various investors about acquisition, the studio closed operations with all apps on auto-run mode. Most of the investors seemed more into e-commerce which seems to be the in-thing right now for them. And investors who would be looking to invest in games, actually knew very little about games.

But since games are all I know, when a friends [coding genius, Jim Jose and designer Ratnesh] suggested that instead of looking for a job would I be interested in helping him make a game, I jumped right in. Smart phones are the in-thing. Right. So after a couple of hard long months, we made a mafia themed MMORPG game that will run on Android, an app that talks with Facebook, will run on Chrome Store, run on a standalone site for mobile browsers and on IOS. We released a Beta on Google Play around a month back, got around a thousand installs, and some nice feedbacks. Fixed bugs and added features. Yesterday, we released a live version it on Google Play. Discussed plans on India themed MMORPG. All nice and good.

Today we realized that in our development frenzy we missed one big hole in our venture. A bloody black hole at that.

After talking to someone from investment tribe, we realized,  if you are in India you can pay to download paid apps, you can certainly pay a developer fee to develop apps in India but you just can't develop paid apps or make apps in which people would be making in-game purchases.

For receiving payments you need a developer account with Google Wallet tied to a bank account. This bank account can be only from specific 31 countries and India is not one of them. Now, as a work around you may tie your Wallet to an off-shore bank, but later you will not be able to change to an Indian Bank if in future Google Wallet for developers starts supporting Indian Banks.

The scale of the joke gets bigger. Recently, people noticed Google had quietly added India to the list of supported nations. Indian developers were virtually dancing with joy. Later, it turned out it was just an error on part of Google. A galti say mistake ho gaya. India is still on hold indefinitely.

So know you know why a lot of Indian coders stick to safety of outsourcing jobs while our government saintly says Bacha apnay paer par khaday ho jao, why Indians remain massively just consumers and not producers, why Indians opening Google Play market in their phones mostly see ad cluttered 'XXX Stories' and 'Bhagwan Bhajans' as top India centric apps even though Indian can be seems massively commenting and rating all kind of games.

Anyway, it's a good thing we aren't focusing on Android alone. We have a long way round around using Facebook credits as our game offers a Unified gaming experience, a single game running on various platforms, which means if a player purchases in-game currency on Facebook version of the game and later open the game in Android version, he will see his currency. It's a Jugaad. But hey, we remain a Jugaadu country.

For people interested in checking out the game, here's the download link for Google Play: http://goo.gl/rzHqS
 QR Code:



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[next post is going to be something I would have normally posted instead of this. And that's the way I have been running my blogs.]
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Update: Oct 5, 2012
Now available on Chrome Store too. Here

and on website

Update: Oct 10, 2012
Now available on Amazon App Store for Android too

Update: Oct 13, 2012
App submitted to Apple for approval. The mail say's we will hear back from them in 24 hrs. But the internet say's it may take weeks to get the approval.

Update: Oct 16, 2012
What a day for Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai! Since morning the game was seeing an abnormally high downloads. But we could also see that the bulk of them were not coming from Google Play as users were downloading an older version apk. And we had no clue where they were coming from (as till now we were only relying on stats provided by Google Play). After scratching our heads for sometime we used old reliable techniques like image based web counters to realize these users were coming from China. After some more hours of searching we entered the vast hidden world of Chinese Game market where they directly send out apks to the users. Some Chinese app listing site had listed our game, sending us lot's of free downloads. That tells us about the tremendous rate at which mobile games are consumed in China. 

Too bad these are Chinese users, as thanks to language barriers the actual conversion rate of these users isn't  very high.

And yes, we did experiment with Google's Mob Ad, running a campaign for a week. Not very good. Although the impression rate and reach is very high at only 0.1 cents but the actual user install costs something like 1.25 Dollars. Also, the first time we submitted the app Ad, it got rejected for using word 'Kill'. That's reminds me the app got an 'Adult' rating on Amazon for reference to smoking  and stuff. But it is now available no Amazon Kindle devices too.

Update: Oct 19, 2012
Think the blues are finally over! India is  now in Google Play Developer merchants list! Think we launched the game at perfect time

Update: Oct 24, 2012
The game went live on IOS. [here]. It took about two weeks for the approval to come through. The rate at which people found the game in apple store was almost double of Google Play. Probably they have some listing of recently released apps. Also, the rating system in Apple Store is different than Google play as here the ratings are country specific.

Update: Oct 31, 2012
Released in-app purchase in Google Play. Got our first paying customer.

Update: Nov 6, 2012
Saw a drastic reduction in daily number of people installing the game through Google Play. It turns out that this is common after a game competes one month. Maybe the game stops getting feature in some "new" listing. But the good thing was the actual number of people converting was way better. So the game was now reaching out to more interested players possibly through 'related apps'.

Update: Nov 14, 2012
Saw a sudden drastic spike in number of people of installing the app on Google Play (almost 10 times rise). Turns out most of this traffic is coming in from Brazil. Must have hit some kind of feature list there. Although we are getting some great increase in total install count, but the conversion isn't very good (language problems as most of these player are speaking Portuguese). Also, some of the reviews (from around 150 it went down to about 130) just disappeared, may be google put in a check to see if the reviews are coming from the same device.



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Update : January 19, 2013
Broke into a top grossing list on Google Play Market.
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Update: March 21, 2013

Company got formally registered.

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Update: July 12, 2013

Launched another game using same platform.

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Update: Jan 5, 2014

Launched another game a couple of months ago. That too is in the 'top grossing list' for Android US.
Ranks for the first game are still holding. Did transactions worth about $25000 on a single day around Christmas.

It's almost a year. We have around a million installs in Android + IOS. And we did business (pre-cuts) worth 1 Million Dollars on Android+IOS+Facebook.

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Update: March 21, 2014
Completed 1 year. Did transactions worth about $32000 on a single day around St.patrick's day.

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2 comments:

  1. sell on operator app stores

    ReplyDelete
  2. That too we will probably do. But it is the Google Play market that is the largest.

    ReplyDelete

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