Last Sunday we released our game The Dog Run into the Google Play Store.
This post is a breakdown of the first week release click through rates from this web site and the conversion rates that resulted in an actual download of a game.
Let me say from the outset that without some form of “advertising” or publication campaign a new game on the Google Play Store is never going to be successful. We found this out the first time around with our game NumBlocks:
NumBlocks is a fun little numbers game that’s a bit like Tetris with numbers that add together. It was our first game with Unity and only a bit more than an experiment in finishing a game that looked good enough to publish. We weren’t that proud of it and were really just proving our development and release cycle for future games. It was never publicised and never got downloaded…by anyone. So if you are not promoting your game… no-one is looking … and no-one will play it.
This time around with The Dog Run we really do want people to play the game and enjoy it. The game is a simple endless runner with a quirky hand drawn style that held many interesting development challenges. More information about the game is available here:
But what I want to investigate and be transparent about is the way we used this web site and the landing page as a way to interest people into playing the game.
We released the game into the Production Google Play Store on Sunday October 21st.
On the next day at about 8 am New York time we posted on social media channels (we found from research, and validated with our own posts over several months on this site, that this is one of the times of the week that got the most traffic).
We only used Reddit, Facebook and Google+ to promote the release of our game. We Tweeted and posted to LinkedIn and Tumblr but no-one really follows our feeds on those platforms so I won’t count them.
So what can we say about this set of groups? Well they are all Gamer’s Groups. These are “our” people. This is where we go when we need feedback or inspiration or help. We may not be active in all of them and by no means is this an exhaustive list but after working our way through this lot on a Monday morning there is no energy or time left to look for more groups to join and contribute to. So this is not a “general public” group nor are they representative of what I think our target audience might be. But these are gaming enthusiasts and I think more likely to try new games and provide that sort of validating critical and informed feedback that is important for making the game better. (I love you all!)
So now for the stats….
After seven days since posting these are the figures that hit our website (which normally gets about 20 – 30 visitors a day). The graph below shows the two weeks previous to release and is indicative of the sort of traffic we get. The blue bar just under the 500 mark is what happens when we do a blog post. The big orange one is the day after our “social media campaign” (if you could call it that).
Total number of visitors over that week was: 1199
But as you can see a day or two after we posted the traffic dropped straight back to normal. Although the traffic we did get that week was all mostly to look at the landing page of the game.
It is interesting to see where that traffic came from – and it’s overwhelmingly Reddit that drives the traffic to our site. This image below is the stats from the big orange day.
So as you can see even though we posted to heaps of groups in Google+ and Facebook not many users of those platforms were reached.
Out of this massive spike in traffic the number of people who actually clicked on the link to go to the Google Play Store was: 76
This is about 6.5% (rounded up) of our total traffic during that period. Every day during that week the click through rate was about the same average rate.
Now for the fun part. Out of those 76 players the number who actually downloaded the game and played it was: 21!
Well that’s a huge improvement over none.
I was very excited by this number. I’ll type it again in long form….. Twenty One!
So what I want to drive home with this post is the amount of traffic that you got to drive into your web site to get the sort of volumes that will get your game downloaded.
Let’s break it down into simple numbers…… Out of 1200 people only 75 looked at the game and out of that number only 21 downloaded it. That’s 1.75% of the traffic to my landing page downloaded the game. That’s the truth of it and remember that these are “our peeps” not the general public so I couldn’t even say that this is indicative of the way the real world works. But it sure is interesting and in a few months after I’ve spent some time marketing this game to real people (not just the gaming community) I’ll do another post and see if the stats still hold.
P.S. If you want a friendly copy of all those social media links email me at email@example.com and I’ll forward them back. (Maybe on a later post – if there is enough interest – I’ll put them online). Zulu.
Should Google Manage Your Keys for Games built with Unity?
We recently had a problem that caused weeks of pain and struggle and it had nothing to do with coding. It was the damn java keystore signing process that we signed up for on the Google Play Store.
The basics are that the Google Play Store requires that all APKs be digitally signed with a certificate before they can be installed. Apps must use the same certificate in order for users to be able to install new versions or updates. This is a good and secure system. No issues here.
If you lose your key you cannot distribute any updates to your app/game. This would be really bad for some companies so Google offers to keep your keys safe so that you if you did lose them you can ask to have the key sent to you which gives you authority distribute again. Yay for Google!
But our problems start here in Unity when you build your game for Android the keystore is defined on the Player Settings tab of the Build Setting (CTRL+SHIFT+B).
In the first case when running your project from Unity the package (APK) is automatically signed with a debug certificate generated by the Android SDK tools. The debug keystore and certificate are in $HOME/.android/debug.keystore.
This debug certificate is insecure by design and can’t be used on the Google Play Store for publishing an Alpha release but you can upload it for Beta releases. I think this is where we started going wrong.
When you upload an APK to the Play Store you can opt in to app signing by Google Play. They recommend it but it’s optional. If you prefer, you can continue managing your own keys.
The advantages of opting in to the Google Play Store App Signing program is that 1. You ensure that the app signing key is not lost. 2. If your app signing key is compromised only a user with an account linked to your app can manage an upload key which makes it harder to do something malicious. (If you sign in your apps are signed with an upload key proving your credentials – Google then manages your APK and assigns it the correct and valid signing key).
To quote their documentation: “When using Google Play App Signing, you will use two keys: the app signing key and the upload key. Google manages and protects the app signing key for you, and you keep the upload key and use it to sign your apps for upload to the Google Play Store.
When you use Google Play App Signing, if you lose your upload key, or if it is compromised, you can contact Google to revoke your old upload key and generate a new one. Because your app signing key is secured by Google, you can continue to upload new versions of your app as updates to the original app, even if you change upload keys.
If you lose your keystore or think it may be compromised, app signing by Google Play makes it possible to request a reset to your upload key. If you’re not enrolled in app signing by Google Play and lose your keystore, you’ll need to publish a new app with a new package name.”
Alright. Read that last bit again. It’s important and why app signing might be a really good idea. If you manage your key yourself and you lose it and want to make an update to your app then you have to publish your whole app again under a different name. Again just to drum that home … If you lose your keystore, the only solution is to upload a new instance of the app to the Google Play Store with a new key, a whole new store listing like it’s a different product, as it will not accept an APK signed with a different key.
I was a little lost so I started looking for the help of my peers and of course from Unity.
I found a post from one poor soul who was in the same boat as me and the response from Unity Support was: “What do you want to be supported from Unity side? I see this unrelated to our build process.” So someone needs to have a little talk to that chap.
Look – and this is really the bottom line – it all got too frustrating and annoying trying to work out what the hell was going on and since I was only in my third release cycle I just opened up a new App on the Play Store and ditched the old one. But that’s just not possible for anyone who has an App out there and has no other option. So this is the process to getting that pesky key back.
In the Google Play Store you can see your App Signing Keys here:
You got your App signing certificate – this is the one that actually signs your app.
SHA-1 certificate fingerprint (above)
And your Upload certificate – this is the one that you use to upload with your APK so that Google knows it’s you.
Your upload key is only registered with Google and is used to authenticate the identity of the app creator.
Your upload key is removed from any uploaded APKs before being sent to users.
C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_111\bin>keytool -genkey -v -keystore D:\ZuluOneZero\Demo-Unity-Android-key.jks -keyalg RSA -keysize 2048 -validity 10000 -alias Demo4Unity
Enter keystore password:
Re-enter new password:
What is your first and last name?
What is the name of your organizational unit?
What is the name of your organization?
What is the name of your City or Locality?
What is the name of your State or Province?
What is the two-letter country code for this unit?
Is CN=ZuluOneZero, OU=TheDogRun, O=ZuluOneZero, L=Melbourne, ST=Victoria, C=AU correct?
Generating 2,048 bit RSA key pair and self-signed certificate (SHA256withRSA) with a validity of 10,000 days
for: CN=ZuluOneZero, OU=TheDogRun, O=ZuluOneZero, L=Melbourne, ST=Victoria, C=AU
Enter key password for <Demo4Unity>
(RETURN if same as keystore password):
Re-enter new password:
Note: keytool is located in the bin/ directory in your JDK. To locate your JDK from Android Studio, select File > Project Structure, and then click SDK Location and you will see the JDK location
(I used this one but you will have a keytool for every JDK and JRE on your machine – doesn’t matter which one you use)
Then, export the certificate for the new key to PEM format: