10 days in the wild

Howdy all! It has been just over 10 days since we unleashed Flash Element TD 2 (FETD2) on the world and as promised I have some stats for you figure loving people out there. Also in this post I will talk about some of the mistakes we made with the launch, what we did to fix them and some of the things I think we got right.

So first lets crunch some numbers.
FETD2 was launched on the 12th January @ 10:30pm GMT, we decided to launch at this time as we wanted a quiet few hours to make sure the process of making the game live didn’t introduce any new bugs and we tend to be at our most quiet late in the evening. We also decided to not publicize the launch to see what sort of numbers we could get from word of mouth alone, which makes the following an interesting look into the spread of a viral game.

We record 1 play when the player completes or loses the game, only when the game ends do we consider that 1 play. If they restart a level before it ends or just close the game we do not record a play. We felt this was the best measure of a games popularity and more real than loads or starts.

Now, on to our first graph which shows the number of plays each day in blue and the total number of plays in purple.

Number of plays each day and Total number of plays

Half a million plays on the 4th day, 1 million on the 10th, an average of 2.3 plays a second on our best day.

Not too shabby I think you will agree :o) We are currently getting just over 100,000 plays a day, with a peak of just over 8,000 plays an hour. But where is this traffic coming from? If we take a look at our Google Analytics data we can find out the number of referring sites and the number of unique visitors from these sites (A referring site is any site that links to our site). Before FETD2 was launched we were hovering around 200 referrers giving us around 2,500 unique visitors each day. As you can see from the following graphs the number of referring sites and visitors has shot up.

Number of plays each day and Total number of plays

The number of sites linking to the Casual Collective increased three fold in 4 days and peaked at 796 on the 22nd.

Number of plays each day and Total number of plays

The number of unique visitors from these referring sites went up from 2,500 to 47,700 in the same period!

This increase in traffic has had a positive impact on almost all areas of the site. Accounts created are up from around 200 a day to 3,500, we are getting 100 more posts in our forum each day and plays of our multi player games (which we thought would go down as people switched over to the new game) have almost doubled!

Some mistakes made
Some silly things we overlooked when we went live that if we had sat back and thought about it we could have avoided.

Proving poor links back to our site: The FETD2 page was very boring with very few options and the only link back to our main site was a button saying “quit” Ideal for someone who knows the site well, useless for a new visitor who lands on this page. Of course this meant that very few people realized there was a whole site out there with more games and all the social goodness we have. We quickly re-designed the page to make it more exciting and provide a better link back to the main site.

Thinking people would play for a high score: We made the assumption that even though the first level was easy people would re-play it to try and get a better score, which is very true of our members, quite a few of which are already over 50 plays . However people vising the site for the first time didn’t care about scores and were only interested in beating the game, if you don’t care about your score and play to complete the game it is quite easy and most people would have managed this on their first or second go. We quickly added a 2nd map for them to play which was much harder and we feel it helped a great deal in raising the number of plays.

Been too clever for our own good: We were very proud of ourselves when we designed and created the ability to login or register a new account without the need to leave the game, much work was put into making it communicate with our server to check usernames were available, emails were valid etc… We even made it possible to create or join a group as part of the registration process, all within the games flash interface. The down side of this is we made it possible to do too much without visiting the site, basically we have no cross-selling of our other games and the many features of the site. As a result many of the new accounts been created never see the bigger picture. We plan to correct this over the next couple of days by redirecting people to a HTML version of the registration/score submit process that takes them to their profile or group page when completed.

Some things I think we did right:
We auto-grouped people: Using referral information we auto joined people to groups. If you were playing FETD2 as a result of clicking on a jayisgames.com link and then created an account we auto-joined you to the jayisgames group. This then lets you compare your score with all the other 1000’s of members from that site. We did this for our top 10 referrers and plan to better automate this in the future.

Saying hello: If we detect a player has come from a top 10 referrer we have a custom message above the game which notifies them of the existance of a group just for them. If you came from 123spill.no and you saw a link (in Norwegen) that mentioned the site you came from we think you would be more likely to click it than a generic “we have groups” link.

Custom games page: All of the other games on our site have a common template for the games page, we created a custom one for FETD2 which allowed us to brand it to the game as well as do some more clever ad placement. This bespoke template is getting a eCPM 3x that of the other games pages on the site. We plan to roll out custom templates to all our single player games in the near future.
And then what? Well we will add a new map to FETD2 at some point as well as some fun modes to play, we will try and keep the content in the game as fresh as possible to keep you coming back for more. If you have not already done so, go play FETD2 :o)

8 Responses to 10 days in the wild

  1. Andrew says:

    A great article there on the spread of a viral game, really great info for others looking into this type of thing, keep up the good work

  2. p00pd0g says:

    Great info!

    Glad to see the Collective growing…and I’m excited about new game types!

  3. I will need to check this out when I can afford to spend 2 days straight being addicted to this game =)

  4. kusaregedo says:

    wow, until now this site really is the best i ever saw. it only is better as i played whit my friends!

  5. moontear says:

    Keep on rockin’ guys. I TOTALLY agree with the point that people maybe didn’t see the big picture. So I guess you know what to do for FETD3 ;-)

  6. Iain C says:

    Great work, guys – an inspiration to indies everywhere.

  7. Kars-T says:

    Hi there.

    I did a small analysis about tower defense games on the internet. Maybe this is interesting in regards of your launch. This analysis uses google trends and alexa.

    http://www.towerdefensehq.de/2008/02/19/popularity-of-tower-defense-games/

    If I look at your internal unique user statistic I believe that alexa does track only a small fracture of your real traffic. Wich makes the analysis through alexa not very reliable. Without visitor numbers from a portal like newgrounds we can’t really compare your site with theirs. But by alexa numbers sorry to say the CC right now isn’t that popular.

    But as I stated lets see in a year if you can manage to raise your numbers. The essence by my analysis is to make frequent updates. But I think you already know this.

    Best regards,
    Kars-T
    Tower Defense HQ

  8. brendan peck says:

    i ned 2 know were fetd2 is!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: