Saturday, August 14, 2010

Polyclef Update for August

Things have been pretty busy around here, so I've neglected the blog, but here are some updates on current and future goings-on...

WordWise development is still very active. We keep running into lots of minor issues with the iPhone version. The final piece of functionality to integrate is push notification for the iPhone version. Once that's done and it's tested, we'll submit it to Apple. We'll also have a new release of the Android version next week with push notifications and a better random opponent matching algorithm. Why haven't we implemented push notifications before this? Well, the simple answer is that we couldn't figure out how. Until Android 2.2, there was no built-in support for push notifications. Devs had to either create their own solutions from scratch or rely on a third-party service. We tried to do both, looking at the myriad of approaches others suggested. Most of the custom approaches wouldn't work because we're using Google App Engine as the back end and we can't maintain an open connection to their servers. So far, third-party solutions we tried didn't work very well. No doubt there exists some clever implementation of push notification from Google App Engine, but we couldn't find it or figure it out. Anyway, we finally found a third-party solution that we hope will work well, and allows us to use the same system for both our iPhone and Android versions.

Puzzle Lords is finally going to get a little more love soon. The game has made very little money, but it's very highly rated. I've been wanting to expand it for a long time, and I've finally commissioned some new artwork to add in "Act 2", which features new enemies, new minibosses, and the second boss.

Here's some concept art to peak your interest:

I'm also looking into integrating online leaderboards into apps like Golf Solitaire. I'd like to maintain a balance of working on new projects and improving existing ones. Some devs have suggested there are diminishing returns from updating existing apps, and that might be true in terms of immediate financial return. But I think it does engender a lot of good will among users. Like good customer support, the direct rewards for this are hard to quantify, but I think it's a pretty sound strategy to keep your user base happy.

I'm also revisiting XNA studio for development of a prototype desktop/XBOX game. I've enjoyed success already on Android, but it does make me nervous putting all my eggs in one basket, so I would like to diversify a bit, and of course learn new things. Attempts at diversifying revenue via selling goods (e.g. Android toys), hasn't worked well. Neither has trying to host an Android workshop (of course, I didn't market it very well and only offered it here in Louisiana). But I think concentrating some percentage of my time on developing for another platform will make me a better designer and developer overall and will hopefully result in a nice new game. As the project progresses, I'll post more about it.

Finally, on the financial side, July was Polyclef's best month ever, but it looks like August is going to be down from July. A large part of this is the crash of ad revenue. I won't go into the gory details, but revenue from advertising is just not looking good for August. There are a lot of variables in play, including the seasonality (it's back-to-school time, which may increase ad revenue for some things, but hurt others). I don't want to give the impression that revenue is weak. It's still very strong. It's just that not all revenue streams are firing on all cylinders, so this month is probably going to be a bit worse than last.

Polyclef is still a strong success story of independent Android development. I think August will be a slight dip in the road toward a very strong holiday season.


  1. Hey Derek,

    I have been following your dev blog for a couple of months now and with this update, it sounds like good things are happening for polyclef software.

    I am a budding android dev, and I am about to release my first app into the wild. I was wondering what advertising do you use, adsense? Also, it sounds like adverts are a large portion of revenue for your apps, is that true?
    I'm interested to hear how the Xbox development goes.


  2. I've tried a number of different ad services. I started with AdMob last year, switched to AdSense, and have also tried MobClix. Ad revenue used to be around 50% of my revenue, but these days it is more like 5-10%.

  3. Interesting... Which one is your favorite, and which are you currently with? Also the decrease because the ad revenue cpm is getting lower or are your paid apps bringing in a larger revenue?

  4. AdSense is the service I'm currently using, though it's still technically in beta. If possible, I would be using an ad mediator, but I (and apparently lots of others) have had bad experiences with MobClix, and AdWhirl has yet to support AdSense.