Monday, December 21, 2009

Ad Supported iPhone Game, A Counter Example to Elf Command

The developers of the free game Elf Command have recently published blog posts (here and here) describing their experience using in app advertisement as the source of revenue for an iPhone game. Although their game was well received and even featured in iTunes as part of the App Store’s Holiday section, the ad revenues generated were disappointing. Their app made less than $16 in the first two weeks. If you are a developer and these results made you lose any hope in monetizing your free app, read on. This story might change your perspective.

Speed Bones Lite[iTunes] is a game that helps students learn human anatomy. It has been relatively popular in the medical section of the App Store. It was made to promote the paid version Speed Bones MD[iTunes] and has been available in the app store since May 2009.

Google contacted me less than three months ago and suggested I put one of their banners in Speed Bones Lite as part of their Adsense for Mobile Applications beta program (This was before Google aquired AdMob). Normally I would not have had the necessary volume of downloads to meet the criteria for the beta program but they were specifically looking to put advertisements in medical applications and very few medical apps have high volume, the medical section being the least popular section of the App Store. The paid version of my app had a good run but because of new competition, it was starting to fall off the charts. I had nothing to lose by trying to get a little bit more revenues with Google ads.

At the time, I was getting about 600 to 700 downloads of Speed Bones Lite per day. I thought to myself that if I managed to make $5 a day on the ads, that's $150 per month, it would be worth my efforts. I submitted an update to the app store with the Google ads and since my expectations were low, I forgot about the whole thing.

A month later, after the ads had been running for almost two weeks, I decided to take a peak in my Adsense account.

I jumped a little when the overview page presented me with the following line:

Today's estimated earnings: $118.17

Now, I happened to log in on a day with above average earnings but since then the numbers have been consistently good. My free game is now making more than all of the pay versions (Bones, Muscles, Angiology, Anatomy) and on some days, more than all of these versions combined.

For an app with little visibility and relatively small download numbers (now about 400/day), it is doing suprisingly well with advertisement.

The number of page impressions is much higher than the number of downloads. This has been encouraging for me as it means people are not downloading and playing only once or twice. They are returning to it many times.

Clickthrough rate has averaged 2.6% since the beginning and the eCPM has been excellent, averaging 14$ during the period and surpassing $35 on one day.

I don't know if my success is atributable to Google's excellent targeting algorithm or maybe to the fact that players from the medical field are worth more per ad clicks than other gamers. All I can say is that, in certain conditions with certain populations, it is possible to make money with ads even for relatively low volume applications. Given the amount of money Google dished out for AdMob, I would bet that I am not the only developper profiting from ads.

If you like the Speed Anatomy series of apps please nominate Speed Bones MD
for the Best App Ever Awards in the Best Educational App category (since there is no Best Medical App category).

Also let Dan Grigsby know you like my app as he will help chose the official nominations.

Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Speed Anatomy Released!

I am pround to annouce that Speed Anatomy was just released on the app store (app store link). It is based on the same engine as Speed Bones MD and Speed Muscles MD but it is targeted at a more general audience. The levels in Speed Anatomy cover more common body parts and don't require players to recall detailed medical anatomical terms. However, because it covers much more body parts than the other games, it still ends up being the longest game in the series.

The new game contains 28 levels, including an overview of bones, muscles, arteries, veins, respiratory system and digestive system. You also get levels covering lungs, pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity,oral cavity, dentition, liver, pancreas, brain, auditory system and visual system. only $.99

This games is fun for everyone and it makes your life easy if you are tackling anatomy for high school, university or medical school. Practice mode allows you to learn specific regions without doing all the previous levels. Review mode lets you replay all the mistakes you made in the last game.

Speed Anatomy Promotional Website Launch

Just to let everyone know, I put online a promotional website for the game series. If you were not able to decide whether to buy my games or not and you felt professional looking marketing material would help sway you, there it is. Click on the link and you will also discover that the newest game in the series with the plain title "Speed Anatomy" is comming soon. I would even say that it is imminent (assuming it gets pass the gatekeepers of the app store).