How High Up Apple China's Charts Can Powder Monkeys Climb?
by Henry Fong
DAY 1, NOVEMBER 19:
Yesterday at 11:35 am Shanghai time, our latest iPhone game, Powder Monkeys by XMG, hit Apple’s App Store in China. It’s a very cool, casual RPG/strategy/arcade/adventure hybrid set in a post-apocalyptic future where monkeys and insects fight for world domination, and the player is a monkey pirate captain who must conquer islands and defeat insects in ship-to-ship combat. (Yeah, really – trust us, it works.) We love that Powder Monkeys is basically a series of mini-games that are all easy to play, and comes with fun, cartoony graphics, both of which should help make it very popular in the China market.
But just how popular? We have a launch strategy already planned, and we’re pretty confident we can get Powder Monkeys up into the Top Ten charts by the end of this month. In fact, within four hours of launch, the game had already reached number 69 in Apple’s Top 100 Paid Chart.
Please check this blog every day, because we’re going to keep tracking the rise of Powder Monkeys, and see how far it gets up the charts, all while explaining our launch and monetization strategy along the way. If it loses momentum before then, we’ll still share what we learned from this launch. And if it makes the Top Ten, we’ll party like, well, a dozen drunk monkeys at a karaoke bar. So stay tuned!
DAY 2, NOVEMBER 20:
OK, this is pretty cool — we launched Powder Monkeys from XMG just last Sunday morning, and as part of our daily update, by Monday evening local time, it just now hit number 30 on the Top Paid Apps chart in Apple’s app store in China. Not a big boast, because it’s relatively easy to hit the top of China’s Paid App charts; like I’ve explained before on Gamasutra, the real action in Chinese gaming is in free-to-play. Still, we had a feeling Chinese gamers would dig the game’s crazy combination of casual mini games, cartoon graphics, and super-polished gameplay from our pals at XMG. (Plus monkeys. You can never go wrong with monkeys. Especially monkeys shooting things.) And so far, early indications look like that instinct was right — it’s gotten some good reviews so far but it’s still early days. We’ll keep you all updated on how Powder Monkeys is tracking over the next few days, but the real test of the game’s success will be how well it climbs and sustains rankings once we go freemium with the title.
Check back soon to see if our Monkeys keep climbing!
DAY 3 AND 4, NOVEMBER 22:
It’s Thanksgiving for all our American friends, and right now we have something to be thankful for too: Powder Monkeys just became a Featured Game in Apple China’s App Store! Check out the screencap at left, with Powder Monkeys in the Featured section, displayed in not one but two slots.
Check back tomorrow to see how well it’s doing on China’s free apps charts, which require many times more traffic to hit the top. Meanwhile, we want to give thanks to all the Chinese gamers who’ve embraced Powder Monkeys, and to XMG for making such a kickass game. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this blog who celebrates! Enjoy some turkey on us, while we make do with Peking Duck.
DAY 5, NOVEMBER 23:
After Apple chose Powder Monkeys from XMG to be a Featured Game in China’s App Store, we changed it from being a paid app to a free-to-play game. The result is what you see in the screen capture above — today, Powder Monkeys reached number 12 in Apple’s Top Free iPhone Apps chart, right below huge franchise hits like Gameloft’s Asphalt 7 and Fishlabs’ Galaxy on Fire 2. Pretty awesome, especially considering we only published the game in China five days ago, last Sunday. On the second day after launch, Powder Monkeys hit number 30 on the Top Paid Apps chart, which is cool, but not very impressive, because like I’ve explained before on Gamasutra, the real action in the China mobile gaming market is in free apps, which monetize much better through IAPs. To contrast the volume of downloads for Paid vs Free apps in China, Powder Monkeys will drive almost 100x more downloads today as a freemium app than it did when it hit Top 30 as a Paid app, quite a big difference. But the real test is how well Powder Monkeys does on the Free chart this weekend, where it’s going to meet heavy competition from apps with massive marketing campaigns. But we’re fairly confident Powder Monkeys will hold up well — so far, it’s earned over 500 five star user ratings in just the last couple days.
Check back on Monday, to see how high (or low) Powder Monkeys has climbed!
DAYS 6-8, NOVEMBER 26:
Powder Monkeys took a wild ride through the jungle of Chinese iPhone games last weekend, hopping up and down the Top Free Apps chart every hour. Last Friday, after becoming a Featured Game in China’s App Store, it climbed all the way up to 12 in the Free Apps chart. Then as expected, it got swarmed by competitors on Saturday and Sunday — typically the period when developers spend a banana boat of money on promotion, in order to boost their own games up the charts, acquiring tens of thousands of users through game promotion/ad networks each day. Powder Monkeys held strong, however, slipping to the mid-30s yesterday, then clawing its way back into the #19 spot today. This kind of ranking typically translates into downloads in the mid to high five figures a day.
What happens now? Well, if past performance is a guide, as the weekend’s heavy self-promotion dies down, good games with the best user ratings will start to move back up toward the top. Since launch, Powder Monkeys has gotten over 4,500 five star ratings from players, which is the kind of support that money can’t buy. So we’re still hoping our game can still get into the Top 10 this week, maybe even higher. Check back soon!
DAYS 9-11, NOVEMBER 29:
On November 18th we launched XMG’s Powder Monkeys on Apple China’s App Store, and roughly 11 days later, it’s moved into the Top Ten on the Free iPhone Apps chart — as of 2pm Beijing time yesterday, it ranked nine, then eleven hours later, crept up to reach rank seven. It’s been a wild ride for Powder Monkeys in China, with the title shooting up to #12 on the Free Apps chart on its first day as a fremium title (Day 4), then fluctuating between the teens and 30’s as it weathered intense competition from other apps and games on the market, especially during weekend peak periods.
Through a combination of viral marketing mechanics, leveraging local Chinese social networks, Apple’s App Store feature spots, as well as Yodo1’s own cross-promotional network of games and apps, the mischievous monkeys from XMG Studios have had a decent debut in the China iOS market, with over a quarter million Chinese players enjoying the game during its brief time on the App Store. That includes the iPad, where it currently ranks at number 8 among top iPad apps (see screencap at left).
I hope you’ve all enjoyed following Powder Monkey’s progress in China as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. We’ve got a number of exciting new titles launching over the coming months and hope to share more of our learning and progress with you in the future.