Our approach to bringing Viva Stampede from idea to reality was different than my past development projects, due in large part to a tool I discovered last December—SensorTower.com.
The Smart Way to Reskin a match 3 source code
I’m going to share the short version of our process.
1. Identify a simple gameplay style that would work well with a fresh theme. Simple match-three puzzle games have staying power.
2. Research popular themes. Animal themes never get old, so we chose to set the basic plot and storyline of our game at a zoo.
3. Find strong keywords. Most developers make one of two mistakes: they create a game they like with no regard for what’s already popular (or unpopular); or they model what’s popular but don’t put a fresh spin on the theme, graphics, and artwork.
After choosing a zoo theme, we decided to let keyword research help with the specifics. Here’s what we used SensorTower.com to do:
- Choose the keywords in the title, “viva” and “stampede.”
- Choose keywords for the “subtitle”: “match,” “three,” “puzzle,” and “game.”
- Fine-tune the theme, including animals and storyline.
- Select optimal keywords to use in the 100-character META keywords section.
- Pick extra keywords to use in the app’s description.
The Importance of User Retention
If you take away nothing else from this post, remember this: you don’t even have to create the next household name to do well with a tile-matching game. Because user retention has been so good, we’ve been able to generate good revenue from a relatively small number of users. (We haven’t done much marketing with this app.)
For example, if you get 100,000 installs, but 90% of your users only play your game once, then you really only have 10,000 loyal users. By contrast, if you get 50,000 installs, and your DAU is 50%, then you have 25,000 loyal users—that’s 250% higher with only half of the install base!
That’s what a lot of indie developers playing the reskin angle are missing. High-quality apps typically have higher user retention, and make more money as a result. Crappy reskins have high churn rates and don’t make as much money long-term.
But spend a little more money on a high-quality source code and making it look really good (maybe better than the original!) will pay dividends.
We had hundreds of animals to choose from, but the App Store is already full of games with lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my! We used gorgeous artwork to create memorable characters from animals that weren’t overused: coyote, hippo, rattlesnake, otter, panda, toucan, and, naturally, a deranged platypus.
We hired a professional game sound artist to create an original soundtrack for the game and found free sound effects in the public domain. You could describe Viva’s music as “World-Jungle-House,” or a “drum-line-meets-jazz-flute medley,” or “urban-tribal-zoo jams.” The music is definitely catchy.
So once we had a solid foundation of match-three style gameplay, a fresh spin on a popular theme, and strong keyword choices to boost discoverability, we actually started building the game:
- Over 375 total development hours
- Objective-C match 3 source code game engine
- Over 50 hours of User Interface and artwork design from professional U.S.-based game designer
- Average Playhaven interstitial eCPMs since launch in mid-April – $5.36!!!
- User retention: Viva Stampede averages a 50% user retention rate
- Ridiculously addictive match-three gameplay
- In-game currency with tokens (already integrated with Playhaven rewards)
- Three play modes: Levels, Timed, Endless
- Cool Powerups: Hints, Chameleon (change one animal to another type), Platypus Trap (remove an obstacle), and Magic Net (remove all of one tile type)
- Playhaven, Revmob & Chartboost interstitials integrated
- Revmob, Flurry & Mobclix banner ads integrated
- Tapjoy advertising SDK integrated
- Playhaven More Apps plug-in on Info screen
- Flurry analytics integrated
- [Get A Free Game Now!] button on Home screen
- [Get a Free App] button on Info screen
- [Get a Free App] button on Game Over screen
- Animated How-to-Play tutorial
- Gamecenter integration
- Reminders during gameplay to consume Powerups
- Great-looking shopping cart that blends in-game currency and in-app purchases
- Remove Ads in-app purchase
- 5 consumable in-app purchases (tokens packs)
- Other in-app purchases related to Powerups
- 1 non-consumable IAP (5 backgrounds)
- Turn music and sound effects On/Off
- Local notifications set to appear at strategic intervals
- Push notification integrated (Pushwoosh)
- Review on App Store pop-up
- Top Scores on Info screen
- Tell a Friend feature
Viva Stampede may well be the most sophisticated match-three game source code available on the market, and it’s the perfect “starter kit” for the puzzle game apps you want to create.
We created step-by-step reskinning instructions, as well as a complete assets list. If you like, you can reuse most of the music, sound effects, animations, and menu buttons. The list shows highlighted in blue the specific graphics that you will need your designer to create—mostly character art and backgrounds.
You can check out the Viva Stampede here.
The Single Use license costs $299, and the Multi Use license costs $399. I think you’re all smart enough to know that this is a great deal. This match 3 source code is a winner that we’ve already updated four times!
You won’t find these prices anywhere else.
Any match-three game has a ton of potential, and I hope you all see the value.
I’m happy to any your questions, so feel free to leave a comment below.