Warlock continues to sell on iOS, but since Google changed their discover algorithm, it barely sells at all on Android. In fact I think its sold 1 copy in the 3 weeks. For a while, Android was the best selling platform, but it seems Google have opted to change their discover algorithm so games that are already massively popular get even more recommendations, whereas less well known games, even with good ratings (Warlock has 4.6 stars) get no traffic. I also used to get a small boost in sales whenever I did an update, but not any more. To make it worse, Google like to change their APIs for things like push notifications and cloud saves every few months, which force me to spend days making fixes to keep the game working. Plus Android is the hardest platform to develop for. Zillions of phones with buggy graphic drivers, and Googles dev tools are so bad, I had better debuggers when I was making games for 16bit platforms in the 90s.
Anyway, just felt like posting that. Obviously I continue to support Warlock on Android, but they sure are making it difficult to justify me ever releasing another game on the platform.
Steam sales suffered too after Valve made similar discovery algorithm changes. The main problem is that no-one just comes across the game anymore when browsing the store. Given that 30% of all income goes to Google or Valve it is a bit of joke. I have thought about doing a free with Ads version but if no-one is even finding the game I doubt it would be worth the time.
Tough world for small independent publishers. I have published myself two board games, same problem. You must invest tons of money in marketing to have a reasonable success. I guess is the same for software games unfortunately. Maybe the key of success for you is to release a (good) moddable game with free editor especially for maps (if the game is a strategy or fps). Is maybe the only way to build a great community around the game.
This sucks to hear, the game plays great on my Androids. Could you do any search optimization? I don't know if you could add "lords of chaos" in as a tag to make this more discoverable for fans hungry for a modern update. What 16 bit games did you create? I'm a big Atari ST fan. Maybe some youtube videos of multiplayer could help sell this gem?
Google Play doesn't have tags, it just extracts words from the App description. I've made an edit to add a Lords of Chaos reference. I've also edited a remakes wiki to list The Last Warlock as a remake. It may drive a few fans of the original to the game, you never know!
I made some Amiga games back in the 90s, they weren't commercial, they were just for myself and some friends but later I released some of them on the internet. Strangely I still get people playing them to this day. An old friend told me about this podcast where they covered one of my games very recently: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VapMFjaCEok (My game is Hanger 18 the last one they talk about). I also made The Turtleminator on the Amiga which was probably my least amateur looking game, and I made 'Backbone' which is software to make other games on the Amiga, people are still making their own games using it.
So I tried to update the Google Play description to include 'Fans of the classic games 'Chaos' and 'Lords of Chaos' will love The Last Warlock!' But Google rejected it based upon their metadata policy that forbids 'Misleading references to other apps or products'. I appealed it based upon the fact that it is not misleading - the game is specifically a remake of Lords of Chaos, but they rejected it. So I can't even help people to search for it. Ridiculous.
On android your game main tag is Role Playing instead of Strategy. 'The Battle of Polytopia' a 'similar' indie strategy game is always in the top list. Maybe you should split the game between adventure and multiplayer and release a freemium multiplayer version with only a default warlock with default summons for free and everything else as premium. And marketing a bit on social networks is always positive. JMHO
Alastair, what's really sad is that I've heard this same story from 4 or 5 other indie developers. One of them even wrote an article on this subject. EDITED: I found the link (but I cannot get it to work, so I put it as code to copy / paste).
I hate (and I mean hate) to make this suggestion, but what about going with one of the popular publishers?
A lot of folks use "Sale Apps" (apps that track other apps that go on sale from time to time). A good example is the couple sales you got when TLW went on sale in Australia. Every couple of months, knock a buck off or something.
It is such a shame Google is doing this, but hell, their track record is crap! Look at the new restrictions with Android Q! I'm going to loose half my tools if I get a device running that API!
I cannot wait until I can get a good Windows tablet. On a high note, I'm nearly done with my first (and last, the way Google is going) Android app! I haven't check it against Q yet, so I am a little worried....
Good point about running sales. I believe Google Play has an official sale system now (they didn't used to). I might run one after the new update and see if that picks up some buyers.
I dread new releases of Android as well. Most of my devices are older and so I'm getting to the point where I can't install the latest version to test it, and there is ALWAYS something that breaks. In one of the last versions the APK expansion downloader broke because of the new permission system (and this is googles own code). I had no way of knowing it was broken until one user notified me, and even after I did a fix, I'm still not 100% sure it works because I'd need a bunch of new devices to test it. For all I know buyers are doing refunds because it does not download properly.
I just recently bought your game on Android and, until I read the this, I thought it just came out! I constantly search the playstore for games like this but I only came across it from the playstore sales section. Really sorry to hear that it hasn't been a worthwhile venture, but if it's any consolation, I gave this gem a 5*.
Thanks for the rating, it does help make it worthwhile! The sales did boost sales on Android for a short time, because, like you say, the game was actually discoverable for a while, but then it drops to being invisible again.
They want the games that appeal to the mass-market. The result is that niche games are swept under the carpet.