Where did this come from?

It took a couple of days longer than I expected but Fare City returned to Finkly Interactive last Wednesday. To celebrate we started a three day giveaway, mainly to smooth the transition of Digital Chocolate customers and hopefully create a little buzz ahead of launching 2.0 at the start of June. We are now in the middle of day three of that sale, so how are things going?

Well. Yes, things are going well.

On day one we saw more downloads of the game than the total purchases since launch back in the September. That’s more copies in one day than eight months of sales. Not that Fare City sales have been huge (as you attentive readers of my blog will have figured) but, huh?

I mean, it’s not like Fare City had any visibility. The Digital Chocolate version was in zero charts; the Finkly Interactive version had been out of the App Store for four months. Sure, we tried to do a little market warm up before the switch and also attempted (through Open Feint and Twitter) to alert DC customers about the sale so they could “jump ship” for free, but it is hard to go from there to the many thousands who seem to have leapt at the chance of getting FC for free.

Of course, through the course of Thursday FC was becoming increasingly visible in the App Store as it rose steadily up the charts around the world. But chart visibility only fuels existing success – you still have to get there. How did that happen?

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that FC benefited from three catalysts:

  1. Owners of the previous FI version of the game got a pleasant surprise when they got an upgrade out of the blue, and they tried out the new maps, remembered how much they liked the game, noticed it was on sale (we put that in the release note) and told all their friends. If this was you, thanks!
  2. The App Store sales bots picked up on the sale and publicized it around the Internet. (I don’t profess to know how those bots work but I did make the play of releasing the new version to the App Store about two hours BEFORE dropping the price to free; and it seems to have worked.)
  3. Firemint coincidentally released an update to Flight Control on the same day. Just maybe this prompted a few of their millions of customers to think “I wonder if there are any other great games like this out there?” Who knows.

If day one was a surprise, day two was just unbelievable. Somehow momentum was sustained and Fare City continued to slowly climb most of the charts until it was knocking on the door of the USA Top #100. Actual download numbers were 50% higher than day one. Finally, at the start of day three it has broken into that coveted realm (if only to #94).

As a consequence of this unexpected turn of events we have decided to ride the wave and extend the sale for at least two more days. The hope is to create a large enough user base that it will become self-sustaining when the tap of free gets turned off. It’s a tough call so check back here later to find out if it was a good one or not.

Whatever the outcome it is still a fun ride.

And here we are, back where we started

Fare City is coming home!

The distribution agreement with Digital Chocolate is coming to an end. My time with a publisher has been interesting and educational but for various reasons it hasn’t really worked out. We are just waiting on Apple to review the new binaries so Fare City should be back on sale under the Finkly Interactive name early next week.

After the pain of the previous transition to Digital Chocolate I’m hopeful that this will be more of a good news story. For one thing, the new version of Fare City is actually an update to the old app I took off the App Store in January. This means that everyone who bought the original version will get it for free; hurrah!

Next, to help those who bought the DC version we are going to celebrate the return home by offering the full version of FC for FREE for at least three days! Of course this will only help if they know about the transition. So we are putting the word out this weekend to see if the grapevine will help carry the news to at least some while the sale is on.

Finally, we are planning to ship Fare City 2.0 in early June. I can’t say too much about it now because things are subject to change but something I’m quite excited about is a new game mode that should offer substantially different game play. More news to follow.

But that is the news for now. If you or someone you know has the Digital Chocolate be sure to listen out for news of the switch over so you can pick up your free copy of the FI version. In fact, just tell everyone so they can get their copy. You can’t argue with free!