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.

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