Today it was exactly 6 months since I made the first sale of my Line-Drawing Game Starterkit for Cocos2D. I just glanced at the number labelled “Total” in the Plimus control panel: $18,479.05 … all of this from a single product over a period of 6 months!

No Product Launch Formula

I wish I could tell you exactly how to reproduce that level of success. I certainly did not implement the widely publicized and so called product launch formula. I’m sure PLF is valuable but the way it’s being sold makes it a scam to my mind. Why? Because it’s sold only once or twice a year, you can never just buy it, you have to wait for it, and when it goes on sale, people are more than happy to pay an outrageous price for something they could get much cheaper from reading the proper books and applying some common sense. That’s just a side note.

I also have to admit, I have no hard data where my customers are coming from other than they’re from all over the world. Or why each of them is buying or why some of them are interested but end up not doing it. Some will have followed me for quite a while, some found my website via google, others got wind of it through word of mouth and most recently they may have read about the Starterkit in my Learn Cocos2D book.

For the most part I have only informal data that I can share.

Little hard data

Thankful customers writing me that this was exactly what they’ve been looking for, and why. Only 3 refunds if I recall correctly, two were expecting something different and another one found Corona shortly after buying and decided to use Corona over Cocos2D, so he wasn’t going to use my Starterkit. As far as I can tell, most customers are not companies or teams of people but individual developers.

The level of support requests I received were minimal. I estimate that less than 10% of all customers contacted me for support, and almost all support incidents were solved after exchanging one or two emails. Most issues were caused by the fact that I didn’t include Cocos2D with the download, so they were mostly Cocos2D version mismatches and incorrect project setups. I definitely learned from that and will be including Cocos2D in all future versions of the Starterkit to cut down support incidents even more.

Clearly, there are two distinct groups of customers: those who would like to learn how to write a Line-Drawing game, hoping to eventually release it and in any case learn to understand Cocos2D and game development a little better on the side. And then those who plan to publish a commercial Line-Drawing game and want to cut corners, speed up development.

What I learned

For a while I was thinking that you need to have a frequently visited website like mine – over 5,000 visits per week here. You need to be well connected (followed) on Twitter. A Newsletter with many people on it that you can write to at any time is also very helpful. And having been a long time developer at Electronic Arts must surely be reassuring that I know what I’m doing. Next to actually showing that by writing a book. None of that is something you can do in just a couple of days or weeks.

I’m happy to report that you don’t need any of that to reproduce the success I’ve had with my Starterkit.

So skip your job application for EA, scrap the book draft and save your money on yet another type of scam: how to get 10,000 Twitter followers in 30 days. You don’t need them. Dan Nelson told me recently that the source code for his BATAK Duel game sold 14 copies in less than a month, priced at $297 (now: $149.99). The product page was just a simple blog post and yet still managed to bring in over $4,000 of revenue in the first month! For comparison, the first 30 days of the Line-Drawing Kit amounted to sales worth $5,370 revenue (before tax and everything).

BATAK Duel gameplay video:

I can also say with certainty that promo codes are a great idea, my 50% sale was a huge success. It generated over $4,000 in revenue and with another $5,000 made in the first month that means that half of my sales were generated by only two events: product launch, and 50% off promo codes. Maybe there’s something to the product launch formulas after all? But honestly, I think that’s just common sense. If you want to sell something, don’t sit around hoping for customers coming to you. Just as much as sex sells (in general), events sell products. Price drops, bundles, freebies, and so on. Get the word out, and do it frequently, and give something away for free – the simplest being information, knowledge, share experiences and data.

And think Steam!

I could have done more of that. But I was writing a book and it was also kind of an experiment to see how sales are affected if I’m not promoting the product in any way for a while. It was sobering to see sales drop to just a few per month three months after launch. Likewise it was exciting to see the reception (and sales) during the 50% sales event.

What I can also say with confidence is that if you offer a products that developers are interested in, they will buy it. And quite a number of developers are interested in commercial source code products to make this a viable market. It’s not just game code, it’s also components for regular App development that are very popular and lucrative.

The Secret is: Common Sense

And there’s another secret I’d like to share: developing an App Store game takes months to complete it, and if you’re truly passionate it can take even more months just to polish it, get it right in every aspect. Still your chances of tanking in the market are rather high, the stakes are high but the risks are even higher, even more so the longer you’ve spent developing your game.

So it’s only going to be a matter of time before more developers learn the secret that selling one’s source code for a game that’s already on the App Store is not just an additional revenue stream, it’s a rather lucrative one and one that allows you to cross-promote both products. In fact, suddenly you have two products on two different markets for two different kinds of customers with very little extra effort.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Think about it. It makes perfect sense.

Even more so for me because I have always enjoyed working on game technology and enabling game developers to excel more than actually finishing a game, with polished gameplay, an intuitive user experience and fixing all those obscure bugs cropping up at the last minute.

Also, if you need help making sales, I have good news for you: there will be an affiliate store available here in the next couple weeks. If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate, give me a shout.

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How to properly install the Cocos2D Xcode Project Templates

On January 4, 2011, in cocos2d, support, Xcode, by Steffen Itterheim

You can get Kobold2D from www.kobold2d.com which is an easy to use wrapper (and installer) for cocos2d and related libraries plus many example projects. If you want to support development of the new, modernized version of Kobold2D then please consider joining KoboldTouch.

Installing Cocos2D Xcode Templates

If all you want to do is to install one of the latest cocos2d version’s Xcode templates, type this in a Terminal window:

First, change to the cocos2d-iphone directory using the cd command, for example if you unpacked cocos2d to ~/Documents the command would be:

Then run the Xcode templates installer script, -f forces overwrite of any existing cocos2d templates:

You can find more details in my blog post about enabling ARC in a cocos2d project.

If you’re new to cocos2d or Objective-C programming, make sure you enable ARC in all your projects! Not using ARC will be a painful experience, it makes it harder to write correct Objective-C code, it will slow you down, it might even demotivate you. Use nothing but ARC. Please. I still see way too many cocos2d related questions on stackoverflow.com which would not be an issue if the users had simply enabled ARC.

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On Xmas day I started a Book contest where you could win 5 copies of the print version of my Cocos2D book. Now here are the winners!

Three Winners for outstanding contributions

These are the winners that I picked because of what they said in their comments respectively other contributions they made:

Marcotronic for his stunning adaptation of the Beatles’ song “Let it be”. He wrote new lyrics, then re-recorded the song with his own voice. It made me laugh and gave me goosebumps at the same time. I promote this to be the official Learn Cocos2D book hymn! 😀

Let it be: Learn Cocos2D

Dad of Geek And Dad for his heartwarming story about his neighbor being laid off. Things like that shouldn’t happen so undeservedly and I hope his neighbor finds renewed spirit when he receives the book as a gift.

The G man for being so passionate about Cocos2D besides his situation. He only has a dialup connection and the country he lives in doesn’t even allow him to register a domain or join the iOS Development program. I just hope there aren’t any import regulations for programming books.
G also posted this funny reimagination of the Cocos2D logo:

Those are the outstanding commentors that I simply could not resist gifting a book to because of their comments. Congratulations!

Three Lottery Winners

I still had two more winners to pick but couldn’t decide, so I chose to do a lottery to give everyone else a fair chance. I also decided I can spare one additional copy, so there are now 3 lottery winners chosen randomly from the remaining 22 unique commentors with the help of Excel’s RANDBETWEEN() function.

Without further ado, the three lottery winners are:

Dani
Tom
dzk34

Congratulations to all winners! I will contact you by email shortly.

I also wish everyone a Happy New Year 2011! May your code compile and your games sell.

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Cocos2D is a Registered Trademark

On December 31, 2010, in cocos2d, by Steffen Itterheim

Cocos2D was filed as registered trademark on July 27th and published Dec 17th 2010. The trademark includes the phrase “cocos2d” as well as the Cocos2D logo, which is described as follows:

The mark consists of COCOS2D appearing on a black rectangular background, the term COCOS appears in white letters and 2D appears in orange letters, above the wording is a brown coconut with black and white eyes appearing on an orange rectangular background.

The color(s) orange, brown, black, white is/are claimed as a feature of the mark.

The translation “coconut” was also given as the english translation for “cocos”.

You can review the supplied documents here which contain additional details.

As far as I can tell, the trademark was filed only in the US. But it may be in review for other countries.

Thanks to MagnetiCat for bringing this to my attention.

What it means

I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a lot of salt.

Specifically to those doing business in the United States (where the trademark was filed) it means that you should refrain from offering or promoting services with the Cocos2D name or logo in it, otherwise you are subject to legal proceedings for trademark infringement. Since the trademark is currently registered only in the United States, legal prosecution will be difficult (not to mention costly) in other countries. As far as I know, trademark infringement claims must be filed in the country that an individual or company is doing business in, eg. where they have an office or employ a company representative.

Infringement may occur when one party, the “infringer”, uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers.

This means games using the Cocos2D logo should be fine, but game engines, and addon products to the Cocos2D game engine might be infringing the trademark if they continued to use the logo and name. Especially if “there is a likelihood of confusion that consumers will believe the products or services originated from the trademark owner”. Any Cocos2D port that wasn’t authorized and where the use of the Cocos2D name and logo are not consensual may be subject to legal action. It’s likely that, if they aren’t already, that development of Cocos2D engine ports and addon products now need to be strictly permitted, or refrain from using the Cocos2D trademark entirely.

As a website owner, you may also want to add a “not affiliated with or endorsed by” disclaimer on websites carrying the Cocos2D name or logo if you benefit from the trademark in any way (eg traffic) or if your content may be confused as originating from the trademark owner.

Note also that the use of a registered trademark must be controlled and enforced, otherwise one risks losing the trademark. So we can not expect things to just go on without change, because without controlling and enforcing the trademark there will be no trademark. This is troubling.

On the other hand, there’s the fair use doctrine in the United States, and furthermore there is the allowed Nominative Use of a trademark. Nominative use of a trademark is deemed if “The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial.” Hence the popular “no affiliation or endorsement” legal disclaimers.

I’m looking forward to an official statement about what will be seen as trademark infringement as well as what the accepted uses of the Cocos2D trademark are. The trademark registration brings with it a legal confusion that certainly the Indie game development community doesn’t want or need, especially not from a game engine that’s supposed to be “free and open source”.

What we need now is a Trademark FAQ like the one for Joomla to clarify the relevant issues.


Note: I’ve been asked if it’s necessary to add the (R) symbol to every use of Cocos2D or its logo. Answers.com says no.

Today is Christmas Eve. The last day of the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar. I’d like to make you a gift, but I can’t give to all of you, so it’s going to involve a little competition.

This is your chance to win an unsuspected present: the print edition of my book. And signed. With a dedication of your choosing. Shipping and handling is on me, and I’ll send it worldwide. As long as you give me the correct address it should get there in between a couple days or a few weeks, hopefully in January.

I have five copies to spare, so there will be five winners.

How do I win the book?

It’s simple. Make a comment on this post. Tell me why you would like the book sent to you.

Make sure to enter a valid e-mail address in the appropriate field, so I can contact you in case you’re a winner. Winners are those that I like best, for some arbitrary reason I don’t even know about yet until I’ve read your comments. I am the jury and the judge but I’ll give you a fair trial after due consideration, or I’ll just flip coins if I can’t decide. Surprise me with something. I’m not looking for something specific, or merely praise or jokes. You could tell me your story, sing a song, draw a picture, record a video of yourself cracking a coconut, post a link to your blog, bribe me (hey, who knows?). Just keep it appropriate and PG13 rated, please. 😉

Deadline

I’ll give you time to post your comment for the remainder of the year, until midnight on December 31st. If in doubt I’ll consider your local time.

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You may remember
from 6th of December,
when I did promote
the BATAK Duel source-code.

Ok, ok, I hear you … enough of the rhymes. :)

Dan Nelson has informed me that he is in the Xmas spirit for whatever reason (weird, right?), and that means for you that the price of the BATAK Duel source code is now reduced to $197 (down from $297, about 33% off). From what Dan told me sales are going good for him, so congratulations to the well-deserved success!

BATAK Duel is available on the App Store for $.99 and this trailer should give you an impression of what this game is about (no, not cheesy voice-overs, don’t let the first impression fool you):

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Rob Appel from Hitapp.com has just released his game Launch Control on the App Store. The amazing thing about it, for me at least, is that it was made with my Line-Drawing Game Starterkit.

Make sure to check out the Launch Control website to get the full scoop and to get in touch with Rob. He was one of the first Starterkit customers back in July 2010 and now his game is finally complete and released, right in time before Xmas. Congratulations, Rob!

To celebrate the event, he gave me 10 promo codes for you …

Launch Control Promo Codes


W6AELL3WMHHM
N3RT3MEWKMYH
KRK74YENKWJ3
KAX9HFHXXX36
TKH6RJKW7XT7
ETAFL64HYTRH
YAJ9FPKJTMLY
AKFWJ7RW99Y4
FNTFEY9NWPJ6
T9TPH67WKA4H

Apple’s Promo Code Terms & Conditions:

Code expires on Thu Jan 13 13:09:36 PST 2011 and is redeemable only on the iTunes Store. Requires an iTunes account, subject to prior acceptance of license and usage terms. To open an account you must be above the age of 13. Compatible software and hardware, and internet access (fees may apply) required. Not for resale. Full terms apply; see www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ww/. For more information, see www.apple.com/support/. This app is provided to you by hitapp.com.

Line-Drawing Starterkit News

I’d like to take the opportunity and tell you about the latest news regarding the Line-Drawing Game Starterkit:

  • The Line-Drawing Starterkit is now down from $179 to only $119 !
  • It’s now compatible with Cocos2D v0.99.5
  • Now includes Cocos2D for your convenience – this means it works out of the box
  • You can ask pre-sales questions and get support on the Cocos2D Central forum
  • Updates are also distributed through Cocos2D Central from now on
  • Soon the Starterkit will also be sold directly on Cocos2D Central so that you automatically get access to the Starterkit forum and files (currently it’s a manual process)

You may wonder how the Starterkit includes Cocos2D but is less than 5 MB to download? The answer is simple: I removed all non-essential parts of the Cocos2D distribution to strip it down from 30 MB (zipped) to less than 2 MB (zipped). Almost all of the content that bloats the Cocos2D download are test cases and test assets which you don’t need for developing your own games.

You can download the stripped Cocos2D distribution from Cocos2D Central.

Linkvent Calendar, Day 21: Cocos2D and Hexagons

On December 21, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

Stu Gisborne is the developer of Orbs Away, a match-3 game using hexagon tiles.

Stu wrote a quick introduction to using Hexagon tiles with Cocos2D and how he built the match-3 game with it.

PS: sorry that this post was delayed by 12 hours, things tend to get crazy shortly before Xmas. And then there’s all this snow. No, I don’t have a better excuse. :)

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