2017-04-01 - Card Thief
After the initial prototype of Card Thief which we created on the 25th of August 2015. We finally released Card Thief about 1.5 years later on the 19th of March 2017. In good tradition here’s how Card Thief’s first week on the Apple App Store went.
— Card Thief (@cardthiefgame) 12. Februar 2017
Celebrating Indie Games
When we had submitted Card Thief to the App Store, we were asked if we wanted to join the Celebrating Indie Games feature by Apple. Since everybody knows how important a featuring for a paid premium mobile game is these days we were more than happy to get such a tremendous opportunity by Apple. Initally we were planning to relase Card Thief on the 9t of March but got scheduled to the 20th due to the featuring. This created quite some confusion since we couldn’t announce our participation in the featuring beforehand. There was quite some speculation going on about the release date of the game and also on which day of the feature, which lasted form the 9th – 20th of march, we would be out. In the end this might even benefited us a bit since a lot of people got even more hyped through the whole situation.
After some agonizing days not just for the fans but us as well, waiting, biting our nails, we finally hit the button on Sunday the 19th. Needless to say that each release, even though i had plenty of them over the years, is exciting and terrifying at the same time. There’s always the chance that something is wrong with your game or that simply people just dislike what you have worked on for almost 2 years. One day before launch a player reported that his progress of the game would magically reset each time he would open the game. You can imagine my reaction to that. Luckily enough it turned out that this was a rather rare iOS bug that has been introduced with the latest iOS version. Over the first 2 weeks i had only 5 reports of this bug so far.
Again we hit the release button on Sunday night and could see a lot of excited players already playing. On Monday the Celebrating Indie Games feature hit Card Thief with full force. We got the #1 new releases spot and a custom Big Banner.
In addition to the featuring on the store we also got Twitter and Facebook exposure for the game.
— App Store Games (@AppStoreGames) March 20, 2017
To get a bit of perspective: we released Card Thief as the official successor to our 2015 game Card Crawl, which did very well for us and has a lot of passionate fans all around the world. For us it was always clear that Card Thief has to somehow live up to Card Crawl reputation and that it won’t be an easy task to accomplish. I still feel i stumbled into Card Crawl’s design and made something compelling more by accident than by actually sitting down and designing something on purpose. This is why i had many doubs Card Thief could ever reach Card Crawl’s critical and financial reception. But wow – fans and new players proved me wrong!
On Monday the 20th Card Thief already was on rank 25 in the overall category of the App Store. Card Crawl’s release week peak was at 37. so we already exceeded that on day 1. I seriously did not expect this kind of reaction to the game. On the 22nd we even broke into the Top 10 and peaked a the 8th place for one day. Needless to say that, again, this was totally unexpected!
I wanted to write a short comment about pricing the game. While a lot of players told me that the game was too cheap and they would have payed more for it, i still think it was the right call to make it cheaper than Card Crawl. I had the feeling that if people compare Card Thief how it is now to Card Crawl how it is now (2 years old and lots of content) they might say that Card Thief is worth less. This is why i started, like i did with Card Crawl at $1.99 and will increase the price over time with more updates. I also think this was the right call, because there’s still a huge difference in impulse buys between $1.99 and $2.99. A lot of people asked me why the game is so cheap, but i think it was clever to maybe underprice it and get more people in. This improved our chart rankings and i think we wouldn’t have been able to break into the Top 10 US at a higher price.
I knew that the game would cater to our existing fans, but that it would take quite some effort for new players to get into it.
Learning the game is the strongest and also weakest spot of Card Thief’s design in my oppinion. In order to have a feeling of discovering something new, i had to create some actual new rules that are very interesting but players have to put in some time to learn those. This makes the game less accessible but in the end much more enjoyable in the long run. I was really worried that people won’t get over this initial barrier. But it seems that even the broader App Store audience, which is used to being spoon fed rules and mechanics very gently is accepting Card Thief’s challenges.
Most Reviews were reflecting this sentimend as well. Toucharcade, Pockettactics and Stately Play all had the same issues with the game, but confirmed that once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite fun to play.
If you are into Meta Critic you can see that we are sitting at a solid 89 score right now, which puts us at #3 of the best iOS games of 2017 on Meta Critic.
Reviews on the App Store are also quite good. We are sitting at an average of 4.4 out of 5 from 146 reviews.
Yes, this is the part you’ve been waiting for! Without further comments here are Card Thief’s sales numbers of the first week. Again we were greatly pushed by the fantastic featuring and the enduring support of our fan base.
And as a comparison here’s Card Crawl’s first week.
As with Card Crawl we have quite some plans for updates and new content. Especially the addition of new Thief characters that will change gameplay rules around is high on our list. In fact we wanted to implement them for 1.0 but decided to postpone them for a later update. In addition to new Thieves we also going to address the dreaded trash loot issue. We have a new system that will replace trash loot with actually usable and maybe also collectable stuff that will make good use of those items in the future. For now we are super happy how Card Thief is received so far and we are looking forward to the Android launch which is our next big milestone coming end of April!
Again as always thanks for all your support and the kind words we’ve received over the last weeks. It’s highly encouraging that even in 2017 small premium mobile games can create a living for 1 or 2 people!