Almost four months passed since I’ve released my first Android game called Pocket Soccer. Game was very well received and even though its popularity showed some decline lately. In this post I would like to present some data about the lifecycle of Pocket Soccer so far, including my experience with alternative markets. Also, I will present some of the achievements it got. Finally, I would like to talk about the future development of Pocket Soccer that many people were interested in.

The Evolution

We were chosen as one of Babble.com's top 25 droid apps for kids! Click this badge to learn more.I started the development somewhen in February, Pocket Soccer being my first Android game and, in general, my first real Android application. Actually, I was experimenting with very simple Android demo applications using the emulator already earlier, however, real development was made possible only after January, when I bought my Galaxy S. After roughly a month, I’ve published the first version of Pocket Soccer on the Android Market.

At that time, Pocket Soccer was a bit far from a polished, competitive game, there was no social network integration, no leaderboard, even the training mode was not available yet and, of course it contained quite some bugs. The reason behind the later was that I hadn’t have enough experience yet with the platform and I was also unable to test it on many devices as I only own a single Android device, so I had to ask from time to time my friends to give it a try (the later being still true as I did not have yet the chance to invest on further devices).

Shortly after, Ben Camenker from Scoreloop contacted me with the offer of integrating the Scoreloop social networking framework into Pocket Soccer. Of course, I was interested and thanks to Ben not so much after the first release I’ve integrated Scoreloop into Pocket Soccer, bringing the still great performing rating system and online leaderboard to the game.

Pocket Soccer continued its evolution with the addition of the training mode, that I actually wanted to include from the beginning, but didn’t have the necessary time to do it in the timeframe I wanted to keep. Meanwhile, the game also became much more mature as I was able to track down most of the issues the players reported.

While there are still some bugs hanging around (many of them deeply lying inside the 3rd party libraries and frameworks the game uses) I think the game reached some sort of completeness, even though I’m still planning to add new features to it (however, I also want to allocate some time for a next game as well).

The Numbers

Now, I would like to talk a little bit about the numbers: download counts, active installs and leaderboard members. The game started with very moderate download counts at the beginning. Actually this is the most stressful period of a mobile game developer as here it will turn out whether the game will be noticed or it will go down the drain in the huge pool of apps available for such a popular platform as Android is.

For Pocket Soccer, the great entry happened at the beginning of May, roughly eight weeks after the first release. Since then, more than 350.000 people downloaded Pocket Soccer and there are even currently over 160.000 active installs and around 10.000 active players each day. This result exceeded all of my expectations and I would like to say thanks to all the poeple who downloaded the game and I hope that, at least most of you, have or had a great time playing it. If you don’t mind, I would also like to share some figures with you:

Download statistics

Pocket Soccer total downloads (blue) and active installs (red) over time.

Here, I would like to take the chance and talk a little bit about the alternative Android market places. This may be interesting mostly to fellow developers who are planning to submit their applications to alternative markets. Well, if you ask me, I would say that it not worth the effort, but don’t believe me, believe the numbers…

Shortly after releasing Pocket Soccer on the Android Market, I gave a try to a few alternative markets and download sites, namely to AndroidPIT, SlideME, AppsLib and the Amazon AppStore, Pocket Soccer appearing on the later from the market’s launch. At the beginning even those few downloads meant a lot for me, but after almost four months, the picture is quite disappointing. Here you can see the number of downloads Pocket Soccer acquired at each market so far:

Distribution Network Name Download count
Android Market 352 260
SlideME 6 363
AndroidPIT 5 117
AppsLib 1 660
Amazon AppStore 1 301

As you can see, the four alternative markets barely contribute to a 4% of the number of total downloads, even though SlideME and the Amazon AppStore can be really thought of as big players of the alternative market business.

I don’t want to discourage any of the developers to give a try to alternative markets as others may have much more success with them, I just wanted to share my personal experience with them. If anybody has much different figures then I would be really interested in it so please take your time and write a comment about it.

The Achiements

Besides the spectacular number of downloads and active players, Pocket Soccer received a lot of other achievements, including many positive ratings and comments, as well as several great reviews, including some video reviews that I would like to share with you (my personal favorite is the second one as this was the first time I’ve seen the game running on a tablet):

Another thing that I’m very proud of is that Pocket Soccer is in the top 100 free games in the arcade & action category for months now, peaking around the #50 place which I take as a great compliment being a hobbyist and a rookie in the Android world.

Finally, I would like to mention one particular achievement that I’m really proud of, namely that Pocket Soccer was chosen #12 into the Top 25 Droid Apps for Kids in 2011 at Babble (the promotion badge you’ve seen at the beginning of this article).

The Future

While the story of Pocket Soccer already had quite a lot of things to tell, the story is yet far from over. I’ll continue the development on it, even if only with limited time quota, as there are a lot of requests coming from the players and I will continue to try my best to make them pleased, at least, as much as my time allows.

Here, I would like to take the chance to talk about the most requested features to try to explain why they are not available yet and/or when they can be expected:

  • Tournament Mode (or World Cup, Campaign or Career mode if you wish)
  • Networked Multiplayer Mode (bluetooth, WiFi and/or online)

Implementing a tournament mode may not seem like a complex, and actually it may or may not be in practice either, however, please consider something: I’m not a full-time game developer, I’m working at a multinational company 40 hours a week and lately I was also occupied with my exams and master thesis because I’ve just acquired my master degree lately. Spare time is really of scarcity in my life, so please forgive me for not making it already. I’m seriously willing to make it, just I have my own limits as well.

About the networked multiplayer mode, well, I have problems with making that. I don’t think I’ll make an online multiplayer mode because, besides that being the biggest effort, I’m afraid the latency, especially in case of mobile internet, would be highly prohibitive, as for such a fast paced game like Pocket Soccer, even a small delay could be a show stopper. So I would go rather in the direction of a bluetooth or WiFi based multiplayer mode.

Finally, I would like to make some further games that I need to spend time with as well, so I hope you understand now why those so asked features didn’t make their way into the game yet. This won’t stay so forever and I’m really willing to implement all the features you request.

Summing up everything, Pocket Soccer brought a great amount of achievements to me and, hopefully, a great amount of fun to the players! And, of course, the story does not end here as I will continue the development…