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Another Year Gone

If you’ve been sticking with Grumpy Rhino Games you may know that I make one of these posts every year, in these posts I reflect, set out my plans and decide what I want to do differently next year (normally it’s a promise to post more on this website, but as my last new year’s post was four posts ago… yeah).

So, for the business 2016 was a scorcher of a year (I know the rest of the world was falling apart in 2016, but for Grumpy Rhino Games it was good). At the start of the year we launched Level Up and that did similarly to More! Gold! Now! – lowish downloads, but with a lot of dedicated players, playing regularly and willing to support the game. It was a great start to the year and put the studio on the right track.

In the middle of the year we launched Wandering Armies – this game was received pretty well, people felt it was funny and they liked the swapping mechanic, however it was clear it needed more polish and content. I decided to team up with another studio to produce better quality graphics, added loads more chat and content, removed it from sale and relaunched it as… Idle Armies.

It was picked up by Apple and featured as a best new game, the number of downloads was insane, in a day it got twice as many downloads as More! Gold! Now! has every gotten. Absolutely crazy, I spent full days dazed, doing nothing but replying to players. It was nuts. Plus it was reviewed really well especially on the Apple App Store, getting a solid 4.5/5, as a developer you can’t ask for much more (well you could ask for 5/5 but… yeah).

It was great updating it, improving it, watching it grow on Google Play and then in December, Apple highlighted it as a Top 10 Tapper in 2016. It really made the years of working on these games, improving, learning, getting up from bitter failures and trying again all seem worthwhile.

To stop this post sounding too gushing, I’ll talk about the bits of the year that didn’t go well. Firstly Clicker Town that I launched at the end of 2015 has never really caught on, it gets good downloads, but players just don’t stick to it. As a developer you learn quickly that not every game will catch, but you always question “Why didn’t this one work?”.

Talking about disappointing… Five Hopes (or “The Five Hopes” as I should now call it) didn’t go so good. I launched it as a paid game in 2015 and it flopped. I put a brave face on it, but it flopped. I’ve always felt it was a good game, I’ve always enjoyed playing it, people I’ve spoken to about it have enjoyed it, so I got this crazy idea that I could add another zone and relaunch it as a free game. I convinced myself that the fact it wasn’t free was the problem. So I built that new zone, made it free and so far… it’s flopped.

Badly, it’s been without doubt my least successful game (including Ball Miner from years ago). I still have some hope it’ll grow with time, but it’s a chilling reminder that you can launch a game that’ll get 100,000s of downloads and a few months launch another game that’ll only get a couple of hundred. It’s weird one, most of the players who’ve downloaded it are playing it a lot, it’s just not getting any downloads.

Still, let’s not get too down and let’s stop going on about the past. If you’re reading this, you probably want to know what’s next.

2017 is going to be big. We’re already working on a new clicker that takes the best of More! Gold! Now! and Idle Armies to make something that I hope will be really special. It’s going to be a big game and I hope it’s going to be funny. I don’t want to talk too much about it now, but I promise to show screenshots and explain more as we get closer to launch.

The aim of 2017 is to get at least 2 big games out (including the one mentioned above), we might be able to squeeze in a third, but let’s see. I’m hoping to release monthly content updates to Idle Armies, from smaller updates that add new research levels or items – to bigger updates with new characters and events – to even bigger updates with brand new features.

In 2017 I’m hoping to expand the business and hopefully hire another developer, this is always a big step for a small business and is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s something I want to do because I always find my time stretched between new games and updating old games. This isn’t something I’ll be doing immediately, but hopefully later this year we’ll have another developer bringing content to you.

Best wishes to you in 2017.

A little less grumpy,

Seb