This year too, the Mobilarena team held its annual Veletech expo, to which we had been invited because of our logic game. Webstar exhibited under the “App islands” section, displaying our “Sprinkfield” project and a children’s book, called “The Arrival of Erste Farben”. I was quite surprised at how much an event like this could contribute to our work and how much we could learn there about our own “product”.
The Android version of our game had reached the last phase of development so it seemed reasonable to bring it to Veletech (We expected more Android oriented visitors than those interested in iOS). To promote our children’s book, we had made it available for free online download for a week, including the weekend of the exhibition. We had also talked to the ”You Do the Drawing, I Do the Sewing” team so that the book characters could come to life and attend the exhibition “in person”.
We had uploaded the “beta” version of our game to Google Play two weeks before the expo. We had shared the link with close friends only for further testing it on different mobile equipment. It had been out in the wild “secretly” for one week, gathering us valuable feedback. We had encountered few bugs only, most of the problems had to do with practical use, e.g. in case of certain display sizes, it had been hard to click some buttons, or the controls could have been bigger sometimes. The discovered bugs had been corrected and the overall responsiveness had also been improved a great deal.
We managed to get our game an extensive media coverage during the week of Veletech.
Free children’s book download for a week
First we posted a picture on Facebook, which, luckily, was shared by many people. We also contacted members of the media. The Hungarian media proved to be very helpful and wrote about our free download promo at many places. We were also delighted to make it to some international websites, and the whole promo was backed by an admob campaign too.
At the expo, we turned up with Vili and Walter, also bringing two iPads and a Kindle Fire HD. The organizers provided us with a nice big TV display and a table for our things and leaflets. The TV showed the game and children’s tale trailers in a loop, so the music burned into our brains for days.
There were thousands of visitors, “storming” us in several waves. We had 2-3 minute breaks at maximum. Sometimes we had so many visitors that I had to use my own phone too to show the game.
It was very interesting to meet the players and those who were curious about us, to see their approach to the game or the book, and to discover what they saw in them. It even generated some ideas on how we could make the game play more usable.
Among the players, there were casual gamers and hardcore gamers too. Casual gamers usually went for the easy levels and we often had to help them. Hardcore gamers had quickly finished with the less challenging levels, saying that the game was too easy, so we showed them the tough levels. There was a guy who had been trying to solve a hard level for 10 minutes when I also entered the “battle”. Since even I cannot solve all levels by heart (computerized help comes in handy), it took for a while to crack the puzzle, after which the gamer also managed to solve it. Many gamers were also curious about the background coding of the game, leading to professional discussions where we faced a number of surprisingly hard questions.
Visitors with kids were especially interested in the children’s book. Most of them liked the idea that it did not have a narrator function because we felt that parents should use the book together with their kids. The illustrations greatly appealed to everyone, it is unique to use handmade paintings in digital form. Of course, here too, there were many interesting discussions on digital books with the professionals.
What shocked me most was the large number of bloggers and media workers coming to us. It was great to meet some people that so far I had only had contact with via email (or even no contact at all). Personal encounters are very important ¬ we can talk freely, learning a lot about each other. A few enthusiastic bloggers offered to test our game under development, which was great because outside feedback would always be invaluable.
Many articles and posts were published about us in the media:
Within 1 week
We gathered nearly 1,000 downloads on Google Play, plus 37 five-star and 8 four-star reviews. The English version of the book had 2,400 downloads, the Hungarian reached 200.
Since this was the first time for us as actual exhibitors, it was interesting for me to see how much we could learn from an event like this. By meeting the gamers and other members of our profession, we could learn their reactions on “our baby”. We also made new friendships and connections from which we would even be able to benefit at some point in the future, who knows.