Flight of the Skyman App

Two months ago we released Skyman on iTunes, Google Play and a 2D flash promo version. Here’s an update on how it did.

To give some background, we created a free to play game for Legal & General to help promote life cover and awareness of insurance to a younger audience, one that increasingly leaves decisions on life cover very late in their lives.

One could argue that insurance products don’t naturally lend themselves to game mechanics, but we’re big believers in being able to use games to entertain and educate as long as the ‘learning’ is integral to success in the game and the client was especially supportive of our thinking. If a brand message or educational takeout only exists as a series of popups the audience quickly sees through it and can be turned off.

Give them something genuinely entertaining and they’re more likely to replay it, share it or take out some learning or brand awareness. Legal & General’s brand is built on realism and many gamers want escapism. We created the Skyman concept to offer both.

You take on the role of a stunt man who has to perform at an air show for 20 days. You have to make as much money as possible before your virtual career ends. As you earn money you can upgrade your kit but also invest in ‘insurance products’ such as better armour, stunt doubles, and life cover. Investing more in kit helps you fly further but increases risk to you, whereas investing too much too early in protection gives you less to spend on flying further.

Branding in the game is minimal, yet it adheres fully to the client’s brand guidelines. In fact the best feedback during testing was that consumers felt it was an existing game that Legal & General had sponsored afterwards. Players saw it as a game first and foremost and not as pure advertising, which was exactly the intention.

We released Skyman on March 10th on iTunes and Google Play and watched the chart position intently. We also placed the flash promo game on Bearing in mind we had no promotion or features from either iTunes or Google and no paid advertising in place we were relying on organic growth of downloads and were expecting an initial spike and tail, Ideally making it into the top 25 and picking up a feature from Apple.

To everyone’s surprise (even our own) we watched the game climb quickly and steadily through both charts by itself, peaking within a week on iTunes as the No.1 overall iPad app in the UK. It’s download growth and fall on Google Play was over a much longer period, peaking at about a month after release but following a very similar cycle. To date it’s had over 210,000 downloads on iTunes and 260,000 downloads on Google Play.

In making it to No.1, we were also able to get a great insight into how downloads-per-day correlate to chart position. It takes a steep mountain peak on downloads to give you a smooth hill shape on chart position. This really confirms the observations of others before us that the downloads per day are almost exponential as you get into the top 10 and up to position 1. Attached are a couple of graphs showing the difference in chart shapes.

Nom Nation awards

PSNStores’ customary end of year review lists their top awarded games from 2012. We are really pleased to announce that they had a particular soft spot for Nom Nation, awarding it an Editor Choice Award.

Nom Nation was also runner up for Best Minis 2012. Pretty good!

If you would like more info on the game please head over to

AD2012 Review

And so, as the year draws to an end, the frost turns to rain and the studio prepares itself for project Xmas (one of joy and undoubtedly a little gluttony), we thought we’d recap on this year’s projects as our ‘portfolio’ site can’t keep up.

It’s been a very very busy year for us in which we’ve learnt so much. It’d be impossible to write it all down in fact. However we managed to spread our efforts across many platforms, languages and clients whilst also self publishing a huge number of projects which has possibly been the biggest eye opener into the pros and cons of paid, freemium, in-app purchases and ad delivery.

Although there are three excellent multi-platform projects which are so very close to completion they alas did not cross the finish line. So the list reads:

• Stunt Bunnies Circus for Chilibite (iOS, Android, Amazon)

• Nom Nation for Channel4 Education (Web, PSP/PS3/PSVita, iOS)

• Lava Lab for Miniclip(Web)

• Loot The Land – self published (PSMobile)

• Mad For The Mix for Arthur London (Facebook, iOS, Android)

• Pancake Pandemonium for Digital Leaf (iOS, Android)

• My Monster Mayhem for Digital Leaf (iOS, Android)

• Mum’s Cronky Car for Digital Leaf (iOS, Android)

• Neo Mech for Miniclip (iOS)

• Neglect for University of Kent (Web)

• Duracell Olympics facebook games (Web)

• Tell the Time With Bubbimals – self published (iOS, Android)

• Memory Match with Bubbimals – self published (iOS)

• Cowaboom for Spilgroup (iOS, Android, Amazon)

• Chronovolt – self published (PSVita)

• An ‘as-yet-unamed-game’ for Legal&General (iOS, Android)

• Ice Cream Empire for Bocconi Business School (Facebook, iOS, Android)

• Say What You See (SWYS) for Big Ideas (Amazon)

• P3Ads system licensed to Spilgroup

• A ‘hush-hush’ interaction project for Channel4

We pitched for some really excellent projects too and although for some we ended being the bridesmaid rather than the bride, some others we successfully hitched up with. We’ve always delivered work-for-hire web projects to clients and made them happy, always do updates and keep promoting. However the more one self-publishes content on handhelds and smartphones the more you realise how marmite-like the press consumer audience can be.

I’ve learnt there are no ‘half measures’ when it comes to reviews. Everything’s either ecstatic or bordering on vitriolic (even for free games) and generally not much consensus. This is no bad thing, as they make you focus much more on QA and testing and you realise just how precious that initial window of promotion can be to the success of a game. You can always do updates after the launch, but you can’t change early reviews so managing the expectations of the consumers and press needs to be carefully considered.

In 2013 we’re looking forward to pushing much harder to get our foot out of the office door and into other people’s. Promoting and presenting ourselves in a better way has to be top of the agenda, so expect a new website early in the year and feel free to email us to ask where the hell it is if the old one is still here in February.

Some of our client 2012 work was shortlisted for awards and occasionally won too, result! We are developing some really exciting and interesting projects for next year and desperately need a better format to showcase our work and achievements.

Finally, thanks for all the follows on Twitter and likes on Facebook. We try to keep the drivel to a minimum. Happy Christmas!

Nightmare High wins BAFTA

Fantastic news last night as Nightmare High won a children’s BAFTA after being up against some very stiff competition in the form of CBBC’s Tree Fu Tom, Disney’s Where’s my Water and CBBC’s Deadly Planet. We developed all the games for Somethin’ Else and Channel4 Education who created and managed the project and developed the story, website and all the filming.

Agency of Coney provided alot of the educational thinking and Ben Steers supplied the style for the characters. It was actually a tough project to produce games for as the there were some very specific learning outcomes that needed to be considered, many of which didn’t naturally lend themselves to games.

However our aim is always to keep the games challening and fun whilst still producing the right learning outcomes. The games we produced formed modules within a tight storyline from Somethin’ Else that the player has to experience. A mix of video, information, and entertainment to help encourage resilience and transition for school children moving from primary level to secondary level.

Well done to all the team involved.

Chronovolt Patch

For anyone playing Chronovolt who hasn’t been able to collect two chronovolts on the final Space level, the bug has already been fixed and we’re working on a second patch to send to Sony.

Sorry for that little oversight, it prevents the player from getting 3 stars on the last level of the game. This bug is not in the forthcoming US release and only affects the initial release in Europe and other regions.

We’ve also realised that the explorer achievement is only awarded on completion of level 10 and not level 9, this will be fixed in the next patch.

Some people have already been in touch to tell us they’ve finished the game! Well done, we’d love to hear from you directly about how long the game took you and of course if you enjoyed it or not.