About a year ago, I decided that it might be a great idea to offer free bi-monthly updates to our latest game, Airport Madness: World Edition. Rather than penalize loyal customers by making them pay for more airports each year, I realized that there was a better way. Not only is “free” a nice thing to do, it makes pure business sense. Every two months since the launch, I’ve released a free update. Doing so keeps the game fresh and alive on the worldwide web. People talk about it. They share it on Facebook. They tell their friends. With every free update, I get a surge of sales. Plus, the game has longevity. AMWE is 15 months old now. Historically, our games would be well into the “long tail sales”, meaning the income should be only at a trickle by now.
I’ve really tried hard to inform buyers whenever I release an update. At first, I simply put out a newsletter stating that the update could be obtained by emailing me. However, this turned into a huge task, answering thousands of emails manually.
I then experimented with an online tool that would accept your transaction number, then give you a download link. However, this was full of issues. Often, buyers simply didn’t have their reference number. Sometimes a buyer would enter their transaction number, but my system would not recognize it.
In December, I sent out a special email to every email address associated with my list of buyers. Many customers emailed me, asking if it was really us that sent it. Apparently, the email somehow got flagged a malicious.
My latest idea was an in-game notification. When the player reaches the main menu page of the game, a call is made to my server to see if there are any notifications, and posts them smack dab in the center of the player’s face. The process takes roughly 1.5 seconds for someone with good bandwidth, but potentially much longer with slower connections.
As of 5pm this evening, I’ve received more than 300 responses to my newsletter announcement of a game update. None of these people received the update notification. I feel really bad for someone who pays good money for something, then gets told there’s an update, but they have no way of obtaining it. It’s not the image that I want for my business. My next step is to improve the in-game notification system, so that it double-checks (even triple-checks) my server for such notifications and then lets the user see the information some place they can’t miss it.
I could spend forever perfecting such things, but each minute it requires puts me that much farther behind with the upcoming Airport Madness 3D, which is now looking like late March for a release.
I appreciate the patience everyone has with my system, and I sincerely hope that you all now have the Airport Madness: World Edition update.