Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Building a House in Mystery Math Town [video]

We are absolutely thrilled by the fantastic response to our New and Noteworthy Mystery Math Town app, and we’d like to take this moment to thank you for your support.

As a small token of gratitude, we thought you might appreciate this exclusive behind the scenes developer video, demonstrating our custom house editor.

We built the editor to make it easy for our designers to construct houses and arrange rooms, in Mystery Math Town. The simple drag and drop interface allows for quick and easy testing of configurations using art we created for doors, windows and passages, and objects like firefly jars, numbers and other goodies.

As one reviewer put it, "no sane architect would actually design a floor plan that appears in any of these houses, but that's part of the fun!"


Thanks for playing Mystery Math Town.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Case of the Mystery App Store Sales (With Exciting Pictures and Charts)

A funny thing happened amidst all the hoopla surrounding the big debut of our New & Noteworthy Mystery Math Town app.

One of our other math apps, Marble Math Junior, made a stealthy run up the Education charts, and is currently jostling for position in the Top 75 (up from 250).

We actually noticed the increased sales in late March just before we released Mystery Math Town on April 3rd, but couldn't see a direct reason for it, and well, I suppose we can also be accused of showering the new 'baby' with all of our attention, and neglecting poor Junior, so we didn't exactly launch a full investigation.
Marble Math Jr Rank Trending 3/24 to 4/16
Normally, when sales jump over 60%, we can see a big Education purchase, or we can point to a promotion or feature, but the only event I could see as a launching pad for Marble Math Junior was the Common Sense Media ON for Learning Award, which would make sense IF the 'older' Marble Math also saw a sales increase, since they both received the Award on the same day. We did see a Marble Math spike at the same time Junior took off, but Marble Math immediately dropped, while Junior just kept climbing.

The mystery of your app sales in the App Store can be tough to solve. Apple only provides aggregate buckets of information - we can see daily totals for downloads, gifts, promo codes used, returns, and educational purchases. That's it.

We use tools like appFigures and App Annie to collect our sales and ranking data from Apple and report back to us with colorful graphs and charts. They also report when apps are Featured in the App Store...sometimes. Unfortunately, the Featured app reporting seems to be somewhat sketchy. Mystery Math Town, which has been a Featured New and Noteworthy selection since April 4th, and has a giant banner in the Education store right now, is not showing up in any of the reports as Featured. So it often takes a bit of good old fashioned detective work to discover why people are suddenly downloading your app.

So, I packed my pipe and put on my best sleuthing cap and set out to discover what favorable forces had propelled Marble Math Junior to its lofty position on the charts.

This is what I found:

Evidence suggests that on Thursday, March 28th, Apple added a new "Entertain Your Kids" banner to the showcase carousel on the home page of the App Store.

I present Exhibit A:

A deeper analysis reveals you'd likely discover Marble Math Junior as a featured Game if you were inclined to tap into the banner:

It appears that one week prior to the Mystery Math Town release, Apple did feature Marble Math Junior in a rotating feature, AND that our reporting tools did NOT report this fact.

Since the release of Mystery Math Town, Apple has added two more of these rotating Education banners, Apps for Preschool & Kindergarten and Apps for Elementary School, that expand into various categories and also feature, quite prominently I might add, you guessed it...Marble Math Junior.

So, what does this tell us?

A.)  Apple has a big heart.

B.)  Apple is trying to curate apps to offset the daunting prospect of searching the App Store.

C.)  Given the current App Store design and limited availability of real estate, the only decent display option for pop-up curated app collections is to put them in big splashy banners that rotate, so your potential customers have to be looking at the banners at the precise moment your collection is visible if you're to realize a single additional sale.

D.) Being an app developer requires the wearing of many hats if you hope to understand your business.

If it sounds like I'm complaining about Apple, I'm not - see A. and B.

Also see the mystery of our nonexistent Shake-a-Phrase sales on Android and Windows - that's a case to crack another time.

I'll be back with a report on Mystery Math Town when the dust settles.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mystery Math Town - Front Page News!

Yes, that's the front page of the iPad App Store.

And yes, that's Mystery Math Town, a Featured New and Noteworthy selection.

It is truly satisfying to be recognized by Apple for our new game, and while we believed all along that Mystery Math Town is special and worthy of distinction, it's another thing entirely to get noticed in a sea of over 300,000 iPad apps.

We've had lots of support from some good people along the way, from a great group of testers who helped us to make the best game possible, to our network of friends, educators and fans, who helped make this the most successful app launch ever for our little company, Artgig Apps.

As our very own Elvis-impersonating crooner, Hank, is fond of saying, it feels like we "have so many fans, even a computer couldn't count them all, baby."

Thanks for all of your help.

We really do appreciate it.

Now we've got a certain Tiger to tangle with at #7 on the Education charts...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Download Mystery Math Town v.1.0 For iPad Today!

The wait is over.

Australia was the first to report the news last night...

Our new kids educational game, Mystery Math Town, is available on the App Store today.

If you need further evidence, it says so right here - in this press release.

We hope you'll have as much playing it, as we had making it.

If you do find your kids enthralled in our math mystery, please take a moment to leave an iTunes rating or review.

It really does help others to find us.

And as long as people keep downloading our apps, we can keep making great games for kids.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mystery Math Town Arrives For iPad Tomorrow...

Can you stand the suspense?

Just one more day and our new educational game, Mystery Math Town, can be yours.

We shared an advance preview with teachers, parents, and app reviewers, and here's what they are saying:

"My students liked having to explore the the houses.  It gave them a choose your own adventure style gameplay that they loved.  By giving them the freedom to explore, you've created a game the kids are eager to get back to." 
– Sarah Emerling, Teacher/Reviewer Fun Educational Apps 

"Be afraid, very afraid of how much joy your child will experience while learning basic math skills with this friendly, ghost led adventure Mystery Math Town - 5/5 stars.
– Mitchell Cogert, Kids Best iPad Apps

"If any of my readers have been to Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom lately, you may have noticed a new technical integration of talking paintings that guide you through the park in order to solve a mystery.  While exploring Mystery Math Town on my device this memory of Magic Kingdom came to mind as I opened doors, zipped down stairs and interacted with talking paintings or animated objects within each room while doing math."
– Andrea Gardner, Applicable2U

I'm going to stop right there, because once somebody mentions Mystery Math Town in the same breath as Disney World, well, there's really nothing more I can add.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Making a Difference - One Educational App at a Time

I hope you had a nice Easter.

I went out yesterday with the family - my two kids (ages 7 and 2+), my wife, and my dad and stepmom, for a nice dinner.

And yes, we're one of those families who brings the iPads to the table when we dine out.

As we were finishing our meal, my stepmom, who is a PR specialist, asked me about our new Mystery Math Town app and in an instant my 7-year-old son was giving her a demo.

As he was playing the game, the restaurant manager wandered by and glanced over his shoulder - and stopped.

He stood there, watching my son play the game for a few seconds and looked up, nodding his head with a big smile, "very educational," he said.

At that point everyone at the table leapt into salesperson mode, explaining that my company made the game and that it would be available to the public on Wednesday.

When he told us that he had a 3-year-old at home and he was looking for good apps for her, my nearly three-year-old daughter whipped out another iPad to show him Alien Buddies.

He was duly impressed.

And when it came time to leave, he went out of his way to shake my hand and he thanked me for doing something that makes a difference.

It's hard work making apps and even harder work making successful apps, but it's important to remember success can be measured in many ways.

Making a difference means a lot.