Archive for January, 2008

Tips on improving conversion rate

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Just read a good little article (via Binary Joy) on how to improve your conversion rate via the trial. The trial is ultra important for Indie games and I’ve seen so many bad ones, but I’ve also seen some great ones. The Fairway Solitaire trial was carefully constructed to hook people in and it worked well – many people said they were really enjoying playing it and then suddenly the time was up and they just had to buy it 🙂

Here are the main points that I feel are important:

– Make the trial easy so that it can be finished no problems. (Yet still ramp up the challenge a little bit). Get your mum and friends to play it. If they reach the end of the trial and want to play more then you are onto a winner.

– Make the trial rewarding straight away (not after half an hour or something). Fill it with bonuses, trophies, sparkly effects, fancy screen transitions and great sounds.

– Make it interesting by introducing new gameplay features rapidly and don’t let up. You need to give the impression that the game has only just begun when the trial ends and that there’s loads more they are missing out on.

– Don’t repeat any graphics/design elements. Everything should be new in the demo even if straight after the demo stuff starts getting repeated.

– Keep the story quick and punchy, people don’t want to wade through wads of dross just to get to the game.

– Have good quick simple hints (or gameplay that requires none).

– If you have a map or level system, make sure that your demo doesn’t show the player that they’ve completed more than 1/3rd of the game in the hour trial! Otherwise there is little point in them buying it. Just make sure gameplay is 4-5 hours absolute minimum for an average player. (Fairway had about 25+ hours for the best of players)

– Get them hooked. Ideally they should play the hour demo and then buy it at the end. If they only play it for 20 mins then never again, you’ve lost a sale, or if they play it in dribs and drabs they have little incentive to buy it. If you can make it appeal to all family members then the main player may buy it just so the other family members can join in the fun.

– At the end of the day, you’ve got to look at what you’ve made objectively and think “Would I buy this if I was this type of customer?”. If the answer is no, rework the demo (or abandon the game ;-))

– Check out other top games to see what is so good about their demos.

Hope this helps.

Fairway Solitaire Cheats

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I’ve been getting lots of emails about how to cheat on Fairway Solitaire because some of the end courses are really tough. There are no in-game cheats at all I’m afraid – they were all removed in the final version. However, it is possible to modify one of the data files to make the tough courses easier as follows (Windows XP):

– Go to your C Drive via My Computer
– Go to Program Files\Fairway Solitaire
– Go into Data\Levels
– Make a backup copy of CourseList.csv somewhere safe.
– Right Click CourseList.csv and click Open with WordPad or NotePad (if you are using Windows Vista you need to open it with Adminstrator privileges)
– Find the course AFTER the one you are stuck on
– If you are modifying Joe’s Gas and Golf – find where it says SCORE,-1 and change -1 to something much easier like 20
– If you are modifying Mystery Madness – find where it says TOKENS,25000 and change 25000 to something much easier like 1000
– Save the file.
– Run the game and check the course goal, it should have changed.
– Tada!

The courses mentioned in the cheats are only really hard in V1.01 of the game. They are easier in V1.02 and higher. Please note that it is not possible to cheat on the last course: The Baron. Also there are no cheats for the Mac version.

Hope this helps you out, and thanks for playing the game so far!


It is possible to adjust the data files using the above technique on the Mac version shipped by BFG, but it requires a little “hacking”. The problem is that the data folder is a hidden folder, and it’s inside the application bundle. So once you get inside the application bundle you need to tell Finder to be able to view hidden folders so that you can locate the data folder. However, I cannot tell you how to do that because BFG would not be happy if I said how to hack their Mac wrapper. If you googled for the information you might succeed…but it’s probably easier to just try to beat the level 😉

My Big Fish Games

Monday, January 7th, 2008

My Big Fish Games is an affiliate scheme run by Big Fish Games.

Game Page

After you’ve signed up you can make a special page (called a “Game Space) with your favourite games on. Here’s mine. I’ve populated it with 3 of my own games and a couple of best sellers that I like. You can write your own text to go with the games to give it a personal feel. However, I feel that the page is a bit limited with only 1 featured game and 4 favorite games. It would be nice if I could make different layouts and have different sections for say adventure, hidden object, my games etc. I rarely direct people to this page because I have my own website, but if I didn’t have a website then I guess this page would be useful.


As well as linking to your Game Space page you can also to the Big Fish Games front page and to individual game pages. All you do is add your affiliate code to the end of the link like this. Pretty simple.


The commission is only 25% per sale and because a lot of games sold on Big Fish Games are via the Game Club, the gross sale value can often be as low as $6.95! That’s a big different from the 40% commission offered by Reflexive where each game is sold at $19.95. However, once you “capture” a customer via your affiliate code, they remain yours for life. This means that every time they buy a game, even years later, you’ll make 25% from them! This makes up for the lower commission in my opinion.

Also, if someone who’s clicked one of your affiliate links makes their own Game Space and then starts making a commission from their own affiliate sales, you get 25% of their commission! (They still get their own 25%). So if one of your affiliate customers starts making loads of sales, you’ll be making 6.25% of whatever they make, wow! Plus it doesn’t end there, if one of their affiliate customers sets up their own game space, you’ll make 25% of 6.25% which is 1.56%! It’s not very much but it all helps. Believe it or not, this carries on forever, although at some point the commission must be less than one $0.01, so pretty much worthless (unless the superman 3 effect kicks in.


The online reporting system is not as detailed as Reflexive’s. Plus you can’t use the customer emails yourself (you can use the Reflexive customer emails!). You can see who all of your “friends” are and which ones have set up their own Game Spaces and how much money each of your friends has made for you. Furthermore you can manually add friends and email your “friends” with a newsletter etc. I haven’t used the email facilities yet – but I probably will when I release my next game. I might even use the email facilities when Azada 2 comes out as an experiment.

My Results

Firstly I’ll say this – I wish I’d signed up to this scheme sooner! I had it on my to do list all year but was so busy with my latest game that I didn’t bother. I’ve been losing passive income all that time, doh! I only just signed up to it in mid-December so that I could earn a commission on sales of Fairway Solitaire (my latest game).

I posted affiliate links to the game on my blog, on the showcase, on and in my BlitzBasic and IndieGamer signatures. Plus I sent out a newsletter to my Framework customers and my newsletter subscribers (approx. 400 emails). I know from tracking that only about 40% of people opened my newsletter and that the click through rate was only about 15% (so that’s about 60 clicks).

Straight away this resulted in some good commissions, one day I even made more than $60. This could have been people just buying my game via my links, or perhaps they were buying other games too. It’s exciting to check my email each day and see how much money I’ve made, sometimes it’s nothing (sob) and sometimes like $1.50, but other days it’s over $10, which I think is fine for a start. So far I’ve made nearly $200 in about 2-3 weeks. It may be slowing down now that Christmas is over and that most people who were going to click my links have already done so.

Certainly it’s done better than Reflexive has ever done for me in a single month, but it’s early days yet, I need to monitor it on a monthly basis. However, I’m pretty sure that it’ll build up much bigger over time. I know someone with thousands of friends who makes multiple hundred dollars each month, nice.


One more thing … You can find out your ranking in all the people using My Big Fish Games. When you logon to check your details it shows your ranking on the left-hand side. Currently I’m 89th on the Rookie Partners list (I was #1 on the Gold Members list for a while but I think that list is LOWER than the Rookie Partners list). I’ve been as high as #86 but I’ve dropped back a bit recently. I’m not sure how they work this ranking out – it could be based on total earnings or earnings in 30 days or something, not sure. It’s probably total earnings though because they also list the top 10 partners and they are in order of earnings. Their earnings are CRAZY good; the #1 parnter has earnt $67,000 – wow, that’s like having a good full-time job!

Hey if you are already a partner, let me know where you are in the list 🙂


So far I’m very happy with it and I’m going to work at boosting the income from My Big Fish Games throughout the year.

Naturally I’m hoping that some of you will use my links from the top of this page to either a) buy games or b) sign up to My Big Fish Games. You can’t loose and neither can I! What are you waiting for? Do it today.