Exactly one year ago today RedBandana took the first step into the world of casual games by releasing its first game JetBus. Few are the kids who didn’t dream at some point in time to program and design their own game, at least the ones that grew up in last few decades, starting with the “spectrum” generation. Me and my good friend Marco just so happen to be from that same generation and both being programmers it seemed silly we didn’t use our skills to make a game before, we did try a few years ago in basic but never finished, JetBus was the culmination of that dream and the start of a “hobby” we wish to carry on.

As I’ve wrote before, JetBus was not meant to be a big hit that pleased the masses, it was an experiment with clear goals which I think were achieved and hopefully 1 year later now we are ready to continue this path and make a few more games (in fact we are already working on a couple).

Goals

These were the 4 topics we wanted to learn about and the true purpose of JetBus:

  1. Can we make a Flash game? Not saying technically, but can we come up with a concept and theme and take it from start to finish going through the entire process and applying the little knowledge we have about game design (not design as in graphics but design as a whole).
  2. How to make an engine for our games? We started from 0, read a LOT, ran hundreds of tests, wrote and rewrote code and came up with the first version of our engine, since then we already improved it a lot but all of this was only possible because we had a game to use as a “lab rat”.
  3. Can we monetize a Flash game? This was a big question mark for us, we had no idea how to monetize a game, if it would get a sponsor, if ads are a good income or not etc. So far we haven’t even scratch the surface of this complex part of the process but at least we have a case study to reflect upon and draw conclusions.
  4. Can we get our brand out there? Even though this was at the bottom of our priorities (this is obvious since we don’t even have a good website yet) it turned out to be surprisingly important for us to get people on our website after we saw the number of visits.

The process

This was the best part, everything from reading a lot on the theory to debating bits and pieces of the concept and stuff like recording the sounds (which was hilarious), even the frustrating days when everything was falling apart are now a joy to remember. It took much longer to develop then we ever wished mostly because we worked on it just on weekends and had to stop lots of times because of “client work”, I really don’t want to see that happening again and that is why I’m going to take part of our schedule and dedicate it religiously to RedBandana every week.

The feedback

People’s response to JetBus was not perfect, I won’t lie, but it was good enough once we filtered the normal comments from the silly ones. At first the absurd comments were demoralizing but once we realized we can’t please everyone and there will always be some people without a sense of humor or the motor skills to play a game based on skill they stopped affecting us. It was great to see comments from people who got the message we were trying to get across and totally understood the concept and even recognized the inspiration from which we made the game.

JetBus did modestly in terms of rating on most portals and that’s more then we could ask for from this particular game, we knew it wasn’t a physics game you could play with 1 click and have heads coming off in a firework of blood and guts, we didn’t care about nailing “the formula” for success in this project, we were still missing other basic knowledge we had to pick up.

Some statistics

Here are some statistics if you’re curious:

Overview

  • 5,437,002 views
  • 3,526,580 plays
  • 4:10 av. play time

I’m not an expert and this was our first game so I don’t have a clue if this is good or not, for me it’s surprising for sure.

Sources

[gn_table style="2"]

Views Plays Time
1st – 4399.com 2,217,375 / 40.8% 1,405,397 / 39.8% 3:38
2nd – 7k7k.com 1,361,256 / 25.0% 868,166 / 24.6% 4:00
3rd – 3366.com 496,645 / 9.1% 270,791 / 7.7% 3:42
4th – ArmorGames.com 230,407 / 4.2% 177,970 / 5.0% 6:46
5th – TeaGames.com 109,703 / 2.0% 81,878 / 2.3% 8:21
6th – JuegosDiarios.com 58,803 / 1.1% 47,260 / 1.3% 8:55
7th – Bored.com 57,039 / 1.0% 46,644 / 1.3% 8:13
11th – GameGecko.com 22,249 / 0.4% 15,711 / 0.4% 8:50
12th – RedBandana.com 20,014 / 0.4% 15,533 / 0.4% 3:56

[/gn_table]

Approximately 75% of the views and plays came from 3 chinese portals which is not surprising, and then comes the sponsor and the non-exclusive license buyers plus our own website. There’s around 400 more sources but there’s no point listing them all.

Screens

[gn_table style="2"]

Visits Daily Average
1st – Garage (upgrades) 1,456,945 3,981
2nd – Help (instructions) 937,692 2,562

[/gn_table]

It’s nice to see that if there were really 3,5m plays almost half of those involved going to the upgrade area, there was some engagement there.

Vehicles

[gn_table style="2"]

Aquisitions Daily Average
1st – Time Machine (from rare powerup) 18,762 51
2nd – Army Truck (from finishing easy mode) 9,559 26
3rd – Sports Car (from finishing normal mode) 2,027 6
4th – 4×4 (from finishing hard mode) 271 1

[/gn_table]

Obviously this didn’t go quite as planned, the Time Machine was supposed to be rare but I guess 1/1000 drop rate is not that low… unfortunately there was way less people completing all levels.

Upgrades

[gn_table style="2"]

Buys Daily Average
1st – Jets (more thrust) 26,691 74
2nd – Hull (more resistance) 22,859 62
3rd – Dampners (less affected by forces) 22,162 59

[/gn_table]

I am very happy to see these numbers, it means people were interested in the upgrades and tried them evenly.

Consumables

[gn_table style="2"]

Buys Daily Average
1st – Brakes 183,814 502
2nd – Nitros 172,864 471

[/gn_table]

Apparently people liked the consumables.

Links

[gn_table style="2"]

URL Placement Clicks Daily Average
1st – RedBandana red-bandana.com Intro animation 2,269,576 6,201
2nd – TeaGames teagames.com Intro animation 519,711 1,420
3rd – TeaGames teagames.com Exclusive vehicle 365,616 999
4th – TeaGames teagames.com Exclusive levels 136,355 373
5th – TeaGames teagames.com More games button 14,997 41
6th – TeaGames teagames.com Main menu corner logo 10,548 29

[/gn_table]

Not going into detail on other links since non-exclusive versions are only hosted on the portals that buy them and the links to themselves are of no importance to the statistics unless it is to see how many people that are at armorgames.com click on a link to armorgames.com for example.

The earnings

Total Revenue Distribution

JetBus Revenue Distribution

Ad Revenue Distribution

JetBus Ads Revenue Distribution

Conclusion

JetBus was probably one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on and taking the decision to make it was 100% right, I’m extremely happy I did. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and now I’ve had people pose the question “why not jump into iOs stuff?” Well, I probably will but not just yet because JetBus was such a great experience that I would be stupid not to follow up on it at least with a couple more projects and even though people say Flash is dead I think that the iPhone/iPad and all mobile market changes so rapidly it might be even more volatile to dedicate myself to that then to Flash games. I think a lot can change over night in the mobile business but meanwhile the Flash game portals will be around and have visits. I can be way off and maybe this is something I will laugh at in the future but it is just the way I feel even though I love my iOs devices.

And last but not least, a sequel? Not sure, I want to but only time will tell.

Thanks to everyone that played the game and gave their support and feedback.