Car Jack Streets brings an open world into the pockets of gamers. It launched on April 28, and since then all of the fans have had a chance to explore the world of Car Jack Streets. Now, Paul Farley of Tag Games takes some time to talk with us about the experience of selling a game on the app store. Read on to find about how they managed the hype and marketing of Car Jack Streets, managing hype without a firm release date, and what changes he’d like to see done to the App Store.
No DPad: For those of our readers who have not played Car Jack Streets yet, can you give them an idea of what the game is about?
Paul Farley: Sure! The game is heavily influenced by games like GTA, APB and Trans Am. It’s an open world game set in a city where you can go anywhere and pretty much do anything you like. You play a down on his heels compulsive gambler called Randal Meyers and you’ve run up a debt of one million dollars to the Italian mob. Mob boss Frankie wants his money back and so you set off into the city having to make $50,000 a week, every week in real time or else you’re a dead man!
ND: How did you find the process of marketing a game that does not have a firm release date?
PF: Even though various factors in the games release are outside our control we did have a fairly good idea of when the game would be completed. Marketing is a difficult business and timing plays a big part. Go too early and people get bored, go too late and you don’t have long enough to build a buzz. Car Jack was in some ways a victim of the general position of Tag as a small indie developer with limited finances. In the end we just had to ship it and start making money! Actually, that might have been a good thing as we might still be working on it now!!
ND: Hype was successfully built before the game launched, but many fans became impatient when the release date kept getting pushed back. What techniques did you use to try and sustain the hype?
PF: If the fans were impatient then trust me I was a hundred times more impatient! With bills to pay and everyday taking the studio closer to the wire it was vital we shipped as soon as we could, however we knew that all our efforts would be in vain if we launched a sub-standard game as we wouldn’t make any sales at all! It was a hard balancing act and we did delay the release by a few weeks to make required improvements which did stretch the marketing build up further than we’d hoped. Generally we found most fans understood our situation and by regularly updating them with what was happening in the studio via Twitter and the forums they were able to share some of our pain!
ND: CJS launched twice, prematurely, in Australia. What went wrong?
PF: I think we’d rather forget about that! It was down to human error with the release dates – we’d all been working late to get the game done and had forgotten to set the dates for the original build (which we eventually decided not to release) forward enough into the future. We learnt our lesson though and won’t be making that same mistake twice.
ND: What changes would you like to see to the App Store, from a publishers standpoint?
PF: I think Apple has done a great job of responding to improvement requests thus far but the one feature I’d really like to see is the ability to respond (either directly or via the App Store) to user reviews. We’ve lost track of the number of “Hey this game is the best eva!” reviews that accidentally give one star or those that complain of load crashes that haven’t remembered to reboot their device before playing for the first time.
ND: Car Jack Streets received a price drop shortly after its launch. How did you arrive at this decision?
PF: We watch sales, chart position and revenue on a daily basis and need to be very reactionary to maximize revenue over the longest term possible. There is no exact science and despite plans to the contrary we had to drop the price mainly due to being blown out of the water by a large number of competitive releases just after Car Jack Streets launched. Ultimately price is our biggest weapon against the big guns, we are lean and crazy enough to go low if we have to…. It’s a dog eat dog environment and we have to play tough. To think that we have held our own with an original title up against Need for Speed, Top Gun, two Terminator games, Peggle, Resident Evil, Assassins Creed, Star Trek and more says a lot about how good the App Store is for breaking original games and also the fact we have delivered a great game that people really enjoy!
ND: Do you have any closing thoughts, or information on content coming in future updates?
PF: Well we just dropped a HUGE update on the App Store this week. CJS 1.1 adds a map in the GPS, a new control option to help more casual players – it works like a steering wheel, the ability to carry more than one weapon, game save back at your condo for weapons and your vehicle, a tank, a helicopter, improved stability, less drain on the battery and lots of other smaller fixes and improvements. We have two smaller updates scheduled, the first will address some small issues, and the second will add French, German, Spanish and Italian languages for our European friends. Beyond that we have a free lite version in the works and some updates for the 3.0 firmware where we are likely to charge for player customization and some additional elements. We do plan to keep adding free content though ahead of the sequel!
Oh yeah and if you don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch we’ll be bring Car Jack Streets to some other mobile and portable gaming platforms this year! I think its going to be a busy few months for us!
ND: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Paul. I’m sure gamers are loving the new features in the last update, and hopefully new developers can learn something from the experiences you’ve shared.
Car Jack Streets is currently on sale for $0.99. We reviewed it and had fun. At $0.99, we recommend everyone buy Car Jack Streets, especially with the latest update that addressed many of the issues mentioned in the original review.