To Infinity! - Postmortem

I would like to write a little bit about a personal project I worked on back in 2014 along with Javier Tejera and Jose Lopez (formally named ZUP Games). It was a very interesting/quick development and in this post I will try to explain how was its development, what level of 'success' the game had, and which are the lessons we learnt from this experience.

About the game

To Infinity! is an infinite runner type of game where we control Astroman, during its gameplay, we have to use our phone accelerometer in order to dodge asteroids, get some stars and boosters that will help us to get further away and consequently to obtain a better score.

Outside of the gameplay, we have the possibility to spend our stars building machines in our spaceship, this will provide Astroman with extra boosters in regular time intervals.

The game was developed using Unity3D along with a set of additional plugins:


When I think the way we released this game I can only described with one word "inexperience".

Although I was convinced that we had to look for a publisher, we finally decided that we wanted to release this game by ourselves... let's say that was Strike 1!

Is that even important? Yes it is!, trying to get a publisher would give us real feedback on the quality of your game. Lets put this straight, if publishers don't want your game, your chances of getting any success publishing by yourself are really bad. In the other hand, If many publishers are interested in your game, it may be you have something good on your hands. Even then... pick the best publisher and focus in what you do best.... making games.

In top of that, once we had something we considered 'playable' we simply released our game to the entire world, how stupid is that? After all, iTunes Connect gave us green light, the game had to be in a good shape, right?! what to say... this was Strike 2! At this point, anyone with any experience releasing apps/games is probably looking like this:

For those with less experience in game publishing, soft releasing your game (release your game just in a few countries for a period of time) will give you extremely useful information that would help you improve your game before a global release.

If your game is completely unknown (which is the most likely case) and you are struggling to get users in just a few countries, fear not!, that is what soft release is all about. If you are still confident about your game quality/chances of success, simply buy some users (paying advertising), collect metrics (KPIs) and keep working on them for a few months.

So which was the Strike 3?  In my opinion, releasing the game without ads, the game had IAPs, but when you release a game, and you do it globally, you are likely to have a peak in your DAU chart, and most likely, non paying users (after all, they don't know your game), take advantage of that day 1 and get some extra bucks from ads, invest it on more users and keep rolling the wheel.

Press coverage

Fortunately, we had the opportunity to reach an agreement with a great YouTuber Alvaro845 to cover our game for a few videos:

Video 1
Video 2

This was a really good thing and the most interesting part in terms of learning about game advertising.

Alvaro845 responded our approach with a win-win situation where he would cover our game if we provided some goods in order to organise a contest for his followers. He wasn't even interested in getting money directly from us or our videos! He knew that a contest would attract way more follower and probably more money in the long term that the amount we were able to pay, and most importantly, he was willing to help us promoting our game and so he told his followers, no shady business here.

So the takeaway is, don't do what we did, not all YouTubers are going too be willing to help you or waste some time proposing you anything, this was a VERY extraordinary case and we simply got lucky and are very grateful to Alvaro845. Approach YouTubers (or any media) offering a win-win situations and you will have better chances of reaching an agreement.

We also got covered by a local newspaper (on paper and digitally) where they wrote a little bit about our background and about our game. Despite it didn't mean a loot in terms of user acquisition we were very happy and grateful to see our faces on a printed media and so were our families.

La Provincia Article

For me, it was very surprising how, more friendly approaches, worked better than press notes. Don't forget to add some media while contacting press (pictures of the team, screenshots, marketing art,..) but don't fall in unsubstantial messages, after all, if you are just 3 people making games, it doesn't make sense to speak like you were a multinational company.... imho. Keep it short, humble and honest.


So, all right!, we had released our game globally, we got covered by the press, what happened next? After the first youtube video we got a great spike having up to 576 DAU with an average session length of 1.86 minutes. Well, that wasn't bad at all! But what about revenue?

Well, we woke up one morning and we were in the money!!!!! We started to think what to do with the it, first thing, invest in advertising, keep working on the game, release more features, keep contacting media,.... mmm, this doesn't feel right, it looks like a huge amount of money for the number of users, don't you think?

We are in the money!
Effectively, after 2 days, when we could finally see the IAPs on the Google Play Developer Console, the money wasn't there :( wee had simply been hacked. We (I mean I) hadn't implemented IAPs receipts server side verification on Android and that is (apparently) easily hackable. (Everybody knows that dumbass!) Who said that!!

The plugin we were using for IAPs (Soomla) only had, at that moment, SSV for iOS so there wasn't any quick fix for this. Furthermore, for those that don't know it, this isn't the only way to hack Android games... so, even if I could make it more difficult to cheat, the players would keep cheating anyway.

Again, the takeaway; If you have any expectation about your game revenue and don't want to be excessively affected by hacking, check at least these two anti-hacking methods: SSV for IAPs (Soomla does it automatically, or you will need to use your own server implementation if you're not working with Soomla or a similar plugin) and encrypt all data stored in the Shared Preferences.

Anyway, if your game is really successful, it will be hacked anyway, as the key used for encryption will be at the apk or provided by your server so, at the end, it only depends on how deep the hackers want to dig. The most important thing for me, is to keep this hacking out of the metrics.

So, what was the real revenue? well... something under 10€, for real... that meant, no further development, no investment on advertising, no nothing.... well, at least some updates.


The game release was followed by two mayor updates; Halloween and Christmas editions. In each of these updates we introduced one new machine to build, we added some extra game mechanics, some bug fixes and some new bugs (game development in a nutshell).

Every update was followed by a very subtle spike on the DAU chart and clearly our rank position improved somehow, but it would need much more work than that to make the game profitable (ads and soft-release remember?)

Some stats

Based on the data provided by this post we compare our game with the rest of apps available in the market. As I said, this is the kind of thing that you would like to do during soft-release, modify a few things, measure again, and repeat until you get some good KPIs.

Since we didn't do any of that, our metrics look pretty bad, way below the market average.

Top 10 Apps10074.6771.5167.3963.2859.850.87
Next 50 Apps10064.8560.3154.1349.4844.8134.5
Next 100 Apps10048.7242.9635.9330.7925.4518.98
Next 5000 Apps10034.3128.5421.6417.4313.628.99
To Infinity!10029.410.65.772.250.720
Retetion data (Based on Quettra's data)

Retetion data chart (Based on Quettra's data)

Learnt lessons

In short, I really appreciate having had the opportunity to develop this game with Javi Tejera and Jose Lopez and am very grateful for all the things I've learnt about game publishing, KPIs, security, etc.

I have to admit, that even the things that I consider we did wrong (like not looking for a publisher or skipping soft-release) could have meant the cancellation of the project, leaving us without the privilege of learning all this stuff. At least now we have some pretty important things to share and check before our next release.

Thanks for reading.

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