Saturday, October 15, 2016

Social Session is Seeing Some Action in Saudi Arabia, Romania, and the UK

So, it's been an interesting month watching Social Sessions' activity.

All of a sudden, I got a huge spike in Romania, Saudi Arabia, and the UK. I went from averaging about 5 users per day (mostly in the USA), to averaging closer to 20, with most of that due to those three countries. And for whatever reason, the new users have been almost exclusively on Android.

I took the opportunity to localize into Arabic for the audience in Saudi Arabia (just the Play Store, not the game itself).

Unfortunately, I haven't been successful in holding onto players, and I definitely haven't managed to monetize much. Players drop off quick after the first level of the game, with only about 10% of players continuing after that.

So, of course, a very small percentage of players are even getting to the point where the game asks for an upgrade (in the last month, only 3 have reached it, and none have purchased).

Social Sessions also gives you the opportunity to watch an ad in exchange for a free hint on how to beat a level. This feature has not been widely used either.

So, as I said, it's been interesting. I seem to have tapped into a fountain of downloaders who don't really end up liking the game, almost immediate. I had a much more gradual dropoff of users, relatively, when I was only getting 5 or so downloads a day.

It's possible that there's something off-putting about the first level. Maybe it's so easy that players don't think the game is going to be challenging. Maybe they see the suggestion to watch an ad and flee. Maybe the pace is too slow. Or maybe because the tutorial that appears on level 1 isn't localized into anything but English, and so users just exit (although I tried to make it as self-explanatory as possible).

I'm not sure, so I'm putting some extra thought into it right now. If you've got any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Writing for

I'm going to be writing some blog posts for

Here's my first post. Go check it out!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Picture Puzzles

This is the first set of image-based Social Session puzzles. These are taken straight from the mobile app (get it for free!), but I thought that maybe people would like to try them in an old fashioned image-based form. (which makes for a good sampler, and then people can get the app if they like the puzzle!)

But really, this is a test run, because I need to see if this format is clear enough to explain the rules and get people to solve the puzzle. So, we'll see. Here it is!

(leave your answers in the comments if you can solve them!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tough Crowd

Boy, it's tough trying to market a game. It's funny, it really seems like the gamer community is much more eager to fund a game that is in development, but that may or may not ever see the light of day, than to support a game that already exists. A post that says "hey, here's the latest alpha version of my game, check it out!" will gain way more interest than "hey, I released my game last week, check it out!"

It's weird, but I think it comes down to a couple of things.

First, I think we have this mentality that if something comes out that's absolutely amazing, we'll hear about it. Our friends will tell us, or we'll hear about it on the top gaming news sites. And so if you're telling me about a game that's already out, well, it obviously isn't THAT good, or else I'd have heard about it already.

Second, I think is just a much deeper human trait: potential is more exciting than a concrete thing. The woman or dude that walks by on the street, you imagine, would bring you far more happiness than the spouse you have now, surely. In other words, if the game isn't out yet, then my imagination is the only limit to how good it MIGHT be. I can still dream. But if the game is done and released, well then the result is concrete. It might be good, but it's still only "this" good, and can't possibly live up to my imagination.

We don't want to stop and realize that we're setting ourselves up to never be content and never enjoy anything in the present.

This may be a self serving post, but I've had a lot of time to sit and think about this as I sit and watch very few people download my game that I spent 2 years making, and I ponder how in the world do I break into this market without being one of the blessed big-name studios...?

Anyway, try it out. I think you'll like it.

Android store page

iOS store page

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Play Social Sessions!

Social Sessions is available on iOS and Android! Grab it! Play it! Enjoy it!


Get it on Google Play

Monday, May 16, 2016

Social Sessions Has A New Face!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Social Sessions has a brand new face.

It's late, and I'm glad to be done with this, but I'm tired, so I'm gonna keep this short.

Totally new art. New look and feel. Same great game. Available now on Android and iOS.

I hope you love it so much. Go download it free.

Android store page

iOS store page

Art Reskin Almost Ready!

To say "I've spent the last 5 months re-doing the art" would be a stretch, since I've spent most of that time NOT working on it... but IN the last 5 months, I hired a freelance artist to completely rethink the visual design of the game, and I've been integrating his new visuals into the game.

I'm happy to announce that the newest version of Social Sessions is in review for the App Store, and will be available for both iOS and Android in the next week if I don't hit any snags!

I'm very very ready to let out a sigh of relief for finally being totally done with the game, and I'm much much happier with the way it looks and feels now. I hope you'll take a look at it again when it's out if you've already played it, or, if you haven't, give it a try! You can play a generous portion of the game totally for free!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Art

I hope you've been challenged by Social Session's puzzles. For most people who have played it, their response is quite positive. But here's the problem: the number of people who judge the book by its cover and never download the game is staggering. Only about 15% of people who view the game's app store page actually download the game. This is pretty low. And also, the number one critique I've gotten from people (that aren't my friends) is that it just looks bad.

Now, I'm not offended by this at all. I know I'm not an artist. I kind of thought the art would be okay because it's "simple", but in this case, simple just translated into "amateur" or "rushed" or "incomplete". And I'm understanding now, more and more, how important good art is for a game to be successful. It's like the sign on the front of your store. No one's gonna come into see what you offer if it looks bad on the outside, even if what's inside is great.

And I can't hold it against anyone, because, each of us is faced with a decision of which games to play, and when you have thousands of options at any given time, you have to judge a book by its cover. You just can't play them all and give a fair judgement. Unfortunately.

So, if you've played, thanks for looking past the "simple" art. But for all the others, I'm going to be looking into either purchasing some stock art, or getting someone to freelance some art for me.

Of course, the problem is that I don't really have a budget for it. I've spent several hundred dollars just getting the game done, and haven't made more than about 10 bucks on the game so far (it's a freemium game). It's hard to justify spending anything more on it. But I'll see if I can find something that's a lot of bang for buck.

Thanks for reading! #SocialSessionsGame

Monday, January 18, 2016

Marketing Social Sessions

Well, Social Sessions is now officially published. I'm no longer a game developer, I'm a marketer. ...nope nope nope, that's not true at all. I hate marketing. It goes back to the summer I tried to sell Kirby vacuum cleaners. TRIED. Never again. But for now, I don't want my development efforts to be wasted and not shared with the world, so alas, I will market however I can.

I started posting about my game to the community on Reddit. Some forums are hostile toward people "self-promoting" their own apps, and others are welcoming to it. Either way, that avenue quickly becomes exhausted. I sent about 150 emails in the last few days (no bulk email tools, just copy/pasting and changing names and email addresses by hand) to sites that review mobile games.

Wouldn't it be fun if there was a market for "local" indie games, the way there's a market for "local" music? Just go down and hang out at your local Cafe or bar and set up your game and let people walk up and play it with their friends. That would be cool. Someone needs to make that happen. Especially in a city like mine, Austin, where there are enough indie developers to warrant it.

Anyway, I've also been trying to use Twitter to spread the word. It's all a little disheartening. I really just want to make fun games, and let people discover them on their own... but I know that there are probably thousands of games out there that I WOULD like if I only KNEW about them... so that lets me know that I need to try as hard as possible to let people know about my game. The goal is to be "loud" enough to get the word to those who will actually enjoy my game, while not being so loud that I annoy everyone else.

Anyway, if you're reading this and you're one of those people that I'm trying to target (lovers of puzzle games, indie games, challenging games), go download Social Sessions on your phone today!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rejected, Fixed, Resubmitted

Post-holiday update from Hester Games! I was notified shortly after leaving for a Christmas holiday that Apple had rejected Social Sessions because it lacked a "Restore Purchases" button. I knew it was an easy fix, but I wouldn't be able to fix it until I returned in January.

In the Android version, I automatically connected and restored purchases on game start. In the Apple version, I relied on the fact that if you attempt to make the same purchase that you already have, the App Store just asks you if you want to have it again for free. Problem solved. But I guess Apple wants an explicit button there, and that's perfectly fine.

It's been fixed, and resubmitted last night.

Looking forward to exciting new things in the new year!

By the way, you can follow me on Twitter!