Princess Nuriko – No Love

Seems like I’m the only one who adores Princess Nuriko.

Nuriko is my little Nurikabe puzzle game, which I released in November 2010 for Android mobile phones. Updated it a few times this year and today added 20 more levels (total of 62 now).

I did not expect huge sales nor huge demo downloads from Android, as I did not invest in any marketing. But the real result is truly shocking: 30 sales in 4 1/2 months.

Checking the available statistics on other half-successful games with similarities, it would be great to have 300 sales a month. And I expected to not start with more than 10% of that. But with less than 7 sales a month, I’ve not even reached 3% … and there is no growth :-(

Please take a look at the following video showing a bit of gameplay and feel free to leave a hug or anything else helpful in the comments :-)

I’m playing 4 out of 62 levels.

Basically, when I release a new version, its posted under “newest games” in Android Market. Of course this is “shortly” gone, because of the many updates to many games. But due to the fact of the huge user base, I can really see it as spikes in demo downloads, but not as spike in sales.

Actual sales seem to happen only by people who search for the type of puzzle (or any other keyword that is in my App description).

The conclusion I draw is: the game is too special. Normal people (which are interested to download the demo) are probably shocked by the genre or any details in regard to the puzzle gameplay I’m unaware of (i.e. probably the demo levels are already way to hard) ?

So only people interested enough to search for keywords from that genre are actually potential buyers.

Get the game here!
Get the free demo here!

Daniel Renkel

Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel is a true indie game developer (at heart ;) and a part time simulation engineer (space- & aircrafts). He's studied computer science at the university of Darmstadt, Germany and has a background of 8 years as game developer (assistant projectmanager, game designer, associate producer and technical artist). He worked on a whole number of PC and console games including the Aquanox series. Visit for more information about this current android mobile phone games.

18 responses to “Princess Nuriko – No Love”

  1. Krystian Majewski

    That’s disappointing indeed. You always hear those postmortems of super-successful mobile games. What we often fail to consider is that for every successful mobile game, there are hundreds of others, which didn’t make it. The lessons people like to draw from the successful games, fail at explaining the discrepancy.

    As for you conclusion – perhaps this is generally a platform problem. I heard that people are much less likely to actually pay for Apps on the Android Market. Do you have any comparisons between the Apple App Store and the Android Market in this regard?

    Finally, I think there is some things you could improve with the way you present your game. We know each other very well. You never said anything about releasing a game to me. If even I have no clue that you have a game out, how is a stranger supposed to know? The video you posted is great, I especially love the authentic format. I think a good voice-over explaining what is going on would help getting people interested in the game. Finally, when telling people about the game like this, be sure to include a direct link to the Android Market so they can try it right away.

    But hey, I haven’t released my game yet, so I’m hardly an expert on this. Just a few observations to help you out. I’m really glad you got the game out. It looks awesome and I’ll gladly check it out.

  2. Rich

    Sorry to hear the lack of sales. If that were on iPhone, I would have grabbed it after seeing 10 seconds of the trailer. Is the engine suited to porting it?

  3. Henrik Jorgensen

    For some reason I get no sound on the video. I tried watching it directly on Youtube as well but no luck. (Other videos work fine).

    That in itself would scare me off buying since I would by nervous for bad quality.

  4. sirleto

    @kryst: dickes danke :-)

  5. sirleto

    @rich: the engine is java code written for android. basically thats not instant portable, but still easy enough. rendering is done with opengl es so thats easy to port.

    BUT i do not think that the game will stand a chance on iphone. i mean there are MANY more games trying to sell to costumers.
    in some way this is also an answer to krystian: the top sellers on iphone may have more people buying it (in percentage to owner base, compared to android). but there is WAY longer long tail on iphone with _good_ games not selling that on android. i intentionally choose to go for android, as there are only few really good games available. (less than 100 in comparison to aprox. 1000-5000 good games on iphone)

    @henrik: oh, sorry. and thanks for the hint.
    the video has no sound, as i recorded it from screenshots taken live from the game, so there is no “automatic synced audio”. i would need to add audio manually, but do not have a good video editing software.

    so in that regard: anyone aware of good (freeware) video editing software. last time i worked on video editing was 5 years ago on adobe – and i am not able to afford that right now.

  6. Christopher

    Well i disagree. I think especially with the freemium Model you should Be able to get decent download rates on the AppStore…but to be honest without ANY marketing nobody will recognize your Game. No matter what Publishing Platform you choose…

  7. colton

    I went to GDC Online last year and there was a really insightful talk about making a app that is successful in the long term. It was called App Store Survival and although it is about the Apple app store the lessons apply to any mobile development.
    Here are the slides. Really good info.
    There may be a video of the talk somewhere as well

  8. sirleto

    thanks colton,
    i read your post and i read all slides.

    my summary of the slides: create a good game, market like hell.

    there is nothing new in it to me, JUST the problem that i do not want to do live my life as a marketeer but as an imagineer.

    on iphone you can NOT sell anything at all (starting today as an 1 man indie), as you need SO MUCH marketing (or plain luck) for cummulative effects to start in order to sell your games. so much marketing, one person can not do (in parallel to developing a game).
    you could do that, if you would be naive or patient enough to believe that your game is the best game you possibly can do, and thus take it very slow AND use much time for marketing effords.
    BUT this does cost money, lots of money. atleast if you just count your time.
    if i can only offer time, as i do not earn enough money – or do have an investor, all time i need to use for marketing is lost on development.

    so we are back to where i started: if i want to be a marketeer, i would work for an marketing company or try to open one myself. but i want to develop games. because i love gameplay mechanics, game visuals and styles, audio visual multimedia endeavours of gui, mm interfaces, technology.

  9. Colton

    While marketing was a part of there strategy the main points I gleaned from my time at GDC Online were these.

    -Apps won’t usually have breakout success, they build over time. You best marketing is word of mouth from your users.
    -Many of the apps went with a “freemium” model. Either supported by in game ads or with in game add-ons that can be purchased. Words with Friends has a ad supported version and a paid version. They said about 70% of revenue if from the ad supported one.
    -Make periodic updates to apps and use push notification as a way to let players know what’s new.

    Hope some of these concepts will be a fit for your game.

    I understand wanting to put your time into development instead of marketing. I few simple things might improve the result through. For example, recording a voice over explicating the game play in the above video would make things much clearer; The graphics look beautiful but I have trouble understanding what is going on. You can do this simply with Audacity and any basic move software (Windows movie maker or iMovie). In addition do you know of any online community that enjoys the specific type of puzzle in your game? You might see if they have any interest. Best of luck.

  10. sirleto

    thanks colton, for your detailed answer.
    i was probably reacting a bit harsh last time.

    yes, i am aware about the facts you state, they all make a lot of sense and need patience.
    its just that an initial spark is always needed – your idea to search for puzzle-loving community online makes a lot of sense; i will take a look if there are people out there who do like such minimalistic endeavours as i do :)

    to those of you keen on voice overs:
    -its hard to write a script for voice over AND execute it well
    -its extra hard to execute it well for us non native english speakers (and i’m actually quite trained to it due to working in a english-only company environment)
    -the video is made, so that there is something going an (visually), as to many breaks int he game-steps makes the video boring.
    -thus it will become damn hectic to try to explain the gamemechanic in the short amount of time of the video (especially in the shorter amount of one level, as the 3min video contains 4 levels played, and i actually do not expect many people to watch more than the first 2 levels in the video)
    -i had the idea to add youtube annotaitons, but the problem is: i can read very fast, and often vastly underestimate how slow other people read. actually its the way round: i cant listen to podcasts nor audio-books as they seem to have a pace that my mind can not cope. either its to fast or to slow for me and i get very quickly annoyed)

    even if i sound like i am to lazy to follow all your suggestions / rejecting because of thinking otherwise, i will just patiently continue developing my games, and will over time add details to already released ones. not limited to ingame/ gameplay details, but also thinks like music + voice over for video, etc.

    recently i added a more helpfull “learn” menu to the game, as having only tutorials in the past seemed to annoy / not help some people (who like more to read all tutorial sentences / gameplay rules in one overview). also i added a little “watch” mode, where two of the levels i played can be watched. this helps to understand the thought flow of a more or less experience player.

    the problem is just, that all those steps take time, efford, thus money; and my sales are not climbing at all, so i do not see a chance (yet) to regain / earn what i have spent on the game.

    and i know one thing: i do not want to do this as an hobby, but want to have a living from it.

  11. sirleto
  12. KS

    I bought your game recently and completed it – within 5 days. While I think it’s very well made, and totally love it, it’s kinda expensive for such a short game. I thought completing the first map would lead me to another map, so I was shocked that it was ‘game over’.

    Please don’t give up. Other games I enjoy, like Denki Blocks, also suffer from dismal sale. I guess the puzzle genre is very niche.

  13. sirleto

    hi KS, thank you very much for your honest feedback.

    creating the levels takes quite some time, and i think 5 days of playtime for 2 euros is quite a lot. do you know aproximately how many minutes/hours you did play?

    additionally many people find the current hard levels already hard enough, so adding more levels would mean more in the medium to lower-high difficulty range. would that interest you?

    also i intended to make the puzzles more visually nice than the competition (which has crappy generated puzzles with totally plain visuals) and i guess its unclear to players how much time and effort that takes.

    would be nice if you could stay in touch via so i could tell you when there is more to come.


  14. sirleto

    ps: are you the same KS who wrote on excit:
    > Smooth but somewhat run of the mills gameplay that doesn’t offer much excitement…

    thats interesting to me, as i find excit way more versatile than nuriko – and you claimed nuriko did not have enough levels ;)

  15. Antoine

    Hi, so I’m one of your first buyers !
    (bought the game in January).

    I like Princess Nuriko, and so does my girlfriend.
    I finished it quite fast, though, but I’m coming back to it every once in a while when I have a little time to kill. I recently got nice new levels (a little more difficult) that I was happy to solve.

    Quick review : very nice graphics and theme ; this is a real plus to me, and even more to my girlfriend. I’m actually suspecting that she was playing more for the pleasure of discovering the 3D animation at the end of each level with new animals and stuff than for the puzzle solving itself!
    I found Princess Nuriko when looking after a nurikabe game after I played one on a friend’s iPhone. Nuriko is the best I found and the only one I kept.
    Nothing really negative to say ; I’m a little irritated though when I “mistouch” a square and get an error. But well, it’s hard to find another way around. Maybe you could highlight the square being touched to give an immediate feedback, and only register the touch when the finger is moved away ?
    While it’s fine to have plenty of easy levels, I would have liked a few harder ones because when you get a little used to it, there’s no real challenge solving most levels. Hope you’ll keep adding harder ones !

    Thanx anyway for the good work, these were 2€ well spent !

  16. Patrick

    I just bought the game during the becausewemay sales and instantly love it!

    There were many apps on sale in this event, most are not very good…
    I admit that the first time I saw this game, I really don’t know what this game is about, then I just closed the page
    I had went through the youtube video, but still don’t understand how the game is played
    Luckily, my friend bought it and said it’s quite good so I also gave it a try, or I’ll miss this great game! It’s well planned to guide people how to solve puzzles! I like that stages that you need to start guessing!

    Maybe, you can also write a few lines about the game rules in the description. Even better, record some voice description in the youtube video to explain why each forest is put, that should help a lot of people getting to know the fun of this game!

    About marketing, it is a cruel world fighting to be seen by customers, especially when you’re not a big company…Some companies that hire people to download their own games and give 5 stars to build reputation…it’s not fair, but there’s not much we can do.

    Please keep up the effort! I hope more levels will be available soon!

  17. Ian Bee

    As I was looking for a good Picross and/or Minesweeper game, I stumbled upon Princess Nuriko. I really liked the look of it, and I thought I’d try the demo before buying it, but something must be wrong with me, because after reading the tutorial twice, I still can’t understand how the game works.
    I’m 30 years old, I think I’m fairly intelligent, and I can’t figure this out.
    I’m currently looking for a review/tutorial online so I can understand this game, because it looks really fun!
    Sorry about the low sales, best of luck!

    1. Patrick

      The rules are actually quite simple
      1. The numbers denote the number of connected tiles of farms(small green dots or empty space) surrounded by forest
      2. Any forest must be connected to all other forests
      3. Forests cannot form a 2×2 tile

      Be sure to read the tutorials(the first few stages) it will teach you some essential skills to solve larger puzzles, have fun!


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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