Whale Trail, a new rising star on the App Store, is said to have made about £18,500 in net revenues in the space of four days – but the game has a long road ahead before it becomes profitable.
Matt Mills, the co-founder of London studio Ustwo, told the Guardian that the abstract iOS game cost about £150,000 to build – an investment that would require some 300,000 downloads to recoup.
Yet speaking to Develop, Mills explained it was not the ultimate priority for Whale Trail to generate profit. He said the game was more intended to publicise the East London digital design studio’s credentials.
Ustwo undertakes various creative promotional work for a body of clients, and the theory is that Whale Trail’s buzz will generate business.
But the 69p whale-farer could become a cash cow: Fuelled by a global Game Of The Week promotion from Apple, more than 38,000 copies of the game were downloaded in its first four days.
“We need 300,000 downloads to break even, based on our £150k spend making the game," Mills said.
Mills said the studio was “blown away” by the game’s instant success, which could spiral into further sales.
Yet, for now, Whale Trail has yet to find a place on the top ten App Store games chart in the UK or the US.
"What it tells me is there are some serious downloads ahead of us: people in the top 10 in the US and UK must be doing really well,” Mills said.
“But we’ve got 430 five-star reviews so far and our feedback email is getting hit every 15 minutes, which is what’s going to be important in the long term."
"But we’re on our way: we couldn’t be happier with the launch. We have a long way to go, but what we’re overjoyed about is that people like it: the game was made with such passion and love, and people seem to be really buying into that, whether it’s the art, the music or the tiny little gameplay details."