So it’s that time of year again when we look back at the past twelve months and review how we did. We did this for 2013, and now it’s time for 2014.
Sales overall – a bit flat
2014 was overall a bit flat for us – a rise of just over 1%. However, that figure hides quite a bit of good news, as although the first few months were generally very bad, since the beginning of September our sales picked up and showed typically 10-20% year-on-year growth.
Hopefully that trend will continue into 2015.
We believe that the improvement is down to two things: first, we’ve improved our website and made it more user-friendly (and thus search-engine friendly). Second, Google changed it’s algorithms again. A couple of years ago Google changed their algorithm and penalized low-quality websites. Unfortunately it seems that they were a bit over-zealous and we might have been caught by that change. Last year they re-tweaked their algorithms and we appear to be one of the beneficiaries. Hopefully future tweaks will only be to our benefit!
Best selling games
Once again, our best selling games were Way out West (by some way), then Casino Fatale, and followed by Hollywood Lies. The overall levels of sales were broadly the same as for 2013, with Casino Fatale dropping a bit. Overall, the top three games accounted for 28% of our sales.
We believe that Way out West’s popularity is boosted as it’s our free game – so presumably customers are upgrading to the paid version when they want to add more players. One thing we could do to test that is to change the free game, and that’s something we may think about in the future.
New and updated games
We published two new games in 2014: Murder on the Dancefloor and A Speakeasy Murder. We also updated one of our older games, Murder at Sea (originally All at Sea), bringing it into line with our current format.
Sales of A Speakeasy Murder have started strongly, and in 2015 it may be challenging Hollywood Lies for a top three position.
Doubling our newsletter’s readership
In 2014 we doubled the readership of our newsletter, which was its best growth for a long time. By signing up to our newsletter you also get to download our free copy of Way out West, which no doubt helps explains some of the growth!
Improving the website
Last year we identified that we needed to improve our website and as a result we:
- Made a few cosmetic changes (including more photos) and rearranged the layout to make it more friendly.
- Changed the site header to the montage photograph when testing proved that it was more effective than a testimonial.
- Added a page for customers new to our games.
- Updated the FAQ and pulled it all into one place (it was tucked around in different places before).
combined the stories and pictures pages into a single page, which makes them easier to see (and avoids duplicating content which can be a search-engine black mark).
- Kept the blog going fairly consistently for most of the year, but towards the end of the year Real Life got away from me and I was unable to update is as much as I liked. I’m hoping to be a bit more regular again in 2015.
Overall the website changes seem to have worked, so I think that’s a success.
Looking back at our plans for 2014
We set ourselves some goals this time last year. Here’s how we did:
- Get the website into a healthier place: Overall traffic was flat, but that hides a dip in the early part of 2014 and an encouraging upward trend since the start of September. So hopefully that will continue.
- Publish Murder on the Dancefloor and A Speakeasy Slaughter: success. We thought we might get Death on the Rocks published as well, but that has slipped.
- Update All at Sea: success, and now published as Murder at Sea.
- Mo and I talked about possibly getting together one weekend to write a game (a bit like Peaky), but that didn’t happen and it was always optional.
Looking forward to 2015
Our plans for 2015 include:
- Continuing to improve the website, and keep an eye on its performance.
- Publish Death on the Rocks.
- Update Hollywood Lies, bringing it into line with our current format.
- Publish our standard rules. Our outstanding action from the feedback we received last May was to prepare standard rules that can be shared and sent out in advance. We’re well on the way with this.
Here’s looking forward to a good 2015 for Freeform Games!