How we made a free Balda for iOS and how we plan to earn

    Since the beginning of this year, my friends and I have been making the famous multiplayer word game for iOS - Balda Online . For those who have not played Balda: the game takes place on a 5x5 square. There is an initial word of 5 letters. Players take turns adding one letter at a time until the cells run out. 2 minutes are given per turn. The longer the words, the more points. In the game, such qualities as erudition, quickness of mind, memory, composure and calculation are important.

    We set ourselves the task of making the best Balda in the world and are trying to consistently move towards this goal, constantly introducing more and more “chips”. There is quite a lot of interest in the game: 12 thousand people play every day in Balda Online (up to 1000 players at a time at peak times), spending more than 25 thousand daily .games. We are confident that we will be able to further increase these indicators at times.

    By the way, information about the current number of players is displayed directly on the main page of the game. Download the game and check how many people are playing right now.


    Features of our Bulda

    • Definitions of words
    The game has built-in definitions of the words used. It really helps to learn and remember new words and improve your game.

    You can play Balda in English, while you can configure the display as definitions of words also in English or translate them into Russian.

    • Prize cell
    For the sake of diversity and increase interest, the game has a prize cell that adds 1 or 2 points to the delivered word.

    • Playing online and with a computer
    You can play both online with real rivals and with a computer at 4 difficulty levels: Beginner, Junior, Expert and Sensei. Beating Sensei is only possible for units of players.

    • Rating
    The player has a rating and a place among other players that is affected by online games. An interesting feature is that you can increase your rating by playing offline with your computer. Information about the result is transmitted to the game server to calculate the rating as soon as the Internet connection appears.

    • Division into leagues
    Despite the fact that the Game Center in theory should connect more or less equal players (based on its own rating), it does not do it very well. Therefore, in the game, with the help of Game Center groups, a division into leagues has been introduced: “Major League” - players with a place from 1 to 5000 and “First League” - all the rest. In each league, players play among themselves. Players can move between leagues when changing their place. Division into leagues helps to conduct matches between more or less equal rivals in strength.

    • Design
    From the very beginning, given that the game is made for iOS, we paid special attention to design. There are 4 very beautiful built-in skins in Balda: grass, sand, space and ice.

    • Other
    The Bulda has built-in tasks, chat and statistics. The Russian dictionary contains about 20 thousand carefully selected nouns with definitions. English dictionary - 44 thousand nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs with definitions and translation.

    Will appear soon

    • Auto-tuning. Adjusting the
    strength of the computer to the results of the game with the user: the computer will evaluate the results of the last 12 and 4 games at this level of difficulty and slightly strengthen or weaken its game.

    • Add words The
    ability, without leaving the application, send a request to add or remove a word from the dictionary of the game.

    • Parallax
    A very beautiful parallax effect on the main screen (for iOS 7) - for each of 4 types of wallpapers.

    • Bomb
    Cell with a bomb: in an explosion, letters in neighboring cells are destroyed.

    • iPad
    Adaptation for iPad.

    • Multiplayer
    From the realm of fantasy, but still: a game of three and four.

    • Go West
    Presentation of the game in the West. The Balda (Blockhead Online) is now available in App Store's all over the world, but so far it is popular only in Russia and the CIS countries.

    • Monetization
    Paid functions (about them below).

    Some statistics

    The game is implemented using the Apple Game Center for multiplayer (which makes cross-platforming impossible at this stage), plus its own server for storing a user profile, calculating the rating, location and statistics. The most resource-intensive operations on the server are made in cron, which allows serving a large number of players without delay. Currently there is a version only for iPhone.

    The distribution of players by time of day is interesting. The minimum point is 2-3 hours of the night.
    The number of players. X axis - seconds from the start of measurement.

    The maximum number of people play in the Balda from 22 to 23 pm. Then after 0 hours there is a sharp decline. On average, one player plays 2 full-fledged games a day (more than 1 turn), i.e. Spends about 30 minutes in the game.


    The game did not immediately reach such good performance. This was facilitated by 2 paid reviews with a total value of 14 thousand rubles.

    First review

    On October 8, at 19:00, a paid review was released on the website worth 10 thousand rubles. That day, 1,400 people installed the game. (+1100 people). Within 1 one week, the game reached 3600 daily installations.

    Second review

    On October 14, the second paid review was released in the VKontakte group , worth 4 thousand rubles.

    Obviously, the first review was for the game "kick in the ass." Further growth was driven by an increasingly high position on the App Store charts. Not the last role was played by the proven gameplay and game design, confirmed by high user ratings (4.5 stars).
    As a result, almost 2 weeks after the start of promotion, the game took 28th place in all free applications in the Russian App Store, 10th place in games, 2nd in puzzles and 1st in verbal ones! Now Balda rolled back a little from maximum positions.


    Frankly, the goal of creating the Baldy was not and is not the desire to make money. For us, bringing the game to perfection is a kind of hobby in which we put our hearts into it and which gives us a lot of pleasure, especially when you see that people like the results of your work. However, spending your own money endlessly, including advertising is probably wrong, so you have to think about monetization.
    Having spent so much time on the design, "licking" every pixel, we are categorically against the built-in advertising. In our opinion, banners significantly spoil the appearance, eroding the application’s own style.
    We want the large number of players who enjoy our game to continue to enjoy the game without any restrictions. Therefore, the closest thing to us was the free to play model .

    In the near future, we plan to offer players the following in-game purchases:

    • Hint The
    hint will be a letter on the field and the definition of the word:

    • Ext. time
    An additional 2 minutes to think about when playing with a computer.

    • Game with leaders The
    ability of players from the First League to play against strong players from the Premier League.

    • Actions with rating
    Resetting the rating and statistics, rating as a gift to another player.

    • Watch games
    The ability to watch other people's games in real time (!).

    • Other
    Extended statistics, etc.


    Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to the habr community:

    • How do you find the game? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What could be improved?
    • What paid features could be offered to players without limiting the main gameplay?
    • Does the original Russian game of Balda have prospects for English-speaking players, where they are more accustomed to playing Scramble (Scrabble)?

    Link to the game Balda Alnayn in iTunes: link

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