Clarifying a Few Things
This isn't the update I promised in the comments section. I just wanted to publicly answer a very disturbing question.
In our video, I said that the first version of this game, a hobby that I worked on as a one man team back in 2010, was received pretty well and ranked pretty high in the Apple App Store when it came out on Jan 18, 2011.
We had various images in the video showing the game's chart positions and clips of positive comments from our fans from forums and our Facebook page.
We have been asked why this is a game no one's ever heard of, when we so proudly claim it did so well.
The possibility of having doctored images and spreading misinformation to prove this claim was also raised.
To clear these serious, serious, SERIOUS allegations, this post will be about evidences and explanations as to why I, Leonardo Molar, Founder of Studio Kontrabida, took down the first Last Class Heroes App, a supposed "hit", on the Apple App Store. I'd like to give everyone a heads up as this will be a lengthy post and possibly contains the most information I will ever reveal to the public regarding this matter.
- App Launched on January 18, 2011.
- App taken down by developer on January 22, 2011.
- App relaunched for a few days by special request from the Toucharcade.com and Facebook community on Jul 2,2011.
- App taken down again by developer Jul 6, 2011.
If you're unfamiliar with the game I'm talking about here is the original trailer from 2011:
To answer the email:
1.) Why I took it down and why I refuse to put it back up on the store:
I didn't like it. In fact, I hated it. I hated it 1 second after it went live on the Apple App Store and I still hate it a year and a half later. I left it there anyway as I've worked on the idea for years and slaved away on the game for months. It is like that painting you did in kindergarten that you never wanted to look at again.
Why do I hate it so much? It's because I have never done anything like it - on that scale - ever before and I did all of it on my own. It was a disaster. It was absolutely hideous.
** The art was terrible. All the characters were inspired from some of my favourite animations and games such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Darker than Black, Bakemonogatari, Guilty Gear, Cowboy Bebop, Haruhi Suzumiya, Muramasa: The Demon Blade and a lot more. It felt like a wacky "tribute" piece. Nevertheless, here are some of the reactions from the TouchArcade.com forums, possibly the most active community for iOS games.
I selected these specific responses as they are from two users I have no personal connection with and are perfect representatives of that community.
1) awp69 - an active user that has been around since 2009 with over 3,800 posts.
2) squarezero - a forum moderator with almost 10,000 posts and registered in 2008.
Here is a link to that specific page to prove that we did not doctor this screenshot:
** While I did put a lot of love on the story, I had to juggle doing the programming, the "art", the "animation", processing the music and sound effects, testing and even more testing, all on my free time. The first half of the game's story was interesting, for some, but the quality noticeably degrades and eventually had a cliffhanger ending that I planned on resolving with a "chapter 5" update.
This was when I entered my game development period of "already being in too deep", had a difficulty finding free time, just starting out my career with a totally unrelated job, and I felt that just had to finish it since I've already wasted "10 million hours" on it. Nevertheless, I felt bad that people had to pay $0.99 for a game they could finish in 6 hours. Why? Because if the developer did the same thing to me I would have been livid. He or she or the company would have lost my respect forever. (Okay, maybe that's a stretch.)
2) Why has no one ever heard of it?
Because it left as quickly as it came.
It was initially in the store for 3 and a half days. Possibly less. It had zero marketing. I paid zero dollars in advertising. The only thing selling the game was a forum thread on TouchArcade that I didn't even start and frankly, I wasn't even familiar with the website until I started receiving fan mail from their community.
While I would have been happy if five people downloaded it, enjoyed it and it quietly faded into oblivion, that was not the case. THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of people downloaded it. It was insane. Deep down inside, I wanted people to openly hate it so I would have had an excuse to take it down and never speak of it again. I did not claim in the video that it set the world on fire. I just said it was a hit, with my definition of a "hit" being something that makes some money, gets positive reviews and ranks surprisingly high on the charts. (Given the competition at the time)
3) Why don't you put it back on the store so we can try it?
Because I'm not working on Last Class Heroes 1. I'm working on Rival Threads: Last Class Heroes, a totally different game. I mentioned LCH 1 in the video to show just how far Studio Kontrabida has matured in a year - from a single developer to a full team. I also wanted to show just how closely I've been working on this game with the community in mind.
For someone new to come in now, play LCH 1 and form an opinion on Rival Threads based on his or her experience, would be an injustice to my team.
Besides, I haven't updated that game in a year and a half. I can't guarantee it will run smoothly or bug free, as it was made while we were still on iOS 3. (iOS 6 is coming in a few months)
There's absolutely no way I'm putting it back on.
4) How can I assure you that I will not take this down days after it gets released and I am again unhappy with it?
You can be certain that wont happen because this is not about me anymore. This is bigger than me. The whole team has sacrificed so much for this project.
It is no longer a hobby.
Thoughts and Evidences
Why did I keep it on the store for so long (3 days) if I hated it? Because it was making money. A lot of money. Plain and simple. I will not dance around that fact.
Why did I take it down after only 3 days? Because I felt that it was making money for all the wrong reasons. In those 3 days I died a little inside because I let my greed and not my artistic pride take over.
But why exactly was this amateurish, ugly and short game making a lot of money and getting a lot of praises? As this post is becoming way too long, I'll just let the fans explain it:
Here are some actual reviews from the Apple App Store.
To prove I didn't doctor my chart rankings to make us look good in the video, here is a public listing of the original Last Class Heroes on AppAnnie.com, a website that provides app store analytics. You will be required to register a free account to be able to view it.
For those that don't want to register an account, here is a link to a full page screenshot:
You'll notice in the video I mentioned we we're top 5 in RPGs on January 2011 while on AppAnnie it only says the highest we got to was top 6 in Canada and top 8 in the United States. Here is a screenshot taken inside the iTunes desktop app.
I live in Canada, why does it say I only reached top 6 at best on AppAnnie but on this screenshot we used in the video I said I reached top 5? Im not sure. Perhaps AppAnnie only records the ranks at the end of each 24 hour cycle and not minute by minute fluctuations? I don't know what their algorithm is, but I can still prove we reached top 5 in Canada. Here is a screenshot from Appfigures.com, a site that provides similar services as AppAnnie:
As I only know how to access that chart on appfigures.com with a premium account there is no convenient link for the public. However, If I need to prove myself further, please contact me at email@example.com so we can arrange a solution for you to be able to view these appfigures.com numbers.
To the person who wrote us that message, please don't take this as an attack against you. I have very strong feelings regarding this subject and I was a little hurt by how your message was worded. I will not hold your allegations against you as I might have sent the same message if I was in your position. You took your time to write us that message, and possibly even spent a lot of time doing research because this is a project that you feel strongly about and have openly admitted your wish to support. I even respect you more for calling me out on the possible misinformation. I hope you do not take offense to how I worded this post as I wrote it while emotions were running high, was absolutely shocked by the allegations and had little sleep for the past... three years.
To the rest of the online community, I hope no one takes offense to the tone of this message. This is not me unleashing a personal attack on a writer. I felt that it was needed in case anyone else felt I embellished the presentation to garner more money. For those who have been keeping track of Kontrabida since the beginning you are already familiar of my nature of being completely transparent as I have done this so many times in the past. Some of you even called me out on a "terrible business decision" when I took down LCH 1.
I will not be a hypocrite and say "I am not doing this for the money". Of course I am, but probably not for the reasons most would have. I know this project has great money making potential if done right and I've already gotten very lucrative offers from individuals and companies who wanted to buy the rights.
I did not sell it because we are not a real studio. We work at our own pace and we do not have fixed "employees". Everyone on the team gets credited. Everyone on the team can flaunt their work without NDA. Everyone can take ownership and everyone on the team have, at one point, affected the project with their own suggestions or opinions. We would be a nightmare to manage for outsiders. This game is a big portfolio piece for everyone involved and some have gotten great jobs because of their involvement with us.
I want this game to succeed so much because I think it is the big break we need at Studio Kontrabida to be able to keep living our dreams, retaining creative freedom and making great content for you. I want this project to succeed so much because I want to be able to afford to keep this amazing team together. I will not cheat or lie my way to succeed... heck, I only set a Kickstarter goal enough to purchase Unity Pro, no more, no less, and under different circumstances would have preferred not to "beg" for money through crowd-funding.
Thank you very much for your support.
Founder, Studio Kontrabida