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One billion games of reMovem free played. There, I’ve said it.

I must start by noting that reMovem has had a good life so far. In the fifteen or so months since its release we’ve created 21 versions and updated them to iTunes Connect. That’s 11 for the free version and 10 for the paid version. This alone makes me an expert, or at least experienced, in the App Store process that is much discussed these days.

As far as iPhone casual games go, reMovem is a modest success. The paid version was never ranked #1, and it hasn’t made me rich. Here at Mundue we measure success in other ways. For example, there was the larger-than-life reMovem icon in the middle of the gigantic iPhone app displays in all the US Apple stores last winter. The first time I saw this I did a double-take. This was in a suburban Boston mall store. Apparently it was everywhere, as I’ve personally seen it in North Carolina, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Of course, trying to get the store manager to save a copy of the icon display for me was another story.

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Being mentioned by Apple in the top free games for 2008 on the iTunes App Store didn’t hurt either. This kind of promotion, which can’t be bought, led to a spike in sales of reMovem free right around Christmas time. With several million new iPod touches in the hands of happy holiday recipients, being on that list helped keep reMovem free in the top #100 for a few more months.

If you read our reMovem blog you’ll see we debated over features, localization, high score systems, and other ways to improve the free and paid versions. To help provide more insight into how the games were being played we added analytics in January to both versions. I investigated a few of the options, specifically Pinch Media, Medialets, Mobclix, and AppLoop. AppLoop actually looked very promising, but went silent and closed shop just before I made a decision.

I implemented the analytics code in such a way that we could quickly add and remove new providers. This also let us compare (verify) the results of one set of metrics with a different one. Over time I began to favor Pinch – their support has been excellent, and the web dashboard is still superior to many of the Flash-based alternatives. Recently I’ve also begun to use Flurry, which provides a slightly different approach to the data. As it is now, adding or deleting a new analytics package is not that difficult, though it does require an update to the code.

The metrics reported are fascinating. If you were at Greg Yardley’s talk at 360iDev in Denver recently, or have read any of the numerous reports from AdMob, AdWhirl, Pinch, Medialets, Flurry, etc., you’ll understand how the bigger picture of downloads versus user retention works. On a smaller scale, we are more interested in what users are doing inside the game, what works, what doesn’t, and so on. Features that are rarely used can be targeted for removal, modes that get played often can be examined for possible refinement.

A startling pattern emerged for reMovem and reMovem free. Users were playing more games, and for longer periods of time, than what was generally considered average for a casual game. For example, since January, the average user of reMovem free plays 2.1 sessions per day, for an average total time of over 30 minutes! Total time spent in reMovem free, since we started tracking in January, is over 2,700 years. This does not include any of the time played for all of 2008, when it was on the top #10 list for free games.

As 2009 starts to wind down (or up, if you consider the coming holiday season), we’ve reached an incredible milestone. In the 2,700 years of cumulative play, users have recorded 1,000,000,000 new games. According to our Pinch Media analytics it happened sometime in the early hours of October 9th. Given that we’re not counting any of the games played in 2008, it seems safe to say that this milestone was actually reached some months ago. Then again, some users press New Game before completing a game, so it probably evens out.

In appreciation for reaching this milestone, we’re putting all of our games at US$ 0.99. To all the friends, fans, and supporters of reMovem, we say “Thanks a billion!”