In only three days, Dave Frampton's latest iPhone and iPad game surpassed one million downloads on the Apple App Store, and its success continues to grow.
The Blockheads is a world builder game where the player controls a Blockhead as it constructs a house, mines for minerals, and explores an expansive map. Released on January 10, The Blockheads quickly hit the Top 10 App Store games charts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand and is currently the top free iPad app in the US.
(Sim Ahmed's blockhead, Oliver, attacking a carrot with a piece of flint)
Frampton is no stranger to App Store success. Majic Jungle, his one-man development shop, has created other charting apps like Chopper and its sequel, Chopper 2.
Frampton told Idealog the success of his previous games played a major role in supporting the development of The Blockheads, which took a year.
"Without the successes of Chopper and Chopper 2, I wouldn't have been able to develop The Blockheads," says Frampton.
"Despite it taking a little less time in months to develop than Chopper 2, I actually put a lot more hours into it working long days. I couldn't have done that if I had to also go to work in order to eat."
(Pictured left: The Blockheads developer, Dave Frampton)
Although the game is free to download and play, users can buy Time Crystals which unlocks different challenges and speeds up the time for crafting. Frampton is keeping the sales figures for The Blockheads close to his chest at this time.
The freemium model is becoming more common and customers expect it, says Frampton. Taking advantage of it helps establish a player base from which the game can make money later, he adds.
"Being free allows it to have the least friction possible, so many more people can play it and hopefully tell other people how awesome it is," says Frampton.
Frampton puts the rapid ascent of The Blockheads down to cross promotion with other popular iOS games. During the development of The Blockheads he also created a series of teaser videos and giveaways to garner publicity, but isn't sure how much impact that has had on the game's success.
The Blockhead's similarities to the popular world building game Minecraft are acknowledged by Frampton. He says he has contacted Minecraft's creator Markus "Notch" Persson, and does not believe there will be any legal issues due to the two games' similarities.
"The idea of using cubes and pixel art textures is definitely borrowed from Minecraft. I think it's a beautiful aesthetic and the simple graphical approach makes such a complex game possible. However, there won't be any legal issues as The Blockheads is at its core a very different game, and it doesn't use any Minecraft assets or infringe on trademarks," says Frampton.
Developing the game and maintaining a healthy work-life balance was difficult, says Frampton. Finding time to work on The Blockheads, and attend to his one year old son meant sacrificing other aspects of his life, like surfing.
Frampton says he's unsure whether to expand the team at Majic Jungle in order to find time to develop other games. It's a decision which would come with benefits and drawbacks to Frampton's way of life.
"I love being my own boss, and have no real interest in managing others or growing a large company. However it's getting to the point where opportunities are slipping by because I just don't have the time. I don't want to cripple where this could go, so it's a difficult decision and I'm still thinking about it very carefully," says Frampton.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).