Back in August 2011, I started work on a Pixel art editor app. At the time I was planning to create a pixel art game and wanted a way to create all of the artwork from my iPad, but I couldn’t see any decent, well designed apps already on the App Store. So I set about creating my own app, thinking I could probably have it done by Christmas. Two years later, after many late nights, almost giving up multiple times and a lot of iterating on everything, Pixaki finally shipped.

The indie developer community has always excelled at sharing statistics, and I know that hearing the stories of success and failure has helped me along the way. So in an attempt to be useful for someone else, I’m going to share the metrics I have that help to answer the question “how successful is Pixaki?”.

Sales

To date, Pixaki has sold 1355 copies and made $4919. I have mixed feelings about these numbers. On one hand, this a far better than any previous project I’ve attempted before and a great additional income. And the app has continued to generate a consistent number of daily downloads, which is brilliant. On the other hand, my hopes for Pixaki were that it would enable me to make a living from app development, and the numbers haven’t been anywhere near high enough for me to consider leaving full time employment. I think the important thing to remember is that Pixaki has been, and continues to be a great step towards that goal and that massive success won’t come overnight, but I’m making progress.

Reviews and press coverage

Press coverage for Pixaki has been amazing. Just before I launched, I sent some promo codes to a few sites, concentrating on the ones that I personally knew about and read. I was pretty flipping excited when Andrew Webster from The Verge replied and said that he wanted to feature Pixaki. The review came out on launch day and was very positive. As well as The Verge, Pixaki has been featured on the Guardian, Mac|Life, AppAdvice, TWiT’s iPad Today, at least two print publications and a whole range of other websites. I think Pixaki is a good case for demonstrating that positive reviews on major websites don’t necessarily lead to large spikes in sales: in fact, for the most part, I can’t attribute any sales increase to a website review. Having said that, I think there must be a great long term benefit to having these reviews rank highly on relevant Google searches, and it’s great to experience this kind of success.

User reviews on the App Store have been very positive too, which is massively rewarding. Hearing about how people use the app and what it enables them to do helps to make all the time invested in the development seem much more worthwhile. Giuseppe Landolina, one of the creators of The Other Brothers got in contact with me to say how much he liked the app and that he was using it to create new assets. In an interview about his massively successful Kickstarter campaign for the Game Frame, Jeremy Williams mentioned that Pixaki was his pixel art app of choice (it even features in the Kickstarter video). And I know that Owen Goss used Pixaki to do some of the initial designs for some of the animals in Disco Zoo, which is pretty cool. Every one of these stories of how the app is getting out there and being used spurs me on to keep going and make Pixaki even better: if you’ve got a story to share about how you’re using the app, please get in touch.

The future

I have lots planned for Pixaki. I’m currently working on a major update to bring the design in line with iOS 7 and add some of the most requested features, such as custom canvas sizes and image import. After that, I’m think of adding animation support, potentially making it run on the iPhone with iCloud support and maybe even making a desktop version. I’d also like to build up more of a community around Pixaki and create a place for people to share their creations with each other.

While Pixaki’s success hasn’t been stellar, it’s still doing well and I’m committed to making it the best product that it can be.