My brother and I, along with a childhood friend, released our first iPhone game earlier this year. We worked very hard on it and were really proud to see it finally available to the public. Unfortunately, while we have a very small group of loyal players, the downloads have been much lower than we'd hoped, despite the fact that it is free. Some days we are getting zero downloads.
We don't think that it is due to the fact that there is not a large enough audience for a game of it's kind. It seems to us that there is a huge demographic that would be into it, and there is nothing else quite like it out there.
One thing that makes our situation a bit more difficult is that our game is based around user-generated content, so the less users there are playing and creating content, the less fun it will be for a new player to explore. It is self-perpetuating. However, we always create some daily content.
We did what we could with PR and attempted to get reviewed and written about with no luck. I have tried to spread the word in every free way I could think of without being spammy. I recently improved the screenshots hoping to attract more downloads, but saw no effect.
So what I would like to know is if anyone has attempted to release a game or app on a very limited marketing budget. Please share your experiences whether they were successful or not. If you did spend any money, how did you spend it and was it worth it? I am always eager to hear peoples creative marketing ideas in this quickly changing industry. Any advice based on our situation would also be greatly appreciated.