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Does experience translate into better sales?

08-13-2011, 03:54 AM
#1
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 9
Does experience translate into better sales?

Hello touchArcade!

I am an independent developer who just recently released my very first app. With the exception of a couple of music tracks and clip art, I basically did everything from the designing and programming through the marketing and promotion of the app. The experience has been fine, but I had no idea that competition was so stiff (the sheer number of apps released daily), that marketing was so complicated (press releases, the difficulty in getting reviewed, social networking) and just how essential exposure/visibility is to the success of an app!

But I believe my inexperience initially hurt me. Excited first to be a published developer, I created a website & press release and basically threw my app into a sea of thousands others, and found out the hard way that most apps don't stick like that. My app was quickly buried under the weight of other new apps and lost visibility. I am still learning the ropes and promoting my app, but the lessons that I have learned have been extremely valuable. My only complaint thus far has been a lack of feedback (except for my one "this sucks" comment).

The game development journey of my app taught me programming, 3d modeling, designing (all of which was new to me), along with a level of gaming & marketing experience, to which I am very happy and plan to use on app#2. But my question is for developers who have a experienced a culture shock of the first app:

Did your second app fare better than your first one? Would you credit that success to experience? I understand that other factors are involved in the success of an app, but overall, did experience from your first app drastically affect the quality, design or approach of your second app? Did your marketing strategies change (paying for ads, promoting earlier, etc)? A curious developer would like to know!

Thanks

G_Sweat
www.pointguardgame.com
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pointguard/id446694258?mt=8
08-13-2011, 05:30 AM
#2
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Isle of Wight, UK
Posts: 1,509
I don't wish to be mean, but you need to get the game right first.

I see from your link/own comment that you have exactly one user review and he gave it one star. Whatever is wrong with it, you need to fix it.

The number of 5-star worthy games coming out is frequent enough but by no means a "torrent", and that's the stream you need to swim in if you want to make some proper money.

08-13-2011, 05:47 AM
#3
Joined: May 2011
Location: Edmonton, Canada
Posts: 245
I'd say that no matter what you do, everything is a learning curve and the best games draw upon the good things that they themselves do and what others have been doing as well. Looking to constantly improve and making you're games the best they can be is the key.

It can be tough to start off with, but with persistence, passion and determination everyone can succeed. Might just take people a little bit longer. Aiming to do the very best you can (right from the beginning) is a great platform to build upon and a good way to start.

Every app is different an consumers react to them in different ways. People have to be flexible and go with the flow. Watching the market and people's reactions, sales figures - where you are selling and trying different things out ie category changes, free for a short time, different styles of promotion provides a lot of useful information.

Fantasy Adventure eBook set on a magical writer's desk available for DOWNLOAD @ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H9K3KTW

Last edited by BlueSpiral; 08-13-2011 at 05:50 AM.
08-13-2011, 07:47 AM
#4
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,006
I wouldn't put much stock into a single, vague 1 star review. There's nothing actionable about it. If that single 1 star review said the game crashed, or something else specific, then that would be a different story.

The easiest way to get feedback is to offer free copies of the full game via promo code or temporary giveaway. There's a lite, but lites aren't all they're cracked up to be these days. Ever since Apple got rid of the rate on delete feature (and not all were bad), the number of ratings the average app has gotten has predictably taken a dive. Hopefully you'll get more feedback based on the lite soon, but I wouldn't hold my breath unless you do something to stir the pot.

I'm not a basketball fan, and so am not interested in this, but it looks interesting enough. There aren't a lot of basketball games in the appstore.

People have really high expectations these days, spoiled by the likes of Infinity Blade and big budget EA titles. The combination of realistic looking style and low-poly models doesn't give a good impression. The screenshots look depressingly dark, and while animation might be excellent, the models look rough. The floor texture is blurred. These are the first impressions people see when deciding whether to even bother downloading a lite. In the AppStore, people can't see gameplay, can't see animation, and can't hear sound.

If there was more feedback and it was negative, it would be easy to conclude that the gameplay was turning people off.

Might be worth taking a mundane concept like basketball and marry it to something silly... i.e. "Fat Ninja Basketball" with cartoony players, and purchasable upgrades.

To answer the subject of this thread, I would say that experience alone doesn't translate into better sales. It's not the experience, it's what you do with it, and more importantly your sense of mainstream production values.
08-13-2011, 07:56 PM
#5
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 9
Thanks everyone for your honesty. I asked about experience because I am always looking to learn and improve. I took several chances with my app, but with limited feedback, I find it difficult to determine if anything appealed or turned off users.

I've learned a lot about the development process, but I know nothing specifically about the user experience from my app. My only gripe continues to be the lack of feedback, because I can't fix or improve problems that I haven't realized. Perhaps I will be more aggressive when asking opinions during development and more generous with promo codes in the future. I wanted my app to be something different from the usual appstore offerings, but had I received feedback such as Stroffolini's, I may have abandoned or reconsidered several ideas.

Thanks for the encouragement Bluespiral. I will continue to do my best and will open myself to trends, user preferences and other applications.
08-14-2011, 02:39 AM
#6
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Isle of Wight, UK
Posts: 1,509
Next time, ask for testers on here once you're getting close to release. There'll be plenty of people dying to get an early look and there's no better testers than your target audience.
08-14-2011, 03:14 AM
#7
Another cool testing method is to watch people play the game. You find people who have iphones and play games close to you, buddies, friends of friends. If possible not people too close from you, and you watch them. You will have surprises... It's painful to do as a designer, because you will clearly see the flaws, but it's also a great help to improve quality.

And I'm not saying "ask people what they like or not". Just watch them. Don't answer if the ask questions, just let them play like if they were at home without you.
08-14-2011, 10:49 AM
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emeric View Post
Another cool testing method is to watch people play the game. You find people who have iphones and play games close to you, buddies, friends of friends. If possible not people too close from you, and you watch them. You will have surprises... It's painful to do as a designer, because you will clearly see the flaws, but it's also a great help to improve quality.

And I'm not saying "ask people what they like or not". Just watch them. Don't answer if the ask questions, just let them play like if they were at home without you.
This is so true -- but mainly for casual games! Nothing is as a good as just watching someone else stumble through some of your UI, or watching as they get bored and hand you back your phone in 1 minute bc they can't/don't want to keep playing, etc... You get instant, invaluable feedback this way in a real world setting.

BUT also be careful, bc you have to at least make sure whoever is playing your game is one of your target demographic (which is why it works best for casual games, where everyone is your target demographic). If you give some jibrony who never plays games your hardcore strategy game and they suck at it and don't want to keep playing, well... that's to be expected.
08-14-2011, 11:07 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emeric View Post
Another cool testing method is to watch people play the game. You find people who have iphones and play games close to you, buddies, friends of friends. If possible not people too close from you, and you watch them. You will have surprises... It's painful to do as a designer, because you will clearly see the flaws, but it's also a great help to improve quality.

And I'm not saying "ask people what they like or not". Just watch them. Don't answer if the ask questions, just let them play like if they were at home without you.
This is hands down the best way to test your game. I call it a "cold turkey test" because it's fascinating to watch people play through your game for the first time. The most valuable insights you can get are from watching people play it cold turkey.

I keep my fridge stocked with cold turkeys so every update I can run it by them.
08-14-2011, 04:14 PM
#10
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 9
Perhaps you should trademark "cold turkey testing", because it sounds like a great idea. Developing in a box, like I did, definitely put me in a desperate position of seeking feedback.

I believe that my next venture will be even more successful after incorporating ideas such as these. I only wish that I had found touchArcade earlier.