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*Alert* My Intro & The AppStore-Idol fiasco...

06-16-2009, 04:18 AM
#1
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 17
*Alert* My Intro & The AppStore-Idol fiasco...

Hi folks,

A tiny first post from a fellow dev who's had hopes of making it big in the world of appstore-idol.... however I'm still in the auditioning phase (we're prepping our first app).

Truth is, you already know the appstore is dead, it's more of a lottery game than a real biz model for us indie devs, the larger devs have taken over, their presence felt now more than ever... with ngmoco..ea...gameloft.. and countless others who'll dive in soon after...
I'm really not even going to mention outlets like chillingo, freeverse etc... coz budget-wise, they're still 2nd tier to the big guns...

There's tons of quality indie titles out there with many many months of hard work put in, that dont even make it to the top 100... and a lot of these quality titles are published by outlets like chillingo... it really isn't their fault..

Alright, I'll quit the rant and try n provide some useful info.
We devs need a solution, we need advertising... it's not all lost, its just more of a numbers game now..

Some quick solutions off the top of my head:
  • admob (works to get your title to the top 100..requires investment though)
  • Ngmoco & SGN cross promotion network (serious shit here... grab the opportunity before it runs out)
  • a lite version of the app, or many tiny lite apps that you can advertise your paid title from .. (you need a way to grab the viewers eyes)
  • lite-spamming forums and facebook groups who have an interest in the target demographic (in a non-spammy way)
  • a facebook(twitter wtever) social quiz app that targets users from an iphone/ipod specic demographic with ads targeting your app
  • blogs like this one that target the touch devices.
.. more to come later..

My advice, if you're putting in more than a couple of months worth of man-hours into a project, plz do set aside at least 2-3k USD for advertising, you'll need it.
Also, mass-market games (rather than niche titles) have a better chance at the top 10 (which is where you'd want to be to make real cash).
Niche titles better be priced 2.99+ if you're really looking to make cash of any sort.

I'll end here with a tiny metric to go by. This is by no means completely accurate but it works for estimates.
*Go around the appstore hunting for titles that have around 1500 ratings (all versions) ,
THESE are the titles that have done around 10k USD in revenue(if priced 0.99->1.99 for most of the app's lifetime, more total revenue if they're priced more than 1.99), while not a lot of cash, this is a substantial amount.
This also means most titles you see around with 100 ratings or so, haven't even reached 1000$ in revenue.

Alright then, keep up the good work mates... and remember, we are our own worst enemy... you and I, we've saturated the appstore, we've brought this upon ourselves... but yet it is you and I.. the seekers of opportunity, the strugglers that perhaps make a difference in this tiny world that's running out of opportunity.
Cheers to the appstore-idol mania!

-"us devs are the garage-band-wannabe-rockstars of today....heck we're even on iTunes "
06-16-2009, 04:37 AM
#2
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,512
I wonder what the revenue to spot on the top paid list ratio is. I know there's a lot of different variables involved, but if there were concrete numbers, I think it would serve as a reality check for a lot of devs. I would love to see a chart depicting how many sales per day are needed to break into the top 100 paid apps, the top 50, the top 25, and the top 10 spots. Then maybe a list of revenue that apps made while they were at those spots. Wishful thinking....I know.

06-16-2009, 05:29 AM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 17
sales stats

Here's some sales stats posts with Rank to Sales data. Have fun and thank you for the reply.

http://chillifresh.com/2009/03/11/st...appstore-rank/
http://firemintgames.blogspot.com/20...s-numbers.html
06-16-2009, 09:49 AM
#4
I hate it when people say it's a lottery.
It's only a lottery if you don't put any effort into your game.
Put 6 months into a game, have a unique design , have good graphics and some depth and your game will sell. It's like anything in life.

You need to make your own luck.
Puzzle games, tower defense,.. are overdone. If you try to compete with them then yeah, chances are it will be a lottery.

It's all about innovation and presentation. Firemint's Flight Control is a perfect example.
06-16-2009, 10:10 AM
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
Truth is, you already know the appstore is dead, it's more of a lottery game than a real biz model for us indie devs, the larger devs have taken over,
Yes, larger devs will be releasing more games, but so will smaller devs. The App Store is not dead. The top 100 games list contains a whole bunch of indie devs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
There's tons of quality indie titles out there with many many months of hard work put in, that dont even make it to the top 100... and a lot of these quality titles are published by outlets like chillingo... it really isn't their fault..
There is a lot of money to be made outside the top 100 apps list. My latest game spent about two days on the top 100 games list, and then spent the last couple months in one of the game subcategory lists. One could easily buy a expensive car in three months time, and never even coming close to the top 100 apps list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
My advice, if you're putting in more than a couple of months worth of man-hours into a project, plz do set aside at least 2-3k USD for advertising, you'll need it.
Also, mass-market games (rather than niche titles) have a better chance at the top 10 (which is where you'd want to be to make real cash).
Niche titles better be priced 2.99+ if you're really looking to make cash of any sort.
Ask around, and you'll find out that advertising really doesn't work very well, as you don't recoup the money spent. Word of mouth, staying active in forums, and being featured are generally the best ways to move up the charts. Of course, the other best way is to create a standout game. I have had great success on the App Store so far, and I've spent zero dollars on advertising.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
I'll end here with a tiny metric to go by. This is by no means completely accurate but it works for estimates.
*Go around the appstore hunting for titles that have around 1500 ratings (all versions) ,
THESE are the titles that have done around 10k USD in revenue(if priced 0.99->1.99 for most of the app's lifetime, more total revenue if they're priced more than 1.99), while not a lot of cash, this is a substantial amount.
This also means most titles you see around with 100 ratings or so, haven't even reached 1000$ in revenue.
A ratings count of 1500 would be more closely associated with 100k+ USD. Heck, a ratings count of even 150 would even be way more than 10k USD. It's quite common to make 5k USD with less than ten reviews.


Your post reads like you're convinced that only the big devs can make a living on the App Store. This just isn't true. Make a great game, in a popular category, and be vocal and active in the forums, and it's entirely possible to make a good living off a couple games a year. Yes, the store is filled with tales of $2 a day in sales. But there's also several thousand untold tales of people who make $200 a day, and none of them are in the top 100 app list. Create a great game. Make a name for yourself with it. And then make another great game, and people will buy it.
06-16-2009, 10:14 AM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by makeout View Post
You need to make your own luck.
Exactly. The App Store owes us nothing. Despite its flaws, it's still an indie dev's single best chance for success.
06-16-2009, 11:43 AM
#7
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Posts: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little White Bear Studios View Post
Ask around, and you'll find out that advertising really doesn't work very well, as you don't recoup the money spent. Word of mouth, staying active in forums, and being featured are generally the best ways to move up the charts. Of course, the other best way is to create a standout game. I have had great success on the App Store so far, and I've spent zero dollars on advertising.
I'd have to agree, my personal experience with advertising has been that it is not worth it, and admob in particular was practically a fraud. $100 in advertising consumed in 5 minutes with sketchy stats to back up the expense - my advice is to stay far, far away Other places (such as facebook) have been more reliable but still not worth it by a long shot.

Air Master 3D - Retro 3D Air Combat (App Store & Lite Version)
Straight Aces - Puzzle Poker (App Store & Free Version)
06-16-2009, 03:21 PM
#8
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 17
Hey folks. Thanks for the replies. Perhaps the experiences I *know* off were the unluckier(yeah.. you do make your own luck and all that) bunch of 'em all?
Note that the numbers I'm talking about are an average from the few case studies I've had the pleasure of observing.

As for the firemint/Flight Control reference, I really think those (flight control/stick wars etc) are really the exception, flight control especially had a bit of advertising and a lot of positive word-of-mouth...they had one of those games success stories that will be told for a long time. Kudos to 'em devs @firemint.

Folks, I like the positive attitude but honestly, what worked 6 months back wouldn't work now.. the amount of seemingly good games is exponentially increasing and so is the amount of high budget releases. You seem to be missing the scale factor in all of this... here we have a market that isn't increasing nearly as fast as the number of really good devs (which you probably are) are...

What makes your game so much better than the 20 or so other high quality/Unique/Engaging games released today, and yeah that's almost the rate we're talking bout here (mind you.. I said High Quality) ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little White Bear Studios View Post
Ask around, and you'll find out that advertising really doesn't work very well, as you don't recoup the money spent. Word of mouth, staying active in forums, and being featured are generally the best ways to move up the charts. Of course, the other best way is to create a standout game. I have had great success on the App Store so far, and I've spent zero dollars on advertising.
About the advertising thing.. I've been an online marketer for quite some time now and yeah the conversion rate on these titles might not justify a regular investment for the dollar they ask, I do get your point.
But really, what I'm talking about is enough power-punch one-time advertising to get you to the top 100 and hope the 'greatness' of your game will keep you there as long as you hope.

And Little White Bear Studios, I'm really glad to hear bout your success and yeah zentonimo has been on our radar as well. I'm sure you were on some top 100 list (whatever category if not THE Top 100) at some point, right?
Also, you sure your next title wont get lost in all the *good* titles that would perhaps be released the same time you release your next?


Good luck to you all, keep your spirits high and I really hope the best for you all. This wasn't meant as a post to bring ya'll down, was just hoping I'd get folks to pitch in a few of their Plan B's.. (Plan A being - launch amazing good game, hope for a bunch of good reviews, gets some free reviewers from the touch arcade forums and so on)
..

You folks rock!... Keep it up.
06-16-2009, 03:29 PM
#9
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little White Bear Studios View Post
Exactly. The App Store owes us nothing. Despite its flaws, it's still an indie dev's single best chance for success.
I love the way you've phrased that True indeed, the appstore owes us nothing has given us a true new avenue to explore.

As for you calling it the indie dev's single best chance of success, hmm I'm going to voice my seemingly *wink* expert opinion and say that isn't completely true. An indie dev can have better success elsewhere (I used better with success coz I'm assuming you mean financial success). Of course, the appstore is indeed the indie dev's easiest bet or atleast it was until about now.

Again, I'd like to applaud Little White Bear Studios on their amazing titles, you are an inspiration to us all.
Cheers!
06-16-2009, 10:28 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
Folks, I like the positive attitude but honestly, what worked 6 months back wouldn't work now.. the amount of seemingly good games is exponentially increasing and so is the amount of high budget releases. You seem to be missing the scale factor in all of this... here we have a market that isn't increasing nearly as fast as the number of really good devs (which you probably are) are...

What makes your game so much better than the 20 or so other high quality/Unique/Engaging games released today, and yeah that's almost the rate we're talking bout here (mind you.. I said High Quality) ??
While I agree with you that the big boys are coming on strong, they also have to charge more for their games to make a profit. This is where the indie devs can still take over the charts, by releasing quality games, at a low price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
But really, what I'm talking about is enough power-punch one-time advertising to get you to the top 100 and hope the 'greatness' of your game will keep you there as long as you hope.
It's certainly a gamble, to be sure. Honestly, the only ads I ever notice are the full page branding that Touch Arcade does from time to time. And even then, I've never bought the game. But I don't know any indie dev that's bought such an ad, so your guess is as good as mine to the payoff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
And Little White Bear Studios, I'm really glad to hear bout your success and yeah zentonimo has been on our radar as well. I'm sure you were on some top 100 list (whatever category if not THE Top 100) at some point, right?
Zentomino was featured on one of the lesser featured lists, and spent a couple days in the top 100 games list, but was never close to the top 100 apps list. But it has made quite a bit of money so far, and if it didn't make a dime after today, it'd still be considered a wild success, since it only cost around $500 to create.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weaponofchoice View Post
Also, you sure your next title wont get lost in all the *good* titles that would perhaps be released the same time you release your next?
I don't expect the next game to be any more successful than Zentomino has been. In fact, due to its nature, I expect it to be a fraction of Zentomino's sales. But if I were designing a game to compete at TanZen/Zentomino levels, I've created quite a large fan base, who are willing to try my games when they ship. I have notices of new games in all my game updates, which makes it nearly impossible for my user base not to know about the new stuff. I also run contests, and stay active in this forum. Zentomino came out about six months after TanZen did, and TanZen's popularity propelled Zentomino up to #30 in the top 100 Puzzles list within two days of its launch.

Now, if you're new to the store, you're going to have a harder time of it, because you've got to prove you're a dev worth trusting. That only comes from word of mouth. That is the key to indie dev success. Create a fan base, and grow it with each new game.