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How the App Store turned a simple idea into a steady income

11-15-2009, 02:36 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
How the App Store turned a simple idea into a steady income

Hey, for those of you developing for the App Store, or thinking about developing, I thought I'd share my story, how I've gone from not even owning a Mac, nor knowing any Objective-C, but just having an idea, to a ready game that is now earning me a solid income.

The games I've developed are iAssociate and Associate This, both word association games, with iAssociate being a version that is selling for $1.99 and Associate This being a free version that includes a small set of the levels found in iAssociate.

I submitted my first version of these word association games back in April this year, and since then I've gone from getting just a few sales per day to getting hundreds of sales per day, in fact far surpassing my salary from my day job.

If you are interested in reading the full story behind this then you can find it at my homepage at

http://www.wahrman.fi

If you want to check out the games in iTunes you can find them from the following links:

iAssociate in iTunes

Associate This in iTunes
11-15-2009, 02:58 PM
#2
Thanks for taking the time to write that up! It's always great to read a success story. Interestingly, nearly every success story I've read is one of working the app store itself, rather than through external marketing.

How do you think the recent store changes, where updated apps no longer make it into the new releases list, would have affected your outcome?

11-15-2009, 04:10 PM
#3
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
Well, the recent store changes do make it a bit harder in reaching the top, as it makes it harder to get into those Top 100 lists for the first time. But, on the other hand, if you have a solid game, then maybe it might in fact becomes easier, since now you won't be competing against hundreds of updates but instead only the new apps.

I think that the move apple did was correct, in removing the updates from the What's New list. Sure, I myself would have profited more if the system would have stayed as it was, but I think that would have been really bad for the App Store, as the only thing Apple's reviewers would have been doing then would be to review no content updates, and the more apps there are out there the more updates there would've been coming, especially as more people would've noticed that sending in an update with nothing new gets lots of "free" downloads / sales.

As for how this change would have affected my outcome, hard to say. It would definetly have made it much harder, but even still, the triggering factor for my climb up was not an update, but the release of Associate This, which started the positive spiral.
11-15-2009, 04:55 PM
#4
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by edilator View Post
Well, the recent store changes do make it a bit harder in reaching the top, as it makes it harder to get into those Top 100 lists for the first time. But, on the other hand, if you have a solid game, then maybe it might in fact becomes easier, since now you won't be competing against hundreds of updates but instead only the new apps.

I think that the move apple did was correct, in removing the updates from the What's New list. Sure, I myself would have profited more if the system would have stayed as it was, but I think that would have been really bad for the App Store, as the only thing Apple's reviewers would have been doing then would be to review no content updates, and the more apps there are out there the more updates there would've been coming, especially as more people would've noticed that sending in an update with nothing new gets lots of "free" downloads / sales.

As for how this change would have affected my outcome, hard to say. It would definetly have made it much harder, but even still, the triggering factor for my climb up was not an update, but the release of Associate This, which started the positive spiral.
So "Associate this" was not featured by apple?
How did u get that 1000 sales in a day? Or did U read it wrong?
11-15-2009, 05:11 PM
#5
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
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Thanks for that story.

My story with "Charmed" was fairly similar, except for the part where it hasn't replaced my current income (yet). In my story though, I got screwed in two major ways:
  • Even though I submitted my Lite version after my paid version, the Lite version came out first. Those first 5 days of release there was no paid version to capture the conversions of the hundreds of lite downloaders.
  • Neither the paid or Lite version got into the New Releases list because of the now-well-known (but stupid) release date behavior on iTunes.
These were partially my own fault for not researching more about the way the store worked in advance, but it is what it is and it is done.

I am focusing now on how to get my more exposure for my new update (submitted and "Waiting for Review"). I am hoping the OpenFeint integration will help with that.
11-15-2009, 05:50 PM
#6
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
So far I haven't been able to quite get to 1000 sales in a day yet. I do get thousands of downloads for the free versions daily, but so far I haven't quite reached the 1000 sales per day limit (I'm getting closer all the time though...)

The only lists I've been on, as far as I know, are the regular Top 100 lists, no other featured list. (Except in some smaller markets, but the main sales comes from US and UK).
11-15-2009, 05:53 PM
#7
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 479
Great story and congratulations on your success!

Mine parallels the beginning of yours somewhat. I'm getting an *amazing* conversion rate from Lite to Full but since the game is lost in the app store, it only gets a few downloads each day.

I can see there are different demographics at play too. For example, my game gets only around 30% conversion when I post a bunch of info on this site; of course the game is more casual and this site is for more 'hardcore' gamers. I recently got some excellent reviews from causal game blogs and got incredible responses of 80-90% conversion rates. Literally every day, the number of Lite and the number of Full versions are almost identical.

I have a major update on its way right before apple changed its policy. On top of that, they rejected the update because I had the word 'demo' in my meta-data. (I quoted a user who said "this is going to become my demo app!")

Oh well, I'm marching on, planning new ideas to try to get more downloads :-)

"when he eats three poops and becomes muscle bound, that was worth the .99 right there." -Super Fly!
Tetris and Bubble Wrap had a baby and named it Super Juicy!
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11-15-2009, 05:54 PM
#8
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Posts: 4,761
http://www.topappcharts.com/32094643...ciate-lite.php
Best Chart Rankings*
#36 in Word Games on Aug 21, 2009
#165 in Puzzle Games on Sep 12, 2009

http://www.topappcharts.com/31778038...iassociate.php
Best Chart Rankings*
#8 in Word Games on Nov 15, 2009
#28 in Puzzle Games on Nov 15, 2009
#153 in Top Games on Nov 14, 2009
11-15-2009, 06:11 PM
#9
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
That version that you have there is the old one, Associate This is the version that I'm currently promoting as the free version, it's stats

http://www.topappcharts.com/33158355...ciate-this.php
Best Chart Rankings*
#8 in Word Games on Nov 15, 2009
#27 in Puzzle Games on Nov 15, 2009
#159 in Top Games on Nov 15, 2009
11-15-2009, 06:18 PM
#10
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Posts: 4,761
Quote:
Originally Posted by edilator View Post
Associate This is the version that I'm currently promoting as the free version
Ah that explains it. Wondered why the paid version was doing so much better than the free version.