★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

What went right and what went wrong, for you.

07-01-2011, 09:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: ΖΞN
Posts: 304
What went right and what went wrong, for you.

We often hear that luck plays a major role in an app's success and failure on the App Store. I agree with this and have started this thread in the hope that we can share our experiences of when Lady Luck's intervention effected the outcome of our apps...
Note: some of this "luck" has now turned to experience which can hopefully be used to "make luck" next time!

For my post I will start with what went wrong, and then what went right! This is by no means a complete record of events, it is just a few that come to mind...in reality millions of things happened.


1) Broken icon: Day 2 and the store suddenly displays the app's icon as a black box with small text in the middle. ITC do nothing about it, I decide to submit an update just to get this fixed and 1 week later the update is reviewed. For sure this first week was the worse time to have a broken icon.

2) Apple change promo-code rules: I was more than happy to join in the fun and post codes on the forum. Noticing that other code-posters were asking for (and getting) reviews on the App Store, I too started to ask nicely...but as the rules had just changed then this was not possible*. For sure this first week was the worse time to have a blockage on reviews. *We now know that users CAN review if they redeem the code via iTunes Mac/PC.

3) "Installing": I spend the next month developing a major update improving and adding like a man possessed...15 hour days for 7 months is no joke. The day that the new version hits the store I get a 1 star review - containing precicely 102 exclamation marks! Then another 1 star review claiming that the app never loads...apparently stuck displaying "Installing" from what I can figure. For sure this first day of releasing a big update was the worst time to get a 1 star review. (I notice that the reviewer has not returned since I attemted to rectify their issue - perhaps this is a good thing - though apparently they used to "Love this app").

4) App partner: Well let's just say that we went our own ways! My business partner got a toe wet and app development wasn't for them! For sure anytime is not good to be left to do everything alone.

5) Web/email domain: I bought the domain name many months before it was needed. It's first usage was just days before release - my original plan was to redirect to personal web space, but I remembered that the domain supplier had offered a "3 months free hosting plan" so I attempted to log-in to the FTP and give it ago. Sure enough this worked and my site was being hosted nicely. After a short while I enquired about expiration date with the provider...they then told me that it should have expired already and gave me 1 week to pay 50. That didn't happen so I lost the hosting for 2 days (they prevented redirection), along with my company email. The effect of this was many review sites not taking my "Yahoo" emails seriously. Some had spam filters which bounced my efforts right back at me. For sure anytime is not good to be screwed by your domain host.

Ok enough of that! Those were just some examples of how luck can massively effect your reasonable expectations.
Now on to what went right...I shall have to go and calm down first haha...ok that's better...

1) More devices and old friends: I was contacted almost on day 1 by an old friend who was enjoying the app! The lucky part was that they owned an iPhone 3GS - and misinformed-me didn't even know that the app would run on this device as I wrongly presumed that it didn't do OpenGL ES 2.0 ...which it DOES! I now had 2 extra devices which the app would run on. For sure it was lucky that my friend noticed this when they did.

2) New friends: I met some great people on the forums who provided feedback, reviews (got there in the end!), testing, even the odd picture was submitted! All of this helped me to make the major update to a much more polished app - even the old biz partner seems happy. For sure it was lucky to meet the right people at the right time, they really motivated me thank you.

3) Reviews: A couple of review sites contacted me. I won't quote numbers but both of these reviews had a massive effect on sales, though anyone expecting decent cash would be hugely disapointed! For sure it is lucky that my first commercial app I am very happy with the numbers.

4) Competitor - yes this is in the "right" area: My app was unique so when I came across a tweet which led to the only other app which is anything like mine, then this was a good thing. We both had our strengths, and even now "Customers also purchased" each others apps...though I find that part hard to believe when I look at stats! For sure I am lucky to stand anywhere near my competitor who is a very well respected developer! (Dave :P)

5) This post is getting too long, but for sure it is lucky to be in a new situation where I am in talks with a publisher about my next app (I need the support). And I can post this thread and feel part of a community which has been an ambition to be part of (everyone wants to make apps!). Thanks all.

BubbleSand - "the best sand app"
07-01-2011, 02:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Ha! Good idea for a thread

Here's an incomplete list (reminds me I really need to sit down and write a post mortem someday)

What went wrong

- Our first icon was an anime girl. People suggested I don't do that, I was stubborn. We've since changed the icon :P Market research rules!

- Game was supposed to launch by Thanksgiving 2009, roadblocks kept us from release until the end of the following April. Had I known that we were going to put out a Puzzle Game that late, I might not have even bothered. A game with a very similar (although inferior) mechanic was featured on the front page of TA in September '09, fwiw

- I bought TONS of gift codes to send out for reviewers, maybe like 100 at least. The bulk of these I sent were duds Apple didn't care and I ended up with a lot of important people who didn't get to look at my game when it was new (seriously, people complained on podcasts that I had sent them codes which did not work)

- I ran a promotion ("1st person to 100% all 27 achievements in our game wins an iPad!" (iPads were brand new too). Some kid found a cheap exploit and beat the game, I paid up because it was my oversight not to fix that prior to release.

- crappy in-game tutorial on the iPhone, no one ever read it and thus many folks never figured out how to play our game properly (rectified this in Android version!)

- prettttty much nearly bankrupted myself doing this

What went right

- I spent a lot of time and energy building up a huge base of media contacts, and in spite of the code problems mentioned above we got a ton of glowing reviews of our app (even though big sites like TA and STP, IGN etc ignored us)

- partnered with FreeAppCalender and got up to #68 in All Free last June! This led to more awesome reviews, although no noticeable increase in sales.

- partnered with GameGiveAway and got up to #60 in All Free last December! This led to some interesting phone calls (Google), again no boost in sales.

- learned a ton about promoting and managing a campaign, and how to smooth the overall development process greatly

- wrote lots of blogs over the course of development (mostly concerning classic gaming reviews) and very regularly featured on the front page of Gamasutra, they even gave us a nod when our game launched.

- made tons of useful contacts all over the world of development (figuratively and literally), developing and promoting has given me a good reputation which has served me well in many ways.

- the best is yet to come!

Last edited by headcaseGames; 07-01-2011 at 02:19 PM.