10 truths about the App Store

There’s no doubt that as a beginner game developer you study everything there is on the Internet, buy books, ask people. The truth is, there is a lot of shallow nonsense that is only of limited value when compared to personal experience. Here are ten tips that sum up our experience of producing and releasing the title Power of Logic.


1. Big Idea Wins

It is the execution that counts, not the idea. Everybody has a lot of great ideas the crucial thing, however, is to come up with an original game concept and create a perfect product. Om Nom’s cuteness was the element (apart from the physical model) that made Cut the Rope so successful. Similarly the peculiar art and fantastic music made Contre Jour the success it is. By the way: reviving an existing concept is not what “unique” means.

2. Design is everything

The best possible design is not enough to get public attention when the game lacks an innovative game mechanics. All the successful titles use some form of “touch” interface and can’t be imagined without it. When ported to desktop they loose their sense of uniqueness (e.g. World of Goo).

3. Xcode is easy

At least for those who already used it to make games. When choosing a programmer, opt for the one who has already published a game on App Store. Do not believe promises that he will learn fast or that he already knows C. He’ll spend most of his time at Stackoverflow instead of actually writing the code.

4. Publishing “The Mac way”

We’re used to high level of smoothness when publishing apps for Apple, but what is not smooth is the terrible juggling with certificates, profiles, keys, etc. To find a way through a maze of provisioning profiles, distribution profiles and signatures is hard for a newcomer. Ideally some experienced developer leads you through the process, as the Internet is full of shallow would-be how to’s.

5. Review process is fair

Nobody knows how the review process actually works. Sometimes it takes 2 days, sometimes two weeks, probably depends on whether there’s a national holiday in India. The average waiting times can be found here. Our app was refused as 180° turning of the iPad did not work but we got approved eventually with two major showstopper bugs. You absolutely must test physically on all available devices from iPhone 3G to 4S with no exception.

6. Build communities

You read this everywhere: “build community”. How to build a community, however, when you are unknown person, who nobody cares about? Why should anyone follow you on Twitter? First, learn to be able to say something of value. Or write about what you learn and from whom do you learn. You may call yourself a developer after you publish your first app. You have something to share with the world after that.

7. Friends WOM

People only share stuff they want to share. No matter how close they are and how much they love you, they just won’t share otherwise. Do not rely on them to spread the news of your unborn baby, you might get quite disappointed. Unless of course you are releasing Tiny-Wings-like success hit.

8. Media helps you spread the word

It does as long as you have some renown and strong publisher, like Cut the Rope had. If not, do not expect much reaction after sending 300 e-mails a using PR distribution service. The journalist do not write back, the reviews are either published or not. It takes more work but also has more sense, to start with small blogs and review portals and communicate personally with regular journalist, who are not as busy as their bosses. When tens of small media will write about you, there’s the time for TouchArcade.

9. Start at home

Do not study your domestic market (unless you’re Chinese or from the States) as it is too small. Find key countries with enough market potential, adequate media market and your target group. Aim at that country’s respected media, translate your press release, write e-mails in the country’s native language. You’re doing global business but local marketing.

10. There is a success receipt 

Use Flightest SDK to test for bugs. Implement Flurry and watch people’s behavior. Visit Google Analytics and learn where do people come from, what do they read, how and if do they get to App Store. Monitor AppAnnie for your ranking and sales. Nothing is more important than your personal experience. That is the only way to find out what actually works and what does not. There isn’t any universal receipt to do it “the right way”.

Do you agree or totally don’t? Write us an email at weare@flowstudiogames.com or  twitter @Flow_Studio to share your thoughts.


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