Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: App Store

The Success of Temple Run as Seen by the Creators

Venture Beat has a great interview with the creators of Temple Run which has become a run away success on the App Store (so punny!). The interview is a good luck into a small company(Imangi Studio) that made a well performing game, like most things, it seems there’s a lot to be said for persevering and learning from failure.

Worth a read if you’re thinking of making a game for any mobile app store.

GB: Temple Run came out in August of last year. Did it take off right away? How did making it Free affect downloads? What do you attribute the current success to?

It definitely took Temple Run a while to gain momentum. When it first came out as a paid app in August, Temple Run got rave reviews from players and critics and went to about the No. 50 Paid App. It was definitely an amazing launch. However, after a couple of weeks in the Top 100, it started sliding down – the normal launch curve. At that point we decided to go free and see if we can (sic) make up the revenue in in-app purchase. It turned out to be a pretty great decision. It went to No. 2 Top Free App when it first went free, and after a few days settled at around No. 100 Top Free App.

Right before we switched it to free in September, we had a couple hundred downloads/day at 99 cents, with some in-app purchase sales. After switching it to free and settling at No. 100 Top Free app, we had about 50,000 daily downloads, and a whole lot more in-app purchases. In fact, revenue went up 10x immediately upon switching to free, so keeping it free was a no brainer.

After that, our daily users kept growing, downloads kept growing, and Temple Run was slowly rising up the charts. It finally hit No. 1 Top Free app on December 28, and has been No. 1 or No. 2 for the past month. At this point, we’re getting around 500,000 downloads/day. Revenue has also increased, with Temple Run becoming the No. 1 Top Grossing app on January 7 and staying at No. 1 or No. 2 ever since.

Read the full interview.

App Store Myths and the Real World

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There are a lot of great success stories on the App Store from people who made games in their spare time striking it rich to the small but determined company finally making it. When people see these stories and hear the market size of Apple’s growing iOS market they may think that they too can be a App Store millionaire.

Sure, they have the chance to have great success on the App Store, but if you’re thinking of throwing your hat in the ring then you’ll want to check out a great write-up on Money and the App Store.

Myth #2: Making an iPhone game is fast and cheap

Compared to making Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption, this one is actually true. Making an iPhone game shouldn’t cost $50M and take 4 years. (Well, neither should a console game, if you ask me.) But unless you’re aiming for a Doodle Jump clone, it’s still a bit of work. If you make it cheap, you’ll have a very small team (say 2 people), and it’ll take AT LEAST six months to get something polished out there.

A quick estimate of an iOS game budget:
2 salaries x 6 months

A freelance contractor for sound design

A trip to GDC or some other event to meet journalists

Hardware to work on (a new computer, or a hard drive, or an iPad)

Some software licenses, because software devs need to earn a living, too

Maybe a website or a Dropbox account

You’ll do the QA yourself? All right then…
All in all, you can’t be serious about making games and “earning a living” out of it without at least a $40k budget. (And I’m really being cheap here; I think to be competitive today on the App Store you need $100k.)

It’s worth reading the entire article – particularly the conclusion.

Link to the Gamasutra article.

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