Game thinking from Adam Clare

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iOS Success is Hard to Achieve

App Promo surveyed iOS developers and got some interesting results. The most staggering number from the survey is that 60% of apps don’t generate enough revenue to break even. Take a look (click to enlarge):

The key thing to note for aspiring developers is the importance of marketing an iOS app. Without promotional support for your app don’t expect anything close to success and don’t think you can rely on using free social media either.

As with most tech news, Ars has a good analysis of App Promo’s research with interviews with some developers. They look at the difficulty of even getting an app discovered (this is an ongoing problem with the App Store and Apple knows it) to the costs of developing the app and where the money can be made making iOS apps.

“Development costs are generally much higher than folks realize,” Kafasis said. “Making an app still requires tens of thousands of dollars in development, if not hundreds of thousands. Recouping that kind of money 99 cents—or really, 70 cents—at a time is not easy.”

Part of the problem can be attributed to consumer expectations. Whereas $20-30 was not an uncommon price for desktop software created by small developers in the past, the App Store quickly led consumers to expect to pay 99 cents, or maybe $1.99 for most mobile apps. Many more are free, supported with in-app ads or “freemium” in-app purchases.

“Paid apps, despite likely being only $1, is a surprisingly high barrier of entry,” McCarron told Ars

Reflection on Making a Free Version of a Game

One of the creators of Catch the Monkey wrote a neat reflection on their making of a promotional free game to promote sales of the full version on the App Store.

The creators always had a problem with demo and free versions of games and it turned them off of the idea. They decided to go ahead with it and apparently the following talk by Matt Rix (Trainyard) greatly impacted their approach to making the free version.

Part 1 of Rix’s talk:

Part 2:

We determined the following principles:

  • Don’t do anything that would make the people who bought the paid version regret their purchase. The free version should complement the pay one, and theoretically co-exist side by side on the player’s device.
  • Don’t do anything that would make a person regret buying the paid version AFTER playing the free version.
  • I recently had a negative experience with an iPad game where I played 12 levels of the demo, bought it, and then had to play through those same identical 12 levels. I regretted buying it, and I did not want to spend hours redoing my previous progress. I didn’t bother to play the pay version. (InApp purchase obviously solves this.)

Read the full reflection at

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