Virtual Round Table - Part 1 - text version

A little over a week ago, we posted the first part of our audio project “Virtual Round Table”. It was dedicated to a topic that is burning for any developer – “How much money does it take to make a successful application?”. In that issue, experts talked about what to do with the application when development is over. And today we offer a text version of this issue.

Opinions are shared by Ilya Chernetsky from i-Free, Pavel Ryakkonen, distribution director of Nevosoft, and Max Grinev, author and developer of the hit game Contre Jour (the best game of 2011 for the iPad according to Apple).

Ilya Chernetsky


Ilya, tell us how you can increase your chances of success – from the point of view of, for example, the project. What should it contain in order for success to be more or less guaranteed?

The very moment of launching the application is very important. The first question you need to ask yourself before launching an application is – how do people know about it? Of course, it is possible to hope that you will release the application and it will immediately get into the top, but it is rather pointless.

I, in turn, can suggest several quite viable options.

The first is to actively work with the App Store itself. In other words, to increase the visibility of the application due to a beautiful icon, due to a good description, due to screenshots, due to the name, which should attract the attention of those users who wander around the App Store in search of new applications. You also need to think about what words your application will be located in. There is a large part of users who are looking for something not by specific queries or categories, but by words, for example, “turn-based strategy” or “a game for children”. So think carefully, choose the words and phrases by which the application can be located.

Second, try to get into the reviews on the promoted sites. If we are talking about Russia, then here is an article on gives you an almost guaranteed chance to be in the top 25 paid or free apps. If we are talking about foreign sites (American, first of all), then there are more such sites there. On the one hand, this increases the likelihood of getting on them, on the other, the competition is very large, and, accordingly, the chances of getting a review from them from a small, independent, unlit developer are much less. But you need to try: write letters, knock, get acquainted, in general, do everything possible. Sometimes you have to pay money for it.

The third is advertising. Plus, if you understand the conversion (the whole chain of events, from the moment when the user found out about the app to when he started paying for it), then you can experiment with buying traffic. The purpose of this is to raise the application in the tops. However, for this you also need to understand how many downloads we are talking about, which regions, categories.

The latter option is applicable when the application is already on sale (relevant mainly for paid applications). It is called price drop (temporary price reduction). Sometimes the application is even made free for one or two days, so that it rises in the tops, so that it is written about. After that, the old price tag is usually hung on the application, so as a result, there is a local increase in sales.

With regard to the method of distributing the application – you said paid, free – which is better to choose and what to follow? Do I need a marketing budget for the launch? If so, which one?

The answers to both of these questions strongly depend on the market, as well as on the method of monetization and on the category of the application. For the Russian market, the budget can start from one thousand dollars. For this money, it is quite possible to buy several reviews and buy traffic. It is likely that after that the application will get to the first lines in its category. Accordingly, people who watch the profile category will begin to notice it. Although the cost may be slightly higher for games – there is more significant competition. As for the American market, there we will talk about the numbers by an order of magnitude more. This is about the App Store.

For Android with its system of ranking applications in the top by active cumulative installations – these figures should also be more than the already mentioned thousand dollars. The fact is that in order to get into the tops there, you compete with applications that already have a fairly large installation base accumulated over the past months and years.

As for monetization, everything depends more on the application category than on the region, because in games, for example, the free distribution model with internal payments has now proved quite effective.

Other categories have different rules. For example, the free financial top of the American store consists of banks with which it is very difficult to compete, even the leading American Mint service is not in the first place. While the paid top is almost entirely a financial accounting application.

So always look, study the category in which you are going to release the application. Also, carefully monitor the categories in the regions where you plan to publish your application.

Pavel Ryakkonen


Pavel, in your opinion – what determines the success of the project?

First of all, it is determined by popularity. And the developer can make a fairly high-quality title, and the publisher can put a lot of effort, but, nevertheless, if such a project was launched, but users for some reason did not like it – there can be no question of any success.

In addition, success has different criteria. For some, success is just making a game, launching it in some app store and showing it to friends: “Here, I did it,” and for someone, success is some kind of set amount of profit that a particular application can give. It all depends on the goals and objectives that are initially set by the developer.

What should be in the project and what should be done with it after the development is completed in order to at least recoup the investment? This is if we talk about the success of the project in terms of its profitability.

Now the release of updates is considered a classic of the genre – well, it seems to me that this is something that goes without saying.

First of all, you need to look at the metrics that are obtained as a result of user sessions and analyze them carefully: what happens to the user when he gets into the game. In the future, based on these metrics, you need to make a decision: it’s worth fixing something, it’s worth improving something or nothing needs to be improved, you just need to release additional content. First of all, the launch stage after itself implies, in a good case, an analysis of the metrics obtained, and the developer should plan further actions based on the data received.

If the developer is independent, small and made his first game: he has a choice: launch this game on his own or contact the publisher. If he chooses the second option, what does the publisher do to make the game sell better?

First of all, this is preparation before launching the project: work on promotional materials, testing on various firmware and devices, localization (either full or partial – localization of promotional materials only). But we are now considering the case when a developer turns to a publisher at the last stage, when his project is already ready.

In the event that he applies at a fairly early stage, when he has only a ready-made design document with software developments, we, for example, give advice and answers to questions about what it is better for him to do with such a project, in which direction to develop, which monetization schemes to apply.

After all, we have already launched enough projects, and we have an understanding of what works better, what works worse, what does not work at all. In case of lack of experience, the right step is to go to the publisher and get this experience. In the future, accordingly, the developer can decide for himself whether to resort to the help of the publisher or not. If he believes that he can do all these steps himself, then please – this is his choice.

If the work was carried out qualitatively at all these stages, then the probability of success increases. No one will say that “I guarantee you 100% success,” and if he does, then it is clear that you need to treat these words with a degree of skepticism. No one knows exactly what will happen after the release, but the more experience, the higher the probability of success.

Max Grinev

Author Contre Jour

Max, last time you said that the idea itself is not worth much – the implementation is much more important. If there is a good product – a game or an application – what will determine its success in the future: the quality of the product itself or some further steps?

In fact, there are a lot of nuances here, but quality is, say, nuance number one. If you want to make a successful game, it’s just enough to make it qualitatively. It may not be a super hit, but a good quality game should pay for itself in any case. Quality in the broadest sense. If the game works, if it is beautifully drawn, it does not mean that it is made of high quality. If it has no bugs, it also does not mean that it is of high quality. It should have a well-developed gameplay. It should be qualitatively oriented to its audience, that is, all-all parameters should be at a certain level: programming, design, game design, marketing. If everything is done well, then the game will be successful in any case.

That is, if the product is really high-quality, then some marketing efforts are no longer needed?

In fact, the App Store has a very specific situation that is very developer friendly. External advertising almost does not work, it is internal advertising that works, the advertising of Apple itself is a feature in iTunes. Accordingly, Apple, as a vendor of the platform, is interested in advertising exactly those games and programs that the user will like. For this reason, it is quality products that are advertised. If the game is worth it, Apple will fix it, and if that happens, you have free and very effective advertising.

How do I make Apple notice your game? So many things appear every day.

Apple reviews every game. Let’s say exactly how everything happens – no one knows. But I suspect they have some kind of internal scheme. And if the reviewers at the lowest level see something that catches them, they transfer this matter to the top – and at the top it is already determined which program, which game will be registered. Of course, it may be useful to write a letter to Apple. Many developers say that it worked for them. In my case, I didn’t do it. I put it all in the hands of the publisher. But the fact is that no matter what the publisher is, Apple features exactly what they like. A publisher, for example, can draw Apple’s attention to some product, but he will not be able to put his game on display.


We hope that the opinions of experts will be useful to you. If there are any questions during the discussion, then write them in the comments. By the way, it will be possible to communicate personally with those whom you have just heard at the White Nights Mobile Games Conference, which will be held on June 14 and 15 in St. Petersburg.

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