The Million Dollar Game: An interview with the author of Cover Orange

The Cover Orange game for iPad and iPhone appeared at the end of 2010 (November 17 and December 13, respectively). During its existence, it has been both paid and free; almost two months ago, the possibility of in-game purchases appeared in it. In mid-August, the game reached the third line of Top Paid iPhone Apps USA, and since its release, both versions have earned almost a million dollars. The author of the application Evgeny Kuzmin, known on the Internet as Johnny-K, talked about how many downloads there were and what amounts they brought, and also answered a few more questions.

Being in the American top 5, Cover Orange gave from 9 to 12 thousand downloads per day. Together with in-game sales, the game brought about an average of 10 thousand dollars per day. In 2.5 weeks since the launch of In App Purchase, she earned 150 thousand dollars (including Apple’s share).

The In App Purchase function appeared in the app on August 2 – protective helmets were offered to those who had difficulty completing the levels. The user received the first three for free, the rest were purchased in sets for $0.99 or $ 1.99. Only in the first three days after this opportunity appeared, helmets were bought about 10 thousand times – the publisher and the developer earned about 7 thousand dollars on this. Over the next two weeks, the total amount of income from In App Purchase in Cover Orange increased to 37 thousand dollars – at the same time, when the full version of the application became paid, sales of helmets remained at the same level.

The game regularly has updates (now the 8th version is already in the App Store), in which new levels and achievements appear.

Has Cover Orange received a “feature” from Apple?

It must be said that the game has been very little featured. There was no big banner, for a very long time we did not get into the hot games section and the favorites section of the team. For some reason, Apple doesn’t like our game very much =)

When did the game become paid, when was it free? What guided you when choosing a paid/free period?

When the game was falling heavily in the overall standings, the publisher decided to temporarily free the game. As a result, the game soared into free tops, gained good reviews – and became paid. The number of people who managed to download the game during this time (several days) reached a million, sometimes more. Then people recommended the game to their friends, shared links on Twitter and blogs, due to which the game quickly reached the top fifty of the US paid top. Then there were fewer recommendations, the game slipped back to tasteless positions, the publisher made it free, and so on.
What did you do for promotion? Is it necessary to do anything at all, or, as some developers believe, is it enough just to make a “cool game”?

Personally, as a developer, I didn’t do anything. Only gave stupid advice to the publisher =) Promotion and all that should be done by those who are intended for this. The developer must develop. Although these “helmets for oranges” are my idea. They somewhat increased the popularity of the game, delighting people who were stuck at some level and could not play on.

Just to make a cool game is, of course, not enough. Going to the AppStore without a publisher is like getting up on the abandoned outskirts of the city with a stall and selling cigarettes of a new brand from it – no one will go to you, even if they are harmless cigarettes, even if they do not cause cancer, but treat it – no one will know about you. The publisher also motivates people to go to your stall.
In your experience, can a good launch determine the fate of an application, or does a lot depend on what to do with it afterwards?

The launch, of course, does not determine the fate of the application. A good launch only allows you to reduce some costs for promotion, because with a good launch, Apple itself is engaged in promotion by placing banners and application icons on the main page of its store. But even if Apple didn’t notice the game, it still doesn’t mean anything. Rather, it means only one thing – you will have to work on promoting more. By the way, according to my observations, a good launch of applications without further support by the publisher did not save the game from falling in the tops in any way. The game came out, received a promo from Apple, lit up there, then they told about it, got into the top… The publisher calms down, and the game soon goes down. By the way, the launch of Cover Orange on the iPhone was extremely unsuccessful, Apple completely ignored us.

The main thing to remember is that the application lifecycle in the App Store is much longer than the same flash games. Cover Orange was released almost a year ago, and I am sure that it will bring us more than one hundred thousand American money.
How did you launch? What was the main focus on?

I can’t say. The subtleties of promotion are definitely not for me =)
My job was to keep my finger on the pulse and react quickly to bugs that could get out. To my pride, I will say that there were practically no bugs, there is also the merit of the publisher.
Has the game changed much since launch?

Practically has not changed. In addition to the “helmets”, no new chips were added. Simply because the game is self-sufficient, it does not need to add anything to it. Except for the levels, of course. The first version had 80 levels, now it has 240 levels. In November, when we celebrate the year since the birth of Cover Orange, we will make a gift to the players by adding 40 levels to the next update at once, bringing the total number to 300.
In your opinion, does it make sense to give your games to a publisher? After all, he will take part of the proceeds – maybe it’s better to do everything yourself?

It always makes sense to give the game to the publisher. Isolated cases, such as Tiny Wings, when the game got stuck in the tops without a publisher, are just isolated cases. It’s not about us. There should always be a publisher. A huge number of games are released every day. The publisher will help the game stand out, help a large number of potential buyers learn about it.

Don’t be greedy. The publisher does not “take” part of the proceeds, he honestly (if, of course, it is an honest and good publisher) works it out. He also spends money on promotion agencies, on paying for banners. Relieves headaches associated with bureaucracy. After all, a good publisher always has a large team of testers, that is, he is even ready to take on some of the developer’s functions.

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