Five myths about the App Store

How projects get to the App Store showcase, why iPhone development is not cheap and not fast, why updates are needed and much more is told by one of the authors of the SQUIDS role–playing game.

Emerick Toa, creative director and co-founder of the independent studio The Game Bakers, which recently released the turn-based rpg SQUIDS, in his blog colorfully told about the myths that are widespread among indie developers, and convincingly destroyed them.

Myth one: there are so many iPhones and iPads everywhere that a decent game will definitely make you rich

It’s easy to make a mistake when you make serious calculations while sitting over a cup of coffee with your friend: “So, there are 200 million users in the App Store. You need to interest only 0.1% of them in your application for 1 dollar, and you will have 200 thousand greenbacks in your pocket.”

In fact, everything is somewhat different:

– many iOS users don’t have a credit card. Think, for example, about children and teenagers. They only download free apps.

– 88% of downloaded games are free. And when people say that Angry Birds has 200 million downloads, remember that Lite and Free versions are also included here.

– Apple takes 30% for itself. In real life, $200,000 of income turns out to be 140,000. The trick is that the user base can be gigantic, but many people never spend money in the App Store.

So think soberly: the market volume and the profit that a developer can get are different things.

Myth two: iPhone game development is fast and cheap

Compared to the development of Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption – that’s right. Developing an iPhone game shouldn’t cost $50 million and take 4 years (however, console games probably shouldn’t either). But even if you are developing a clone of Doodle Jump, this is still a challenge. Are you going to make a cheap game? Then you should have a very small team (say 2 people).

In this case, you will need at least 6 months to do something more or less decent. In this case, the budget of the game for iOS will consist of the following:

– 2 salaries x 6 months of development;

– freelance sound design;

– a trip to the GDC or other events to meet with journalists;

– equipment for application development (a new computer or a new hard drive or iPad or all together);

– purchase of licensed software (since software developers also have to live on something);

– you may also need a website or a Dropbox account (unless, of course, you are going to test the game yourself).

In total, you will need at least 40 thousand dollars if you seriously intend to combine the development of the game with earning a living (in fact, even more: in order to be competitive in the market today, you will need 100 thousand dollars) (as we wrote yesterday, the cost of development varies depending on the country, – the editors of App2Top).

Myth three: constant updates increase sales over time (a myth also known as the “Angry Birds Fairy Tale”)

This story is most often heard and continues to be told at various parties. As soon as you mention that you have entered the path of an indie developer for iOS, the interlocutor immediately puts his palm on your shoulder and says: “Buddy, everything is different here, not like in the big industry. Even if the game failed at launch, it will take off if you constantly update it. So you will collect more money in six months of sales than in the first week after the launch. Look at Angry Birds.”

Of course, updates are important, especially now that the rules have changed in the App Store again, and updates have begun to appear in the list of new applications. But even in this case, updates work best for those who have already downloaded the game, and their number depends on the success of the launch.

Myth four: a good post in a popular blog or a viral video is enough to ensure the visibility of the game in the App Store

The key to success, if you have a good project on your hands, is visibility on the App Store. The fact that you can attract a large audience with one cute post or a cool cheap video is another fairy tale. You can’t influence a community if you haven’t been a part of it yourself for a long time. As for viral videos, they are subject to the “jackpot syndrome” more than the applications themselves. In the sense that it is impossible to predict whether it will collect 12 million views or 300 (although 300 is more likely).

Just understand: visibility is a long and difficult battle that lasts from the first day of development to a year after release.

Myth Five: Apple promotes random products

Some independent developers believe that Apple’s support is a matter of luck. That’s not so. Of course, the guys from Apple are honest guys who promote those projects that they themselves like, which they consider to be of high quality, but, like any publisher, they have their own product line, their own management risks. Therefore:

– they put on display those games that are aimed at the main audience of the App Store;

– they put on display those games that will sell more devices and will use the latest features of the platform (you will be able to use all the features of iOS 6 two weeks after its release – a plus for you).

– they showcase games from reliable developers/publishers (if you have a successful experience with millions of downloads on iOS – another plus for you).

– they put games on display from people they know personally (despite the fact that it’s 2012 and Apple is an American company, personal connections solve a lot).

The trick is that if you are an indie developer without a publisher and made your first game that does not use the features of iOS 5 in any way, then it is unlikely that Apple will promote your product. The good news is this: The App Store does not promote games randomly. AND THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS. This means that it is still possible to get a feature. Sooner or later.

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