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So what have I learned after eight months on the App Store?
by David Amador on 06/24/11 07:01:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Around 11 months ago I registered my App Store developer account. The idea...put Vizati on the iPhone.

I've never worked with Mac's before, didn't even have an iPhone/iPod or whatever. I just read that a bunch of people got rich and many more where making a living out of it.
So here I go.

Just placing an app there will sell

My first BIG mistake was the general conception that "just placing an app there will sell". That's probably true on the very first months the App Store opened. Not now, trust me. You release a new game, will probably have a few sales on the 1st day because it's on the new released games and that's it, only on very rare conditions will the game start selling very good with just that.

So keep in mind advertisement on iOS is mandatory, forums, twitter, mailing list, whatever.
The first month I was sending dozens of emails every single day to websites, journalists, magazines, some paid off, others didn't.

Release my app at a Thursday to be featured at that week's App Featured Apps

Although this might increase your odds, we released Vizati on a Friday, 2 weeks later it got a feature on the App Store, so it can still happen. Just create something cool and appealing.

$0.99 is the way to go

Wrong, don't EVER place your app at $0.99 right from start. Evaluate it well, start higher. Having a higher price will help to distinguish it from others, will give you margin for promotions without making it free.

Many costumers, tired of the enormous lists of game will only seek higher priced games because logic mandates that they are indeed better. If you think your app is not worth more that $0.99 go back to the drawing boards. There's no sense in having crappy apps, 100 bad apps may not sell as much as 5 really good ones.

Selling at a low price will also bring all kinds of customers, they will give you a 1 star just because you haven't updated the app in 5 months or so. Customers that buy pricier app are more forgiving and respectful.

Making a Free promotion will help boost sales afterwords

True, for the first 2-3 days. Then you'll get back to whatever you where selling. Unless you have some in-game purchases it's not worth it. Well only if you want to brag to your friends that your app got 100K downloads no matter the price.

I've tried this 3 times, each time I place it at a smarter occasion getting successfully more downloads, thing is that after 3 days of getting back to regular price things would slowly return to normal.

Depending on promotion amount of days you may end up with the same money you would have not making the promotion. Also usually you will see your rating decreasing half or a full star, keep in mind, all kinds of people will download it.

Answering to customers Feedback helps sales

Obviously implementing a highly demanded features will make them happy thus recommending to friends. Just don't go making all the changes they ask. Choose a position and defend it, show that things are the way they are because you choose so, not because of some mistake.

People will buy all kinds of crap, just place one level.

Also true, but just because they bought a "fart app" doesn't mean they wont' complain about your 15m duration game.

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Luis Guimaraes
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This is golden advice. We've been talking a lot lately about pricing. I think not going $.99 is the better.

Rey Samonte
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Hrm, very useful information. I just recent got an iMac in hopes to create something fun for the iDevices. Your experience definitely gives me something to think about. I appreciate your time in sharing this with all of us. Thanks!

Pieterjan Spoelders
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Good, very clear article, thanks for sharing that information with us :)

Jeff Hangartner
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All good points! I'm just starting out on the app store but I did a lot of research beforehand and came to similar conclusions even though some of them are counter-intuitive at first.

On the price point another thing to consider is that when you price at 1.99 instead of 99 you can always have 50% off sales which encourage people to snatch the game up while it's a deal and it shows up on the "what apps are on sale today?" sites/lists. At 99 cents the only sale you can do is Free.

The points you make about 1 star reviews are good too. People throw those around like candy...even if your game is FREE there will be reviews that say "you should pay ME to play this crap - 1 star!!" or at .99 people will review 1-star saying they want their dollar back. So if you're going to get those reviews at any price point you might as well set it at 1.99 instead.

There are actually a few charts around the net that show there really isn't a significant difference between .99 and 1.99 sales, at 2.99 people start to hesitate but generally if they'd pay .99 they won't sweat 1.99. It's counter-intuitive but the actual data around the net backs it up.

I'm still new though, we'll see what I think after 8 months haha great article thanks for writing it!

- Jeff

Kamruz Moslemi
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I wish more iOS devs would share actual sales data in some form or fashion. I cannot be the only person really curious about what the bottom of the iceberg whose only visible tip is the same usual suspects looks like in terms of success.

Even back in the days where I worked with making mobile games, before the iOS revolution I had a hard time imagining that there was an actual sustainable market for such things and what it looked like. Back then we made games for publishers, so making a profit was their concerns, we just made the game itself. I have a even harder time imagining anyone but the top tier developers on the iOS bandwagon making out okay.