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Interview: App Treasures On Whether Branding Can Expose Quality iPhone Games

Interview: App Treasures On Whether Branding Can Expose Quality iPhone Games Exclusive

June 10, 2009 | By Jonathan Glover

[Independent label App Treasures is aiming to combat the iPhone game glut by unifying several indie developers under a shared brand, and in this interview, Noel Llopis of label member Snappy Touch shares details and hopes for the future.]

Small devs are facing an increasingly difficult vertiginous climb from the depths of obscurity on the iPhone. As the App Store continues to be flooded with content, visibility in the marketplace is becoming a serious problem for all but the luckiest or most resourceful of developers.

App Treasures –- an independent label featuring developers The Blimp Pilots, Imangi Studios, Snappy Touch, Streaming Colour and Veiled Games, who have already created titles like Koi Pond, Dapple, Imangi and Flower Garden -– is attempting to combat this via a shared brand.

Each member will operate independently while the App Treasures banner allows them unified marketing, branding and what seems to be a legitimate quality control process, among other perks.

Interested in what could be a viable route for many independent iPhone developers, FingerGaming spoke to former High Moon Studios veteran Noel Llopis of App Treasures member Snappy Touch (Flower Garden) about last week’s launch and the label’s future.

“The idea of App Treasures started at 360iDev, an iPhone conference back in March of this year,” Llopis tells FingerGaming. “Sitting through some of the business and marketing sessions, it was very obvious what a huge disadvantage we had as small indies over big companies when it came to App Store visibility.”

Llopis thinks that independents “have the edge when it comes to creativity, freedom to explore new ideas and the ability to respond to change quickly,” but lack the brand recognition, PR and cross-promotion between apps that the large publishers have.

“Several of us had just met at the conference — we knew each other through Twitter before,” he says. “[We] realized that we could band together to get many of those benefits without having to give up our independence, control over our products, or even a percentage of our earnings.”

Despite being a vehicle for market penetration, Llopis insists that App Treasures itself is not a commercial endeavor.

“It’s not a commercial entity, but it’s both a label and an association. A label in the sense that it does provide a unified brand under which high-quality games for the iPhone can be released by the members of App Treasures. It’s also an association of the participating developers because we share resources (contacts, services, and even source code) and help each other through cross-promotion,” says Llopis, adding, “We’ve made an effort to keep things with as little bureaucracy as possible.”

So far, the only unifying, brand-wide feature in every App Treasures title is a link to a web page promoting the label’s catalog, but Llopis says, “There can be a lot more to this custom web view than just a list of games though. Because it’s a standard web page, we can roll out any new features we want: news, announcements, messages, etc. In the future we’ll probably share source code for commonly used features like online scoreboards, downloadable content, Facebook integration, etc.”

Branding can go a long way in pushing sub-par product, but the label’s intentions seem admirable enough. “Quality” is a big part of App Treasures’ pitch, and as Llopis tells us, yes, there is discretion in choosing future label mates.

“Obviously we don’t have an objective, measurable standard of quality, but it’s something that is foremost in our mind when we’re looking at games for inclusion in the App Treasures label,” says Llopis. “We’re looking for polished, fun games, with high-production values.”

“To keep that quality bar high, existing members get to vote on accepting new developers,” he continues. “Only when there’s a unanimous vote from all the members, we accept them into App Treasures. Up until now this process was by invitation only, but in a month or two, once things have settled down, we’ll open up admission to new developers.”

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