In a GDC China lecture, Red Rocket Games (Mevo & The Grooveriders) CEO Jung Suh talked about making iPhone games in China for the Western market, and why the company was moving into publishing iPhone apps for others.
Suh was formerly a co-founder of GameFly, and also worked at companies including EA, Disney, and Activision. Red Rocket makes 'casual-indie' games for PC and mobile markets, and Suh's talk discussed why even the Asian market should look closely at iPhone.
The Red Rocket head praised the "PS2 quality gaming in a little handheld device", noting that the short development cycles of 1-6 months really helped keep employees motivated. But with 546 Apps released in one day recently, it's a rough market and "a lot of Apps to compete with."
Submitting your game to Apple can be tricky -- and Suh discussed some of the reasons that Red Rocket Games titles were rejected in the App Store.
These included icons not matching perfectly in terms of colors, and putting pricing information in the App description, as well as using disallowed commercial keywords such as 'James Bond' in the submitted Apps.
Suh's Shanghai-based firm has an international staff, and is now extending from simply being a developer to a developer/publisher, claiming to provide marketing, Apple contacts, and metrics to iPhone game creators, in exchange for a cut of the revenue.
He noted that the company's personal experience with iPhone game advertising has been "lukewarm", but advertising your game does seem to get you discussed more on review sites. In addition, early App reviews are important, and he admitted that "our friends and families and employees help with early reviews" - but 100+ ratings are needed for legitimacy.
Red Rocket currently has four titles on the App Store, with several more in the process of being submitted, and noted that cross-promotion is vital. In fact, Suh commented of the App Store in general that "a good game may not be enough", and things like being promoted by Apple are vital.
Though reviews on the Web definitely help spike sales, Suh concluded: "don't spend lots of time" on your iPhone App unless you're very sure you're making a major title. In fact, he said: "If you're spending more than $30,000 on a game you're probably not going to make your money back" unless the title is a significant hit.