There's no doubt that the iPhone is one of the most talked about platforms in game development today. While there is a lot of great information available for developers looking to get into iPhone development, there is also lots of misconceptions and misinformation that can be difficult to filter out for anyone not actively engaged in the process of developing for the platform.
This article, originally presented as a lecture at the recent IGDA Leadership Forum, will cover the overall process of developing an iPhone game from start to App Store and beyond. The goal is to separate facts from myths and give developers an accurate idea of what to expect.
Overall, iPhone projects follow a fairly similar process to that of most console games: start with an idea, go into development, perform some final testing, then submit to cert, launch, and then follow up with ongoing marketing. Developers who approach their titles anticipating each of these steps will be the ones that have the most success and least frustration with the process.
There are a couple points in this process that are fairly unique to iPhone development. If this is your first iPhone game, then there is a crucial business and legal step to go through before completing development. The submission process is also a little bit unique, and finally marketing is perhaps the single most important aspect of having a successful launch.
Assuming this is your first iPhone game, then the first step in the process is getting accepted to the iPhone Developer Program. You will want to sign up for the Standard $99/year program, not the Enterprise program.
The important thing to realize here is that whoever applies to the iPhone Developer Program will automatically becomes the Team Agent, once accepted. While accounts can have Admins which can do almost anything, the Team Agent is the only person who can approve contracts with Apple, and it is the only account that can generate Promo Codes for released apps. It is possible to change your Team Agent, but it is a manual process that you need to contact Apple to do, so it is much easier to start with the proper person from the beginning.
Once you complete the application, Apple will take some time reviewing your application before accepting it. This process is likely just a few days now, though in the summer of 2008 it could take weeks or even months to get approved. You can start developing your iPhone game before you are approved. You will just be limited to only being able to test against the software simulator and will not be able to deploy and test against actual hardware until your application to the developer program has been approved.
As soon as you are approved for the dev program, the Team Agent should log in to iTunes Connect to ensure that all contracts and bank account information is set up. The default contract only allows developers to submit free apps to the App Store. If you plan to charge money to purchase your apps, you will need to have the Team Agent approve the Paid Applications contract.
At the same time, you should also make sure the bank account and tax information in iTunes Connect is completely filled out. Your paid app will not be able to be released until all of this is completed properly; it is much better to do it early so this doesn't become the reason your launch is delayed.
Also pay attention to specific tax treaty information on iTunes Connect, and be sure to complete any additional forms that may be necessary depending on your location.