How to succeed in the Appstore?

Discussion in 'Game Marketing' started by Christoph, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Christoph

    Christoph Miniboss Boxer

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    I know this is something that shouldn't be asked and hope I don't break any taboos in a bad way. But since I'm new to the game industry I want to know everything related to it. I also hope that with the help from one indie developer to the other we can have more success as individuals.

    The question that bothers me for some time now:
    How can we succeed in the Appstore and get the most downloads possible?

    Buildbox Games already released 3 games and none could make it to a feature in the US. The download stats are about 1,000-10,000 for each game for which I think Shadows is the one with the most downloads (more than 150,000). It was also the most featured (mostly in Latin America). The success of Shadows didn't seem to impact the downloads for the new game Dot Lines even though it is cross promoted in the other games. What is happening?

    Almost Impossible has a little more than 5,000 downloads. Since it is paid, at least there is a certain income, but no feature either. Other games like Makibot, Survival or even the new Bouncy Bit Go have only several hundreds downloads. After several weeks or month of work, this seems to be absolute failure, at least economically speaking.

    The only games with success seem to be the ones published by Ketchapp (over 1,000,000 downloads, some even more than 5,000,000). Appsolute Games seem to have less success with 500,000 to 1,000,000 downloads.

    I strongly believe that several Buildbox games are very good games and some others are not. But for example Bouncy Bit Go, Darthy or Dot Lines should have definitely much more downloads the first days as they have of right now. Is this simply the cruel reality? What can or should we do better to have more success? I can't believe the results and if this will happen to me, I for sure will not be able to survive in this industry.

    There are two conclusions I think can be made:
    1. If there is no featuring or big publisher, then there are no downloads. It seems people will simply not know about your game, independently how good it is.
    2. If there are no downloads, it is better to go with a fixed price rather than with the freemium model. As seen with Almost Impossible, there is at least a real income.

    Please share your thoughts.
     
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  2. Newee

    Newee Boxer

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    I totally do agree with you.

    But I do believe without trying, you will NOT success. Let's say you publish a game by yourself, and it hits the top of the Appstore, you definately will earn a lot of money. But how often does this happen? Not very often, as you've said. Therefore it might be a good idea to have a publisher.
    You simply don't have to pay to publish it to the Appstore or other platforms, and you split the income 50/50 with the publisher if I'm not wrong. Don't hesitate correcting me. Wouldn't this be a better option? You get more downloads. The more downloads you get, the higher the chances are for getting more income. So in my opinion, publishing a game with a publisher has a better chance of succeeding.
     
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  3. David D

    David D Boxer

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    I think most everyone who is "newer" here has the same questions. I'm curiously waiting for @dan_counsell (Almost Impossible) to post his results on his blog. But I agree with some of your analysis. Getting featured and signed with a publisher are obviously the golden eggs.
     
  4. sysads

    sysads Serious Boxer

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    As for Ketchapp, they made theirs while the industry was still young and NOT saturated with RESKINS. So they built a customer base which is what they are enjoying from NOW.

    BBox is just starting and would need time to build a good customer base and this can ONLY happen with more games been published.

    So it's like Lottery, if games already published by BBox aren't getting the downloads you are looking for, who knows MAYBE its your OWN game that might take BBox to the next level.

    @buildbox Team, although some games may not be as good or eye catching as they once you already published, but who knows maybe its the less graphics looking once that might JUST make people go crazy :D, so give them a try.
     
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  5. Newee

    Newee Boxer

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    Very well statement.
     
  6. Christoph

    Christoph Miniboss Boxer

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    I don't think we can work weeks or months just to have luck. If it would be like that I rather play the Lottery. There must be another strategy. I mean, I agree, if you want to be the next flappy bird then yes, it's like lottery. But there is also the other part: business. We work to eat. Right? Or do you guys do this just for fun?
     
  7. Newee

    Newee Boxer

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    I agree with you aswell. I think creating something unique and new would do it. But remember, there's also the advertisement part.
     
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  8. Andy

    Andy Miniboss Boxer

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    Everything in life is "luck". Your "luck" will turn, if you work hard, do not give up and you enjoy what you are doing.
     
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  9. Christoph

    Christoph Miniboss Boxer

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    I completely agree. But this is not always the case. I'm pretty positive Collin Wade Thiessen worked hard, didn't give up and enjoyed most of the time with his project Darthy. And we all know it wasn't the success we all hoped it would be. It seems the game industry is after all a Lottery like sysads said. Crazy if you think about.
     
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  10. Newee

    Newee Boxer

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    Well it sort of is a "Lottery". You work hard on a game. You publish it. It either goes bad or good. This is a repeating process. You have to keep on working, publishing and hopefully one day your game will be the top game in the app stores :)

    All the time you've spent working hard will eventually pay off.
     
  11. Christoph

    Christoph Miniboss Boxer

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    That's what I see more and more. Quantity goes over quality. You have to keep publishing (and obviously you also get better at it). But the thing is to create more and more instead to concentrate the energy in only one game. The speech I posted here is maybe a little similar in this regard: https://www.buildbox.com/forum/index.php?threads/dont-give-up.709/ I have to hear it again... :)
     
  12. Andy

    Andy Miniboss Boxer

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    My point is don't give up after one game. Most indies (and companies) might make a dozen games before they figure out what it takes to have a "hit". There are successful people in this forum who made dozens of games before they had their "hit". And they are still pushing and working hard to have even more success. This is why you have to love doing this.
     
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  13. sysads

    sysads Serious Boxer

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    Its not just about we as Indie developers depending on publishers to make our dreams come through, its also about what we put in place to make us (WE) our own publisher.

    Just like what @Newee said, advertisement also plays a major role in game success (also luck matters here since we have BIG players already).

    So the question is:
    - Without a publisher, what other methods or plans are you putting in place to help promote your game?

    This is my own strategy and hence reason why I have not been able to complete my game(s) on time:

    - I have a blog website I decided to spend time on to help build MY OWN customer base. At first I did not put any efforts into it due to my day job but about a month ago, it struck me that if I build a good customer base via my blog page, I could take advantage of it by advertising my games there.

    - I have just paid someone to help design a flyer for 2 of my existing games made with Corona SDK and I plan to print over 5K copies (£100), pay some people to put the games in houses or just distribute it. This I believe can help spread the word :D

    There maybe more options but we have to start from somewhere to get there.
     
  14. wesam_badr

    wesam_badr Miniboss Boxer

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    I agree with all of you, luck play a big role to have success especially in playstore and not all of us can get a publisher or good publisher like ketchapp to get good result but the big question is what can make your game get featured in the apple app store.
    As for the playstore if you see the games that has been featured in the apple app store has 0-100 download in the playstore so i think if you want to have success in it you need to sharpen your marketing skill or paying for ads

    In conclusion if you will not get a publisher you need to have a good game to start with publish it in different platforms and you need to know what make a game succeed in each one

    - Playstore / amazon ---> good keyword - internet marketing - paying for downloads by ads some people had a great success with facebook ads
    - Apple app store ---> like the play store + you need to work to get featured
     
  15. Machine Rises

    Machine Rises Moderator

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    How do you guys think people accomplish great things? You have to work hard. Getting to the top of Mount Everest doesn't take one step; it takes lots of preparation, will power, and focus. Leonardo didn't carve David in one stroke of his hammer and chisel, one doesn't become a concert pianist with a handful of lessons. You don't make a successful app with out a lot of hard work as well. Guess what? You most likely won't have the success you desire right away. It takes not only hard work but a lot of FAILURE. My first game I ever launched "Baby Three Horn's Great Escape" was a huge flop. I spend over 6 months on it as well as over $2500 for programming and art. I made nothing. I failed. But what makes the difference is how you deal with that failure.

    Are you going to be most who just complain about it or are you going to be one of the few who DO SOMETHING about it? I've been trying to make this my full time business for 2.5 years. I've had hundreds of moments where I failed along the way. But as much as I failed and as frustrated as I felt... I kept at it. You need to learn from your failures. Pick yourself up, wipe the dust off and try again. Fail 1,000 times, fail 10,000 times. If you don't fail until you succeed then you never will. If you really want to know how to make it on the appstore then go and find out. Contact succesful developers, publishers, reporters, blog sites, forums, etc. Pick their brains. See if they will talk with you or offer advice. Only by doing your research, meeting new people who have hard won information, and your own sweat and tears will you set yourself up for success. By saying that things suck you've just created your own reality. You are the only one in charge of how you think.

    Don't forget everything starts in your own mind. Life is great or life sucks all depending on how you think. Trust me I've had many times where I thought things were pretty sucky; anything I say I say out of my own past experiences. So keep failing guys because that means your on your way to success. And if it takes me another 2.5 years or more before I'm successful in what success means to me then so be it. But in the mean time I know my passion for this drives me. I don't know about you but I'm always learning and meeting new people in every area of the app world and beyond. If you are doing this alone you'd better change that. You think Spielberg could make ET on his own? He needed an army. You may not need an army to make an app successful but you do need a team. App development on its own is only one small piece. How much do you guys personally know about marketing, branding, advertising?

    Do you have time to become an expert in all of those? If you don't have the time like myself, then you had better find the people who are the experts. But if they're going to work with you then you had better have an A+ title. How can you be sure you have one though? Well you need to make a lot of mediocre games before you make an A+ title. Also if you do get a publishing deal that doesnt mean you have the best game in the world. You still may have made a game that people just aren't that into. So learn from that and make another one. How do you know if you game is something people would like? Best advice I can give is ask people for their honest opinions. Ask everyone. You'll get enough feedback that it should help you get a clear picture of what you have. Don't fall in love with your ideas though because you'll be like a blind parent praising their problem child. Here are a few questions you can ask of your self and others about your game. These are all my own opinions.

    1. Is my theme universal? Is my theme clear?
    2. Is my art work excellent or mediocre?
    3. Is the game easy to understand and play?
    4. Is the game challenging enough but not too hard?
    5. Does the game have replay value?

    There are many more questions to ask but you get the point. I personally have a game coming out in a few weeks that I feel answers all of these questions and a lot more all with positive results. It took me 2 years to get to a point to where my intuition with games was developed to a point to where I felt I had a good sense of a lot of elements that make a hit game. Now it's just a waiting game as it launches in a few weeks. If it doesn't do as well as I believe it will then I will learn from this launch and move ahead. Always move ahead guys because that goal of yours is just over the hill. Keep up the hard work, adapt, learn, research, build, eat, and sleep. In the midst of all that work on yourselves too. The more interesting of a person you become, the more interesting games you'll make. Be sure to get out of your house and do something that has nothing to do with games. Take a salsa class, learn a magic trick, take a trip somewhere new, read a book. Put your thoughts into things like that instead of negative thoughts. You'll have powerful positive results much quicker trust me.
     
  16. Simon Crack

    Simon Crack Avid Boxer

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    ^ Machine sums it up pretty well!

    Some games will be hits others will miss (it hurts at first then you get over it) then you start to get a feel after a while which ones are potential winners - it’s a numbers game - so go hard or go home ;-). Don’t spend months on a game (unless you have the luxury and can afford to) - this is business right - work out how to ramp up production (keeping cost as low as possible but quality as HIGH as possible). So you can crank out multiple games in a month. BuildBox makes it pretty easy to create super simple, fun games fast.

    Try multiple publishers and ways of promoting your games.

    Push, push and push some more, work your ass off, think out side the (Build)Box - try and break BuildBox with something it’s not supposed to do (BB Support love that ha ha ;-) - you never know what you might come up with - maybe a unique gameplay idea - It will happen for you. You can’t fail if you don’t stop.

    Above all you have really got to love/enjoy this business and have a passion for it to keep pushing.

    I’ve been at it for 4+ years - released 200 apps - only this year did I manage to get two top 10 games in the US app store - both were BuildBox Games…
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
  17. Machine Rises

    Machine Rises Moderator

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    Nice @Simon Crack ! See guys here's a great example of wise information from someone who has worked hard to get it. I learned a few things from Simon's post too. When people see someone who does something really well, we get inspired and want it too. But then we find out how much work it actually is and realize we don't really want it that much. Do you want to be an app developer? Do you really want it? You should figure this out; think long and hard about it. If it is something you want to do, then you had better roll those sleeves up and start building. The passion WILL drive you through any failures, pitfalls, or mistakes along the way. No matter what happens that passion will be there to get you through it. Then dozens of apps later, maybe a few hundred, you'll start to make some major headway. Nothing great in this world comes with out hard work. Remember you have a tool that allows you to make something that used to take years to do; in that I mean it takes years to get decent programming skills down. I for one have never written a line of code and I don't ever plan to. Yet here I am using a tool that lets me make games that can be on people's phones around the world. Since the programming has been taken out of the picture you have a lot more time to learn color theory, game theory, learn about graphics, and anything else that will help. The hard way is the easy way. You are all creative artists. If yo udon't think of yourself as one you should change that. But you must first believe in yourself before you will generate results that you want. Your actions are always in line with your thinking. Did you know that Picasso didn't decide to become an artist until his late 20s? He spent many years with out showing any discernable talent. But he believed he was an artist and his actions of daily work and study made him into the artist we all know him as now. Use your time wisely and you will start to see results before you know it. Always be a curious student till the day you die.
     
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  18. Simon Crack

    Simon Crack Avid Boxer

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    Angry Birds was Rovios 47th app before they hit it big. Maybe your hit will be your first couple (Flappy Bird) maybe it will be your 1000th. Lottery? No - persistence. Or what the gurus call 'Grit' :)
     
  19. Andy

    Andy Miniboss Boxer

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    Word!
     
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  20. Christoph

    Christoph Miniboss Boxer

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    I agree with all what you said and am learning from your knowledge. Thanks for sharing. In no way I'm trying to spread negative energy. Still, one thing is the big bang we are all talking about, like Angry Bird, Flappy Bird or Crossy Roads. But from 1 to 1000 with an average of 1 month of work (give or take) we are talking about years of work. During this time a normal person has to have an income to pay the bills. Not only from the business like rent, software, hardware etc. but also from real life: family, food, rent, freetime, etc.. No business stands on its own feet without a steady income. For sure, there are some rich people in the industry, but normal guys like us (me) do need to have an income. So how do you guys survive? There is no way I could invest more than half a year to see if I get lucky. And at this point, if there is no income to survive, I simply could NOT persist and would have to look somewhere else.
     

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