jump to navigation

Creating A Hit IPhone Game September 26, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets.
Tags: , , ,
trackback

BURLINGAME, Calif. — David Whatley’s fast-paced action-strategy game “geoDefense Swarm” is the latest to top the iPhone App Store.

Priced at 99 cents, “Swarm,” which was released Sept. 14, is currently No. 1 in the Top Paid Apps Games genre, beating out “Madden NFL 10.” “Swarm” is also No. 3 in Top Paid Apps overall.

Whatley says the “ultimate secret” to getting to the top in the App Store is getting Apple ( AAPL news people ) to notice your product and promote it in categories like “What’s Hot” and “What We’re Playing.” This kind of attention drives tons of traffic to your app, he says. But it is near impossible to engage the infamously closed-off company directly, especially with many new titles coming through every day. Instead, he says, developers need to be able to successfully generate buzz around the blogosphere and on online message boards to pique Apple’s interest.

Whatley says PR firm TriplePoint was key to sparking interest in the original “geoDefense,” which was released last February, and now “Swarm.” “For an indie developer to be successful, you have to do more than write code. You have to figure out how to get the word out about your game,” says Whatley, who does game development in his spare time. His day job is president and chief executive of Simutronics, a company he co-founded over 20 years ago that creates game engine software for publishers like Electronic Arts ( ERTS news people ).

But what if an indie developer doesn’t have the budget to hire a PR firm? Whatley says getting one on board can require little or no money. Some firms, like TriplePoint, are willing to work out a revenue-share deal. He recommends searching for firms that specialize in iPhone apps. Once a firm gets to work promoting a game, it should pitch gaming journalists and help the developer come up with an overall strategy, including a price point.

“As a base, the 99-cent price point is really lucrative in terms of getting to the top of the list,” says Triple Point account executive Chris Heintz. “Then you can eventually bump that up, depending on the game’s success.”

So far Whatley and TriplePoint’s approach has worked. “Swarm” has been seeing tens of thousands of downloads per day since its release, on par with other successful indie games of the past that went on to make millions of dollars in sales. Not bad for a game that took the developer a few months of his off-work time to create.

To be sure, the new game has the advantage of the original’s success and installed base, but in a time when the number of iPhone apps continues to skyrocket, success is not guaranteed. The game’s popularity is even more amazing because conventional wisdom says that casual and social games do best on the iPhone, and “Swarm” is anything but. Even at easier settings it’s a challenge and has attracted a hardcore gamer crowd.

Looking at what Apple has done with the iPhone and App Store, Whatley sees this as a new “golden age” for indie developers. His advice to aspiring “lone wolf” developers in this new age it to keep it simple. “A lot of indie developers reach for a level of complexity in the product that drags out the development time, creates a lot of risk and increases the cost,” Whatley says. “You want to size your development effort to the task at hand. Make it as simple as possible, so that you can iterate and prototype and get feedback as quickly as possible.”

via Creating A Hit IPhone Game – Forbes.com.

Advertisements

Comments»

No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: