Friday, April 6, 2012

My hobbyist game made me no money on app store

Every few months, there is a post along these lines.
I made a game and nobody bought it
I made a great app and nobody paid my £5 asking price.
Sometimes these "made no money" posts are used in a warfare sense to attack a rival app store. There are at least three app stores, and they have their followers.

Pricing is everything - this is a business after all:

Pricing is everything. If it is a buyers market (Android and Iphone are now certainly stacked that way) then price low, ADVERTISE*, and aim for bulk.

Advertise and Engage:

First timers forget this is a business$, and that means spending time thinking about price sensitivity AND using Marketing strategies.

A simple listing in an app store is not going to get you to the customer on it's own.

*by Advertise I do not mean spam the crap out of everyone, I mean spend some money and do it properly, you know like the folks you expect to spend on your product are expected to do.

All app creators are not necessarily good in business:

Build Game + No advertising / sales strategy is fine if you intend the thing as a hobby, rather than a business venture.

"I listed it on the app store" is not a sales strategy.

That was probably okay for the first 10,000 app creators but it just will not work today.

The 70p test: 

I'm sticking my neck out here a bit, but here goes. Is your game / app priced at more than 70p?

Well it better be some or all of the following:
  • Extremely original and difficult for a competitor to clone/copy quickly
  • delivered by time machine into the year 2010
  • Part of a suite which makes it more valuable / benefits from cross selling
  • Reliable, with great reviews, written by a known developer group/company that has great reputation.  
But at 70p a pop I make no money? Well at that price, you shift 10,000 units and receive £4,900 after the 30% app store tithe is taken off.

If you need more than £5,000 return, then you need to shift more units - say 15,000 or 20,000 by using better advertising / reach.

Market Research:

$You didn't do any? Well it probably is not a business, but a hobby instead.

Be honest, did you are a colleague at least count the entries on an app store that might be doing something similar already?

In the case of Games, there are hundreds of competitors already.

Made a great shoot em up? Treat it as a hobby and give it away as free and open source, taking some pride in the great software you created.


Go see the bank, borrow what you need for a solid advertising and social media strategy (£700?) and set that aside so it is not used for buying coffee and pizza.

Distribution and Independent Game Developers:

There is a project called Humble Bundle.

Rather than go explain the difficulties Independent game developers face in finding their market, I should just ask the question...

Why does Humble Bundle exist and what does it do?

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