Game Development Reference
Or to put Ryu's advice another way: Think WWJD—What Would Jobs Do?
“If you've invested heavily into novel gameplay or an innovative concept,” as Impending Studios' Ryu puts
it, “you have incentive to keep the development secret, both to protect the ideas from being stolen but also be-
cause you can generally depend on more buzz and general interest when you do reveal it. It's really the Apple
playbook and it works if you're onto something genuinely new and great.”
Follow the App Submission Guidelines Carefully!
Although this point may seem like common sense, enough developers complain about Apple's app submission
process to point it out: Read the App Store guidelines and adhere to them carefully.
“Compared to other distribution channels and publishers,” says Tiger Style's Smith, “Apple has few
guidelines, but it's very important to follow them. Follow the rules about search tags, mature content, rating
your app, and so forth, and you should have no problem. If you mess up, you'll have to resubmit, which essen-
tially starts the process over from the beginning.”
Go After New and Existing Players with Carefully
As good as your game is, the app market is so large, and the competition for attention so fierce, you'll probably
want to launch an advertising campaign to increase downloads. Apsalar's Oiknine recommends a highly tar-
geted and carefully managed campaign.
Remember, revenue is not the same as downloads, and lots of downloads do not always translate into lots of in-app payments.
Successful developers often create different links to different kinds of campaigns (emphasizing different fea-
tures and artwork in the game, for example) so they can test to see which kind of ad works best, thus bringing
in the most revenue.
Then you can optimize your acquisition costs in relation to the lifetime value of your targeted players. This
is especially important for indie developers, for as Oiknine puts it, “You have less money to waste than a [giant
mobile game publisher like] DeNA”.
Oiknine brings up another point related to advertising: It costs less to retain existing users than to acquire
new ones. In other words, find the folks who've already installed your game (especially if they've made in-app
payments in it) and try to entice them back. Segment out your whales, as opposed to highly engaged users who
didn't monetize, and go after the former.
Oiknine recommends an ad campaign that's triggered by a period of inactivity, such as a week, and sends
lapsed players in-app virtual goods offers and other special deals. These kinds of campaigns can be costly over
the weekends, when the big publishers are advertising their own iOS games like crazy, but Oiknine says it's
typical that a re-engagement campaign directed at existing whales can bring back 10-30 percent of them. “Even
bringing back 10 percent of these guys could have a huge impact on your bottom line,” he says.