Saturday, July 5, 2014

App Development is Not a Zero Sum Game

Here is what I believe is how the market functions.

There are downloads coming in for us developers everyday. Potential downloads at worst. Grab them!

Many new devices are purchased daily. Many new comers and new users on the mobile world. Many new kids that have grown up enough to have their own devices. (Yeah, thank their parents! :D )

There is no way that just because I got 3 downloads today, that would mean that you lose out on 3 downloads. It just doesn't work that way. The same 3 downloads are most likely to generate 9 more downloads of other apps as users further explore the application stores.

So I say, go get your apps out there. App development is not a zero sum game. The more you put out there, the more your chance of getting downloads. The bigger your pie slice gets.

And yeah, you get luckier too the more you do it.

Just avoid the spammy stuff will ya?

To the small indie app developers out there... I salute you!
-Bill


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Simplicity - a lesson we can learn from Flappy Bird

Flappy bird flapped onto the scene and left. In it's wake, there is a tremendous lesson to be learnt.

Simplicity simply rocks!

Yes, there are tonnes of other lessons to be learnt too, but lets focus on this one point today.

It's the mantra that got Steve Jobs and Apple to great heights. It's what rocks Google at it's core. And it should be applied to your apps and games too.

Dong Nguyen (the developer of Flappy Bird) is coming up with his next "big thing", and he says that his new game will be "maintaining the simplicity of the gameplay that Flappy Bird has".

If I can give an advice today, it is make one tap games. Avoid all those level ups and stuff. Add simple social sharing features of your highscore (along with a download link to your app.. beware the clones!).

While simplicity can be abused (fart apps anyone?), using it in a gameplay or apps in a smart way really helps your app to get out to a bigger audience.

There are many more un-hardcore gamers and users out there than there are hardcore (I know, I've counted). And to reach these simple users, which provide a greater market portion, simplicity is the word of the day.

On the other hand, from the developer's perspective, simplicity will mean that you spend a lot less time on the app, and thus if it fails to fly off, you're still allright. And you can spend more time on marketing, ad placement optimisation or preferably developing even more simple games and apps.

So, stay simple!

Cheers!
-Bill

Misleading ads - The dirty games of the mobile advertising world

So, the ASA have come down on EA and decided that the ads that EA has put out for Dungeon Keeper have been misleading.

And, while I think it isn't that big a deal (Hey! if you don't wanna spend money on apps, just don't, YOU have the option), it only highlights the tip of the iceberg of what is actually happening in the advertising world, especially the mobile advertising world.

I've highlighted before of AppFlood and their misleading ads. And as it happens, I've had countless encounters with other ad networks too doing similar stuff. And honestly, this is a whole lot worse.

What EA did was more like they failed to highlight the other "features" of their game in the ad, such as there is IAP (I believe Google now requires this info to be added in your app's description).

But what some ad networks are doing are a whole lot worse. Click an ad, and you're brought to a totaly different app to download. Some networks auto download apps off from a website, often a good source for a trojan to get into the device installing it.

I wonder if the ASA or any other authority would look further into these stuff. Well, we developers are gonna be screwed for sure when this happens.

I really hope ad networks would start looking into this as we are really your partners, and there are many clean ways to achieve it with a win-win for all parties.

Have a great day!
-Bill

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The best time to NOT publish your apps and games

If you had asked me when was the best time to publish an app or game about a year ago, I would say to publish it in a related season or event.

But now, things have changed. Quite drastically in fact.

Seasons and events are a good source to get some eyeballs to your apps, but it also means competition is high. Terribly high in certain cases.

Look at this "mistake" I made recently.

I published a football game in conjunction with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil ( go Germany! ).

A day later, I decided to check out where my app is starting off in the top new sports game category. And I got the biggest shock of my android life so far!

The top new sports category had basically been transformed into the top new football games category! It was over flowing with football games!!!

AARRRGH! I really should have checked this category out before publishing.

Well, lesson learnt the hard way. It will be very tough to go up the ranks in this category, even if you did, with so many options, it will be hard to be outstanding here.

Remember, the first 30 days in the market is very important to get initial downloads and to get a good momentum going once the 30 days are over.

So, what are my next steps here? Well, I moved the game to another suitable category, doing some cross promo for it, and hope it will rise up there.

Let's see how it goes.

Lessons learnt:

1 - watch out for market timing issues related to events. You might really be releasing something in the "wrong time".

2 - check out the top new category listing to ensure there is a good variety of apps there. Releasing any sports games now is gonna be a bad idea. Its football all the way!

Have fun folks! And may the best team (Germany of course!) win!



Monday, June 9, 2014

The State at the Top of the App Charts

Time to revive this blog!

Have you noticed the current top games and apps? The same games have been at the top of the charts since like forever! ( A year or so is forever in the mobile world).

Fiksu recently came out with a finding that the average advertising cost for app developers have gone up. It is more competitive and more expensive to get your apps discovered and downloaded.

The gap has widened quite a bit between the kings or rovios or supercells against the smaller devs.

In order to kill off competition, the top devs have been rather aggressive in dishing out money for ads, drowning other developers with smaller budget out. Well, you can do that when you have a billion dollars in your account.

So, here is the tough reality, advertising has grown expensive. If you're a small time dev, I'd suggest to hold off on spending that $200 on ads, it isn't gonna get you back much in terms of ROI. (Unless you get lucky of course).

Is it all doom and gloom for us then? Well, not quite. There are ways to get back to them. The playing ground is still open. How would you do that?

Well, that I will share in a coming blog post, at a cost of almost free. In the mean time, feel free to leave some ideas and opinions below.

For now, for all the small devs that are in the same boat as me, just get the games and apps out.

I love the saying "The harder I try, the luckier I get". I believe in that. You can too!

Have fun.
-Bill