Sunday, December 28, 2014

Will 2015 see an Increase in the Role of the Mobile App Publisher?

We've all got that problem. We make a mobile app or a game, throw it out in the app store or market, and watch it drown to oblivion! Happens almost all the time.

While lots has been said about whether or not one needs a publisher for their mobile apps and games, times may just be shifting enough that the role of mobile app publishers gets a little more important.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What I learnt about the mobile apps business from McDonald's

McDonald's make great burgers (your preference may vary), IKEA make pretty cool furniture, BMW make awesome driving machines.

Do you get what's going on here?

Publishing apps business is delicious!



Over the years building and publishing mobile apps and games, I've noticed and experienced myself an important aspect that makes a successful mobile apps business.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Year that Was, the Year that Will Be!

As the year comes closer to the end, its perhaps time for reflections on what has happened, and what's to come.

Last year (2013) was a big roller coaster for me, ups and downs and loop-de-loops.

2014 was a surprisingly rather stable year. If anything, I feel I've grown better in many ways.

10 million downloads.. and counting!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mobile Advertising vs Other Medias

Advertising makes it possible to get many things at a free/almost free price tag.

Thus, the reason free mobile apps are often having ads in them. These ads "pay" for the users to get these apps and games.

Mobile advertising is BIG business. For example in a recent report by Glu, about 14% of their last quarter's $84m revenue was from in-app ads.

Best mobile ads implementation strategy

How ads best work for one app might not work for another. I've noticed though, that the revenue generated from ads is often related to how much ads are being shown in an app.

Forget eCPM. For those familiar with my blog will know I'm no fan of eCPM. In the end, what fills your bank account is not eCPM but the actual revenue that you get.

Right, this is a tricky situation here. You've worked and spent time and money on an app, surely you're looking at a return on your investments here.

What's worked great for me, besides ads on start-up, game ends and in between levels is an ad shown within gameplay.

Many users (and developers!!!) often complain about ads in game.

Showing more ads will most likely result in much negative reviews from users. Even big names such as Angry Birds get much negative reviews on ads.

Try Heyzap to implement a (skipable and/or rewarded) video ad.

But let's look at other advertising mediums in regards to this.

The Billboards

Driving from point A to point B, you come across many billboards on the road. Or in your train stations. Or at the bus stops.

The billboard did not wait for you to turn off your engine or complete your journeys before popping up.

The Newspaper & Magazines

Premium ads are shown on the front page. And ads are shown through out the paper ( and worse in a paid magazine, sometimes it feels like you've paid to get an advertising brochure huh? ).

The TV

This is a classic. The most effective ads are those shown during the movie. Once a movie is finished, I usually dont wait to watch ads.

Football, Formula 1 and other sporting events

Ads are shown throughout. On billboards beside the pitches, on TV timers, scrolling across the screen, at half times (super bowl ads anyone?), on players jerseys, on race cars.

Advertising is most effective when the user is there watching the ad. These "traditional" mediums have such implementations, I don't see why the fuss with mobile ads.

Hey, if its such a bother, a user can simply turn off their data connections before running the apps (try doing that with the other mediums). Or get the premium paid ones.

So let's stop complaining about ads, and realise that our real "customers" are not the users, but the advertising companies that pay us for space in our apps.

It works best when its a win-win for all parties. Users, well, they will be users.

Cheers!
Bill

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Of successful apps, and failures!

My last post on the cartoon mini golf game highlighted what I thought was my best game yet. Unfortunately, it was a total disaster in terms of getting downloads.

The mini golf game barely broke the 10k downloads mark at the end of the first 30 days.

Compare this against the football goalkeeper game which I did a case study on, it was really a disappointing achievement.

But that's the reality here. The mobile apps business is a real beast, and its really tough to tame it.

From what I've read, Supercell makes an estimated $1.3m from Clash of Clans daily. Their 2nd outing, Boom Beach makes about 10% of that ($130k daily). Guess, relatively speaking, Boom Beach isn't quite what they would call a success.

And really, what's there with Rovio besides Angry Birds (milked and reskinned to the max) ? It really looks like they are a 1-hit wonder (yes, yes, I know there are other games too, but they are no where near the pig killers).

The point is, I'm not picking on these great companies. If anything, I would love to achieve what they have. I'm just trying to highlight how this app space works.

One day you're flying high, and you decide to make it better the next round, and BANG! You're shot down. Its worse when its one of your better efforts, and when we are just a single developer with limited budget. There is NO guarantee that a better piece of work is gonna be more successful.

Since releasing the mini golf game, I've published a few more games. One is an infinite air race game (looks like its not even gonna break 2k downloads in 30 days).

Another is an infinite ski racing game, too early to tell how it would perform, but its not off to a good start.

And a couple of days ago, I published a cartoon themed football flick game ( where you flick footballs to a target in a cartoon setting world). This game started off pretty good from the looks of it. There is hope that this one might make it.

Will it repeat the performance of the goalkeeper game? I'm hoping it does, maybe even better than the other game. Hey, we can believe & hope!

So, if you've got a game that did not perform, or a disappointing app, dont feel down. It happens to all of us, even to the great masters.

The secret is, do you have what it takes to stay in the game long enough to see a difference being made?

Cheers! And success to all!
Bill

Monday, September 22, 2014

Download and Play the Best Mini Golf Game on Android!

Aloha!

I've just published a mini golf game on Google Play. It's basically the 2nd edition of my Cartoon Mini Golf Game series (the one released last year hit 1m downloads in less than 1.5 months, making it my first mega hit!).

cartoon mini golf games
Cartoon Mini Golf Games 2 set in cartoonish little islands


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Heyzap Basic4Android Library and Demo App

Due to popular demand (OK, OK, there were only 2 requests, but that sounds popular enough), here is the Basic4Android Heyzap library along with a demo app on how to use it.

Do sign up with Heyzap with this link if you haven't. They are running a trial for developer reference, and they're giving out to new developers a $10 bonus once you've hit 100k impressions (*T&C apply).

Sign up link.

IMPORTANT!! BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD AND USE THE LIBRARY!

Please note, Google now requires the advertising ID to be used when available on a device for all ad related stuff. Now, if the advertising id is not available on a device, you are allowed to use any other identifier, provided there is a privacy policy detailing this somewhere. I suggest you mention this in a simple privacy policy and link it in your Google Play app page.

Heyzap uses an intent approach to get the advertising id of a device, and falls back to non advertising id when it is not available. Therefore, you don't need to add the google play services thing in, but the privacy policy is a must.


Here is the download of Basic4Android:

Download

Do note, Heyzap mainly show game ads, thus it is more suitable for games or related apps.

Good luck! And I hope you'd feedback on their performance once you've hit the road with them.

Cheers!
Bill

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Publishing & Monetising a New Mobile App - Week 4

About a month ago, I published Football Games Goalkeeper 3D on Google Play. It is a football game where you control the hands of the goalkeeper to prevent the football from entering your goal (and cracking your screen).

The following is the final week performance in terms of downloads, ranking and monetisation of its first month alive on the Google Play Market.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Build Your Portfolio of Apps

I often get emails and messages from fellow developers about my experiences and stuff.

One common question that I've received often is "What my advice would be for a beginner app developer?".

Now, I'm no master or guru here, neither have I achieved much major achievement that I should be dishing out advices, but I do believe that I can share my experiences.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Publishing & Monetising a New Mobile App - Week 3

Towards end of July, I published a goalkeeper football game on Google Play. It was a totally new football game with a simple gameplay where you control the goalkeeper gloves to stop the football from going into your goal.

I decided to share how the downloads growth went, how it ranks, and most interestingly, how much money the game generates via in-app advertising.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Publishing & Monetising a New Mobile App - Week 2

Slightly over a couple of weeks ago I published a football goalkeeper 3D game on Google's Play Store. I am sharing the trials and tribulations (dramatic huh?) of publishing a new Android app, and what one can expect out of monetisation from it.

Here is the follow up to my live new Android app publishing and monetisation experience.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Publishing & Monetising a New Mobile App - one week on...

And the stats are in.

About a week ago, I released a football goalkeeper game on Android's Google Play.

I've decided to share how it performs, in terms of downloads, rankings and money generation, to show that it really is a wild wild ride out there!

Read on for the delicious details!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trying, again and again!

Note: this post is me promoting my new game to help it gain downloads, please do download it!

I released a football game during the world cup (Germany!! Hell yeah!!) only to find that I released it into a sea of a gazzillion other football games.

Looks like everyone and their grandma was in, wanting to make the most of the season.

I knew at that point, it was gonna be a disappointment, and indeed it was.

I always put a very high value at what's at stake for the first 30 days of an app's launch, and getting about 30k total downloads was indeed disappointing. (But Germany won, so that's something... and they won it with style! )

It did make some money, no doubt, but I believe soccer or football still owed me one more hit (had a previous game hit 3m downloads in the first 30 days!).

It also was an opportunity to gain valuable lesson in market research and timing. We gotta always look at the positive eh?

So here it is, a football game from the goalkeeper's point of view. Released about a day ago, and sitting pretty at #171 in new sports game category after about 24h.

Please do download it to help me gain some rankings. You guys rock!

And I think I will share fully how the game performs in terms of downloads, rankings as well as money generation, if there is any interest. It made a whopping $0.30 from day one with Heyzap!!

So, if you wanna know how it performs , or what I did / am doing to promote it, or how was that 3m downloads made back in March, or about the ad networks, do leave a comment, or drop me an email.

Remember to download the game and show some love!

Thank you for the support!

Download here.

Cheers!
Bill

PS... again.. thanks for the support :D

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