I recently bought The App Store Playbook, written by Shane Lee, because Hunters was highlighted and it’s one of my favorite iPad games. Fortunately for me, the other 9 interviews were all solid, and I came away with some good indie game dev tips that I thought I’d share.
As an American and English-speaking developer, I expect to make the most of my revenue from the United States. I do plan on soft launching in Canada or New Zealand, but I had no plans of even thinking about multi lingual versions of my game. I’m going to reconsider that after reading the interview with the creator of Squids.
Having the game localized in French and German definitely helped sales a lot. 45 percent of our revenues come from non-English speaking countries. Currently, our sales in China, France, Russia, Germany, Italy, and Korea are doing pretty well.
Freemium as Marketing
Many of the interviewees didn’t really like the freemium and iAP monetization strategy, but I think Hunters had a great strategy that utilized the power of freemium while avoiding the feeling of sleeze. According to Ben Murch,
Hunters started off as being a free-to-play game. We provided the first two levels for free and, if players wanted to progress further than level 2, they bought the game.
He then went on to say that the free version of Hunters was downloaded over 500,000 times and 4% of those people purchased the game. They did eventually switch to a paid only model, but Ben believes their freemium strategy was an important factor to their success.
Support Multiple Devices
It’s tempting to develop an iPad only game because you’re able to make bigger and better games that are sold to less price sensitive customers, but doing so may severely cut into your profits. Ben Murch said that while he would love to develop for iPad only,
We make a lot more money from iPhone sales, simply because there are more of them. If we’d only sold Hunters on the iPad, we probably wouldn’t have made enough money to keep going.
Success Takes Time
I know we’ve all heard this one before, but just reading these interviews really drove home the point that success takes time. Every interviewee spent years as either an indie or working for the man in a big name studio before achieving any level of success. Not surprisingly, the least successful interviewee happened to also be the least experienced video game developer. It was also pretty cool to read the interview with Rami Ismail, who almost quit game development, right before the huge success of Ridiculous fishing. Talk about a fine line between success and failure.