Games

What is going on with the App Store rankings lately? – updated

Posted by admin on February 08, 2014
Apps, Development, Games / No Comments

The first shock was the crappy Flappy Bird game. Unimaginative, repetitive, with “borrowed” graphic concepts and not fun at all. Some people were driven to insanity just by playing. And nobody really liked it.

But it reached #1 in the US App Store almost overnight. “What? How?” I hear you ask, crying a little inside for all the countless nights you spent perfecting you awesome mobile game, and never reaching 100 downloads in the process. And to add insult to injury, the guy announced that he is making $50K. A day. From ad revenue. I mean, wtf.

And then there was another, this time even worse. As reported in Pocket Gamer, a game called Red Bouncing Ball Spikes practically leaped to #1 overnight. And what’s worse is that the “developer” didn’t even make the game, the game is just a template for  GaleSalad, which you get for $10. Sounds like a good deal right?

But the fun doesn’t seem to stop. Following the story, I see other crappy little games (Ironpants, Super Ball Juglling [yes, “juglling” or so it says on the screenshot and it’s from the same developer that launched flappy bird], , jumping to #1, all of them overnight. What gives?

Doing a little research quickly resulted in the method they used. Quite simple really. It seems that there are a couple of shady companies that do the following: As a developer, you cough up an amount (let’s say $5000) which they partly(they do keep a share of course) use to buy your game in mass using fake bot accounts.  70% of that goes back to you, so you end up paying something like $2K-$3K to get to #1 in the App Store. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such cheap promotion before.

Haven’t found the name of the companies, but I really hope Apple finds a way to stop this and deny payment to these developers, because this is as big a scam as they come. Many many people are trying to make a living through this, juggling with design, development, marketing, networking day in-day out (myself included) only to see their rankings and downloads rise oh-so-slowly and this really makes me angry.

Update:

There are more! Apart from Flappy Bird and Super Ball Juggling, developer nguyen has Shuriken Block. Now, take a look at these ranking changes and tell me if you think they are legit. All of then. AT THE SAME TIME. Remember, the games have been in the App Store for 6 months, and the developer has admitted that he has done zero promotion work for them. Now do the math.

flappy shuriken superball

 

Taking a little break

Posted by admin on December 20, 2013
Development, Games, iOS / No Comments

I’ve been building my latest MonsterUp game for a few months now. The game has been accepted as part of the AppCademy program from Nokia and Microsoft and will be included in there when it’s done and passes all the necessary certification. Very happy and proud about that, but this is not what this post is about at all:)

The MonsterUp new game is being built using Unity and I’ve been learning a lot about the engine and tools while doing that. This does mean that I had to refactor a few things a few times already, but at some point I wondered what it would be like to make something new with all the things I’ve learned so far. So, I’ve decided to take a little break for a week or so from building the MonsterUp game and make something else completely.

The new game would have something to do with physics and maybe sports, so I chose to do a small archery game. The game set out to be an archery competition game with obstacles and moving targets set in different locations. And it also needed a cool name, where my friend Paddy helped. So the final name of the game is Daryl, from the Walking Dead character of course:)

I built the game using Unity in about one week, including integration with iOS stuff like Facebook and Twitter sharing, GameCenter achievements and leaderboards as well as Everyplay integration for sharing gameplay replays to social networks and youtube. Yes, Unity is awesome and the ecosystem is very well formed allowing all sort of nice things. The game features 5 different themes, Countryside, Beach, Old Castle, Rainy Forest and Snow Mountains. The game will be released shortly for iPhones, iPods and iPads (in both landscape and portrait mode) for free including the first of 5 themes. The rest are available for purchase as a single IAP inside the game. I also added some consumable bonues items that make shots less tricky, since they help with the shaky hands of the archer, the wind that affects the trajectory of the arrows and allow undoing some, ehm, unfortunate shots. None of these is essential in enjoying the game for free, but they add to the experience.

So there you have it, a free game for iOS made in a week using Unity that looks damn good, plays great and is fun! When the game is released, it will be available here.

 

MonsterUp Adventures for Android released

Posted by admin on July 13, 2013
Android, Development, Games / No Comments

I love MonsterUp Adventures. It’s my favourite game:) When I started designing it, I tried to take everything that was great with the original MonsterUp and make it better in small or bigger ways. The result game had it all! A purpose to all this jumping (there are levels to pass and you have to collect specific number of gems to do so – not to mention stay alive long enough), there is a small story (Skotooooooooooooooooos), the animation has double the fidelity (twice the frames actually) and the graphics are much much more awesome overall (thank you Ilias, you are awesome), there is original music (thank you Marietta, you are awesome), boss battles, an animated game map, multiple game saves, mini games and so much more!

android_table

The game has been an exclusive for Windows Phone until today. Today, I have released the game for Android phones for free. So go ahead, download and enjoy this awesome game, it won’t cost a thing. Go to Trelloland, find the Skotos minions and defeat them, it’s awesome fun, I promise you!

GalaxyS4 Nexus4

The iOS App Store – Ups and Downs

Posted by admin on July 13, 2013
Development, Games, General, iOS / No Comments

I was asked the other day to contribute to an article by 148Apps.com about my angle on the Apple App Store. The App Store has recently turned 5 years old, and it was where it all started for indie developers on mobile. Myself, I have not been on the App Store from the beginning, but opted to focus more on the Windows Phone Marketplace, which I never regretted as I have said in previous blogs. This does not mean that I have not published on other marketplaces and that I don’t have an opinion about them of course:)

You can read my thoughts, along with fellow developers thoughts about the App Store by heading to the 148Apps article page and reading the article itself, titled “App Store Fifth Anniversary: The Ups and Downs of iOS Publishing”.

appstore5over-wide

So is Windows Phone 8 here yet?

Posted by admin on June 13, 2013
Development, Games, Windows Phone / No Comments

According to a recent AdDuplex blog post, Windows Phone 8 is being used by more than 50% of the current Windows Phone 8. This is really interesting news, since Windows Phone 8 is a relatively new version and it caught up rather quickly. This means that the Windows Phone market share is rapidly expanding, now more than ever. In the US, the numbers are even more interesting since Windows Phone 8 users account for 70% of all Windows Phone users, but this actually means that not many people were considering Windows Phone before the awesome Lumia 920. But how do these numbers look from an everyday Windows Phone developer, like, say, me ?

In my case, WP8 looks much smaller than this. For the past month, only about 20% of my users for MonsterUp Adventures were using Windows Phone 8.

MayJune2013MUA

May 13-June 13 2013 – MonsterUp Adventures WP OS

The month before that, the number was about 16%. For the original MonsterUp the numbers are pretty similar, with 18.4% and 10% respectively.

MayJune2013MU

May 13-June 13 2013 – MonsterUp WP OS

So what can I understand from these numbers? For starters, Windows Phone 8 is a much bigger success and is working much better than Windows Phone 7.x when it comes to customer acquisition. The other thing of course is that people who used to play my games, still love them and still play them :)