geoDefense Swarm…Swarming the App Store!

Wow, what a couple of days for David Whatley of Critical Thought Games.

Earlier this year, Whatley launched geoDefense, a retro-styled tower defense game for the iPhone. Due to its brilliantly challenging level design, unassailable game balance, and long-lasting gameplay, geoDefense established a dedicating following and achieved sleeper hit status. His follow-up, geoDefense Swarm, is anything but a sleeper:

As of 11 AM on Thursday the 17th – not three days since it launched – Swarm is sitting pretty at #7 in Top Paid Apps in the US App Store, and #4 in All Games. What does that look like in comparison to the original? Well, here’s a handy chart David just posted on his blog:

Both games are excellent – the early consensus seems to indicate that both Swarm and the original stand on their own as equally excellent titles. So what’s the difference?

It’s critical mass. Swarm had a tidal wave of well-deserved hype and anticipation that created a massive crowd of day-one customers: the engine behind Swarm‘s explosive out-of-the-gate showing.

The original geoDefense launched like most indie games: with little fanfare, few to no previews and a slow trickle of reviews. It was a phenomenal game – it achieved a very respectable level of success entirely on its own merits, and then really took off once a series of glowing reviews gave it a substantial bump.

Swarm, on the other hand, has a built-in audience of dedicated geoDefense fans ready to buy on day one – as long as they knew it was coming. Thanks to an extensive preview campaign, ongoing interaction with the community, and calculated launch publicity, those folks definitely knew it was coming!

This level of success in the App Store depends on hitting the sweet spot ‘above the fold’ – that is, in the Top Paid Apps list. Once you’re there, if you’ve developed a great game, you’re  golden. And while there’s no secret formula for getting there, it’s irrefutable that carrying out a deliberate publicity push surrounding your game’s launch – previews shortly before, and reviews immediately at launch – is one of the most important things you can do to prepare that critical mass of buyers to push you above the fold.

Congrats to David on an excellent launch, and an even more excellent game. Go buy it! iTunes Link

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