The poet T-Pain once said: “Got money, and you know it, take it out your pocket and show it.”
While Pain was certainly referring to a roll of cash, little did he know that he also had created the perfect metaphor for the viral, word-of-mouth buzz that drives iPhone app sales.
In a recent story on the FinancialTimes.com tech writer Chris Nuttall explored some of the reasons for the resounding success of Pocket God on the iPhone. With sales now well over 1.2 million units, Pocket God is a true blockbuster hit on the nascent platform.
Nuttall points to several factors for the app’s success including its charm, originality, ease of play, low price point, and frequent updates. From the moment it was released the developer, Bolt Creative, engaged in their own grassroots promotion and community building by maintaining an active and responsive presence on iPhone gaming sites and forums.
Many of these factors and promotional tactics are replicable but the most unpredictable and uncontrollable factor is the reception by users.
Something organic took place which no doubt contributed to Pocket God’s success. Fans made themselves known by posting fan videos on YouTube. Mothers fueled their children’s fandom by manufacturing stuffed animals of the game’s lovable characters. The developers engaged themselves with fans and listened to feedback from users.
All of these things had to take place for Pocket God to move units the way it has but perhaps the most important factor driving the app’s success was its “show-me-off” appeal. The simple ability to pull your iPhone out of your pocket and show a friend this cute little app that encourages short bursts of play and exploration.
Pocket God overlord Dave Castelnuovo said it best: “What we stumbled upon is a game that’s really easy to pull out and show your friends and say ‘Check it out, it’s funny!’ and if they have an iPhone they can get it right there. Whereas games that are more immersive, they’re harder to show off.”
While console and PC games have consistently evolved to one-up each other in terms of immersion and putting you “in the game”, perhaps the best iPhone game makes you look around for people to share the experience with.