Bolt’s Pocket God Continues App Store Domination

More than a year after its initial launch, Pocket God continues to top the App Store charts with over two million copies sold. Bolt Creative’s Dave Castelnuovo and Allen Dye keep the craze, well, crazy, through clever content updates, community engagement and tons of humor.

The benevolent deities on the PR team help keep Pocket God‘s name in lights through quality media hits. Here’s a recap of the latest and greatest:

Bloomberg TV
Venture CES Edition – Broadcast and Online (1/22)
Dave Castelnuovo speaks on the Pocket God demographic, pricing strategy and the future of the brand.

NBC’s “press:here”
Episode 42, Part 2 – Broadcast and Online (1/31)
Dave joins the weekly Silicon Valley news roundtable to discuss app development and the iPad.

The New York Times
“For Gamers, the iPhone is a Player” – Online (1/27) and Print (1/28)
Dave comments on the power of the iPhone as a gaming device.

TIME Techland
“Popular iPhone App Pocket God Possibly Coming to Android” – Online (1/8)
Dave discusses the Nexus One, Android and Pocket God’s future.

The Sunday Times
“Apps generation could make second killing from Apple’s iPad” – Print and Online (1/31)
Bolt on how Pocket God came to be, and the iPad opportunity.

“iPhone Game Devs Give Us Their Thoughts on the iPad” – Online (1/28)
“Bolt Creative’s Castelnuovo: iPad is the Ultimate Virtual Chess Board” – Online 1/28

“Pocket God Micro-Review: Heaven or Hell?” – Online 1/19
“Pocket God is more than a simple time killer. It excels at some of the best the iPod/iPhone has to offer and does so brilliantly. While the players are put in the role of god, the real divine work here is the workman-like craft and development that went into making this title.”

For more insights into what works for Bolt, and how indie developers can achieve their own success on a tight budget, be sure to check out Dave’s GDC talk next week!

NBC’s “press:here”

Episode 42, Part 2 – Broadcast and Online (1/31)

Dave joins the weekly Silicon Valley news roundtable to discuss app development and the iPad:

You’re the (Nexus) One That I Want: Confessions of an iPhone Lover Gone Astray

To protect the innocent, names have been changed. In this publication, a once-faithful iPhone lover will be referred to with a fictional Twitter name: @madluv4iPhn.

A recent tweet:

@madluv4iPhn Dear iPhone – I’ve met someone new named the Nexus One. I’m strangely attracted to her and need a few days to figure this all out.

I initiated a conversation with @madluv4iPhn to understand his reasons for leaving his iPhone.  The first reason he provided is that the Nexus One serves as a much better telephone than the iPhone. Inconsistent coverage has been a general gripe of the iPhone user population. The Nexus One provides more consistent service with improved sound quality and fewer dropped calls.  To be fair, iPhone’s AT&T service is greatly responsible for the frustrating inconsistency of their calls. Interestingly enough, T Mobile has served the Nexus One very well so far, despite its general criticism for inconsistent coverage.

Another captivating feature is the Nexus One’s ability to sync flawlessly with Google applications. Granted, it is a Google phone, but these applications are seamless in comparison to their counterparts on the iPhone. On the Gmail client, one can even sync contacts with Facebook contacts to include profile pictures and status updates.

Google has realized that, despite anti-texting/talking cell phone laws, people will continue to use their phones on the road. The Nexus One has taken the initiative to create voice command functionalities that make driving while talking or texting a safer endeavor.  The “talk to text” function allows you to dictate text messages and has surprisingly accurate results.  The GPS navigation system can announce the directions aloud while you drive.

In addition to the aforementioned capabilities, the Nexus One’s processing speed is incredibly fast, vastly enhancing the internet browsing experience. The 5.0 megapixel camera, trumps the iPhone’s and is complete with an LED flash. The Nexus One is an unlocked device, allowing you to choose your own provider.

The Nexus One’s multitasking capabilities add another level of convenience for the ever-busy smart phone user.  Any notifications appear in their own section that you can view without interrupting other running applications.  Unlike the iPhone, Pandora can play music in the background amidst other running applications.

When asked what he misses about iPhone, @madluv4iPhn noted the ease of iTunes, the apps, and gaming capacity that the iPhone possesses.  The Nexus One’s media player is ugly compared to iTunes. The iPhone is simply a better gaming device and the App Store offers better apps. The Nexus One has hardly enough space to store games and the Android Market’s 20,000 apps leave something to be desired.

While there are in a bevy of perks that the Nexus One has to offer, the ultimate choice comes down to personal preference. The iPhone is a beautiful, simple device that even children can use with ease. The Nexus One, however, boasts the forefront in smartphone technology.  Admittedly, leaving the iPhone behind was bittersweet for @madluv4iPhn. Even so, the Nexus One is his soulmate.  You just can’t argue with fate.

Social, Casual or Both? PopCap Sells Cows, Gives Away Free Milk

So strangely compelling...
So strangely compelling...

In terms of wide-sweeping brand recognition, Popcap is to casual gaming what Nintendo is to gaming in general.  Your Grandma knows about Nintendo, but your Mom might know a PopCap game or two.  Founded a decade ago, the company does a spectacular job of keeping their games in the public eye and maintaining a friendly, unassuming aesthetic.  It’s as if making boatloads of money is the pleasant side-effect of cranking out highly addictive puzzlers, and to be clear, casual games are doing big business.  Most of their games are available on multiple platforms, with free versions hosted at  Because the games are both robust and replayable, it’s no surprise that their perennial favorite Bejeweled 2 hasn’t left the Top 10 Highest Grossing list on the App Store since that category was unveiled six months ago . Continue reading Social, Casual or Both? PopCap Sells Cows, Gives Away Free Milk

Appanda Makes DIY iPhone Apps Easy, Companies Cash In

Got a small business, blog, group, class or cause? Appanda has an app for that… I recently had a chance to sit down with Chris Przybyszewski, CEO of RESOLUTE, the Memphis-based iPhone developers behind a variety of original and for-hire games and apps.

RESOLUTE’s latest release, Appanda is making it easier than ever for small businesses to create and launch their own mobile apps (iPhone and Android). Here’s the inside scoop on Appanda, do-it-yourself iPhone development and more – enjoy!

Give us an overview of RESOLUTE – who are you and what do you do?
RESOLUTE builds software platforms that help everyone create their own mobile device app, such as an iPhone app or an Android Marketplace phone.

Continue reading Appanda Makes DIY iPhone Apps Easy, Companies Cash In

Back to the Future: The iPhone Sparks a Resurgence in Classic Games

Over the last year, the number of retro and classic console and arcade games on the iPhone has dramatically increased, often providing these much-beloved chestnuts with a new lease on life (and great success for their publishers). Classic characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Earthworm Jim, Guybrush Threepwood and Dirk the Daring are back in full force, with more characters set to make a comeback on the horizon.

Sonic the Hedgehog for iPhone
Sonic the Hedgehog for iPhone

How have these once-antiquated characters found new relevancy on a new medium? Beyond the obvious nostalgia factor, it all boils down to gameplay, fun, and interesting game design. The most popular games from the 80s and 90s still resonate with gamers today. In the “golden era” of 16- and 32-bit graphics, game designers couldn’t rely on whiz-bang visuals, environmental physics and detailed rendering to impress gamers. Games were distilled down to their simplest elements: pick-up-and-play ease, addictive fun and compelling gameplay.

Venerable games publisher Sega has recognized the importance of the iPhone to classic games, and is bringing back some of their most successful and celebrated games to the platform. The upcoming Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection, which will enable gamers to purchase classic Sega Genesis titles (such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Shining Force and more) presents a new opportunity for gamers to relive their favorite gaming experiences, and introduces such franchises to those who may be too young to have ever played them.  Sega is not alone.  A quick Web search on “retro iPhone games” provides hundreds of options for the classic gaming enthusiast, including arcade superstars Pac-Man and Space Invaders.  For those looking for the console classics, Touch Arcade has provided a handy list that includes personal favorites Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and the PC mega-hit Myst.

Furthermore, developers inspired by classic games are bringing new titles to the market that have familiar influences. The upcoming Slug Wars from Republic of Fun draws its inspiration from the Worms series (originally released on the Amiga in the early 80s). iPhone publisher Super Happy Fun Fun’s Mark Pierce, the original designer of 90s arcade hit Klax, incorporated similar game principles on the match-three puzzler Star*Burst.

With a plethora of opportunities for both classic gamers and new gamers alike, the iPhone has resurrected old franchises, as well as inspired new ones.  These “snackable nuggets of classic delight” can be devoured by consumers young and old, truly making the platform a gaming haven that anyone can enjoy.

2009: The App Store Starts Paying More Attention to Female Mobile Gamers

Though the mobile industry has successfully marketed specific phone features towards women, for example, the Samsung Egeo, the mobile app industry continues to lag behind the rapidly growing market of female mobile gamers. Studies show that there are currently more female mobile gamers than male mobile gamers – a point the mobile app industry began adapting to later this year. However, despite some changes, mobile app markets, like the App Store, have not adequately scaled themselves to meet the changing demographic profile of mobile gamers.

In March 2009, one third of the games available in the App Store were action themed and catered mainly towards male consumers. By July 2009, the number of games on offer had doubled. Puzzle games had become the largest genre, accounting for 16.4 per cent of the App Store’s games, with action and arcade titles trailing behind with 11.2 per cent and 11.1 percent respectively.

As the number of apps in the App Store soared past the 100,000 mark, mobile app developers slightly shifted their target markets creating more gender-neutral hit games such as Wheel of Fortune and Trism. However, the shift has been slow, and the App Store continues to overlook the market potential of female mobile gamers.

Canadian and US women rank Apple as their favorite technology brand and ranked the iPhone and iPod Touchnyt2 as their second favorite portable gaming device, after the Nintendo DS. Apple has a stronghold on the mindshare of the female consumer, particularly in the mobile marketspace, but it has yet to completely take advantage of this mobile game market opportunity. Not all female groups are quick to pick up the iPhone though. A survey of US mobile gamers indicates that there are more female mobile gamers than male mobile gamers between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four.

If the App Store targeted these particular female mobile gamer demographics, they could solidify their place as the leading mobile games market. The App Store’s success relies on their ability to play to growing market demands and how they counter the flack they’ve received from mobile app developers recently. Female mobile gamers are already playing, maybe to the surprise of the developers. The more the mobile app market comes to realize this, the sooner the mobile app industry is in for another growth spurt.

Finding the Mythical Immersive iPhone Game

The future of iPhone gaming?  Probably not.
The future of iPhone gaming? Probably not.

As the iPhone and other smartphones accompany their owners everywhere, so does the chance to have fulltime access to games. Gamers and journalists alike are asking for more immersive iPhone games, but it’s unlikely they’ll flood the App Store anytime soon. Sure, it would be fantastic to have a lengthy, engaging iPhone game with depth, character development and a solid narrative, but it’s highly unlikely.

With the current benchmark for a “premium” app being anything over $5.00, developers can’t afford a fully-fledged staff. Great games like Mass Effect use cinematics and professionally-delivered dialogue to draw in the player, but both budget and hardware constraints prevent this sort of experience on Apple’s ‘slippery brick,’ as evidenced by Mass Effect Galaxy.

However, there are other inherent flaws in iPhone gaming. Even with your earbuds in place and zen-like concentration, gaming time can be interrupted at just about any moment. This isn’t even kept to the external problems of your average day – even the device insists on bothering you with incoming calls or text messages. While one could set the device to airplane mode, this effectively turns it into an iPod touch – a quandary. By the very nature of being connected on the go, one makes the gaming experience tough to establish.

I find that I have the most fun playing puzzlers on my phone, and the reviewers agree. Over half of the top 15 games on Pocket Gamer are puzzle games, and as developer Tale of Tales founder Michaël Samyn points out, small screens are better suited for shorter, more abstract titles. The device’s limitations are not likely to hinder your play in a puzzle game, whereas shooters and RPGs can be a real headache.

Between the hand cramps and screen glare, I, like most gamers, prefer my iPhone sessions to be short and sweet, relegating my larger-than life gaming experiences to the sofa.

Orbital – The iPhone App That Does Everything Well But Sell

What can we tell you about Orbital that has not already been said?

Orbital on iPhone - Gravity Mode
Orbital on iPhone - Gravity Mode

The reviews are unanimous. Orbital is one of the best games on the iPhone.

The awards are well documented.

Ryan Seacrest and Dane Cook have tweeted about their love for Orbital. Dane still has a high score in the top 10. We’re not sure what Oprah is waiting for, something to do with career changes.

In our office, Orbital breaks have replaced Xbox breaks.

Orbital has been described as “addictive”, “compulsive”, “mesmerizing”, “superb” and other adjectives.

This game must have sold like a million units right? The developers must be on a beach somewhere buying Ferraris on eBay and having Scottish castles airlifted to Brazilian mountaintops, right?

Continue reading Orbital – The iPhone App That Does Everything Well But Sell

iPhone App Business Models 101: Paid Downloads, Advertising and In-app Purchases

We here at TriplePoint are frequently asked by developers, “What is the best way to monetize my iPhone app?” I thought it would be helpful to create a high level overview of some of the different business models that developers are utilizing to make money from their iPhone or iPod Touch applications and games. Below you’ll find an overview of several of the most popular business models, including paid downloads, mobile advertising and in-app purchases (otherwise known as microtransactions). Additionally, I’ve included an overview of the correlation between units sold and ranking in the App Store – essentially, a brief synopsis of what it takes to be in the Top 100 Paid Apps list on the App Store.

Option 1: Paid Downloads

The most popular way to monetize your iPhone application is through selling paid downloads of it at retail in the App Store. While Apple reported that the most common price point for iPhone apps is $0.99, according to an October 2009 report from analytics firm Distimo, the current average price of an application in the App Store is $3.42. In this free report, Distimo also provides a list of the top 15 highest ranked paid applications and their price points, which ranged from $0.99 up to $2.99. Although choosing a price point based on popularity and what appears to be working for the top 15 paid apps is certainly common, developers are also taking into consideration the value that their app provides and what it is potentially worth to customers. This perceived value may be based on uniqueness of functionality, depth of gameplay, quality of graphics, and other criteria.

Many developers are also testing their app’s price point post launch and finding that offering discounts or special offers can provide a boost in sales numbers. Additionally, some developers are offering “light” versions of their iPhone game for free and leveraging the user base to drive sales of the paid full version of the game. The flexibility to alter the price point is certainly helpful as developers test the waters with their first application.

Option 2: Mobile Advertising

As mentioned above, $0.99 is the most common price point and FREE is reportedly the second most popular price point. Currently, there are over 100,000 apps available in the App Store and thousands of them are free. Developers that offer their iPhone game or application for free may consider monetizing through mobile advertising. Leading mobile advertising networks include AdFonic, AdMob (recently acquired by Google), InMobi, Millennial Media and Quattro Wireless. Mobile ad networks make it simple for developers to begin serving advertisements directly within their iPhone application in order to start generating revenue, and advertisers are eager to reach the iPhone and iPod Touch using population, so the market is growing. Magna projects that mobile advertising revenues will grow 36% in 2009, in part, due to growth fueled by iPhones.

While some developers rely solely on generating revenue from free applications through mobile advertisements, others are testing multiple business models through their iPhone games and applications and seeing success. Backflip Studios recently reported that revenue generated by advertising sales on free applications has supplemented their income from paid downloads, and is currently driving 50% of their overall monthly revenues. As demonstrated in this instance, advertising revenue can be more than just incremental income, and can be a real substantial revenue stream for developers.

Option 3: In-app Purchases

For iPhone games or applications that lend themselves well to selling virtual goods and downloadable content (such as additional levels and expansion packs), the microtransaction-based business model is a good fit. Ever since Apple launched the iPhone OS 3.0 in June 2009, which offers the microtransaction system, developers have been exploring ways to leverage this platform for in-app purchases. Although, since this is a relatively new business model for consumers to adopt, some developers are erring on the side of caution about adding micro payments to their apps while others like Bolt Creative are embracing it. In October, Bolt Creative launched Episode 26: Good Will Haunting from their hit iPhone title Pocket God and included in-app purchases via downloadable content. The company reported positive revenue results as well as positive feedback from the community, and plans to continue including in-app purchases plans to continue including in-app purchases as a part of their applications going forward.

Additionally, iPhone applications that sell real-world goods are also a natural fit for the microtransaction-based business model as demonstrated by JamBase, an iPhone and iPod touch application that enables consumers to purchase local concert tickets on the go from their mobile phone.

As paying for incremental content and virtual goods, or even making mobile purchases of real-world items via microtransactions become more familiar with consumers, it becomes a more viable business model for developers to adopt.

What does the Top 100 Paid Apps list mean?

Constantly a moving target, the iPhone apps featured in the Top 100 Paid Apps list correlates to the total number of unit sales per day. At this time, to break into the top 100, an iPhone application is typically selling over 400 per day, and apps at the top of the charts are estimably selling over 10,000 units per day.

Earlier this year, Bolt Creative released a chart that shows Pocket God’s weekly ranking in the App Store along with its daily units sold. As illustrated in the graph, the game entered the top 100 list when the game broke about 500 units sold per day, and reached the number one rank in the list while selling over 10,000 units per day.

Final Thoughts

In addition to the abovementioned business models to monetize iPhone games and applications, developers can also monetize through other means such as lead generation, subscriptions, data sales, and more. The possibilities are practically limitless. While there are many different ways to monetize mobile games or applications and they’ve demonstrated success for many developers, in the end, it’s important to select a business model that integrates naturally with the functionality of the game or application and that suits the target audience.

Taming the Wild West: How the iPhone App Store Should – and Probably Will – Change

Faux App Store Walmart Logo

The iPhone has been the biggest boon for independent game and app developers in recent memory, but the surge of devs looking to cash in has overwhelmed the current format of the App Store as an e-commerce platform.

It’s a good problem to have, certainly, but it means there’s a huge opportunity for Apple to push the needle even more by improving the way products are presented to consumers on the platform.

Apple’s brick and mortar stores are hip, sparse environments with big aisles and a dearth of shelf space – they can pull this off because they have only a few product lines, and they’ve achieved premium brand positioning akin to high-end fashion and jewelry retailers.

But if Apple’s retail outlets are Prada and Tiffany’s, then the App Store is Walmart.

There are currently upwards of 115,000 third-party apps available for iPhone owners to choose from, and like it or not, most of these aren’t exactly premium products. There’s a glut of amazing software out there, but most of it’s small, simple and cheap.

And while the variety and value found in the App Store is similar, the presentation of products is nothing like Walmart. It isn’t even like Amazon or other big online retailers. To service those 115,000 products, the App Store actually has surprisingly limited options for product visibility.

The App Store’s shelf space consists of just a few sought after promotional slots, determined by Apple’s editorial team (presumably a group of cloaked and hooded masterminds, convening in an ominous-looking cave somewhere deep beneath Cupertino). Besides the limited promotional space, product presentation is nothing more than a few lists of top-selling products.

And for the majority of that shelf space – even apps lucky enough to show up in the ‘What’s Hot’ spotlight and similar sections – only the app title and icon are visible. There’s a wealth of information that could be added – an app’s rating, a brief description, rotating screenshots, etc. – by slightly increasing the real estate given to promoted apps.

Product presentation in a big-box retailer is carefully controlled. Shelf space is rationed out to specific products based on an overwhelming amount of research (not to mention plenty of deals and partnerships), and endcap promotions are constantly cycling. Similarly, online retail behemoths like Amazon and Newegg have a constant stream of promotions and complete control over the placement of products.

Online retailers are getting even better about customizing product placement based on each user’s viewing and purchasing habits. Apple has dipped its toes in the water with the ‘Genius’ feature, but there’s surely an opportunity to deliver a more personalized user experience for every iPhone owner. If the App Store was as good at suggesting products as Amazon and Netflix, it would mean more overall app sales (good for Apple) – and probably far less of a top-heavy market (good for developers).

There are signs Apple is learning lessons from online and offline retailers. Seasonal and demographically targeted banner promotions (“Apps for Toddlers”) inside the App Store have become more commonplace, and the ‘Apps for iPhone’ promotion on recently saw a revamp.

Apple is undoubtedly cognizant of the App Store’s deficiencies – major changes could be just around the corner. Whatever these changes end up being, they could mean a whole new game for iPhone app marketing. Developers need to stay on their toes, as those who are able to adjust when the landscape shifts will be ahead of the game.

Eliminate-ing Payment Norms – Eliminate Pro and the Hardcore Quandary

Eliminate Pro – Free – released 11/2/09 – developed by Ngmoco (Rolando)

  • Currently the second best selling app in the Free section of App Store (was the first yesterday).
  • Currently the 11th on the Top Grossing section of the App Store (was the third yesterday).
  • The ONLY free app in the Top Grossing section.

Eliminate Pro is free-to-download and is, in a sense, a free-to-play first-person shooter, ala Doom or Call of Duty. However, unlike f2p MMORPGs, users don’t pay for in-game content, but rather to recharge their ‘credits.’ Without credits, you’re limited to playing offline against bots, and cannot earn experience or gain rewards.


It’s essentially like popping another quarter into an arcade machine, but in this case, your credits regenerate over time. When you download the game, you’re given 12 to start with, which works out to three rounds of play. After a few hours, you’ll be granted another round – and it takes half a day for the full twelve credits to regenerate.

The real money-maker for Ngmoco, though, is that you can buy credits at a rate of 20 for 99 cents, 280 for $9.99, or 975 for $29.99.

The game itself is a fairly typical FPS, controlled with virtual onscreen joysticks – fun, yet far less interesting than its monetization method. These non-essential microtransactions are a bold new form of in-game payment. As DLC becomes increasingly commonplace and piracy runs rampant, publishers and developers are trying their hardest to move away from the classic front-loaded sales model.

In fact, Eliminate Pro’s growth reveals a great deal about the nature of iPhone gaming:

  • The game itself is built to play in short bursts.
  • It’s cheap, with a low barrier to entry – it’s free to start, 3 rounds is enough to get you addicted, and extra rounds are cheap, falling into impulse-buy territory.
  • The industry is rapidly expanding – such is its growth that they’re constantly re-writing and building new payment models.

The DS and PSP appeal to self-described gamers – people who most likely have a current-gen system at home. The iPhone, on the other hand, is in its relative infancy, and those who pick it up and start playing most likely didn’t buy it for the games.

This, however, makes Eliminate Pro an enigma. Many iPhone titles err on the side of simple controls, including Ngmoco’s own Rolando, while this game features twitch-gameplay and requires quick reactions. In fact, it’s somewhat console-ish in its skillset – awkwardness of the on-screen analog sticks aside. Its success is built upon the casual models – easy-to-pick-up, cheap and addictive, yet it is, at its heart, a deeply competitive and aggressive title.

Has Eliminate Pro converted casual players into new potential core gamers? Have the hardcore crowds flocked to the iPhone unexpectedly? Or does the game crack some bizarre middle-ground code for making iPhone users buy into micro-transactions?

Ultimately, it could be a combination of all of the above. Who knew that a cell-phone could cause such a hullabaloo?

[Eliminate Pro app store link]

NaturalMotion Tackles the App Store with Backbreaker Football

It took less than 24 hours for NaturalMotion to make an impact on the App Store, as Backbreaker Football has already breached the top 50 for all paid games.  The first in-house game from the development juggernaut that produces the animation technologies euphoria, morpheme and endorphin (rapidly adopted in both the  game and movie industries by companies such as Rockstar Games, LucasArts, Disney, THQ, CCP, Bioware), Backbreaker Football offers a mobile football experience that can be rivaled by none.

The game, which utilizes the iPhone/ iPod touch’s accelerometer controls, presents football in full 3D glory.  Backbreaker Football’s amazing replication of bonecrushing tackles is sure to please both pigskin fans and mobile gamers alike.  Directly inspired by a mini-game taken from NaturalMotion’s  Backbreaker (currently in development for Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3),  Backbreaker Football truly brings a console-like experience to the iPhone/ iPod touch.


As a standalone title, the action and gameplay speak for itself.  Not only is Backbreaker Football an elite application, but its release marks the unique opportunity to showcase aspects of a future console title on an entirely different platform.  The opportunity for NaturalMotion to create both a superior application, as well as officially introduce the world to the powerful gameplay associated with the future Backbreaker console title, serves as a win-win situation for anyone with an iPhone/ iPod touch.

Backbreaker Football


To view the vicious tackles, you can find a link to the trailer after the break..

Continue reading NaturalMotion Tackles the App Store with Backbreaker Football

Developers Gone Wild! iPhone Gold Rush Uncloaked: Q&A with Rock Ridge Games

The iTunes App Store is a booming marketplace, full of opportunity for independent developers. At an Apple press conference earlier this month, Steve Jobs said that over 30 million iPhones and 20 million iPod Touch devices have been sold to date. There are over 100 million customers on iTunes, and they’ve been busy – downloading over 1.8 billion apps since the App Store launched in July 2008. But with over 75,000 apps and counting (more than 21,000 in the game category alone), it’s a sink or swim space. The unique iPhone platform is luring talented designers from top names in the traditional video game development industry – ambitious artists, code-monkeys and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes looking to try their hand at a new medium, and take on whatever responsibility necessary – including new shoes they’ll learn to fill along the way.

There are already more than 100,000 third-parties in the iPhone Developer Program, and the App Store marketplace has created a community mindset among many of these smaller independent companies, who are willing to share some of their “secrets” and learn from their competitors to further their cause and to coexist symbiotically, if you will. One such indie developer is Rock Ridge Games. I had a chance to pick the brains of Rock Ridge’s president and VP, Mike Mann and P.J. Snavely, on what it takes to make the transition from licensed, big-budget console game development to the DIY world of iPhone app development – here’s what they had to say…

RRG Western Wind iPhone

Can you give us a little background on Rock Ridge Games and your experience in game development?
Rock Ridge Games was started in April of this year with the goal of developing interesting and fun original  games for the incredible new smartphones hitting the market. There are only two of us (Mike Mann and PJ Snavely) but we’ve got almost 30 years of combined experience in game development, having come from the console side of development. We’ve worked on everything from multi-million dollar licensed sports games to small independent titles for XBLA. The iPhone is our new frontier.

Continue reading Developers Gone Wild! iPhone Gold Rush Uncloaked: Q&A with Rock Ridge Games

iPhone Game PR – A Case Study

IGN Real Racing

Australian mobile developer Firemint came to us a few months ago with one goal in mind: to make their new iPhone game stand out among the crowd. Of course, this is no small task given the extraordinary rate of proliferation of iPhone games appearing on the App Store since the beginning of the year. But Firemint had something unique: a car racing simulator called Real Racing that had been in development for more than a year and specifically designed with the unique feature set of the iPhone and iPod touch in mind.

Firemint’s unique challenge was that they had a little over two months to officially announce, promote, and differentiate Real Racing from the competition before it launched. And the main competitor in this instance was EA’s Need for Speed iPhone title, a game launching in the same period that had enjoyed months of marketing and PR support from the industry’s biggest game publisher.

Talk about an underdog situation.

Continue reading iPhone Game PR – A Case Study