iPhone Game Development – Top 6 Games Launched in 2011

iPhone users don’t hesitate to download countless games on their smartphone, and the growing demand of games on the Apple store has taken iPhone game development to a new level. Over a billion games have been downloaded till date. A number of old world games are being converted to fit the smartphone format, and inventive game developers are creating numerous new games, keeping the iPhone features in their mind.

Consequently, countless exciting games are developed every month. 2011 has been a very good year as far as iPhone game development is concerned, and the following hit games have captured the imagination of gamers:

Canabalt: This game features a well-dressed guy running and leaping over crumbling rooftops and dodging explosives. There are a lot of games featuring runners escaping some sort of apocalypse, and this is the most downloaded game in its category. The fact that you just need to press one button to play the game, coupled with the fact that it takes less than a minute to figure out how to play the game, makes this game a fun way to kill time.

First Touch Soccer: FIFA and Pro Evo fans celebrated when they played this game. This is arguably the best touchscreen soccer game; its animation is better than that of any other smartphone soccer game. Also, it is filled to the brim with exciting features: there are 250 teams, 30 competitions, multiplayer modes, and all kinds of tournaments.

Angry Birds Rio: Any list of top iPhone games would be incomplete without ‘Angry Birds’. After the ‘Angry Birds’ games captured the imagination of gamers all over the world, the market has been flooded with numerous ‘Angry Bird’ apps. But the best among the lot is Angry Birds Rio; in this game you kill monkeys and find golden fruits instead of fresh birds!

Words With Friends: All gamers are not looking for explosions, races or shooting. For people who like words, this is the best game of 2011. It is quite similar to scrabble; you need to spell out words in horizontal or vertical lines and most repeated words like ‘e’ and ‘a’ have low value, while less common words like ‘x’ and ‘q’ have high value. The best part of this game is that it lets you play with your friends or set you up with random opponents.

The Impossible Game: While most iPhone game development teams stress the fact that a smartphone game has to be simple and easy to learn, The Impossible Game takes the opposite approach. You (an orange square) need to persevere against all kinds of evil shapes to get the game going, but once you succeed (after 100 attempts) you will be addicted to the game for life!

Spider-The Secret of Bryce Manor: Spiders are creepy creatures, and they gross out many of us. But this game lets you get into the shoes of spider and look at the world from a spider’s perspective. But you are not just an ordinary spider: you are like a spider detective, and you must find out about the people who lived in the mansion and you must find out why they left their house.


Avoiding iPhone Game Obscurity

There is no shortage of iPhone developers. There is no shortage of iPhone applications. With over 100,000 apps, there is no shortage of extra features. It makes me wonder how I ever lived without my iPhone. I use Google Maps to get around. I share picture perfect moments using the Facebook App. I use the Subway Map app to get around NYC. I use Shazam’s tiny elfin librarians to tell me the name of songs. I use the Chase Mobile App to check account balances.

You name it, there’s an app for that. A year from now, you name it, and there will be apps for that and the ten other things you didn’t think of.

These are all conveniences iPhones owners have enjoyed. I have taken these services for granted. I don’t worry about where anything is anymore, I can find it on Google Maps. All of this convenience is fantastic for the consumer, while those trying to sell apps on the iPhone are finding it harder to stand out.

The most competitive category is Games. There are few categories as popular as the Games section of the App Store. There are more Games than any other category. At over 20,000 strong, avoiding obscurity will be a challenge.

But not only that, you need to have a lasting impression. You may have created the hottest iPhone game to date but, what is going to stop someone from releasing a $.99 clone? How do you ensure a cheaper clone isn’t going to eat away at your sales and market share?

Take the once popular iShoot. It made $800,000 in five months and prompted its creator, Ethan Nicholas, to leave his job at Sun Microsystems. iShoot has since been buried by competitors and copycats. Nicholas says it’s “terrifying” and that iShoot’s success was “pure luck”.

Pure luck is not going to work for a business selling games on the App Store. Relying on luck to run a business is the surest way to the land of businesses-that-were. And I’m not sure all businesses go to heaven.

Luckily, the solution is as old as time: marketing. Why do you buy Tide instead of Acme Brand? They may have exactly the same quality and stain fighting power but, Acme Brand isn’t going to hold a candle to the power of Tide.

There was a time when only a handful of games were on the App Store. The best games sold well in those prehistoric times. Those days are long gone. You can release a game on the App Store tomorrow and it’ll be in the company of a hundred other games. Only a small fraction of all iPhone users are going to know your game came out. People can’t buy what they don’t know about!

This is logical reasoning but, not everyone is on board. In an interview with Wired, Austin Sarner, CEO of Design by a Knife, said this:

“Basically everybody’s on the same level once they submit an iPhone app. Unlike traditional marketing, there’s no ad campaign: A user just sees what he sees in the iPhone store, and the applications kind of have to sell themselves to some extent.”

Sarner’s philosophy is that great content drives App Store success and not “marketing.” Sarner is a developer by profession so this an understandable point of view. Sarner confuses advertising with marketing and doesn’t realize that developing a great product is a fundamental function of marketing.

It is inaccurate that there is no advertising behind iPhone games. EA didn’t come to the party without their advertising muscle. And with hundreds of games being added to the App Store every week, the clutter alone will make you invisible no matter how good your game is.

It is suicide to release an app and hope it will be magically discovered. Only 7% of iPhone users download through iTunes, 62% knew what they wanted, 60% browsed the top lists, and 46% were from word of mouth according to AdMob. The 62% who knew what they wanted heard it somewhere first. It didn’t come to them in a dream.

If you are convinced that making the greatest iPhone game in the world, releasing it to the App Store, and then  praying it will sell is a viable strategy, I have two words for you: good luck. You are going to need it.

However, if you want a viable business, there is a better way.

Game developers worldwide will disagree and hate this but, marketing has to be part of the development process from day one. You can’t create a game and then sprinkle some marketing pixie dust as an after thought. That’s the equivalent of wearing a blindfold, spinning around a few times, and then trying to hit a pinata. You have no idea where the target is. You are going to miss.

The development process starts with an audience. You need to target someone. You don’t need to go after the same audience as everyone else, but you need an audience. Who is going to buy your game? You need to make a game for them. You can make a game for yourself, but that’s not a business–it’s a hobby. Doing things in that fashion means it’ll always be a hobby.

Your game needs to be characteristic of your company brand–your company does have a brand right? There is a reason EA has multiple brands. Each brand has its own image and their games reflect that. EA Games caters to a more traditional audience, EA Sports develops games for the sports audience, and EA Play is solely focused on the casual market.

Engage with the community. If your audience is there, you need to be there engaging them: blogs, forums, YouTube videos, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, etc. If your audience is there, you need to be there. Being engaged does not mean spamming. Join the conversations and use your company as the name of contact or end each comment noting your company. Don’t be obnoxious. Be informative, helpful, and provide useful discourse.

Marketing your game is a full-time job. People who solely work on the development side find this difficult to swallow. In their world, they are doing the hard work. Their point of view isn’t without merit. Without them, there would be no product at all.

To make things worse, it is difficult to accurately measure the impact marketing has on your business. You may never know how or if someone who interacts with your marketing ends up buying your product. In fact, they might not buy your product at all. They might talk to ten other people about their experience with your company and then one or more within those ten may end up buying. We cannot accurately measure this.

For people who are used to concrete and visible patterns, marketing may as well be voodoo. However, this doesn’t make marketing less important. It does mean marketing requires a different mindset than that of development.

Social medias has allowed us to monitor our audience’s thoughts, concerns, and feelings in real time. This lets us adjust our marketing efforts on the fly if it isn’t working or is having a negative effect. You need to be constantly monitoring your audience. It isn’t just a matter of marketing during a release–you will end up like iShoot. Cultivate your audience and develop a community.

Infinity Ward, the makers of Call of Duty, understands the importance of a strong community. They have a community manager, Robert Bowling, whose sole job is to monitor the Call of Duty audience. Without him, Modern Warfare 2 may not have become the highest grossing entertainment release of all time. The game would have done well no matter what. Call of Duty has a history, the first Modern Warfare was excellent, the hype surrounding Modern Warfare 2 was spectacular, it was a high quality product, and Call of Duty is a known entity–a brand. But, would it have done as well without marketing? Of course, we can never actually measure it but, I’m willing to bet marketing made the difference between one of the highest grossing and the highest grossing.


iPhone Holding Dominance in the Mobile Application Development Sector for the Year 2010

The IHS Screen Digest reveals the growth of mobile applications that generated an increased profit in 2010 by 160.2 percent to reach the figure of $2.2 billion. In 2009 the revenue was reported to be around $828 million. iPhone App store ranked first generating $1.8 billion revenue showing an increased activity in the iPhone application development sector. Games rank as the most popular category with 52.2 revenue generation that goes to its credit.

Newer smart phones with convincing features and operating systems have emerged on the market to give a tough time to Apple’s iPhone. It is the iPhone’s App store that is giving it a lead when it comes to comparisons for mobile application development getting what counts in the end and that is revenue from users.

Although many rivals were heard to be competing strong but App store managed to hold its dominance where mobile applications are concerned. However it must be seen that the revenue of App store also includes revenue generated from the introduction of iPad. Although the share might be a small one but the iPad Apps are expensive as compared to iPhone apps.

Over the years Apple has earned the trust of the consumers. The brand is a trusted name and consumers feel comfortable using its simple billing service via iTunes. Jack Kent, IHS mobile media analyst states “Apple has been able to maintain advantage by leveraging its tightly controlled ecosystem”

Google’s Android is trying to catch up but the success of iPhone App store stands unmatched for the year 2010. Android’s revenue was reported to be 861.5 perecent.

The way the mobile market is growing it is predicted that the year 2011 would be no different in fact it would be more productive for mobile application industry. It is estimated that revenue might grow to $3.9 billion that is a rise of 81.5 percent.

According to Kent freemium business model might just prove to be the key factor responsible for growth. The model is proving to be quite popular with developers. The model offers the basic application for free with the basic functionality available but the charges are for the premium features. It is proving to be a successful model and more and more developers are focusing to offer applications for free and make money via the in-app purchases. For iPhone applications development also freemium model is proving to be gaining popularity with almost 30 percent of the top grossing iPhone application out of 100 being the ones that make their money from in app purchases.