Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Fighting for app store ranks

Can you, by sheer weight of tweeting, facebook-promotion and general marketing and ‘oomph’ force your ipad strategy game into the charts?

Maybe not.

I’m experimenting with marketing efforts on the ipad version of Democracy 3. The game is already profitable, so I don’t *need* to make money from it on the app store, but I’m interested to see, if used as an experiment, whether or not you can catapult such a game into the top ten and then generate it’s own self-fulfilling sales momentum. It seems this is harder than i thought, even if you spend 70%+ of your profits straight back on marketing. Here are the charts. (click to enlarge)


You can see that the game has a tough time clinging into any ‘top 10’ list, whereas I thought that it would pretty much stay there a while once it crossed that thresh-hold. It did that at the start of the chart, but getting it to bounce back in has been tricky, not to mention expensive. I’m currently trying to push it back in again, hence that climb (and my complaining wallet).

My guess is that it takes about $1,000 a day in marketing spend to get a game into the top 10 strategy or sim categories for the UK, presumably MUCH more for the US. I might concentrate entirely on the UK (as my ads are currently UK/US), so it might be possible to jump into the top 10 for less ads than that. The problem is, that seems to equate to only about 140 sales a day, so about $980 on a 70% cut of a $10 app. In other words, a net loss. Which of course makes sense in a completely perfect market, because if it was an easy win, those ad prices would just climb to eliminate the surplus. The people making money here are apple and advertising sellers, not the app developer.

Still, it’s all good fun :D

3 thoughts on Fighting for app store ranks

  1. What is the value approximately of the extra 140 customers?
    It sounds like you lose $20/day (not much really) but are gaining 140 customers per day. Do that for a couple months and you’ll have a small fan base. :)
    Or am I over estimating it? What about the iPad GSB?

  2. I hear a lot of app devs use New Zealand and Australia as test markets because you have much of the same English-speaking demographic, but advertising is a lot cheaper than in UK and US. Something you could consider if you’re going to experiment a lot with advertising :-)

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