One of the unique phenomenons of the App Store ecosystem is the sudden and inexplicable rise of certain games. While the holy grail of creating an app that skyrockets to the top of the charts was merely a pipe dream for the vast majority of developers, it was also a reason why the iOS gaming scene became so popular – especially in the early days. Perchang ($1.99) – with its current position at #3 for paid apps in both the UK and US at time of writing, and #1 of all paid games in the former – joins the extremely exclusive club of chart toppers that don’t feature a bird motif, and appears to have achieved overnight success purely through creating a beautiful premium experience that has caught the eye of everyone from App Store veterans to those who rarely use their mobile devices for gaming.
The story behind the new mobile game studio Perchang is particularly relevant, as the success of their first self-titled release may appear as vindication for the trials the developers have been through over the past few months. Perchang partially consists of ex-Rodeo Games members, who we found out in February had stopped making games for the near future because of the poor commercial performance of their last game Warhammer 40K – Deathwatch ($1.99). While they have still supported their already released games, the success of the new solo project by Ben Murch and Pete Akehurst is certainly deserved, however also demonstrates the volatility and unpredictable nature of the App Store as Deathwatch also received rave reviews yet seemingly not the same level of success.
That being said, Perchang is an excellent game in its own right and certainly one to pay attention to on the App Store. The game mechanics are captivating and fun to play. You’re tasked with propelling ball bearings into a pipe, and must set up the level by altering certain equipment such as teleporters and flippers to do just that. However, the game also puts you in control of operating these devices, and so beyond the pure physics puzzle aspect you are also responsible for utilising the tools to complete each level. From a level design perspective, the game excels throughout its 60 courses, as each one is unique and gives different elements that must be considered. However, it is the graphical aspect which is most stunning. Aesthetically, Perchang is one of the best looking puzzle games on the App Store, and the AAA experience of the developers is evident from one glance at the screenshots – let alone watching the app in action.
Despite the merits of Perchang, there have been many games that have launched onto the App Store with similarly high production values yet have quickly faded into obscurity. Perchang actually launched a few weeks ago on the 23rd June, and despite having a degree of exposure from Apple, it was not an immediate ascent to the upper echelons of the App Store. With all due respect to Perchang, the source of such success isn’t particularly evident; there isn’t one particular article or news story that can be attributed to the game’s selling spurt. However, if anything, this is a compliment to the quality of the game. A quick search of Twitter reveals that many people who would not be particularly involved in any form of gaming have taken a chance with Perchang and had a fantastic experience. The developers on Twitter have also attribute the rise to the positive critical reception and entertaining Youtube videos of gameplay segments, which in 2016 is a primary factor in the initial burst behind the popularity of many indie games.
Regardless of what the reason is – it could very well be down to the eccentric and abnormal name of the app which is enticing people to give it a look, amongst a cacophony of other factors – the success of Perchang is extremely encouraging to see. From a personal level, a British developer basically on my doorstep releasing a successful mobile title is fantastic to see for the future prosperity of local game development. On a larger scale, Perchang is a major coup for anyone involved in the iOS scene. While the freemium train refuses to slow down and stop causing such heated debate amongst fans, a full priced game that relies purely on its excellent gameplay and visuals has achieved success in the ruthless and aggressive arena that is the App Store. For these reasons, or if you’re simply looking for the next essential game to own on your iDevice, give Perchang a chance, and be sure to leave your opinions of the game or theories behind its success on our forum thread.