Any tips for increasing sales?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by lightbrush, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. lightbrush

    lightbrush Member

    Feb 6, 2009
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    Project Assistant (teaching computing to the disab
    Cambridge, UK
    Hi all,

    Just wondering if any of you more experienced developers out there have any tips for increasing sales?

    Obviously I need to make better games but are there any other factors that have helped? Anything else I can do? Good ways to get seen? Good places to advertise?

    Cheers!
    Doug

    http://www.dougday.co.uk/iphone.html
     
  2. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    I know you weren't soliciting my opinion, since I'm not even a developer yet (at least not of iPhone software), but it seems that providing a "lite" version of software has helped a lot of people's sales. Sadly, even at 99 cents most people aren't willing to buy without trying.
     
  3. fieldrunners_dev

    fieldrunners_dev New Member

    Oct 6, 2008
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    From what I noticed, actually, Lite versions don't seem to help much in most scenarios. Only in very specific cases- I can think of only three, out of hundreds (thousands?) of Lite versions that actually helped with product sales.

    It's true that people are interested in trying things for free, specially when the free store receives so much attention and is easily accessible. However, there's a fine line between giving a taste for a compelling experience, leading people to want your product, and giving away too much.
    People seem to have come to expect Lite versions to be their own complete experiences, with a diverse variety of content as well as updates, rather than take it for what it is- A trial, meant for you to decide whether or not you'd like to invest more time and money in the full version.

    With that said, though, if well executed on the right product, I still think it is possible to give a Lite version that is interesting, letting people know you have a quality product, and increase sales.
     
  4. Adams Immersive

    Adams Immersive Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2008
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    Freelance interactive design and programming
    Ohio
    This is nor from personal experience (I have no apps to sell yet) but I'm thinking it might be worth making a free app, but calling it Demo or Trial, so it's clearly not expected to stand alone and have long-lasting value.

    I'm guessing that the risk of putting too LITTLE into a lite version is that it will get poor reviews. So hopefully, being clear with your audience that this is "only a taste" might help that perception. Or maybe not :eek:

    I'm also thinking of putting a lot into a free version (when/if I have a game to sell)--maybe TOO much--but using ads to help recover at least a little money if it backfires and kills sales of the full paid app. I haven't actually looked into ad services yet--just thinking out loud.

    And I know the ultimate answer for increasing sales: there's a lot you can do, but a lot of it is also luck.

    And so: good luck! :)
     
  5. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    Apple will reject you if you use the words demo or trial, in your app or in your description. But you're free to say the game is just a taste, and here's how to get the full version.
     
  6. On-Core

    On-Core Member

    I tried a 'lite' version with one of my apps and I would have to say it was a TOTAL waste of time. I pulled the lite version from the App store as a result. It *slightly* increased sales for (at most) 8 days. (read: not worth the effort whatsoever!)

    It took us almost 1 month to get it by the BS filters at Apple. They REALLY make it hard to make a lite/free app. It's almost impossible to 'cripple' the apps. They don't allow "up selling", so you cannot even reference in the app that there is a full version. Before we even got it to 'pass' I got so pissed off that I wrote them an email and told them to pull it from my dev (submission) page. They called me on the phone to talk about it. I told them, as I'm sure many other have, that the free apps are diluting the store and making it very hard to find anything, and I said that they *really* need to use the "shareware" model where someone could try the *full* app for 7, 14 or 30 days, then it should expire. They refuse this idea like you would not believe. By the end of the call the guy was not please to be talking with me because I let him have it.

    I don't know if they will ever cave in and do "shareware". The store is a complete mess and it is nearly impossible for people to find anything just by browsing. (that is not looking for anything in particular).
     
  7. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    My Lite version has worked wonderfully for six months now. I average one full version sale for every ten Lite version downloads. Lite versions work if:

    1. Your game doesn't suck in the first place.
    2. You don't give away too much, but you give them at least a 30 minute experience.
    3. You make it easy for them to upgrade to the full version.
    4. Your full version isn't overpriced.

    Without all four, it won't work very well.
     
  8. Adams Immersive

    Adams Immersive Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2008
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    Ah ha. So that's how "Lite" became such a popular term? Now that you mention it, I don't recall seeing Demo or Trial ever mentioned on the store. Oh, well.

    I take it that "reference in the app" means you're barred from having the app itself mention the full app? But the app's store page still can? Because I DO see the store page for lite apps often touting the full version as well.

    (And I feel like I remember lite apps containing links to the full one too--but maybe I'm confusing with desktop shareware titles. Since I can't think of an example.)
     
  9. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    Tons of apps, including mine, have a button to buy the full version. I'm not sure why they're denying you the option.
     
  10. On-Core

    On-Core Member

    That's amazing. We had that in there and that was one of the reasons that they rejected one of our *many* 'attempts' to get it thru.

    As far as your other comment. With over 13,800 downloads, in 3 weeks before we pulled it, it probably netted us about 5 extra copies per day for the 8 initial days. At $1.99, I don't think it's over priced. We had great reviews, I believe that the lite version had 4.5 stars when we pulled it. In the description, we did mention the full version, since that was the only place we were allowed to even mention it.

    For some of the things that they rejected it for, such as only being able to play once per day (when we tried to 'limit' the full version), we complained that there were a dozen other apps that were on the store that did that and all he said was he couldn't comment on that. The same for the other things we tried. The version that finally was accepted, we limited it to 6 fixed puzzles per easy, medium and hard (instead of generated). That was the only option left.

    I guess it depends on what kind of game it is. Perhaps we had too many 'fixed' puzzles and people didn't realize that they were playing the same game over. This actually happened to me when I was first testing it.
     
  11. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    Interesting. Perhaps it was the lack of a buy button that made your conversion rate so low. How were you displaying the buy button? I know they will reject you if you present one of the game options as a choice, but instead of doing what the button suggests, it tells you to buy the full version. I also know they don't allow disabled buttons.
     
  12. On-Core

    On-Core Member

    I believe we had it after you finished the game, it popped up a window where you could click on "OK" or "Buy Full Version" after the game was completed. I cannot remember exactly what the full text was anymore. It was not on any menu and could only be seen when you completed the game. It also brought you directly to the App Store and the product.
     
  13. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Advertise during the Superbowl. ;)
     
  14. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    Yep, that's what a lot of other people have too. Perhaps they were using it as an excuse to fail your app. You mentioned they failed it for several reasons, so it's certainly possible they were throwing the book at you for some reason.
     
  15. Acceleroto

    Acceleroto Well-Known Member

    I just got one approved with a "Full Version" buy button. There are lots of devs trying the free thing right now. It'll be interesting to see how they all do. Like was said earlier, don't give away too much, but make sure you give a good taste to make people want to buy the full version.
     
  16. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Free Smiles got through without a hitch. I read a note here about Apple having issues with grayed out/faded options, so I "de-button-ified" something I wasn't going to let you use.

    I got the impression that Apple wants each app to be a standalone product, free or not. You're welcome to inform a player of something else they could buy, to tease them about it, but you want to do it tastefully so not to discourage them.
     
  17. Anders

    Anders Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2009
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    Co-owner and CTO at Color Monkey
    Sweden
    Try to build up hype, and once you've got it, you better live up to it when you release it.

    And of course, it helps if the game is new and fresh, nobody is likely to get that excited about a word game or another Tetris clone (no name dropping here).

    We usually make a trailer (admittedly not that high quality yet, we still suck at that department hehe), put it up somewhere, and spread the word.

    It takes a lot of time to do a proper trailer. We spend about 3-5 days fulltime on a trailer. I know it sounds a lot (?), but there is so much you have to think about -- not too long, must be interesting to watch it all, you want to see more, find legal music that suits the trailer, synch everything to the music and so on.

    I still laugh at our early trailers (Touchgrind trailer 1), but we are getting better (Touchgrind trailer 2 and Sway).
     
  18. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    Indiana, USA
    This has definitely been an interesting discussion. It sounds to me like Apple is going out of their way to make it difficult for developers to really sell anything. It seems a bit counter-intuitive if you ask me. In a way I'm surprised that lite versions don't really help, but I suppose it would be annoying for people to have to download two different versions of a game. Has Apple ever given any rationale for why they don't want to adopt a shareware model, or has it pretty much been the "we don't want it, so don't ask" type mentality?
     
  19. Adams Immersive

    Adams Immersive Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2008
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    #19 Adams Immersive, Feb 7, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2009
    A shareware model wouldn't be any more annoying to users than Lite versions, especially if it wasn't timed. If you could play a "Lite versions's worth" of a game as much as you like, and then play the rest without a second download, I wouldn't think Apple would have any problem with that.

    But I suspect that the system wasn't designed for shareware--and it's quite a complex architecture, with DRM and all, not to mention the agreements and legalese involved. So adding a shareware model to the store could be a huge task, one that Apple's not in a hurry to tackle or even decide about. They may be playing "wait and see," because adding that complexity BEFORE they know if it's truly needed would lock them (and users) into something complex for all time. I'd say there's hope for an App Store 2.0 or 3.0 someday with a shareware model added, but I bet Apple doesn't even know for sure.

    Playing devil's advocate, though, I can see two reasons why as a USER I would not like the shareware model:

    1. Right now you can try a lite app and then buy the full app. Adding a second method to achieve that same result would be additional complexity ("which kind of game is this? lite or shareware?"). You could say that ANY one feature is OK and not too much complexity, but when you take the app store experience as a whole, that complexity really does matter.

    2. If you keep the shareware app on your phone in "lite mode," it's still taking up the storage space of the full app! 3 levels of fun, for 30 levels of storage space? AND 30 levels of download time when the app updates... even if the app hasn't changed anything that "lite" users can access anyway? That would be obnoxious. The current Lite apps dodge that potential problem.

    As a (potential future) developer I wouldn't mind users facing those issues :) And I'd like that I only had to maintain one app, not two. But as a user and gamer myself, I have some reservations, and I like the Lite model OK for now.

    (I also wonder how ratings would be affected by the shareware model--do have one average rating for "lite" mode and one for full paid mode? Do you mix the ratings together?)
     
  20. nattylux

    nattylux Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2008
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    Washington, DC
    I have a couple theories on this.

    1. Apple is not trying to make money with the App Store, even though they've "accidentally" made a ton. They are using it as advertising to sell devices. They've said this many times. As such, what they want is a LOT of free/low-priced apps that will appeal to as many potential customers as possible. So I don't think the glut of apps/lite versions bothers Apple as much as it bothers the developers.

    2. Given Apple's goal above, it makes sense why they don't want any shareware apps - they are annoying to customers. They want every app to be full-featured and standalone, rather than flaunt its limitations and annoy consumers.

    3. Incidentally, I'm pretty convinced that *forcing* a free time-trial mode on every app will lose everyone money. The vast majority of customers buy apps without doing any research at all. If you give those same people a free time trial, a lot of them are not going to go on to buy the app.
     

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