Developing games for iphone-profitable?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by iphonica, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. iphonica

    iphonica Member

    Aug 3, 2009

    I love games and I'm thinking about developing games for the iphone platform.

    Would you recommend doing so? what is your experience?

    Is the appstore too crowded? what are the chances to succeed ? should I invest my money on this or is the appstore a bubble that's about to burst?

    Appreciate your take on the subject..

  2. AlexN

    AlexN Well-Known Member

    #2 AlexN, Aug 3, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2009
    A very generalized number: somewhere less than 5% of games are profitable.

    It's going to depend a lot on what you put into it (and subsequently need to recoup to be profitable), the quality of your game, how much exposure you get, and so on. The vast majority of games make less than $500.
  3. Glomgold

    Glomgold Member

    Jul 13, 2009
  4. dangerz

    dangerz Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2009
    Develop the games for fun and think of the money as bonus.

    I don't make much money at all on my games, but I've met a lot of cool people along the way and learned a lot of new stuff.
  5. 99c_gamer

    99c_gamer Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    dont plan on quitting your day job. I'd be happy making $1 a day just to cover my expensive iphone gaming habit.
  6. iphonica

    iphonica Member

    Aug 3, 2009
    Thank you all for the answers..

    Glomgold - thanks for the link. Great info!

    I must say it all isn’t very encouraging. I still want to believe that if your app is good enough it will succeed but it appears there’s no connection between the amount of investment to the number of sales.. why one app succeeds while another fails..:(
  7. coolman

    coolman Well-Known Member

    No, making the app/game is the easy part. marketing it well and selling well is the hardest.
  8. iphonica

    iphonica Member

    Aug 3, 2009
    development costs estimation?

    yeah.. from what I read, promotion and visibility seem to be big issues.:(
    the thing is whether u(developers) believe in this platform? is it a good place to sell games?:confused:

    it'll be great to get some king of an estimation on development costs:
    can you please share your experience.. and i'm talking about developing a nice game with nice graphics..and good gameplay such as pocket god (my fav! simply genious :cool: ) or dinner rush/sally salon/flight control/harbor master...etc..
  9. Touchsmiths

    Touchsmiths Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2009
    iPhone Game Developer
    Richmond, VA

    As far as I'm concerned, the iPhone is one of the best markets out there for independent game developers. An easy platform to develop for and very low monetary barriers to entry. Take a look at the top 15 list of games:

    1. Price is Right
    2. Bookworm
    3. Ragdoll Blaster
    4. Cartoon Wars
    5. Doodle Jump
    6. Rope'n'Fly
    7. Minigore
    8. Bejeweled 2
    9. Deer Hunter 3D
    10. Ranch Rush
    11. I Dig It
    12. FLight Control
    13. F.A.S.T
    14. Deal or No Deal
    15. Scrabble

    That's 11/15 from "indie" developers (Price is Right, Bejeweled, Deal or No Deal, and Scrabble being the exceptions). And 10 out of 11 are not with any major dedicated-iPhone publisher (Chillingo, ngmoco, etc.). I guarantee you will not see that for any other game market.

    As far as development costs, it really depends on your skill level. If you are decent at both graphics and programming, you're development costs can pretty much be $99 dev license + time it takes to make game. If you need to hire a freelance graphics artist, programmer, or audio designer, you'll be pushing up the cost significantly since the market rate can be steep based on the talent level.
  10. CommanderData

    CommanderData Well-Known Member
    Patreon Indie

    I agree, "how much does it cost to develop a game" is almost impossible to answer.

    1) Are you a jack-of-all-trades?
    2) Do you own a Mac?
    3) Do you know how to program?
    4) Do you know how to program in Objective-C?
    5) Do you know how to write code for games?
    6) How are your artistic skills?
    7) How about your music skills?
    8) What type of game are you trying to make?
    9) What do you value your time at, per hour?

    Some thoughts and notes about each:
    #1 - The more you know how to do yourself, the less you'll need to pay others (unless you decide to pay others just to speed up the process).

    #2 - Hardware (and the Dev program cost) should be factored in if you don't have a Mac already. I bought an iMac just to dabble in this stuff.

    #3 - If the answer is no, it'll take you a *lot* of effort to get started. Most people crash and burn at this step.

    #4 - If you've programmed in other languages, but not Objective-C, you will have a smaller learning curve, but it might still take some time to get a handle on things. I'd been programming for more than 25 years, and I still had to take time out to read up on Objective-C and play with tutorials and sample code.

    #5 - "Code for games" is basically a generic catch-all meaning you have a grasp of many different concepts- Graphics (OpenGL or Quartz), Audio, Threading, user interface design, code speed optimization, memory use optimization. You could expand that to include stuff for your website and leaderboards- HTML, PHP, SQL, etc. I'd say the majority of people who know how to program already, but have never made a game previously will crash and burn here, as the variety of knowledge required to create a game is much greater than your average utility or business application.

    #6 - If you cannot draw everything yourself you'll need to hire graphic designers / artists. Depending on your needs this could be quite costly. Fortunately my retro-graphic needs for Rogue Touch were easy to satisfy between some hand-drawn artwork that my wife and I did combined with some public domain tiles.

    #7 - My music skills are non-existant. Automatic outsource there :)

    #8 - The type of game you want to make (and your skill level) really dictates how long this will take. Could be tens, hundreds, or thousands of man-hours work, which ties directly into #9...

    #9 - What could you be making per hour if you were doing something else besides coding this game? Most people forget to value their time and assume that the cost of making a game is the price of your Mac and the Dev program $99 fee. I'm not going to go into my hourly fees as a consultant, but despite reasonable success with Rogue Touch if I factor in what I would have made had I worked on other projects instead of RT it makes the game a huge loss for me.

    Despite that, I am very glad I did it, as it was a lot of fun. I learned a new language (well actually two since I had to learn PHP for the leaderboards). I met a lot of great people too- fans of my game, other developers. I also have Rogue Touch, which was developed as the game *I* wanted to play. If nobody else liked it, at least I would have. :D
  11. arn

    arn Administrator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    Apr 19, 2008
    This is a hard question to answer.

    One thing I'd like to point out is that that 5% isn't a random 5%. There is skill and a lot of effort involved. So your chance isn't really 5%.

    - If you're a bit lazy, don't have much in the way of programming skills, don't really care about your product, etc.... your chance is probably closer to 0.1%
    - If you're smart, hard working, quick to adapt etc... you're chances may be closer to 10%.

    There is a connection between a good app and success. It doesn't correlate perfectly, but it's there.

  12. iphonica

    iphonica Member

    Aug 3, 2009
    Thank u all for great detailed answers!!

    I myself don’t know how to code, so it’s good that my friends do :).. we got ourselves a macmini and well.. got a bit lost on our way.. :) . It sure is different to code for games… (CommanderData can’t believe u did ur own graphics.. nice!)

    with all the risks and the high investment put in to this ..I guess ur all doing it basically because u love games, right? :D

    10x again.. really cool ppl in this forum!!:cool:
  13. Hug_a_Panda_Ben

    Hug_a_Panda_Ben Active Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Go For It

    If you like games and you want to build your own games then you should do it...even though the store gets more and more crowded by the day and many people don't make money shouldn't convince you not to do something...especially if you think you have a great idea and want to see it through.

    However, like many things in life...the idea is the easy part and following through the harder part of the equation. That's why my hat goes off to all the developers on this forum who have released a game. Even though it might not be Flight Control successful it's pretty impressive to see people start with an idea and then release a game.

    They say the journey is the reward...
  14. smasher

    smasher Active Member

    Aug 6, 2009
    There is so much more to do than you think - even when programming is done, there is content creation (art and level design) and when that's done there's bug testing and play testing, and when that's all done and the game is golden there's promotion. :)

    I don't want to discourage, though - there's nothing quite like finishing your own game and watching other people enjoy it. It's a real high. And the iPhone game market is more open than the console platforms, and it's easier to get people to pay with the app store than it is with PC indie.
  15. HappyFuntime

    HappyFuntime Active Member

    I completely share that sentiment! I work as a programmer in the 9-to-5 world so I understand #9 pretty well, but nothing at work compares to creating and unleashing your own game. There's a definite sense of accomplishment to be had. :)

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