Apple now has over 200,000 applications in its App Store.Standing out in that crowded market is difficult, but not impossible, says Vadim Dagman, CEO of mobile gaming company Digital Prunes.
His advice to would-be developers: Keep it simple and make your app visually engaging.
Vadim was a senior executive working in the realm of streaming until last summer. That’s when he decided to take a chance on the iPhone platform.
He and a buddy decided to make “Slingshot Cowboy,” a simple iPhone game (iTunes link). Using the touch screen on the iPhone, you pull back a virtual slingshot and fire at animals in the distance. As you knock out animals with your shots, you get points.
The free game reached the top of the App Store charts in its first week of release in August of last year. Since then, Slingshot Cowboy has been downloaded 5 million times for free. Of those, 100,000 people spent $4.99 to upgrade to a premium version. Otherwise, it’s advertising supported.
Vadim works with AdMob and Google. He says his app gets slightly better than $2 CPMs. When asked about total revenue generated, he demurred. But, when we suggested a $1 million to $2 million range, he didn’t shoot us down.
He and his business partner launched a follow up called “Slingshot Safari,” (iTunes) which is basically the same game. It has seen 500,000 downloads after one month in the App Store. An iPad version is in the works, as is an Android version.
Vadim is trying to build a business around mobile games. He wants to be selling 5-6 games by the end of the year, and he says he’s trying to build a real business.
We asked him what he thinks makes for a successful app. Here’s his advice to other app makers:
- Keep it simple. People are carrying iPhones around in their pocket. They’re going to play in bite sized chunks, so do try to make your game overly complicated or involved. A user should understand how to play a game immediately.
- Make it visually engaging. Have it be something that’s nice to look at, and nice to show friends. Have it draw people in.
- Be ready for it to be a success. Don’t launch a game thinking it will be a flop. If you’re ready for success, you’ll be in better shape. That means being ready to monetise immediately. Vadim said he didn’t have advertising lined up at first, which cost him a few dollars.
- Keep updating. This keeps people interested in the app. It’s like a TV show, they keep tuning in to see what’s new. So push out updates with new characters or levels or tweaks.
- Keep an eye on quality. There’s 200,000 apps in the app store, but most of them are really crappy. If you make a quality product it will stand out.
- Spread the word. This one’s somewhat obvious, but Vadim emphasised using social media and anything else to tell the public about your game.