The App Store Experiment

About a month ago we launched Maya’s Dress Up, our first game for the iPhone & iPad.

Like everyone else who gets involved in application development for the iOS App Store we were very curious to see how it would perform.

To date we’ve had a bit more than 1,700 sales for both devices and we estimate it would take us at least 6x that amount before we recoup our original investment. At the same time we’ve already got planned a lot of updates and improvements for the game, which will hopefully help it perform even better in the coming months.

Monitoring the sales and ranks of both our applications on the App Store has been part of our every day routine, since they were released. It’s a nice thing to see when you get a spike (it’s true that on weekends sales go up!), but then you have to spend some time thinking what could have caused that spike.

Unfortunately Apple doesn’t provide any kind of insights as to what works and what doesn’t with one’s marketing efforts, something that people have been requesting for sometime now. In the end you’re left guessing…

The experiment

Although Greeks ourselves, we usually don’t pay much attention to the regional App Store, as we’d only had 9 sales from it in the first month. This Monday, however, I noticed a spike in sales for the iPhone edition, coming from Greece, in one of AppFigures‘ great reports.Maya's Dress Up climbs the charts in the Greek App Store

What stroke me as odd was the fact that this spike was enough to send us climbing to #4 of the Top 10 of the Kids category and mind you, that spike was caused by less than 5 units of our app sold. It felft exciting to see our game at that spot, but soon it got me thinking. If such a low number of sales is required to jump that high in a category, what would it take for us to get in the overall Top 25 of the Greek App Store?

We set out to find out! Using Facebook and a couple of phone calls, we asked everyone we knew who had an iPhone or iPod Touch to buy the game and tell their friends to do the same (we promised we’d buy them beers, sweets and coffee in return :P). At the same time we kept checking our rank on our devices.

Maya's Dress Up at #29 in the Greek App StoreLo and behold, a few hours later we had climbed to #1 in Kids, #4 in Family, #12 in All Games and finally to #37 in the overall Top 50 of the Greek AppStore! We kept the promotion going stronger and at about 30 minutes before midnight we had reached #29 in the Top 50.

Seeing how not everyone had replied to our Facebook messages and that we’d ran out of contacts to tap to for support, we settled with the idea we wouldn’t be making it to the Top 25 that day.

I went home wondering how many sales had brought us to that position. I estimated 25-30. I would find out the next day, at about 1:30pm, which is when we usually get last day’s reports.

The day after

The number was small, sad and apocalyptic. Less than 15 units were enough to take us to the Top 50 of Greece’s App Store in half a day! I guess that covers “small”. But why sad and apocalyptic?

Well, one could assume that there aren’t many apps available in the Greek App Store, so it’s easy for one to climb high in the charts. To my knowledge there are hundreds of thousands of them for sale here and over 93,000 iOS devices owned, so it can’t be that. Well, then, there is only one explanation left; not too many Greeks purchase applications on the App Store.

That’s very unsettling, since it indicates that there’s so much piracy here that the top charts are formed by those few who actually pay to get an application. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that most Greeks have jailbroken devices, in order to have access to everything for free. And that is sad!

Lessons learnt

If you were thinking of developing an application for just the Greek App Store I would advise you otherwise. Unless it’s free, of course. Then I’m sure it would be greeted with the utmost enthusiasm!

Making it to the Top 50 of a country’s App Store means nothing, if that store is weak to begin with. Although piracy is less common on iOS devices compared to other platforms, if Greeks are involved they’ll find a way to make the best of it; piracy, that is!

It is important to have people that will help out on the spot, in an experiment such as this, even if it takes some… bribing to get them to do it! (thank you guys and gals! :))

Finally, if your experiment makes you less than $30 and you’ve promised drinks to over 20 people, then something’s wrong! :P

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  • http://twitter.com/harkal Harry Kalogirou

    How nice of you to provide such great insight there! Found out about your blog and company not long ago and I must confess I was quite thrilled. (you know, providing so polished games, being located in Thessaloniki and stuff!). I wish all the courage and luck to move forward, and best of luck with Maya Dress Up in the future.

    On the side of jail broken/actual phones in Greece, I would suggest to incorporate a service like localytics.com. It allows you to understand a lot about your user base, and one dimention can be the whether they have a JB phone or not.

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