The App Store Problem

Developers complain that their game doesn't sell in the app store or doesn't have enough downloads and thus doesn't make enough revenue through their in app purchases.

There are problems getting visibility on the app store, its key to success. However the main problem I see isn't visibility - its boredom of the users looking at your app.

Let me give you one example: I am looking for good strategy games in my iPad and iPhone since months and can't find a lot. Most so called strategy games are Tower Defense games or variations of games already in the app store since years. There are exceptions like Autumn Dynasty or Ravenmark. But most other strategy titles can be put into 3 or 4 drawers or "me too" or clones of existing concepts. Boring.

The same is happening on many other genres. It seems that developers look whats selling and copy that concept - and then complain their game isn't selling. How lame is that. I can understand that licensed IP's for movies like Despicable Me simply copy a game concept (runners) and be good with it - but long term revenue is not happening on game types which exist in the app store since years.

Developer friends told me they are tired of the App Store. Its not as exiting as it used to be. But that's exactly whats happening. 90% of all games being published already exist.

That's exactly why indies have better success than commercial developers: they despise copying concepts.

So the first step for success on the iOS store is to make a big step away to all mass concepts like runners, tower defenses and match three games.


  1. I believe that the innovation in this market is not made in risky leaps, but in discreet changes to a genre until it becomes something else entirely.

    You were saying the appstore is full with TD type of games. Yes, but besides the obvious copies there are games that add little twists to the concept - we have reverse td games, td with capturable resources that the attackers have to carry back, recurrent gameplay td's where you lose a level a few times until you have enough resources to pass it, time displacement td's, td's where you produce you own units, td's where you actively participate like in a 1st person shooter, td's with research trees, with skill trees, with upgrade trees and the genre isn't even in its final form :)

    The genres have changed over time and they are in a continuous shift but new ideas emerge from the indie and student prototypes market all the time. And good concepts always find a way even if they are improvements on an existing game - my best example is Kingdom Rush right now.

    All i'm saying is not all hope is lost eve in the appstores are full with copies and that's not a valid excuse for a game not selling at all.

  2. I wont put this to far away from its context, but one may take a look at this nice blog article regarding revenue issues / comparisions between iOS and Droid Playstore.