And judging by the App Store, being 'featured' only meant that the app icon was added to the New & Noteworthy section....not the giant banner you get for being App of the Week (currently Nike GPS) or Game of the Week (currently Cut the Rope)...unless I missed it earlier in the month?
I probably buy a game from these sections every week, or 2 weeks, but I almost never scour the store for hidden gems myself.
I think this section of the App Store is a HUGE draw for developers because it allows them to use their imagination when creating a new game and they still have an inkling of hope that they'll get noticed or featured.
In the Android Market however - if you create something awesome but original, you're pretty much doomed to obscurity unless you find some other marketing avenue to drive traffic to your game.
Or maybe by some miracle Google will feature you, but they have pretty limited space available for featured apps, and nobody seems to know how those are chosen.
You get a lot more visibility being featured on the iPhone compared to the other two.
There is also an impressive sales graph for the paid version at the end of the post, suggesting that the game has been rather lucrative since the beginning of October:
From its App Store description: Downloaded over a million times, woah!
[Edit: make that 2 million now http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1810010]
Congrats on the success of your game!
Sunday: few people looking to start something new, languish for a few days.
Monday: it's *Monday*.
Tuesday: Still beginning of the week, things are still being piled on
Wednesday: nothing wrong with it
Thursday: early adopters try, advantage of full Friday + an extra day of users before weekend
Friday: people finish / wind down / have more free time to start things
Saturday: In the swing of X, or looking to start X.
My final take from that: Thursday gives you part of a day with early birds to find game-breakers ASAP, and Friday and Saturday are useful days to have early to boost your numbers at the start. You're also sure to get all of Friday by starting on the day before. Wednesday gives little advantage over Thursday, but costs you another day before bug-fixing weekend / next week. And early week releases are, well, too close to Monday. Nobody likes that.
All of which is wildly subjective, and is merely justification and not reason. But it makes some sense in this light (to me, at least).
The second part is the fact that Saturdays are the biggest App Store sales day of the week, so by launching on a Thursday, you have a couple days to build up steam and be high in the charts by the time Saturday rolls around.
Do $0.99 apps sell way more than other priced apps?
These days, I feel like there are less tangible disadvantages to the 99c price point, other than the fact that you make less per sale. There's still the issue that users are willing to put more effort into a product they pay more for, and will even go to further lengths to defend it, because they want to justify their purchase and their taste.
On the App Store, it all comes down to perceived risk. If a user is unsure about an app, they probably won't spend much more than 99c because they don't want to overspend on a dud. Once a user sees an app in Apple's "featured list" or has used the lite version of that app, they'll be much more willing to splurge on a higher price, because they know what they're getting.
For Trainyard, I felt that there was no longer a big difference between the $1.99 and $2.99 price points, because by the time a user arrived at the purchasing page, they already knew they wanted it.
All that being said, there is a large contingent of users that seem to only buy apps at $0.99, but most of the time, your apps won't be visible to those users. The moment I reached the top 50, I knew I would have tons of that sort of user looking at Trainyard, so I did the price drop.
But now you have me thinking. Are MORE people in the the $0.99-only crowd seeing my app, and are there enough of those people to make DROPPING the price more financially beneficial???
I suppose I could run a "sale", but once you start getting comfortable with a nice daily income, taking risks becomes harder and harder.
I'm not sure how the Android charts work, but in the App Store, it's ranked by units sold, not by profit. This is the KEY thing that is crucial to how the market works. Even if I make LESS money than I did the day before, I will be higher up in the charts, which will get me more exposure, and eventually more sales. Going high in the App Store is all about upward momentum. The volume of sales doesn't change linearly with rank either, it's quite exponential.
In the App Store, it's ranked by units sold ...
I will be higher up in the charts, which will get me
more exposure ... volume of sales doesn't change
linearly with rank either, it's quite exponential.
If you were going to game the system and you spent $10000 or even $20000 to get your app into the top 5, you'd make your money back within a day or two, and your app would be remain "sticky" at the top (provided it wasn't awful).
Do you think it was a mistake to start at $1.99 based on your theory? Should the entire aim to be to go as cheap as possible to get into the top 10 in the first place? (Or is that unlikely unless there is some other form of catalyst, e.g. Apple feature and therefore you may as well have the price at $1.99 / $2.99 until that happens?).
Do you believe this also applies for users searching for a specific keyword or combination of keywords? The 'above-the-fold' phenomenon. For example, 'baby feeding'? How did you do on keyword searches before you were selected by Apple (though Trainyard is a pretty unique name)?
Congratulations on your inspiring success! Are you going to release the original Tic Tac Toe game now?
I may do the tic-tac-toe game at some point as a multiplayer game.
Of course, next week when a $9.99 game is in the top 10 I'll have to revise this opinion. :-)
Then comes a time where there are no new markets to exploit, so you build a a new app or a continuation of the old one, a sequel. At this time you also lower the price to 0.99 just to make sure you have the most exposure possible. Only now you have the advantage of past and present publicity and if rightly timed, momentum... And then off course you repeat the formula depending on your market and the viability of your app.
"Then comes a time where there are no new markets to exploit"
The crazy thing with iOS development is that there are 250k new users every day who are always looking for a few apps to put on their new phone, which is how a game like Angry Birds can stay high in the charts for months.
The cool thing is that now that you've been the developer of Trainyard, when you do reach a point where you should be releasing a new game, you have gotten so much credibility it isn't even funny. And off course that translate to more immediate sales at the beginning and a big chunk of extra steady clash flow at the end.
For instance, we've found that that Apps generally fit into two camps: those that change their pricing consistently; such as:
Versus those Apps which try to keep pricing stable and only have one-off promotions; such as bejewelled:
The general notion and hope behind such price changes is to get an influx of people in to buy rapidly (to grab the limited time discount price). This in turn hopefully pushes the App up the sales chart where it will receive more visibility and in turn more sales from users who would not otherwise be aware of the product.
BTW, just like PopCap does with their games, I think this one could live on a Ton of platforms ... including PCs/Macs. That'd get in the people without an iOS device...
Are you looking to bring this to the Android market, and if you do, would you consider the 'free but with ads' style that is being offered by Angry Birds producer Rovio?
I'm not much into games but curiosity got the better of me and Trainyard Express is downloading.
BTW, your dreamhost account was able to handle 100K submissions? not bad!