This article first appeared on my tumblr.
Last week, on November 10th I accidentally launched Ludo’s Quest on the App Store. Yes, you read that right - accidentally. It was planned for the 18th but I messed up. You see it was active only in Canada (I read that was a good way to test things out). But I could not see it in the Canadian App Store. In iTunesConnect, there is a link “View on App Store”. Well that redirected you to a 404 page. My game status was marked with Ready for Sale. So I figured there must be another status like For Sale. So I toggled all territories. A few hours later my colleague Alex comes over and tells me he bought and reviewed my game. Damn it! Accidental launch.
Turns out he found it by searching directly for “Ludo’s Quest”. I then looked in the Canadian App Store and could not see it anywhere, not even in New Apps. Not even by going to Explore . Even after a couple days it still wasn’t visible anywhere. The only way to find it was to search for it.
According to a techcrunch article, all apps shown in the App Store are from curated lists or based on the number of installs. To show up in a Best New Game section, you must have a lot of installs in the first few days. This gives the indie a chance at fame. This makes the launch a crucial moment. A crucial moment I failed to capitalize on.
With a messed up launch, all I could do was scramble and try to reach out to my network. That evening I sent out 150 emails to friends, family, old colleagues, even ex-girlfriends. I also texted a lot of people who I know own iPhones with the link to my iTunes page.
After a couple of days, I got 20 sales, and 12 5-stars on the Canadian App Store. Was that enough to show up in the Best New Game section? Nope. After a week I’m at 50 sales (mostly Canada) and still not visible in the Canadian or US App Stores.
I won’t give up yet though. Here are the opportunities I am currently pursuing.
Ask Apple to be in a Featured Section
I read that you can ask Apple to be in a featured section. So I wrote them to try my luck on the Pay Once & Play and Made in Canada sections. They got back to me asking for some assets and details. I don’t know if that’s a generic message sent to everyone, or if they really want to feature me. In anycase, I am preparing that now.
Localize the Game
I got two marketing leads to review Ludo’s Quest. One from Germany (Marcel from myAppTester) and another from Poland (Kamil from AntyApps). I sent them promo codes and also asked them to translate the game in their native tongue. Both were kind enough to do so. I believe App Stores rankings are different per country. So having a localized app should surely help. Soon I will launch Ludo’s Quest localized in German, Polish, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. Let’s see if that helps.
Integrate Constructive Feedback
After the first few days, I got lots of feedback from different people. Notably this American dad who left a hard review on the US App Store:
Good try, but no
Cute graphics, but character moves too slowly, even when running, and there's no double jump. Trying to jump higher by running and jumping is difficult and frustrating. With a few tweaks, could be a fun three-star game.by Dad Times Two
Whoa - that hurts. Third person who tells me holding the red button to run, and then hitting the green to jump is difficult. Kamil from AntyApps also shared that frustration in his review. Same echo from Sir Tap Tap who reviewed the game but turned down the offer to make a video out of it. It worked really well on a Nintendo controller back in the 80s but on a touch screen it’s a different thing. I gotta work on that.
I’m a Web guy where iterative development is the norm. So next week I’ll launch version 1.1 where user controls are improved and the game is localized. I will also get back to Apple with assets and all to be featured. Slowly to the road to success… I hope!