I put up a new episode of the Game Dev Life podcast which is an interview with accountant turned flash/iOS/Android developer ChrisJeffGames, maker of Space is Key. I know that not everyone has time to listen to a full podcast, so I wanted to share some of the most interesting parts of the podcast. In the show, Chris describes two different types of predators trying to take advantage of his success:
As Space is Key is a relatively simple game, there have been a number of clones on both the iOS and Android store, some of them getting hundreds of thousands of downloads. Chris has been surprised not that clones exist, but at the poor quality of execution. Apple has been much more responsive to take down requests, generally taking a few days. Google on the other hand has taken more than a month to take down an obvious clone of Space is Key. Chris says that this disparity in levels of responsiveness/professionalism is reflected in all his interactions with the two stores.
Pay for play reviews
A steady source of predatory behavior is the mass of "reviewers" offering to give Chris "exposure" for an up front fee. As I asked him about the frequency of review requests, he replied "I'm scanning my inbox and I can literally see two from today." Reviewers will reach out, asking for a press kit and when Chris replies they come back saying something like "Yeah, we can do a text only review for $150 or a video review for $500." Sometimes they won't even put up a veneer of legitimacy, offering a pay for play review straight off. It is unclear whether these reviewers do or do not have any sort of meaningful audience that would be worth paying to get exposure to, or if they are baldly trying to take advantage of insecure game developers in an overcrowded market desperately trying to generate downloads.
Although I've contributed to a number of mobile games, I haven't been the primary publisher and have yet to directly experience this phenomenon. I would love to hear from other mobile game developers. What has your experience been with mobile app predators? Have you ever purchased a review and was it worth it? Who else is trying to take advantage of mobile game developers?
You can listen to the full episode of the game dev life podcast with ChrisJeff Games on iTunes.
For those who use an alternate podcast client, you can access the Game Dev Life RSS directly at this link. or for maximum convenience you can access the file directly.