First experience developing an iOS application and thinking about marketing and advertising

... in general, I created the game. But it was like that.

A few months ago, my boss came up and was pleased that from now on, in addition to my main responsibilities, I will have to do iOS applications (not very complicated, but necessary for work), that I bought Mac mini and that I am the most experienced of all in terms of Apple products (this is true, because your humble servant has been walking with the 1st iPad for the fourth year already). Okay.

After two or three weeks, when I got a little experience working with Mac OS X, XCode and Objective-C, I realized that it would be great to create my application from scratch and learn the development process from idea to laying out in the AppStore. So I did, sacrificing laziness and free time in the evenings.

The VMWare virtual machine with MacOS X Mountain Lion from the guys from iAtkos was chosen as the development environment (and I don’t have a MacOS X computer at home) (on my laptop with Intel Core i7 the machine worked very well). As an idea, a game was chosen, which I was going to do everything, but my hands did not reach at all: a simple tiled puzzle. I reasoned that for an inexperienced developer (it's about me) it would not be difficult to create game mechanics (it turned out that way). To make the game unique, it was decided to use the pictures that my dad draws (yes, he is an artist) in his spare time from work for entertainment. And so that it was very good, it was decided for some puzzles to show a video of how they were drawn (many people like these videos on YouTube and I am no exception).

The frame of the game was made quickly and the creation of design began, which was given, to be honest, with difficulty. My old sketch was taken as a basis:


Photoshop magic turned this picture into this:


This is not a masterpiece, but, as it seemed to me, and not quite a nightmare, so we stopped at this option.

When the game was 70% ready, it was shown to work colleagues, from whom very good advice on the graphic part was received (“terrible icon”, “change the color of the inscriptions”, etc.). In addition, they advised me to spread it faster in the AppStore when I fix everything. But I became stubborn, because I wanted to attach an assistant who would tell when the program starts that the user needs to know. So the release has been delayed.

Music and sounds are a very important part of the game program, so it was decided not to skimp and spend money. As a result, on the website www.pond5.comMedia files were bought at 2115 rubles. Yes, it’s a little expensive, so it was decided to take the music that accompanies the video from the good guys from Destiny Records and OnAirStudio , about whom I accidentally learned from the Russian play player Arthur (BlackSilverUFA), for which I am grateful to him. These teams create good quality music and allow you to use them in your projects, provided that you tell about them somewhere: inside the program or in the description of the YouTube video. I thanked them in the About section.

In the process of working on music, it was decided to buy an Apple developer license for a change and check how the game works on a physical device (by the time I and my colleagues bought an iPhone 4 for four). As it turned out, bad. The fact is that for the saves I use the SQLite database (which I work with, by the way, through , which greatly simplified the development process) and nothing was written to this database on the physical device, although everything was great on the emulator. The site helped, on which I found out that the database needs to be copied to a directory that is writable. As a result, code was added to ViewDidLoad:

   NSArray *cachePath = NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(NSCachesDirectory, NSUserDomainMask, YES);
   NSString *cacheDir = [cachePath objectAtIndex:0];
   gameSavesDB = [cacheDir stringByAppendingPathComponent:@"gameSaves.db"];
   NSFileManager *fileManager = [NSFileManager defaultManager];
   if (![fileManager fileExistsAtPath:gameSavesDB]){
      NSString *databasePathFromApp = [[[NSBundle mainBundle] resourcePath] stringByAppendingPathComponent:@"gameSaves.db"];
      NSError *error;
      [fileManager copyItemAtPath:databasePathFromApp toPath:gameSavesDB error:&error];
      if (error != nil){
         NSLog(@"[Database: Error]%@", error);

There were no more problems in the program and on the physical device everything worked surprisingly well.

The option with In App Purchase was chosen as monetization, as I don’t really like advertising in mobile applications. From how to work with In App, epazzz wrote very well in the article “iPhone Development: Integrating In-App Purchases” . But I still took the code and additional information here (see Jojodmo's answer ): This greatly simplified and accelerated development. The result was this logic: 15 free puzzles are available in the game. Then a window appears with a very sad cat, which offers to unlock the entire game. After this, it is supposed to never ask for money.

Now the game was completely ready and it was time to upload it to the AppStore. The check lasted 10 days. Apparently, because review took place both the game itself and the In App Purchase. Once returned with the status of Metadata Rejected and the censor wrote that he did not understand how to find it in the In App program. Apparently, in the fields marked as Notes, it was not necessary to leave emoticons, but to write clear instructions to the person. It happens. After the steps were provided, the game quickly appeared in the store. And the last phase has come ...

Promotion. To be honest, this phase is still ongoing. The game is already available for a month and a half, so a number of articles have been read about marketing, the knowledge of which they are trying to apply. So far, it is not very successful, experience is being gained. So what was done:
1. Requests for a FREE review were sent to the sites: , , , , , , , , .
Bottom line: only people from responded (now we need to write an article for them in English). There is no answer from the rest, but on most English-language sites there is a very convenient form for sending requests for a review, so maybe it will come in handy for someone.
2. An ad on Facebook was made for 300 rubles. This brought a stable 3 downloads per day. It was not possible to work effectively with social networks in general in terms of advertising a mobile application. But, probably, the matter is in me, because I don’t use them and have little idea how it all works.
3. They say that you can make a post on pikabu and 9gag and this will increase the number of downloads. And there is even a positive experience. But I do not use these sites, on pikabu they scolded me for the matter, so I decided to leave the idea for later.
4. What doubled the number of downloads is the fifth update, which brought optimization of the game for the iPad screen (previously there was only an iPhone version).
5. Using the sites , and have done keyword work. Also in iTunesConnect, in the Name field, in addition to the application name, keywords were also inserted (that is, instead of, for example, “From Seville to Grenada” it became “From Seville to Grenada - a great puzzle for girls” (these names are not real, but just an example )).
6. In addition, according to the latest rumors, the download of the page in the AppStore is translated into different languages, which greatly affects the downloadability of the application. For me it is Russian, English and French. I can’t say anything about the effect, because the last language was added recently and so far there are no users in France.
7. And of course standard: the presence of a site with a link to the program and a promotional video on YouTube. We made the site together with a colleague at work (I have a lot of good people at work), and the video was recorded using the built-in tools of Mac OS X Yosemite, processed on the iPad in iMovie, and then sent to Photoshop for overlaying. As a result, it turned out like this:

And the last thing that has been done so far is analytics. This was very easy to do using . It’s easy, as there is a very thoughtful interface and step-by-step instructions with instructions on what exactly needs to be done. So analytics was added in a few minutes and now I will at least know how many users have reached the In App dialogue, and how many have not been able to solve even the first puzzle.

In conclusion: development cost. As you can see, we managed to meet a small amount:
- 2,000 rubles for iPhone 4;
- $ 100 (at the old rate) for the developer’s license;
- almost 2 115 rubles for sounds and music;
- 300 rubles for advertising on Facebook;
- 340 rubles for a cake for colleagues.

I read on the web that the minimum cost for developing an iOS application is $ 5000. Apparently, when this amount was calculated, some other parameters were taken into account, because in my case, clearly less came out. On the other hand, I had very good development conditions: there was no time limit, there was no shortage of test devices either, because at work there is a whole range of devices ...In general, there were no problems with the devices. Testing was carried out together with colleagues, and translation into English, French and German was done by two translation colleagues, for which I am very grateful to them. And I translated it into Ukrainian myself (although so far only Russian and English are in the game; I will attach other languages ​​later). The design was created by me in Photoshop. When there was a need for new pictures (buttons, seals, assistant girl), I explained everything to my artist and he painted everything that was needed. Then, after a stormy surge of emotions, the pictures were corrected, finished, and given to me. And all, of course, is free.

No earnings yet. I think maybe it’s still possible to give people a choice: either buy an In App, or turn on the display of ads (despite the fact that at the beginning of the article I showed that I was against it). I will be glad to good advice.

I say goodbye to this. Who read - well done, and who is tired - I sincerely apologize. Bye Bye Bye.

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