My experience placing the game on the App Store

    Hi, Habrahabr!

    In this topic, I would like to talk about my first experience of posting and promoting a game in the App Store. I can’t call it successful, but at least the presence of experience in itself, full of bumps and conclusions made are already a plus. I have been developing Android games for quite some time, so this will also be a look from the side of the Android developer, who I hope will be of interest to someone too.

    The idea of ​​porting some of their games to iOS, as they say, was in the air. But as usual, lack of time, the need to learn new technologies, and sometimes just laziness - did their dirty deed. And now, some time ago, I met a wonderful developer who took over the entire technical part (for which many thanks to him!). Without hesitation, we decided to make the port of my most-Android hit - Shooting Club 2 (about 9 million downloads today). This is a little arcade sniper simulator where the player needs to hit all targets with limited ammunition. At the same time, the game has some semblance of real ballistics (of course, hypertrophied for the sake of arcade), when the distance, the wind (which still needs to be determined by examining the level) and the pulse influence the path of the bullet. In general, such a shooting range with its features.

    There is nothing much to tell about the porting process itself. Everything went pretty quickly and smoothly. Initially, the game was made without using any engines on Canvas. The port for iOS, in turn, is already written in Unity (with a further aim to make a build under Windows Phone).

    Turning to the main part of my topic, it all starts, of course, from the application page in iTunes. The most important thing to prepare for after Google Play is the lack of the ability to make any changes promptly. Whether it is an extension of functionality, or correction of a critical bug, or even a grammatical error in the description, everything will most likely require at least 2 weeks. I used to be sure that pre-moderation, when they just didn't let you go to the App Store, at the same time explain the essence of errors (and make it possible to fix them), is much better than post-moderation, when the whole account goes to hell based on obscure criteria, an incomprehensible Google algorithm . Now, "having experienced in my own skin," I honestly said, doubted which of the evils is less.

    I will not talk about obvious things, such as the importance of the icon, but I’ll dwell better on the differences compared to Google Play. Here, the first screenshot is no less important than the icon, as it is displayed directly in the search results (on the iPad). Keywords can be formally indicated in a special field, and not smeared according to the description, constantly fearing not to overdo it. This field has a limit of 100 characters, keywords are indicated with a comma without a space. As I understand it, you should not use composite keys (from several words), they are ignored. Localization of the description and screenshots increase the number of downloads in a natural way - here everything is the same as in the Play Store.

    Not without incidents when placing the application. The first version was reject due to the mismatch of the age rating indicated by me (12+) and the one that should be in the opinion of the review team (18+). Unfortunately, I did not save the text of the answer, but in my own words the meaning is this: the presence of firearms in the game means putting a daw “often encountered realistic violence” and, as a result, a rating of 18+. It seemed to me a little unfair, given that there is no violence here at all (we shoot only at targets!). But at that moment, I decided that such a rule worked for everyone in the App Store, so the game was locked up with an 18+ age rating. Obviously, an overrated rating will adversely affect downloads, therefore, having studied this issue more closely, I turned to support, gave examples of similar games and asked to lower the age rating to a more suitable one. After some time, the answer came that the game really fits the 12+ rating (where were you before?), But support cannot change this rating, you need to upload a new build. Well, it’s necessary, it’s necessary, it’s downloaded. As a result, after about 3 weeks of waiting, an even stranger rejection comes:
    3.6: Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected
    Specifically, it would be appropriate to remove or revise attached screenshots.
    And all three of my screenshots are attached. It is clear that images of weapons and ammunition do not fit the 4+ rating, but how to take screenshots without weapons in a weapon game? Unsuccessfully racking my brains over this issue, I wrote an appeal in the spirit of “Could you explain what exactly needs to be changed in the screenshots, and how can I portray something different from what is in the game?” And lo and behold! After that, the game was approved!

    From this, I made one important conclusion: in case of any strange refusals from Apple, we must safely file an appeal. Apparently, at the first stage, the verification is purely formal, without taking into account the practice and context of the application. And common sense arguments here may well work for themselves, unlike Google itself.

    About promotion. To get started, I decided to look for free ways to tell the world about my game. Googling and re-reading a bunch of articles on the topic of promotion in the App Store, I see that almost no one likes talking specifics, with links, contacts and so on. In order not to make another “sea of ​​water” from this topic, below are all the links that I have included in my TODO list for free promotion. Of course, on the Internet you can find much more voluminous databases, but here everything is personally verified by me for validity, the resources that explicitly declare the publication of only paid reviews are filtered out, the resources with inappropriate topics are filtered out (only applications or only children's games, for example).

    Forums (not sure if Reddit should be classified as a forum) 9 (garbage, to be honest) 42

    'Submit app / Contact us' forms -review order-form
    iphonetoolbox .com / submit app submit-your-application-for-review review-request!submit/c1x9v

    prostomac .com @

    Besides this, of course, one should not forget about social media. What I usually do:

    - a post on a personal blog
    - a post on Google+ and a video on YouTube (I have a few followers, but still)
    - tweets on twitter (be sure to use the correct hashtags)
    - work with FB (add to the appropriate groups, write requests about reviews, post news on the “wall”, etc. In general, everything is exactly the same, only within the same site, if Facebook can be called that)
    - please vote in the game
    - sharing achievements

    What else? If the topic allows, you can try to search for your player on non-gaming, but relevant resources. For example, returning to the Shooting Club, I posted several topics on the weapons, sniper (there are such) forums. Not that it would give any noticeable effect, but it seems to me that marketing is such a thing in which you should not miss any opportunity.

    As I said at the very beginning, there is no question of any success. In the near future, there are thoughts to buy a couple of reviews and invest some money in advertising, perhaps. In general, lately, I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that for us, indie, nothing but the virality of the game does not matter. We cannot afford large advertising companies with a more or less guaranteed result. All we can do is try to give the game an initial impetus and hope that next, the game itself will somehow catch the players. And this, in general, is right and good! Well, will Shooting Club 2 be able to at least slightly repeat its success on iOS - time will tell.

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