Since the invention of iOS devices, there have been thousands brilliant minds from across the world who have dedicated themselves to app and games development. The path which seems lustrous and rewarding from a distance becomes more and more treacherous as one inches closer to their dreams of becoming an indie iphone app developer. App Stores holds memoirs of multiple success stories like Angry Birds, Jetpack Joyride, Temple Run, Tiny Wings and Tiny Tower; in reality making one ultimate success story can cost you sleep, personal relations, social life, emotional stability and tons of cash. This article has not been concocted to give aspiring iOS app developers waking nightmares, but to warn them and prepare them for the oncoming hurdles.
1. Stiff competition
According to the reports from Apple Store, about 26,000 new apps are presented each week among which 18,000 are released to the store. This gives us about 936,000 new apps in a year. Needless to say, this number keeps increasing each year as the competition gets tougher. If you really want to become an app developer always remember the main challenge for indie developers, you also have to compete against established studios like GameLoft, EA and Zynga for the centre stage.
2. The absolute need to get noticed
Your app must have at least one Unique Selling Point to get noticed among the 600,000 odd apps which are currently available in the Apple store. The Apple Store in itself is a maze for those who do not know the exact name of the product they are looking for. Although it is no fault of the app developer(s), the navigation system of the app store makes it extremely difficult for any newcomer to get noticed. This problem can be circumvented by either getting featured by Apple or making it to the top charts, none of which is an easy task.
3. Staying independent and getting paid
In the early days, say till 2009, app developers could introduce new apps and charge a nominal amount (example- $0.99) for each download and get paid about 70% of the amount. But the latest trend has enforced free-to-play apps with in-app purchases. Which is drastically changed consumer behavior by pushing them towards free apps. This also interferes with the design and code of the apps. Cost and revenue is one of the major challenges towards becoming a successful indie app developer.
4. Beware of cloners
Hundreds of cloners lurk in the corners of the hotchpotch realm of Apple Store. So after months of polishing and publishing your app you can find a cheaper copy of it in the store a few days later. Although we are all aware of the concept of patents, they hardly have any material value in the apple world. And do not expect these clones to come from noobs and petty copiers, most of the clones of the best popular games have been made by well funded game studios like Zynga who came into limelight recently for the similarity between Dream Heights(from Zynga) and Tiny Tower.
5. The chicken and egg problem- topping the charts
This is a hard task and also seemingly impossible. In order to be at the top of the game charts you need to sell big and in order to sell big you need to be at the top of the charts. Quite a Catch 22 situation, isn’t it? Well, not today! You can hire tech companies who have devised bot farms to auto-download thousands of copies of your games to sky rocket the sales and shoot it to the top of the charts. You can also hire people to download your apps and this works; famous companies pay thousands of people to download apps even though they do not use their apps even once. However all of these work only if you are loaded and possess flexible ethics.
6. Sometimes it’s all about luck
Apart from the above mentioned glitches there is always the luck factor. Even with the same advanced graphics, colors, user controls some apps have become icons of the years past. These include Temple Run, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump; there is no other way to explain their success other than luck. For example, the Rovio Entertainment released 50 different renditions of the game and almost went broke before the sales took off. Now they have a 1 billion dollar franchise. Temple Run went viral in one day when it was featured free on Free App a Day. So before making any decisions do not forget to keep your fingers crossed.