— SBK14 was featured twice on the App Store. Once in “Best New Games,” and once in “Best New Game Updates.” Do they have friends at Apple? Did they bribe someone? Nope. They just made a great game.
Leverage Your Most Valuable Resource: Time
SBK14 took nearly eight months to develop. While that isn’t totally mind-blowing, the indie studio had to ensure that every second and dollar spent was worthwhile. That came from a ton of testing, perfecting their App Store presence and understanding this would be a long-term commitment.
The key for indie studios isn’t necessarily the size of the budget. It’s the understanding from everyone that developing a quality product is going to be a process that takes a lot of effort and a measure of perfectionism, and that’s what the Digital Tales developers bought into from the beginning.
Measure twice, cut once
App development projects always go smoother when the developer creates a playable test version after every small group of changes.
The most advanced programmers understand they can do a bunch of work before publishing their creation to test, but what if they accidentally mess up a tiny detail in a basic line of code? Then they’re stuck searching and wasting time.
Digital Tales went through development in basic steps and created countless builds of the game to test before even thinking about a hard release date.
“Having all those bikes (27) and animated riders on-screen at the same time, especially on older devices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, was indeed a challenge,” said Giuseppe Navarria, Lead Coder of SBK14. “We had to do a lot of little optimizations, but in the end there’s very little difference in visual quality between the devices, and we are very proud of that.”
Make yourself look good
SBK14’s App Store presence is pretty spectacular. The icon is sleek and directly communicates what the game is, the description is concise and the screenshots clearly show the quality of the graphics.
Apple is obviously looking to feature great apps that people will enjoy, but they wouldn’t highlight an app that doesn’t look top notch.
Treat your App Store screenshots, description and icon like the project itself. Storyboard it, scrutinize it, obsess over it and optimize it.
Your App Store presence is your first impression to the customer and the people at Apple. Go out of your way to impress them.
SBK14 landed its first feature in the App Store’s “Best New Games” category shortly after it was released, but that didn’t mean Digital Tales was going to kick their feet up and crack open the champagne.
The studio continued to find every tiny bug and closely monitored App Store ratings, comments and general feedback to ensure every customer was having a good experience.
Since going live on the App Store less than three months ago, Digital Tales has published six updates to SBK14. Their dedication paid off yet again, when they were featured on the App Store for a second time in the newly created “Best New Game Updates” category.
The first few weeks of the “Best New Game Updates” feature has been filled with megahits, such as Plants vs. Zombies, Subway Surfers, Terraria and more. So, it’s clear that SBK14 stood out to the people at Apple as an elite indie game.
Digital Tales’ commitment to SBK14 before and after its launch yielded pretty awesome results with help from the Apple Features. As the official mobile game of a little-known sport in the U.S., SBK14 managed impressive download numbers and App Store chart positions.
Here’s a look at what Digital Tales earned during their featured placements
- 1.5M downloads during “Best New Games” feature
- 1M downloads during “Best New Game Updates” feature
- More than 3M total downloads less than three months after release
- Strong U.S. App Store chart positioning
- No. 68 Overall Free
- No. 25 Free Games
- No. 2 Free Racing
- No. 3 Free Sports
What did they learn?
Digital Tales leveraged every bit of development time they had, built a great product and earned Apple’s attention. Then, they showed their commitment to users by regularly updating the game and striving for perfection.
There isn’t a guaranteed formula to get featured on the App Store, but Digital Tales proved that delivering and maintaining a quality game is one way to give yourself a chance.