Sunday, August 15, 2010

Waiting For Review

On August the 12th I finally uploaded the binary for Final Freeway (see the new screenshots and promo clip 8).

The status automatically went into "Waiting For Review" and it will probably stay so for a few more days, as it seems that recently the whole process has been taking 7-8 days.

A week to get the game reviewed and published isn't really that long. What I fear though is that this build may get rejected for reasons that I couldn't foresee, and then I'd have to fix it and wait for another week again.

Interestingly, it still seems that quite a few bad applications are getting through. So, I'm guessing that the review process is sometimes just automatic, and there is also no effective system to validate user reviews.

Another thing that has been worrying me is piracy.
Hard to believe that anyone would bother to pirate a $1 game.. but the system is in place, people jailbreak their phone, go to some site and grab anything for free.

This makes me somewhat angry. I mean, I understand a starving student that can't afford to buy 3DS Max or Visual Studio, or even a $60 game. And I understand the convenience to get something online.
But with iTunes it's all online, many apps have a lite version for trial and many (pirated) games would normally cost just 99 cents !
Pirating those is downright mean. Worse yet, some pirates make money out of it by selling access to cracked apps.

It's a "fack the system" and "why should I pay one dollar?" kind of stance which unfortunately goes to hurt the countless smaller developers involved with iPhone development.
Sure, a pirated copy isn't always a loss to the developer, but I'm pretty sure that in most cases it does little to help actual sales.
Again, we are not talking about overpriced crap from big greedy corps.. we are talking about often underpriced games that sell for "spare change" kind of money.

Anyhow.. enough with the negativities !

Let's wait and wait... ;)


  1. Still waiting for review? Strange, I would have sworn it had been approved a few days ago ;)

    Besides, speaking of Lite versions: are you planning on doing one, with just one track?

  2. I think that a Lite version for a 0,79 euro game is absolutely pointless. Above all if you consider that the full game has only 6 tracks... Marco

  3. Rasty,

    Yeah.. thank you so much for that FAKE App Store "screenshot" ;)
    I got dragged in the post and forgot to post it 8P


    I don't exclude a "lite" version. It may be worth trying and see if it will increase the sales.
    A lite version could even just be one single looping track like the original Java applet.
    Running around the same track to get the best lap time can be somewhat fun. And in fact I may add that mode in the full game as well.. some day 8)

    But anyway.. these days I'm just relaxing a bit (if checking the app review status every 10 minutes can be considered relaxing ;)


  4. Hey! Congratulations! I'll be paying my $1 to show my support. :)

  5. I'll be buying it too!

  6. Thanks guys !
    I owe you a beer.. or grapefruit sour if you prefer ;)

  7. Yeah Kaz a single looping track (a sort of "Time Attack" mode) could be a good idea even in the full game... :) Anyways, speaking of the good old KazRace, when are you going to make a Java port of Final Freeway? That shouldn't be too hard to do (if you didn't use a big amount of Obj-C in the code) :) Marco

  8. Marco,

    A Java port right now would be quite painful.. because the code base is much larger than the original demo 8)
    Also, it wouldn't be too useful. On the web, Java is pretty crappy and for Android one can use C++ to some extent..
    Plus Oracle is currently suing Google about Java..
    Nowadays C# is more open than Java !


  9. As I have already told you, piracy estimations will be between 80% and 85%, so for 100 copies around 15 will be legit, the other will be not.

    This does not mean that you will lose 85 sales but still it's a pain in the ass (good thing you did not implement a back-end with statistics: the less you know the better).

    Actually selling an APP for 99c is pointless, because a recent experiment showed that the more you pump the price, the more people will buy it. expensive=good, cheap=shit.

    In this way you can also leverage the inexperience of the casual gamers and recoup potential piracy "losses" by making everybody pay more.

    So, maybe the price should be 2.99-4.99USD to begin with.

  10. Ummm. do you have any references about the cheaper games selling less ? I really hope it's not right (^^;)

    It could be many things.. for example, more expensive games are likely to be sold by publishers that are also investing a lot of money in commercializing the product.

    I'm actually OK for making less in advance, as long as that gives me a larger user base that is interested in the games I make.

    I'm not planning to break any sales record with a single game, so I'd rather build clientele.

    Piracy seems quite scary indeed.. makes me angry already, but I guess the only real way to get over it is to make people _want_ to pay for it.

    In order to do that, I need to appeal to the morality of the potential users.. and at 99c, being the cheapest it can be, the message is clear that I'm bending backwards to make everyone happy 8)

    The widespread piracy for supercheap games reinforces the Italian say that goes: "opportunity turns people into thieves".
    I don't consider piracy same as common theft (because digital != analog !), but it's still morally wrong in many cases..

    ..anyhowww... seems that now App Store is taking 10+ days !!
    I hope I didn't submit just in time for the App Store latency to reach the point of no release ! ;P

  11. My 2 cents... I think that Davide is right about keeping the price that low right now (the game needs first more tracks, more game modes, etc.). IMHO, Final Freeway has great potential and could really sell a lot! Actually I enjoy FF more than most 3D racing games I have on my iPhone right now (great graphics of course but FF is more fun!) ;) Also, many times I did read on the AppStore people asking for a OutRun port.. now they have it (sort of)! :) The old style graphic, the great soundtracks and the awesome gameplay make it a little masterpiece that every old-school gamer must have on their iPhone. And yes, piracy is and will always be a big issue... but I think that most people won't go looking for a cracked .ipa of a €0,99 game (you must be really desperate..). Marco

  12. Kaz to discourage piracy you could consider to implement (like some other developers do) the "in-app purchase" feature: you could sell the game with 6 tracks at 0,99 and make pay for additional tracks. Marco

  13. Points of view:

  14. Marco,

    Thanks for the comments 8)
    In-App purchase is one idea. I need to look more on how it works.
    I'm afraid that I may have to keep track of the purchases.
    For example if one buys and app and the uses it on a different device.. to make sure that that person doesn't have to buy the levels twice, I may have to establish my own system to track and validate customers.
    I found an interesting series of articles on the subject and I'll be reading that 8)

  15. You will need your own backend to track sales.
    And I believe you must find a way to track who is using what because in-app purchase transactions are unencrypted and it would be quite easy to fake a purchase.

    Not your case but worth reading:

  16. Freddy,

    Thanks for the links !
    However I'm still not convinced about $0.99 being bad.
    The first link actually says that while for applications being cheaper isn't a big advantage, games are the exception and do sell more if they are 99c..

    The second (and 3rd) Gamasutra article has developers on both ranges.
    Those that say developers shouldn't downsell to 99c and those that went the "free-to-play" way (not sure how the revenue comes, if using ads or something else).

    The fourth link claims that there is a good chance that one ends up making less profit, but says that sales are higher.
    Which is probably good in the long term.

    Piracy sometimes brings long term benefits, because it helps spreading a game or a brand.
    While I think that pirating a 99c game is a sad thing and I hope I won't be too affected by it.. one can still extrapolate the trend and assume that trading immediate profit for publicity can have positive benefits in the longer term, and the 99c price may just achieve that.

    I am also one of those that goes to the market and picks the more expensive fruits or cheese.. because it's something important and those are simple goods that is easier to judge.

    With games however it's a bit different.. for one thing, there are already many very valid games for $0.99.
    Then games are clearly for entertainment and the more casual gamers like to try them in quantities.
    With utilities, one just wants to settle with the best tool.. but with game one would rather have a bunch of them.. because each is different and the more the merrier.

    Then again, there are also those that want to buy the latest and hottest game regardless of the price.
    But those people probably want the latest 3D graphics to show off the device.
    My game instead is positioned as a retro-flavored game whose main appeal is fun.

    I'm also worried about the first impression. The window to sell is very short, and I suspect that the immediate reaction to the screenshots
    Once played, the fun factor hopefully becomes apparent.. but from the App Store screenshots, the risk is that many will instinctively think "this isn't even 3D, why pay more than 99c !".

    Lastly, the low price point helps with the retrospective reviews in the unfortunate case of buyer remorse.
    If by any chance someone decides that he/she doesn't like the game, it's going to be harder to get on its case, because "after all it's a 99c game".

    In a sense, I care more for people to be happy than to make an immediate profit.
    Granted, if $1.99 was the lowest purchase price in the store, I wouldn't complain ;)
    But the base-line is 99c and that's where I'd like to position myself as a new developer 8)

    Incidentally, I just changed the iTunes description by specifying that the initial price is a promotional one... because if all goes well, I think that the eventual iPhone 4/iPad-enhanced version may warrant a price increase 8)

  17. Own back end == no deal.. too painful to do reliably.

    sigh 8(

  18. My point essentially is the following: in the 99c segment there is crapware, a lot of game guides, tips&tricks related applications and other shit coded in 2 days. There are also good applications, but they are probably a minority.

    So if a price of 1.50USD helps setting you apart from the piles of crap in the 99c segment, then it is a good price. Classic retro games are also sold at higher prices.

    Anyway it could be beneficial to increase the price after a couple of weeks to see what happens.

  19. Well.. I can only hope that people won't hate me for selling it cheap 8)

    Notice that some of the biggest publishers, like Clickgamer/Chillingo insist in selling for 99c and have some of the biggest selling games out there.

    mumble mumble

  20. There is no right answer as you have already seen reading the links.

    A' risposta eddentrodete, ma e' sbajata.! :)

  21. Nientedimeno ancora te lo devono approvare?? Ma saranno 10 giorni?? O_O Marco

  22. ..sigh 8(
    Sono quasi 8 giorni ora..

  23. I think the biggest issue that you're going to have to worry about is really spreading the word about the game. It'll enjoy it's 15 minutes of fame on the "new releases" page and then fade into obscurity if there aren't alternate ways to let potential buyers know that the application exists.

    In a future update, you might want to put screenshots of RibTools in the game. Maybe have a special track that's CG themed or something.

  24. Mr. Ragin,

    That's one of the geekiest ideas I've heard.. eheheh.. funny !!

    Some friends though of some alternative funky settings that may just make the game more relevant (for non geeks ;)

    Of course for any piece of content, there is going to be some work to actually build the assets.. and that's a big wall of bricks.

    People worry so much about rendering.. but what's really difficult in a game is actual creation of assets.
    Sure, some skilled artists can do anything.. but how much does that cost to development ?