Thursday, 24 June 2010

How to make your App Store submission improve your chances of success

At last! I've submitted DarkFlow HD to the App Store. Now, sit back and wait. A cold beer perhaps.

It should get reviewed in the next 5 working days, to go live just in time for the launch of iAd. Around this time next week, hopefully live ad impressions will start getting served up. We'll soon have some idea of how much money developers can really expect to see from Apple's advertising platform.

The final stages of app submission can be a little fiddly. For one thing, there's the icons. For universal apps targeting iPhone 3G(S), iPhone4 and iPad, you need to provide optimised icons in 3 different sizes (57x57, 72x72 and 114x114 pixels). Getting that all working takes time, especially if you want your icon to look just right (which we all do, of course).

On this occasion, I've set the UIPrerenderedIcon flag to true in Info.plist. This has the effect of removing the automatically generated shine that iOS otherwise adds to your icon. I wanted to do this as the icon has quite a simple 3D image against a nearly black background and the shine just didn't look right. I've also removed the name of the app from the icon. It looks cleaner I think. You can decide for yourself.

According to the App Store submission guidelines, by paying special attention to your icon, you are more likely to get featured by Apple staff. I'd like some of that please (actually I think the iPad version of DarkFlow was briefly featured - but then there's far fewer competing apps out there). Big no-no's are text like "Free" or "Lite" on your icon.

Hopefully, I've also been a bit smarter this time in a couple of other areas. Firstly, categories. Obviously the main category is Games. I've chosen a couple of subcategories which make sense to the app, but which also don't appear to have quite so many free apps clogging them up - should improve my chances of getting noticed. You can find out how apps there are in a category by opening App Store in your desktop iTunes.

Secondary category is more tricky. Entertainment is the obvious second choice, and that's what I went for the previous 2 times. But I realised that is one busy category. I'd never realistically get into the top 100 free apps listing there.

In the end I went for Weather! Sounds bonkers, perhaps, but I figured, DarkFlow actually has a fairly strong weather theme already, and actually simulates fairly realistic snow and cloud (I have plans for much more sophisticated volumetric cloud rendering once I get my hands on an iPhone4).

The big upside is that Weather has a relatively small number of free apps; it should be much easier to get noticed. Time will tell. Of course, now I've told you lot, you'll all start crowding in. C'est la vie. I've chosen to share this stuff and I'm going through with it ;-)

Later, I'll post about what happens during the first 48 hours your app is live. More marketing tips to come.


Please share your experiences of iPhone development, or post questions and comments about our games.