By Kyle Kulyk
The learning curve so far while developing our first mobile title, Itzy3D, has been steep to say the least. We knew the task in front of us wouldn’t be an easy one but to actually live through the stress and sleepless nights of it all isn’t anything I imagined it would be. Casual games as a small business plan makes sense to us, but creating our first product offering has proven to have unique challenges none of us had considered. It was in the interest of sharing that experience that I sat down and outlined my first two Performance Anxiety pieces. Those dealt with the specific hurdles we encountered making Itzy3D. Now that Itzy has been unleashed upon the world a whole new set of performance issues have cropped up. Road blocks – from trying to get our game to market to making people aware our game is available. It all rather makes me long for solving the performance issues related to the game’s development that I at least I felt I had some control over. I’ve recently shared some of the marketing techniques we’re employing to get our little game noticed but now I thought I’d comment on two of the road blocks keeping me up at night.
Apple – When will this frustration end?
Our inexperience on Apple’s procedures launching to the app store have been maddening, as has been Apple’s support. When we finished the game in early January, it took one button press and we were live on the Android Marketplace within minutes. With Apple, that button press turned into a yellow “Waiting for review” button. So we waited. And waited. Over a week went by and during this period we made a few upgrades based on feedback we had received. Since the app hadn’t yet been reviewed, we updated the binary file to the latest version. That action resulted in resetting us in Apple’s queue. The waiting started anew. Eight days later, we received the exciting message that our app was finally being reviewed! A few hours later, rejected.
The reason Apple gave us was we did not include our in-app purchases for review. When we contacted Apple to clarify as we had setup all our in-app purchases and submitted them as far as we could tell, a day later they informed us that if we went to the very bottom of the details section of our app (not the actual, in-app setup section), expanded a closed menu, all the in-app purchases were listed there and we simply had to tick off the boxes and resubmit. We followed the instructions and in another day, we were approved and Itzy3D was live on the App store after roughly two weeks since we initially submitted. It was then we realized that a seemingly innocent change we had made to the tutorial took away a significant gameplay function in other levels. We discovered and fixed this error within the day. Embarrassing, but these things happen. Surely it wouldn’t take long to have the fix submitted and approved now that the initial review of our app was complete?
It’s now over a month since we submitted our first binary and we still do not have our fixed version of the title on the Apple App store. The wait for review again seemed about 6 business days, and again our binary was rejected as Apple claims we did not include our in-app purchases for consideration. The difference is, this time we were submitting an update and the option did not present itself to check off the in-app purchases which have already been approved and are available for sale. Apple has not yet responded to a single one of our requests for help. It’s been over a week since we asked for help.
Reviews – I can’t get arrested in this town
As much as I fear what reviewers will have to say about our first title I’m also excited to finally see our work in the hands of others and hear what they have to say. It turns out everyone has an opinion until you need them to have one. I’ve crafted a mailing list which is still a work in progress, I’ve researched review sites and press release agencies and put together a nice little review package and a month after Itzy3D’s launch, not a single reviewer has offered their opinion. I have had two reviewers contact me and let me know they plan on reviewing Itzy, one contact me and ask to see the iOS version when it’s ready, but of the over hundred reviewers I’ve contacted so far, we have yet to see a single review.
There is an option with many sites to pay for reviews, but given our limited budget I can’t simply throw money at sites to review our game when I don’t even know how many visitor their site see in a day or if we’ll see any impact. Already, based on the results we experienced with our first advertising campaign I know my money would most likely be better spent on ads than reviews, but it would still be nice to hear something…anything from the review community.
I find what’s eating me up at this point is the feeling that I have so little control. One of the reasons we went into business for ourselves was so that we could have some measure of control over our ultimate fate for good or bad, but I can’t force Apple to make our updated binary available on the app store. I also can’t force review sites to skip over their review backlogs and rush to give our game a look. As much as it was a challenge to overcome some of the performance issues we experienced developing Itzy3D, at least those were challenges we could meet head on.