Monday, May 27, 2013

5-STAR Customer Ratings in iTunes (do they matter?)

It’s been just over a month since we released our largest update to * Solitaire Double-Deck HD * for the iPad and it is still going strong!

Over 18,800 of our existing iPad players updated to this version and the 5-STAR reviews keep coming in!  Whoo Hoo!  As of today, we’ve received 33 Customer Ratings and are holding STRONG at 5-STAR AVERAGE!!!

iTunes Customer Reviews are ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for
any indie developer hoping to achieve commercial success!

We originally published Solitaire Double-Deck HD on Jan 31st, 2012, and have almost 60,000 total downloads!  Before we published this latest update we had received  289 iTunes Customer Ratings.  We had what we thought was a great overall 4.5 STAR average!  
Yippee yahoo... yea... NOT!  :(

4.5 Stars in iTunes lingo = average

Ok... so maybe 4.5 is slightly above Average... but its still  A V E R A G E!  Little did we realize the significance of the overall average not ONLY to customers evaluating a potential purchase... but also to Apple!

One can only assume that there is a super-top-secret-reveal-and-you-die algorithm hidden deep in the bowels of Apple HQ somewhere that determines which apps are ‘Featured’.  But... I think I have figured out one small piece of that puzzle.

As soon as the 5-STAR reviews hit iTunes, we also HIT the Featured “What’s Hot” List in iTunes!  At the height, we were on the What’s Hot lists in 52 countries, and we reached #17 in Casino Games in the U.S. and stayed there for over a week.  I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t moving up any higher, but that was until I took a hard look at the list.  We were the HIGHEST paid app in the Casino category!  Free always trumps paid... always.

How did we find out where we were ranking, and in which countries?  We use two online websites that collect and monitor iTunes stats including sales, updates, and rankings

There are several others out there, but I’ve found the #’s on App Figures 99.999 accurate.  The only disparity we’ve identified is a sale showing up on the incorrect date once or twice in the three years we’ve been using them.

So that’s it for this iteration... And I’ll keep striving to lengthen and strengthen these posts into something palatable and valuable for fellow indie developers.  

The only thing between you and success is YOU.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

'Second time is a charm!'

Ok… Let’s hope the second time is a charm! 

Today, we submitted (for the second time) the first major update to Solitaire Double-Deck HD for the iPad on almost a YEAR…  (Embarrassed Grin)!  But, we DO have a reason for it… or three!  J  Since our last update to ‘CYCLOPS’ (That’s what we call Solitaire Double-Deck HD internally at E4) we’ve published three other apps! 

ABC’s Learn & Sing - This is a fun, interactive, and colorful way to teach your child their ABCs! 

Arts by George – A custom mobile guide to the Annual “ARTS by George!  An event celebrating the Arts at Mason benefiting student scholarships.

SWARM! - SWARM mixes traditional accelerometer ball-rollers with character-driven platforming and tension-filled chasing for a truly unique action experience. 

We added several features in this update. 

- New Jumbo Classic theme
- New Western Theme (this is a purchasable item)
- Auto-Finish option (on by default)
- Significant performance enhancements
-  & bug fixes 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ok, so I FINALLY started an E4 Software blog... did I mention finally?

I joined the small but rapidly growing indie game studio E4 Software over two years ago...  (WOW!!!  It seems like just a few months ago...  Either I'm getting old... or... uh... yea...  I'm just getting old!)

I hope to keep this updated, so please poke me in the eye if I don’t…  ;)

Here are the things we are currently working on…

·        Fix a formatting issue on the NOOK HD+
·        Port ABC’s Learn & Sing to iTunes and Google Play
·        Finish an iTunes update to "the last solitaire game you will ever play" Solitaire Double-Deck HD.  (We've optimized the game play, added new content, and are incorporating purchasable themes and mechanics.)
·        Planning our next Rapid Iterative Release (RiR) effort.  (RiR is a short duration ‘sprint’ that crunches development time around a very small objective.  To put a RiR into perspective, we planned, developed and published ABC’s Learn & Sing to Barnes & Noble in under three weeks!)

This past Saturday (Apr 14th), we participated in the TERP Indie Game Fest at the University of Maryland.  It went over very well, and we were very impressed with the other presentations and game demos put on by other indie developers; Broalition Studios and Dirigiballers.  I can’t wait to see their finished products!

We also gathered some invaluable feedback on our published apps:
·        Solitaire Double-Deck HD
·        ABC’s Learn & Sing
·        SWARM!