A couple nights ago we were happy to report that FaceFighter has been identified as “What’s Hot” by Apple on the U.S. and Canadian App Stores. We crossed our fingers this recognition would help propel FaceFighter up the U.S. sales charts.
How did we do?
Well, here’s what hourly sales rankings in the U.S. App Store looked like for FaceFighter before the “What’s Hot” selection (graph courtesy of AppFigures):
A pretty typical day — FaceFighter has been in the market for awhile, so we don’t expect to see a lot of hour-by-hour movement in our sales ranks. Graphs in places like Germany, the U.K., Italy, and France showed a similar sales pattern, the only difference being that in those territories we’re ranked in the tens and twenties, rather than in the seventies and eighties.
Then came our “What’s Hot” listing, and U.S. sales took off:
Yes, it was a happy day here at the Secret Worldwide Headquarters of Appy Entertainment. In twenty-four hours, FaceFighter jumped 57 ranks in the U.S. Arcade category and 65 ranks in the Action category, and we surged up to #36 in all games, and #56 in all paid apps.
And that was just last night. As of this writing, we’re #6 in Arcade and #29 overall. Apple traditionally keeps their App Store spotlight listings on the front page for a week, so we have high hopes we can climb even higher through the holiday weekend here in the U.S., and be well-positioned on the sales charts when Apple makes their next big announcements on September 9th (where we hope Apple announces cameras for iPod Touch, which would greatly expand the audience for a photographic game app like FaceFighter).
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
All right, so we’ve had a sales surge and we’re happy about it. But what does it mean, how did it happen, and can we make it happen again with our other apps? Plus, what difference will this listing make in the long run?
We already know that being featured on the App Store doesn’t guarantee continued success. Plenty of apps have enjoyed an exhilarating ride to the top of the charts, only to turn into pumpkins when the clock struck midnight. It’s one thing to climb the ladder, but it is another thing to stay there. Only time will tell if we can reap continuing benefits from this exposure, but our ability to keep FaceFighter near the top of the European charts after being chosen as a Staff Favorite by Apple in several international stores gives us some confidence.
But why were we selected in the first place? Were we struck by lightning?
FaceFighter … struck by lightning?
They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, and prior to our U.S. selection, FaceFighter had already been featured by Apple in Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Austria, and the United Kingdom. We also enjoyed an international “Staff Favorite” selection for our first release, Appy Newz. So either lightning really likes us (do you think it’s our tinfoil hats?), or we’re doing something right to place ourselves in the path of fortune.
If we knew the inner workings of the selection process up at Apple, we’d have retired to Fiji on our consulting fees by now. We have very little specific insight on Apple’s plans and procedures. But we have consciously tried to make ourselves more attractive to Apple by following a few simple rules:
1) Apple is our most important customer!
Sort of. Apple doesn’t buy our apps … but they do control access to that all-important App Store page. So we try to make product decisions that align with what we perceive to be Apple’s strategies. We think Apple views the iPhone as a device for bringing people together and sharing memories and laughs, so our first apps concentrated on personalization and interaction through photographs. We think Apple wishes to feature quality content with enduring value, so we’ve elected not to do one-off novelty apps that Apple might find to be in bad taste. We believe Apple is working hard to improve the App Store and the app approval process and we have provided feedback directly to Apple about how to make things better from our point of view.
2) Customers are our most important customers!
We’ve made a commitment from our first day to be reasonably transparent and communicate with our customers. This blog is a big part of that effort, but we also speak directly to players through the feedback buttons in our apps. We’re active on Twitter most days. We talk to customers every day — we take care of them, and we love them. That care has been returned, in the form of positive reviews on the App Store, and good customer word-of-mouth leading to sales referrals. We think Apple looks at customer reviews when considering an app for recognition, so we make a special effort to encourage our customers to post reviews to the App Store.
3) We actively market our apps!
Even before Apple’s endorsement, FaceFighter climbed into the thirties in the U.S. Arcade ranks, so we must be doing something right. Remember that FaceFighter was our first real game for this market, so in a lot of ways FaceFighter was a debut product for us, even though we’ve been in business since Halloween. We’ve done some targeted advertising, and we’ve always spent the money to create slick videos promoting our apps. We did a Lite version. Appy Entertainment is a start-up micropublisher, but marketing and press relations is a full-time job for us. We’ve steadily built relationships with the press, and secured plenty of coverage for FaceFighter.
4) We aggressively support our apps!
The original version of FaceFighter rolled out with a single foe, a single weapon, and a single finishing move. Since that time we’ve published four updates, consistently adding new enemies, moves, and weapons, and we just published our big 2.0 update, adding Bluetooth multiplayer. Refreshing apps with new content helps secure face time in Apple’s new listings and more importantly, improves the value proposition of our apps. We are committed to making our games as easy to buy and as fully featured as possible and in rewarding our existing customers. This is not only important for FaceFighter, but is critical for all of our apps going forward. We are consciously making “down payments” on the Appy brand in order to develop our little red devil into a symbol that app buyers trust. We’ve proven that FaceFighter is here to stay and we think that played into Apple’s decision to endorse the app.
5) We’re Militant Optimists!
FaceFighter was in the market almost two months before enjoying this burst of success in the U.S. App Store. Two months may not be very long in the real world, but it’s like a million billion years in the app market, and we had plenty of time to wonder if our day would ever come. We trusted ourselves, we trusted our work, and we trusted Apple, and it all paid off.
an ugly bunch of mugs
6) We’re true believers!
We genuinely believe in the marketplace that Apple created, and think the future of games and entertainment is going to be changed dramatically as a result. We support the local iPhone development community. We’re going out on the road to speak on behalf of Appy and spread the word about this exploding iPhone market. We aren’t a massive publisher placing a side bet on the iPhone — we’re a dedicated band of brothers creating original entertainment directly for Apple’s wonderbox. We believe Apple needs game creators who understand their technology and their market, so we’re doing everything we can to be ideal partners in building and supporting an enduring audience.
Common-sense advice, to be sure, but it’s advice that’s easier to give than to follow. Like a lot of other developers, we’ve invested a pile of money, time, and effort to build our business. We’ve made the best apps we can and we’re always trying to do better. We are not unique in this, yet we’ve still benefited from Apple’s endorsement, where many developers have not been so fortunate. So, sure, we’ve had our share of luck, but as John Milton and Branch Rickey reminded us, luck is the residue of design. That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.
In the meantime, we’re going to keep enjoying this rocket ride for FaceFighter. We extend our sincere thanks to our customers and Apple for enabling us to pursue this crazy dream with Appy Entertainment.
(And by the way, we’ll be submitting our next game to Apple today or tomorrow, so we’ll soon find our if we can stay on this hot streak!)Explore posts in the same categories: FaceFighter