Why make a mobile app? You won't get rich but you might impress


Why make a mobile app? You won't get rich but you might impress

domjoly_oli.jpgKeep quiet about this - it's an industry secret - but some IT companies can be a bit dull to work for. But how do you move up the ladder?

If your current job leaves you creatively unfulfilled, and you want something impressive to put on your Linkedin profile, why not create a mobile app? You'll never get rich, but it'll impress future headhunters or clients.

We asked Oli Christie (left with comic Dom Joly), CEO of mobile games studio Neon Play for his 10 top tips on creating your own successful mobile game. As a quid pro quo, I should mention that, with over 23 million downloads and seven UK number 1 games, Neon Play is the top independent mobile games studio in the UK. Neon also developed a game for Dom Joly. 

1.  Have a cracking, unique idea. Everyone always says they have a "great idea for a game", but there are 500,000 apps to compete with, so it's not that easy to find one that's never been done before.

2.  Keep it simple. Games like Doodle Jump are very easy to play, but a challenge to master. That is the mantra you should follow for a successful game. 

3.  Do your research. Chances are that your amazing game idea has already been done, so have a look at the App Store and see if there's something similar. If there is, go back to the drawing board or find an interesting different angle.

4.  Don't quit your day job. Only a tiny percentage of apps make a profit. You will not be the next Angry Birds, so manage your expectations. If it succeeds, then quit. Focus on Apple first and Android later.

5.  Talent required. You need a designer and a developer as a bare minimum. If that's not you, ask your mates, go online, but find the best you can afford. Maybe do a rev share. Or programs like Game Salad make it possible to make your own game.

6.  Test, learn and refine. Get as many friends and family to play the game. Don't say a word and watch them play it and see if they get it and which bits they don't. Don't take feedback personally, but change the game where necessary. Playability and fun is key.

7.  Set your price. Do you charge a flat rate 69p for your game? Or go free with advertising? Or the most profitable way is "freemium", which is a free game with features in the game that players buy to enhance their gaming experience. Kerching.

8.  Standing out from the crowd. With hundreds of new apps being released every day, you need to get promotion for your app. So find an interesting news angle, get some PR, use Facebook and Twitter, plus do a promo video for YouTube. Every little helps.

9.  Review sites. Send your game to all the major app review sites and journalists. You get 50 free promo codes from Apple (so they can play the game without paying for it). Good reviews and a high star rating help sales.

10. Listen and learn. Get feedback, fix bugs, do updates. As your fan base grows and you earn more revenue, do a bit more research into other ways to earn money. There is huge potential to earn big bucks, but do not underestimate that it is very, very hard.

This was first published in September 2011

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