Over the last 2 months I’ve been working on a project that is titled “Jeremiah”. It’s a Jumping game based on Cocos2D, which implements Game Center, iAd, and In-App Purchases. At launch it will feature 3 frogs for free, and currently 6 additional frogs as an in-app purchase, as well as 23 achievements, and 3 different leaderboards on Game Center. I submitted it to apple the first weekend that Game Center was live, and I was excited to find out that Apple was quickly approving Game Center games.
But that is where my excitement ended. I submitted on Saturday at Noon on September 11th, 2010. I was extremely excited when it went straight to ‘In Review’ status almost immediately after I submitted the binary. However, by Sunday night, my hope was low that it would get approved before the following weekend. My previous experience has always been 1-2 weeks for approval despite Steve jobs claiming that 95% of apps were approved in 7 days. My experience is quite the opposite. Of 17 apps, I’ve had 1 approved in under 7 days.
So I went to work through the week, and when I finished my efforts on Thursday night, I submitted an Apple “Application Status Inquiry”. Friday morning I received an e-mail in response. It said:
Thank you for your email inquiring about your app status.
At this time your app is pending completion of review. We process apps in the order in which they are submitted and are working hard to process all submissions in a timely manner. Once the review process has been completed for your app, you will receive an email notification of its updated status.
We thank you in advance for your continued patience.
From this I took away that I’m in the system. And I can’t request information about what that means. So I started an Android Project in the morning, attempting to write an app before the approval process was completed. I choose an easy project, of porting over a City of North Las Vegas “Report a Problem” style app that I had written for the iPhone. (The Original iPhone App was written in 6 hours.) So I had many of the graphics, and only needed to write the code in Java, and make sure the graphics, and process matched the Android criteria.
It’s now been 8 hours since I received my informative e-mail from apple, and my new App is now available in the Android Store. I have no expectation that Apple will approve my app before the end of the weekend, if they even decide to approve it at all. They could choose to show me some hate in regards to their new Game Center face, which is very public right now. But this type of discrimination isn’t very ethical or fair to the indie movement. My app isn’t as good as Flight Control, Real Racing, or even FarmVille, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t adhered to every policy that they set forth within their guidelines.
So on to the motivation. I started the Jeremiah Project because my first ‘game’ on the iPhone did fairly well, and was done purely in UIKit. This approach was very n00b, and so I wanted to do a better game, and use a lot of the new options that Apple had introduced. I became familiar with the process of in-App purchases, and got everything working to be able to sell additional features within my app. I also made efforts to implement MobClix because I love what they do for free apps. I used their systems to implement iAd, as well as each of the ad networks that they support, and even did some Custom Ads to promote my In-App Purchases from within the app. I also put in Game Center support.
I wanted to use all of these technologies, because I felt that a lot of people would be looking for iOS games which support the new Game Center. At time of submittal, I was only aware of 3 free Game Center games (all time sinks). I thought that a lot of users would be very interested in seeing the system for free. In addition, I think a lot of people install free apps and give them a try, and have seen numbers of a 1% conversion rate to get people to make an in-app purchase. In addition MobClix has some excellent eCPM values that are only beaten by iAd. So overall I wanted to use all of these portions to be able to make a very fun game, somewhat profitable.
Timing was everything, and I made sure that everything was in order during the Beta phases of Game Center. Tested everything, and made sure it was functioning, and then went live after I tested, on a number of devices after the official launch. Submitting 4 days after the launch of Game Center was huge in trying to maximize the number of eyeballs that could be attracted by the system. But this is where I think Apple began it’s filibuster. Being a huge Apple fanboy, I still respect them in their decision of protecting their image of Game Center. And if they would tell me that (reject the app) I would respect their decision. They’ve certainly rejected my apps before, and honestly the only one app which I take pride in is my Engineering Calculations App.
Android on the other hand has instant visibility within the market. Writing an app was a little more intimidating when I got started because I tried to do it on a PC. I had a nightmare trying to set the system variables, and getting everything installed. But once I realized they had eclipse on Mac OS X it was over. I’ve enjoyed it less than using xCode, but being able to get things instantly out is a huge bonus to using Android. So while my game took much longer to develop (2 months) my simple Android App is already out to market. Has already been downloaded (during time of writing), and has actually generated a few cents in ad-revenue. On the Apple side, my game has returned nothing on my investment, because it is still “in review” with Apple.
So I’m really excited to see how well my game will do on the iOS devices running Game Center, but in hindsight, I wish I had waited for OpenFeint, and saved myself the trouble of managing things myself. I doubt that the Android App that I threw together will make more money than my game in the long run, but as far as instant returns go, Android has a lot quicker returns on my time investments.