Before I start writing, I want to say a few things that need to be said. The first being that iPhone Games aren’t successful due to one of these aspects or maybe two. They used a combination of 4+ of these aspects. This leads me to my second statement: This is not a failsafe way to make your games popular (I say your if you are an iOS developer). Many games find a way to become popular despite the fact a majority of games have the following reasons in common.
10. Cost (tied)
The cost of an iPhone app has a lot to due with how successful it will become. Angry Birds (Rovio Mobile) became the most prolific iPhone game due to the fact it was only $0.99. As hard as it may seem, to make an app so cheap when you worked your heart and soul into it, it can have very great results. Angry Birds grossed $10 million as of now (this is just an estimate).
Games That Are Cheap and Successful: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Tiny Wings
10. Marketing (tied)
This is a small aspect, but nonetheless important. If you market an app properly, the results can be phenomenal. Gameloft has a Youtube Channel, Website, Podcast and almost every darn thing out there that can reasonably market its apps with. If you can make a Youtube Channel with aesthetically great views of the iPhone Game/App, it’ll contribute much to its success.
Companies with Good Marketing: Gameloft, Chillingo, Rovio
Yup. You got to make the game pretty. Or at least have a pretty front so people are drawn to it. I wrote in another article about the software called Unity3D. For those of you who want to make your games look nicer than using OpenGL, use Unity3D. The Graphics have a lot to do with the game’s success.
But this isn’t to say you can’t make great graphics using a 2-D plane. You can use other graphics engines that use a 2-D plane.
Games With Great Graphics: City of Secrets, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Driver, The Secret of Monkey Island, Air Attack
5. Theme (tied)
A coherent theme to the game is necessary, as it is in writing and art. If you create a game where you throw paper balls at flying unicorns, you will get a lot of obscene four letter words from disgruntled buyers. But if you make a game where you throw paper balls at co-workers who say four letter words to you…that might draw some attention in.
Theme is also important to the actual gameplay. But theme can expand from just various mini-games that add up to one larger game.
5. Creativity – The App Aspect (tied)
Wow, I am so dumb. I contradicted myself in public. Well, creativity is not as much as a contradiction as it is a balancing act. You must balance Creativity with Theme Coherence in order to make the game successful. If you make a game that follows a certain theme, but is just throwing monkeys at a stack of pigs in a poorly engineered tower, it is not creative…Rovio will be on you pretty quickly.
But if you create, for instance, an RPG game that has a storyline different then the average Japanese game, and has graphics that are also quite creative, the game might just work out for you. This brings me to my next, very conditional point:
3. Storyline (conditional)
It is conditional. You see storyline doesn’t apply to all apps. Take Angry Birds or Touchgrind. Both are very successful, but do not have a beefy story. But this brings me to the opposite spectrum: RPG games require creative storylines. If you make them so similar to Zenonia or Inotia or even Chaos Rings, you’ll get a lot “too unoriginal” reviews.
But on the other hand, if you make the storyline interesting and most of all, creative and original, the game might work out. But the brings up my other point of this section:
3. Creativity – The Wrapping It Together Aspect (tied)
So Creativity is what sets the game apart from all others. If you create an app that is similar to another, what makes you believe your app will be just as successful, if not more? If it is similar, it needs a new angle. For instance it could have better graphics, cheaper cost (I know, redundant, but the parallelism in the sentence had to work out), and/or cleaner user interface. It just needs to have some aspect of it that makes it stand out compared to other iPhone apps.
2. User Friendly/Simplicity/Organized
This doesn’t mean make a crappy game and you’ll make millions due to its simple nature. Creative games with beautiful graphics do attract a lot of attention, but if the playing of the game is bulky and awkward, the game won’t succeed. Angry Birds was incredibly successful because the older, technically challenged adults could play the game by a stroke of a finger. An app that is organized, simple interface (not simple gameplay), and redundantly, user friendly, the game will incredibly popular.
1. Hard Work
If you stayed with me this long, you are probably thinking “How lame!” But the truth is, working hard on an app to incorporate all the stated aspects would make the game very personal. Gameloft (here is a reason I don’t like them) creates game that are very similar to other games that individual developer or smaller companies poured their hearts and souls into. They have a huge company that busts out games in a month. They may also create games that other large development companies have also made, but that is beside the point. Work hard on your app… You have to be devoted to that though.
So with all that being said, I just thought I’d finish with my last remark: iPhone apps aren’t created by incorporating everything I said, or even anything! This is just an analysis of the most popular games. But what I will tell you to do (speaking to developers) is to work hard to make your app successful, but most of all, have a creative and individual idea. Who knows? You may become the next Angry Birds developer…Or even better.