Space Miner developer lucked out, but still a long way from break-even

App Store success isn't commercial success yet

Space Miner developer lucked out, but still a long way from break-even

One of the refreshing differences between developers working on mobile and more traditional formats is the relatively honest and open approach the former bring to their business.

It's not uncommon to see CEOs admitting making mistakes, or raising genuine concerns about the industry at large that break from the party line.

On much the same note, a recent admission by Venan Entertainment's lead designer Brandon Curiel seems to unearth a truth about business on the App Store many other studios might wish to silence: charting high doesn't necessarily lead to long-term success.

Breaking the taboo

Speaking on the developer's blog, Curiel details the highs and lows of Venon's debut iPhone release, Space Miner. Though critically acclaimed almost across the board, the studio found it difficult to catch the eye of the consumer in long enough bouts to really make a difference in terms of sales.

"We knew the importance of marketing, buzz, etc, but at the end of the day, we didn't have the time," Curiel admits.

"The game was way over budget and way late, and we just needed to get the thing done. What happened afterwards is pure luck."

Indeed, Curiel says a fairly short promotion pre launch was enough to give the game a surge on day one, with continued buzz, positive reviews, and being featured by Apple pushing the game into the high 20s on the App Store charts.

Jump for your love

But one bounce didn't lead to another. Despite a fairly loyal following, Space Miner couldn't make the leap to the top of the App Store.

"Thus I learned my first lesson – chart ranks don't really help sales, unless you are near the top," Curiel concludes.

"For the most part, our ranking always reflected how well we were doing, and never served to increase our sales. When we shot up, it was because of being featured by Apple, or it was because we cut our price, and it happened within a day of the event.

"But then it would always hold steady or taper," he adds. "We never experienced a rise, followed by a rise, which would indicate that getting up the chart was helping us sell more product."

State of independence

While many developers will already be familiar with this state of affairs, the press tends to focus on the big successes or, indeed, the non-starters. Those occupying the middle ground, if Venon is anything to go by, are finding life on the App Store harder than they might have originally anticipated.

"So we're now in a new territory for us, yet familiar to many hardened App Store veterans, where we try to figure out ways to extend the life of Space Miner," Curiel summises.

"The business challenges remain, but I look forward to finding solutions and learning new ways to be successful in this marketplace."

[source: Venan Entertainment]

Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.