The App Store environment is becoming increasingly competitive and hard to break into. According to Hungry Shark developer MD Ian Harper, some media companies are buying their way to the top using Cost Per Install programs.
“Any developer who hasn’t already had a hit on the app store faces that challenge, ‘can I get anybody to play it in the first place ‘,” said Harper. “I think if you can get people to see you’re in with a fighting chance, but the issue nowadays is lots of big social media games companies are coming into iPhone and buying huge numbers of CPI [cost-per-install] installs and advertising, essentially buying their way up the charts, which really kind of crowds out the space for other people quite a lot. That’s been getting progressively worse in the last year, to the point where now it’s very, very difficult to get an app seen at all.”
Harper says that his company is happy to share its own in-app promotional technology, the Future Games Network, to help out smaller companies. “We’d done this anyway just to promote our own software, and then we were ‘oh, y’know, actually other people might be interested in using it.’ We’re independent developers, we like the idea of general moral helpfulness – we’ve done quite well on the App Store and we’d like to see other independent developers doing quite well too, so we’d like to help them. It’s really an alternative to going cap in hand to Chillingo or one of the other big publishers and doing some terrible deal with them where you end up with quite a restrictive contract, potentially having to give up your IP or something like that. So this is just to give people an alternative.”
Future Games of London does vet its partners to ensure quality, which has helped net 25 million downloads. “We don’t guarantee to publish anything that anybody sends us – we’re very much cherry-picking what we want to promote and that’s really because we don’t want to promote apps from within our own games that we don’t think are that good,” he added. “There’s not much too point in doing that.”