Every app developer in the world wants his/her app to be featured by Apple; that’s nothing new. With so many apps being released daily, it may seem next to impossible to get your indie game featured on the App Store. Even so, you need to know that it isn’t impossible. Many app developers before you have had their app featured on the App Store, and many more after you will do the same – so why not get a piece of that pie? Thanks to a few tips from Ythan Pratt of NativeX, we’re going to show you how to do exactly that below.
Research what Apple wants
Apple is always evolving iOS. With each new release, new features and focus are placed on different dimensions of their business at large. Thus, you need to keep tabs on what Apple is focusing on year-to-year. Apple loves apps that showcase their OS’ newest features and services, and if you can implement them into your indie game? The chances that Apple will showcase your indie game will increase.
The first three lines of your indie game’s description needs to entice browsers to press ‘More’ and continue reading. We mentioned this last week when detailing what your indie game’s store page needs, and the same rules apply here. You need to hook browsers within the first three lines of your indie game’s description on the App Store. You need to tell the reader exactly what makes your indie game so special, why they should care, and give them a reason to select ‘More’ and learn more about the app.
Don’t kill them with data
You may be tempted to present a checklist in your indie game’s description to prove why your indie game is awesome: don’t. Far too often, you will find apps that read as if the developer is trying to convince himself/herself why the app is awesome. Sure, you need to explain to your readers why the app is awesome and convince them why they should care about it, but don’t overdo it with data.
For example, if you are developing an indie game with 100 levels composed of five different zones, don’t provide a detailed rundown of every zone – that is not important at the moment. What is important is how the game plays, what type of challenge players can expect, etc. it does not matter how many zones are in your game: if the player is unsure if they will enjoy the game, they couldn’t care less.
That’s really the name of the game, too: give your audience a reason to care why your game exists! If you can convince ordinary people to care about your game and play it, then it isn’t impossible to convince Apple as well.
Using your indie game store description, practice writing a pitch
Figuring out how to describe your indie game in a way that will make ordinary people care about the game is a great way to practice your pitch to Apple. Last week, we wrote a post on pitching your indie game to the press that can help you out with this. Sit down with a piece of paper and begin writing a pitch aimed at proving why your indie game is so awesome it needs to be experienced by everyone on the planet. Yes, this is going to be hard and need to practice at it often.
You need to drill it in your head as to why your indie game is the real deal and deserves to be featured by Apple. If you have problems coming up with reasons why your indie game is great, but maybe you need to go back to the drawing board and fix your game to actually make it great. After you believe you have an argument regarding why your indie game is awesome and needs to be featured by Apple, show it off to your peers and other people that you respect. This is where networking is so handy: if you have indie developers that you look up to and communicate with often, they can tell you what works and does not work in the pitch.
Ythan Pratt of NativeX states that networking at events or even online is one of the fastest ways to be featured on the App Store. He’s absolutely right – in fact, I would say that because competition is so fierce on the App Store, that it is practically mandatory to do this. Visit video game trade shows and try to meet with people from the App Store division of Apple (they will be at these shows), but as Pratt suggests, don’t try to pitch to them right out of the gate. Countless app developers will be pitching to them every day. In order to stand out, speak to them like a normal person and be friendly with them. Hand them a business card, follow up with them after the show, and build a genuine friendship with them. Because you need to…
Give them a reason to feature the app
Certainly, by creating a relationship with professionals in the App Store division of Apple, you will stand out more than developers that have no bond with them – but that is not enough to be featured on the App Store. You need to give them a reason to brag about featuring you. As Pratt points out, one of the best ways to do this is to take advantage of new hardware and software that comes from Apple, as well as releasing your indie game first on the App Store (or exclusively if it makes sense to do so). Apple loves it when their platform takes precedence over all other platforms. In combination with the points above, you may just have a fighting chance.
Make the app universal for all Apple devices
But you’re not done yet! You also need to ensure that your indie game is available for all Apple devices. If it is designed solely for an iPhone, Apple will not feature the game. Think about it from their perspective: they are doing a service for their customers by featuring the best apps on the App Store. They want to appeal to the most users possible, and if an app excludes entire demographics, they are going to feature another app with more mass appeal.
Ensure your indie game is awesome
Last but not least (in fact, this is the most important tip of the post), make sure that your indie game is awesome. You could abide by all of these tips in this post, but if nobody is going to enjoy your indie game, Apple is not going to even think about featuring it. You will be wasting your time as well as the time of employees in the App Store division of Apple, so make sure the game already has solid ratings before even thinking about getting it featured on the App Store.
You can do this – it just takes a lot of time and energy to get featured!