Mobile is spoken of a lot as a major platform for game developers, and truthfully, app stores have turned into a great place to get everything from elaborate puzzle games to turn-based strategy RPGs to time-wasters while you’re stuck on the bus. And they sell a lot… unless you identify yourself as an “indie game.”
Analysis of the App Store has found that being featured by Apple’s editors will increase your revenue and downloads in every single case… unless you’re identified by the company as an indie game, according to Re/Code:
…appearing in “10 Incredible Indie Games” or the new “Indie Game Showcase” produced a whole lotta nothing. The critically acclaimed app Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery had previously seen a bump in downloads and a huge jump in revenue when Apple highlighted it in a category called “Spectacular Stories,” but when it appeared in the “10 Incredible Indie Games” feature two weeks later, both metrics were flat.
What’s going on, aside from the fact that some developers are apparently getting stiffed by a seemingly arbitrary category? At a guess, there’s the perception of Apple users as hip indie kids with street cred, and then there’s the reality, which is that Apple moves 30 to 50 million iPhones a quarter with 15 to 20 million iPads on top of that, and most of those aren’t to hip indie kids at this point.
Interestingly, if the game isn’t classified or otherwise identified as an “indie game”, people are perfectly willing to buy it. So apparently the key to selling an indie game on iOS is to just pretend you’re not one.