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The Big Win—Grand Slam

The Big Win apps or Grand Slams are generally characterized by explosive sales from their launches. Games, by far, make up the majority of the Big Win apps. Why? Because games take advantage of the impulse buy that occurs directly from an iPhone. Games are the most likely app to be bought on impulse. The impulse buyer cares about what's hot right now and what looks like the most fun to play.

Sometimes a community of people is familiar with a particular development company and is hungry to purchase its new app. Some companies have made their apps successful by porting an already successful PC or Mac game over to the iPhone platform. But I am also seeing small up and comers making big names for themselves. Who can forget Tiny Wings (Andreas Illiger) overthrowing Angry Birds for at least a month!

Big Win apps have also been positioned by large development companies with huge followings. Their aim is to achieve quick sales on apps that are priced in the games sweet spot from $0.99 to $1.99. At this price point, the impulse buyer is looking for something to occupy her time. The longevity of this type of app may be short, lasting only several months. Then the same company releases another app and focuses its attention on that. Some winning apps are designed in such a way to bring the customer back over and over again with paid add-ons or frequent updates. One of the most popular game apps to provide frequent releases is Pocket God shown in Figure 1.6. Pocket God refers to its updates as "Episodes" and has built a very strong community of users that keep the game in the spotlight. User suggestions for new features keep the game fresh and exciting.

Figure 1.6

Figure 1.6 Pocket God has done a very good job keeping customers engaged with its frequent new "Episodes," or product updates.

Another common element for Big Win games is that they are usually very simplistic in their premises. The masses of iPhone users purchase games that are easy to learn. Low on learning, high on enjoyment is the rule of thumb for the quick win Big Win games. Think of Tiny Wings. It is easy to learn but challenging and incredibly addictive. The typical game buyer doesn't want to learn tons of rules to a new game. They want to understand the point of the app immediately and start playing right away.

Just when we think only big development houses can win in the iPhone/iPad game business another Tiny Wings comes along and steals the show. But the stakes are high. Think about how great the music, graphics, and game play are in Tiny Wings. It's no easy feat to do all of those things well. And it's costly to hire outside expertise to help you create the pieces of the app where you may lack experience. Larger companies have the development staff that can bring apps to market more quickly without sacrificing quality. It simply takes an independent developer longer to create a high powered, high quality game app. However, when a following is created and the app is updated frequently, you will continue to attract customers and positive reviews as shown with Tiny Wings in Figure 1.7.

Figure 1.7

Figure 1.7 Positive reviews continue to roll in for the infamous Tiny Wings App.

The last characteristic of the Grand Slam apps is that they often get a big break from the press or large review sites as being an app to look at. Think of Touch Arcade, a very large game review site, which is a must-have review if you are to succeed with your app in a big way. You not only need to post your app on this site, but also get them to review yours. Tom Clancy achieved remarkable success with his book The Hunt for Red October when Ronald Reagan praised the book after he read it while on vacation. After Reagan's comments, sales of that book skyrocketed. If an iPhone/iPad app gets a lucky break from a major review site, it can serve as the catalyst to get sales moving in a big way. Word of mouth takes it from there. This is the holy grail of app marketing.

Some other apps that fall into this category are shown in Figures 1.8 and 1.9. These apps have achieved phenomenal success. Angry Birds continues to stay on the best seller list due to its amazing graphics, simple play premise, and huge following. Fruit Ninja also hit the mark with its amazing graphics and addictive game play. And who can forget Doodle Jump and its New York developers, who are brothers, that hit it big as shown in Figure 1.10.

Figure 1.8

Figure 1.8 Angry Birds has achieved Big Win success with well over 1.3 million downloads. They also offer an add-on pack for additional play, adding to their revenues.

Figure 1.9

Figure 1.9 Fruit Ninja achieved early success with its incredible use of graphics and simple premise of design.

Figure 1.10

Figure 1.10 Doodle Jump is the runaway best selling game from Lima Sky, Inc. It is on Apple's Highest Grossing App list.

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