How to Design Your iOS Game to Grow

The world of iOS gaming is expanding rapidly, with a number of rockstar developers coming into the limelight, even competing with the fame of console-centric studios. Undeniably, one of the most interesting companies in the market today is Tiger Style, the developers behind Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, and Waking Mars. The studio is one of the only mainstream iOS developers to take their lead from classic indie sensibilities, focusing on intricate gameplay and visual/thematic idiosyncrasy.

How to Design Your iOS Game to Grow

They also happen to make an absolute mint. In honor of this incredible outfit, I decided to take a look into their development and business practices, in the hope of finding three key factors that give the studio their x factor.

The figures

To truly communicate the scale of Tiger Style’s success, it’s important to provide some context. Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor and Waking Mars were both made on shoestring budgets. It’s been reported that Spider cost a measly $15,000 and Waking Mars a slightly less breath-taking $38,000. The tiny budget of the former included all equipment and other raw materials (as well as $10,000 in advanced royalties paid to everyone involved), the latter was much the same.

The sales of both games are completely unprecedented. From launch to mid-2012, Spider had been purchased over a quarter-of-a-million times and generated over $1,000,000 in revenue. Waking Mars has been every bit as successful, making $240,000 for its studio. As Spider was made using the developers’ life savings, which then generated the capital to develop Waking Mars; it’s amazing to think how such a (relatively) small investment in the first instance can lead to such huge gains in the end. It also makes you think, but what’s so special about Tiger Style?

It’s all about the social

Aside from working on a miniscule budget and having an enduring passion for gameplay, Tiger Style are aggressive social marketers. That’s not to say that they abuse social channels but, rather, they use them to their full advantage. It’s rare these days that iOS games will benefit from a trailer, but Tiger Style were insistent in creating a pre-launch buzz for both their titles – and it’s not great stretch to claim they worked. The trailer for Spider has been viewed 130,000 since being posted on YouTube, generating countless conversations and reviews on the social site.

The games themselves also feature a social side, both allowing you to tweet and/or Like once completing key milestones in the game, as well as in-game leaderboards and achievements. This is obviously a great tactic, as it allows users to proudly display their progress through the game and, more crucially, lets non-players know that the game exists and their friends are enjoying it enough to post about it.

Longevity

It’s not a bold claim to state that the reason behind 99% of gaming drop-off is completionism. Once we’ve completed a game, it’s very rare for us to return to it. Yes, game’s end, and once the credits roll it’s easy to set the device down and forget about the last however-many hours of your life. Tiger Style are constantly updating and adding to their previously published titles, as well as developing future releases. Only recently, Tiger Style released a 10 level expansion pack for Spider, increasing its run-time by a third. It makes sense those gamers would return to a previous title if they enjoyed the experience of the original and can’t wait for more, which Tiger Style have beautifully realized.

Test

There are so many games these days, with the increasing ease of development and the opening up of the Android Market, that feel only half-finished when they’re made available for download. Tiger Style hold true to their belief that you should never sign anything off without it being the absolute best it could be. In order to realize this, the studio enlists an army of testers to play the game in front of the developers – that way they could see exactly where the game was weak and immediately correct it. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!

Jason Phillips has posted this article. He loves to write on video games and latest technology. He has written on Tom and Jerry games many times and got very much appreciated for his articles.

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