I finally hit “submit for review” and sent my first completed app to the Apple review team for approval. Within a few hours, ZER0ED was live and ready to be downloaded by millions of people worldwide. Here’s the story of what happened during the first week after publishing my first game on the App Store
Millions of Potential Players
There’s no denying it Apple sells a lot of iPhones. They claim over a billion active devices worldwide and that the App Store sees over 500 million active users every week. It’s a massive audience and even a small slice is worthwhile to a solo developer creating a side project.
However, reaching those millions is not an easy task, especially in the oversaturated and very competitive casual gaming space. Most people just aren’t looking for a new casual game. To make matters worse, those that are, rarely look past the ones that appear in the “Top Games” or “Featured” lists. This makes it extremely difficult to get the game you’ve spent hours and hours making easy to find.
The best way for ZER0ED, and other apps from small independent developers to get noticed is, by word of mouth. The only other alternative is to work on optimizations for ranking in search results on the App Store. WIth ZER0ED I’m aiming to work on both of these angles.
The Results After Publishing My First Game
My launch plan consisted of telling my friends and family through social media. Posting to a few Reddit and Discord groups that I am apart of. And sending a few emails to mobile gaming blogs hoping to get features – though if I’m being honest – that’s unlikely.
Within the first two days, ZER0ED was downloaded by 33 people. After that downloads quickly slowed down significantly with the next five days resulting in only an additional 17 downloads. With the bulk of my personal network now accounted for, downloads will most likely continue to slow. Growing from this point will require being featured or starting to rank well for popular search terms.
Some stats are limited to whether or not the Apple user has opted into data sharing with 3rd-party developers. One of the key metrics to look at for an app like this is daily and monthly active users. ZER0ED hit a peak of 14 daily active users on the day after launch with monthly active users currently at 22. Additionally, there have been 142 sessions of gameplay – this is how many times the game was launched on opt-in devices. I think generally speaking these results are fantastic considering the complete lack of marketing, and awareness about my development progress. Bottom line – it’s a starting point – not a finish line.
The Bugs and The Fixes!
Shortly after release, I started getting some feedback about ZER0ED. The first major issue I had to tackle was improving the tutorial. You have no idea how difficult it is to write a tutorial until you actually have to sit down and do it!
After I’d completed this update I soon found. few more minor issues with the game that I fixed. Version 1.0.2 also included some more polish to the tutorial and some helpful tips on the game over screen.
As I write this article I’m also finishing up version 1.0.3. Which includes a final round of bug fixes and polish as well as a foundation for the first feature update to ZER0ED.
What’s Next After Publishing My First Game
Now that ZER0ED is out there on the App Store I want to find ways of continuing to build the game and make it even more fun to play. Some rumors suggest a regularly updated app performs better in search results compared to non-updated apps.
Version 1.1 will contain the first feature update to ZER0ED – The PowerUp resource. The idea behind this new resource is that using it before it expires will grant you powerups that you can use to improve your chances of winning.
My “reach” goal, is to release ZER0ED version 2.0 which would bring with it a new game mode – puzzles! I am currently planning for this to be a paid ($0.99 – $1.99) IAP. This would be a much bigger release and one that would require a lot of time and testing. Additionally, it will allow me to learn a new skill, adding IAPs to a game.
In regards to release timeframes for these two updates, I don’t have any specifics right now. I expect that version 1.1 should be able to push out sometime in November. However, version 2.0 is probably going to take quite a bit more time. It’s safe to say that this won’t be ready until sometime in 2021.
As always thank you for taking the time to read about my development and play my game. If you’d like to help me even more consider rating ZER0ED on the App Store and sharing a link to it on social media!