Apple Connect App provides incorrect download statistics

I check my app’s download statistics on Apple’s Connect app pretty frequently, and was surprised when a weekly total for my latest app was significantly less than the daily count from a few days ago. I tried restarting Apple’s app, but got the same figures.

Starting to get concerned that the figure reported a few days ago was mistakenly inflated, I checked the download statistics on the iTunes Connect site (under the Sales and Trends area), and was relieved to find the aggregate numbers there were close to what I had seen in the app for the daily numbers. The numbers in the App Analytics page are all still zero, probably because the app has only been out a week.

I have no way to verify for sure which number is correct, but the odds are that the aggregate numbers being displayed in the Connect app. In my case, the numbers were over 10x smaller than they should be, which is a pretty serious bug.

If this doesn’t correct itself, I may send Apple a note since it’s pretty bad a bug this basic could escape unfound by testing. But maybe it only happens in a rare situation that doesn’t effect most users. Though the numbers are slightly different for my apps that have been out for several months, the difference is no more than 10 downloads.

If a company like Apple can’t provide accurate download statistics, it might be wise to consider using some 3rd-party SDK like Flurry which should give a more accurate count, plus much more information on how your app was used. I haven’t tried this myself, but am considering it eventually.

If anyone has noticed this bug please let me know.

iOS game advertising stats: view count comparison of a view popular forums

For my first game on the app store, Play The Field (a casual RTS game for iPad/iPhone), I did some advertising experiments by posting in several related forums.

I think it’s important to separate the number of people who decided to click on the post title, and those who actually went ahead and downloaded the game as a result of reading the advertisement. For PTF, the latter number was pretty small so  I can’t say it was a real success. However, the former number is still important since it shows how many people reading each form were interested in the game baed on the title and the fact it was an iPad/iPhone game. These view statistics will come in handy when I try to advertise another game.

Since these numbers might help out others as well, I’ll post the exact number of views I got for my advertisements on each site, ranked with highest first.

For my next game, I will very likely use the first two because of the great turnout (forums.toucharcade.com and forum.devmaster.net). The small number of views from the last site (http://www.slidedb.com) was especially surprising since there was many fields to fill out, and a 1-2 week period of waiting to be approved. All of that for a measly 5 hits!

I did achieve one minor goal, which was to not get banned from any sites. This was done simply by following all the rules for each of the forums involved. On all forums I only posted a single time, and only in the proper sub-forum.

One thing to keep in mind is that I submitted these posts over a week or two period, so some are a bit older than others. However, because I think most of the traffic comes in the first few days (when the post is near the top of the list), I think this has a minor effect on the overall hits. It would be an interesting follow-up post to check these again in a month or two.

I’ll put links to the posts below in case you want to see how I phrased things, though because of the low overall effect on downloads I think I need to work on writing more appealing, concise advertising text.

http://www.slidedb.com/games/play-the-field

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/668462-play-the-field-minimalistic-rts-game-for-ipadiphone/

http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=261996&highlight=play+field

http://forum.devmaster.net/t/play-the-field-minimalistic-rts-game-ipad-iphone/26744

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=159587

http://iosdeveloperforums.com/forums/advertising-and-self-promotion.18/

http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=48058.0

iOS development: why did my downloads plummet after only a few days in the store?

For those of you dabbling in iOS apps, you may have noticed a phenomenon whereby your app’s downloads drop significantly after a few days in the app store. You might have been getting ~30 downloads a day but now it’s only 1 or two. Not only have I experienced this myself but I’ve heard the story from a few fellow developers. What gives?

I don’t have any official information on how the Apple app store works, but I’m pretty sure I have a good idea what is happening here.

If you think about how people find apps, the number one way is surely through the app store itself – browsing the latest recommended games, new games, or in some other specific category or list.

None of these categories is infinite, and even if they were, mostly people would just look at the first few on the list. So the question is where and how Apple decides to showcase new games in their store.

They could give everyone a limited time (say one week), and then remove them – but that isn’t optimal since after all Apple’s goal is to get the total number of app downloads. This is obvious for paid apps since they get a cut, but even for free apps, the more people download games on their devices the bigger their market share is. And free games always have the chance to evolve into games with in-app purchases later.

Given this motivation, what they are likely doing is giving all new applications a chance, which means listing them on some relatively high-visibility category. I’m not sure if that is the “new apps” one or something else, but the exact place doesn’t matter. They do this for approximately a week, and then based on the number of downloads, they decide to either keep that app on the list, remove it completely, or maybe even upgrade it to a list with even higher visibility.

So if you happened to get a hundred downloads in the first week, you might be wishing to at least retain that level of popularity, but Apple determines this is not nearly good enough and declares your time in the limelight is over. You could beg to Apple and say “But, if I only had a few more weeks I would gather so much more popularity!”, to which they would respond “Sorry, you had your chance.”

With a huge number of new apps coming in each week, I’d say they are forced into this sort of strategy.

There are some unanswered questions here. For example, do they ever give you another chance on a high-visibility page? What happens for updates?

I don’t know all the details, but based on my recent experience they don’t seem to be giving another full chance when there is an app update – thought it could depend on the extent of the update.

What this all translates to is that to really have your best chances for a popular app, polish the heck out of it before putting it on the app store, since your first week may be your best chance to show Apple your app really has what it takes. Even without Apple’s help, you could advertise your game various places and eventually build up a big user base, but that’s significantly more work and takes much more time.