Hungry Shark developer Future Games of London says that smaller iOS developers are being pushed out of the Apple App Store charts by larger publishers who are buying their way to the top of the list. Future Games MD Ian Harper claims that media companies are using a method called "Cost Per Install" to quickly drive downloads, improve rankings and increase visibility by hitting the top of the charts.
"Any developer who hasn't already had a hit on the app store faces that challenge, 'can I get anybody to play it in the first place?'," said MD Ian Harper, speaking to GamesIndustry.biz. "I think if you can get people to see you're in with a fighting chance, but the issue nowadays is lots of big social media games companies are coming into iPhone and buying huge numbers of CPI [cost-per-install] installs and advertising, essentially buying their way up the charts, which really kind of crowds out the space for other people quite a lot.
Harper also said that his company is willing to share its own technology, the Future Games Network, with other developers. The Future Games Network is an in-app promotional tool that prompts consumers to try out other titles on the network.
"We'd done this anyway just to promote our own software, and then we were 'oh, y'know, actually other people might be interested in using it.' We're independent developers, we like the idea of general moral helpfulness – we've done quite well on the App Store and we'd like to see other independent developers doing quite well too, so we'd like to help them. It's really an alternative to going cap in hand to Chillingo or one of the other big publishers and doing some terrible deal with them where you end up with quite a restrictive contract, potentially having to give up your IP or something like that. So this is just to give people an alternative."
Harper adds that his company cherry picks only the best games for its networks, because there's no point in promoting crappy apps.
"We don't guarantee to publish anything that anybody sends us – we're very much cherry-picking what we want to promote and that's really because we don't want to promote apps from within our own games that we don't think are that good. There's not much too point in doing that."
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