After the first release of my iPhone game 'the little tank that could', I was very excited. I thought the game was fun to play, and could possibly do very well on the appstore. That turned out not to be the case. For the first 5 days on the store, it sold 20, 10, 5, 2 and 8 copies. A total of 45 copies sold. That was disheartening.
Now, my game has an online leader board. The players with the best times show up on a ranking. The leader board is consulted when you play the game, so that it can be displayed on the phone. When I took a look at my server logs, I was absolutely astonished. There were 1114 different people in the logs!
So how can a game that sold 45 copies, have 1114 players? That does not make any sense? I have no reason to believe that Apple's sales reports are faulty, so the answer is piracy. Very quickly after the release of 'the little tank that could' the game got cracked, and distributed via torrents. Those crackers are a weird bunch, even taking pride in their work. Proudly tagging my game with 'cracked by Hexhammer'. Well screw you Hexhammer. If you had any talents yourself, you would make your own game. Cracking one is petty.
So here they are, people, the cold hard facts: for every game you sell on the appstore, there are 24 pirates playing a bootleg copy. Out of 25 people, only one will choose to pay. So how much money are they saving anyway by pirating? Well... that would be a whole 1 dollar 99. A sad bunch really.
The whole experience of iPhone publishing is frustrating. But there is one part that I really liked. There is a great place for developers to meet up with players. I got some excellent help from the people over at the TouchArcade fora. They will tell you what needs improvement, and they came up with ideas for new levels for the next update. I did put in an update, but looking at the sales, it may be the last. Let me conclude with a video of the game.
The pay-rate grew to over 10% rather quickly. The 4% measurement was done shortly after the crack got released. The updated (version 2) of the game has so far not been cracked, and there is a 100% payment rate for the players on the leaderboard of version 2.