Chopper 2 launched on the Mac App Store on the 6th of Jan, at 99c, and as the #2 paid app. In the first week it sold over 100,000 copies at 99c, and continues to sell well (currently at #5). Keeping an eye on tweets about it, and listening to feedback, it has overall been well received.
It has made enough money to make the port, and even the resulting support headache worthwhile.
But I am angry. I’m angry at a small percentage of customers who actively work towards harming its success. I’m angry at the customers who send me nasty emails or reviews, threatening me with ‘telling Apple to remove it’ or rating it 1 star with a ’should be cheaper than free’ remark because after paying the ridiculously exorbitant 99c, they found it didn’t live up to expectations. The absolute worst is users who condescendingly ‘try to help’ by outlining every little thing they think is wrong with it.
I’m not sure if it’s that Mac users have more time on their hands to bitch to developers and leave nasty reviews, whether they expect more than iOS users, or if something else is at play, but I have clearly scraped the bottom of the barrel by having such high visibility at such a low price at launch. And I don’t like what I’ve found there.
It has changed me.
Once upon a time I looked forward to support emails. They gave me an opportunity to improve the product, and find out what my users think.
But no longer. I am now incredibly cautious of engaging my customers. Paying too much attention to support trolls has ended up costing me huge amounts of time and always ultimately proved pointless. These people don’t care about Chopper, they don’t care about me, they just want to vent and be noticed. And I no longer have any time for them.
The majority of support emails and reviews have been from nice people who genuinely want to help, but they are overshadowed by 10-20% that aren’t. The anger, the sense of entitlement, and the overriding theme that I owe them something for daring to take up any of their time is sickening. It makes me angry at the world.
What really makes it difficult for me is that I put my heart and soul into this game. I’m not just the support guy. I’m the guy who spent 16 months creating the thing. I take this reckless disregard for my hard work and care personally, and always will. I totally feel like I have worked my ass off to create something for people to enjoy, only to have it thrown back in my face.
These emails have a very real affect on my motivation levels. I have not had the motivation to even fix many of the issues that are causing some of the emails/reviews. I really have a sense that it is me vs. them. If they are going to be such cocks about it, why should I even bother. I can see now why many companies provide rubbish support, and have a ‘give us your money then piss off’ attitude. They have no doubt learned the hard way how soul destroying taking pride in your products can be.
I now have my brother helping me with support, and he has taken over the majority of the load. This is helping quite a bit, though I still find myself reading App Store reviews and the emails as they come in, as any good developer would. It’s still very hard to watch, and will continue to be as long as the thoughtless, negative comments keep rolling in.
In the mean time, I’ll keep going. I’ve left two previous jobs/careers in part because I was fed up with the customers therein, but have somehow managed to land myself in the thick of it once again. Hopefully things will improve over time, or I’ll develop a thicker skin.
I knew I was taking exactly this risk when pricing it at 99c on launch, especially with the remote feature which was always going to fail for some people due to obscure network/firewall issues. Over time hopefully improvements to the apps will help, and I’m itching to put the price up so I can get a better caliber of customers, but I still have to finish the free remote app first.
Thanks for putting up with my rant. Don’t worry, I’m not jumping ship just yet.
UPDATE – A follow up post adding some needed perspective is here.