Rant

Written by David Frampton @ 1:49 am, January 18, 2011

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.









46 Comments

  1. Michael Potter

    Keep up the excellent work! Don’t give up—not that I think you would! It’s crushing when something you’ve cherished and worked on for a long time is received with undeserved contempt. “Just ignore all the idiots” is easy to say, but it’s probably harder to do when you’re the one who has to deal with it. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed following your progress with Chopper 2 and your other endeavors, and I can say you’ve been a big inspiration to me as an iOS developer. So just know that you’ve got at LEAST one person rootin’ for ya’. :D

    Comment by Michael Potter — January 18, 2011 @ 1:59 am


  2. Mike Riley

    Hey Dave,

    Sorry to hear that these people are getting you down. That’s not good and certainly not fun. Having worked in various customer facing industries, I understand the frustration. It is no fun. I typically would not focus on the 10-20% of the ones that got me down and would focus on the majority that were nice and I enjoyed helping. Hopefully you can just focus on the 80-90% that are nice and genuinely good people. Focus on them and the help they are providing. The rest of them don’t let them bother you.

    Mike Riley

    Comment by Mike Riley — January 18, 2011 @ 2:02 am


  3. Paul

    The unfortunate price of success? I can’t think of many situations where a small independent developer like yourself would overnight be able to reach such a large customer base.

    I think part of the issue is that many of the iOS games are cutting edge for mobiles and mobile devices, whereas porting them to a full blown computer – compared to other computer games they don’t look so flash. Angry Birds v Call of Duty…?

    Perhaps a support forum would alleviate some of the pressure on you? Or indeed hiring someone to answer all the emails…

    Comment by Paul — January 18, 2011 @ 2:05 am


  4. simon

    you have to understand that these people are complete idiots. like seriously. complete and total fucking losers. dont let the bastards get you down man. its a great app.

    its just like hitler kept saying, “you cant please all of the people, all of the time”

    Comment by simon — January 18, 2011 @ 2:12 am


  5. taavi223

    It’s unfortunate that the worst customers are also usually the loudest and that they often times drown out everyone else. Rest assured I, along with many others, greatly enjoy Chopper for the mac. For every person who emails you to complain there are countless other’s who are very satisfied and therefore have no reason to email you in the first place. You’ve done a fantastic job, and no matter how many people might tell you otherwise, please know that this is the truth.

    Comment by taavi223 — January 18, 2011 @ 2:56 am


  6. Sam Johnson

    I absolutely love Chopper for the Mac! Being a software developer myself, I also have had to learn about this same thing the hard way. Just remember, those kinds of people don’t deserve your time. Keep up the awesomeness!

    Comment by Sam Johnson — January 18, 2011 @ 3:08 am


  7. Byron

    It sounds to be that support needs to be built into the products price, so what would be a $.99 on the iPhone needs to probably be more than double that to cover support costs on Mac?

    Comment by Byron — January 18, 2011 @ 3:14 am


  8. Hendrik

    It is amazing how easily those negative emails / reviews can have a completely outsized emotional impact compared to all the positive feedback we get.
    Early on when my app became a surprise hit I switched from using email to GetSatisfaction.com for support. That has been working great for me overall. It was especially the nasty emails that were getting to me.
    GetSatisfaction does two things that help:
    1) When users enter their issue, the system first searches existing previous threads and points them out to the user as likely answers. It is like an automatic FAQ that points users to the relevant parts of the FAQ before posting their issue.
    2) Users have to sign in/up to post a new question. This is the last step in the posting process, so while it is a bit of a barrier, I don’t think it will keep too many people with valid questions / issues from posting.
    In combination this seriously helped me in cutting down the support volume and getting rid of (most of) the crap. I went from an unmanageable number of support emails to one new support case every few days. And the automatic FAQ system means that most people will get their question answered without me doing anything at all (except answering it once).
    The one downside so far is that I think a significant number of people use made up email addresses (or their crap-address) to sign up, which means that they won’t see the notifications when I reply or ask follow-up questions.

    Comment by Hendrik — January 18, 2011 @ 3:19 am


  9. Will

    I would just return an email in kind. It could be a great form of stress relief. Tell them how you really feel.

    If you give up because of a few trolls, then.. you’ve been trolled. It’d suck to lose a great developer just because haters are hating.

    Comment by Will — January 18, 2011 @ 3:26 am


  10. Kelvin Kao

    Hey Dave, I subscribe to the idea that since there are all these bad and apathetic people in this world, you should be extra nice to the people that are actually genuinely nice. Go the extra mile for the supportive people, and as for the trolls, they won’t be getting any help from you. These people are probably bitter about everything in life, so don’t even bother with them.

    Comment by Kelvin Kao — January 18, 2011 @ 3:28 am


  11. MagnetiCat

    Hey Dave, I appreciate your work and the dedication behind your game. You are indeed an inspiration for us and for any team interested in games that go beyond the “gimmick” state. There is love behind your game and it shows.

    Now, I think that unfortunately the issues you are having with your customers’ feedback will happen in any industry. I have worked as a web developer, a web owner/journalist, musician, and a few more things in my life, and these kinds of feedbacks inevitably come up often. And they inevitably make you want to quit.

    Now, the App Store. Paul is suggesting that the cause of your frustration is that desktop users are more demanding than mobile gamers. I doubt that this is the problem. You can see the same type of rants posted also in iPhone-only games, and you can see them EVEN on free games (yes, even those not using iAd yet). Many with much more experience than me (we have yet to publish our own stuff in the store) have suggested that the race to the lower price point that every app developer – big or small – has been running from the launch of the App Store will ultimately lead to the implosion of the market, and the disappearance of the same small developers that started it all. Will this really happen?

    $0.99 is an unsustainable price point. Because, if you sell 1 million games, you make $700,000 BEFORE taxes. A nice amount of money, but you also get 1 million customers – the amount of people living in a huge city – that could potentially have some problems with your game. Maybe because their iPhone’s accelerometer is broken, or because their headphone jack is not working anymore, or because there is an actual bug in your game.

    The sad truth is that the “free for all” or “almost free for all” model that can work on some industries does not work well with games. The sad truth is that once a user has paid for your game, they get that “entitlement feeling” that a lot of customers have when they purchase something, REGARDLESS of how much they paid that something. The guy paid you $0.99. You made money but you also gained a new customer.

    The good news in your post is that the game is paying well enough to take care of these support headaches. You did the best thing in asking your brother to handle this stuff. By all means, I would do the same.

    About user feedbacks, they can be invaluable. Just try to care less about them. Maybe you should think that when you sell at $0.99 you can reach a level where you are no longer selling to single people but you are doing “mass” marketing. You need to figure out a way to understand where the “flow” of your clients is going. It is very difficult to do this without a forum dedicated to your games, but maybe the comments on iTunes are enough to do this.

    And while I hate business books as they are all invariably too self-assured (and poorly written), I’d recommend you read this free book from the developers of Basecamp: http://gettingreal.37signals.com/toc.php It has a lot of no-nonsense things also when it talks about customer support that could give you an idea or two.

    Finally, a good punching ball can do miracles.

    In any case, good luck to you! You achieved something that most people dream, and you did it the right way, by working hard on it.

    Comment by MagnetiCat — January 18, 2011 @ 3:32 am


  12. MagnetiCat

    “I would just return an email in kind. It could be a great form of stress relief. Tell them how you really feel.”

    No, really, don’t. In U.S. you can get sued for anything. Imagine writing back an angry response to a 9 year old. And yes, they are out there. Buying smurfberries with their parents’ money, as reported a few days ago.

    Comment by MagnetiCat — January 18, 2011 @ 4:01 am


  13. Brian Hammond

    I feel your pain. I’ve had over 4 million downloads of my Darts game for the iPhone (launched back in October 2008) and for the version launched in June 2009, there were about 120,000 reviews. They were UNBELIEVABLY negative. I couldn’t fathom why people were so base, so ridiculous, and I got very very mad and didn’t touch the game for over a year. I released an update in December 2010 and the same haters who picked it apart were back. I just stopped reading the reviews.

    I like to tell myself that I’ve learned that some people just want to watch the world burn. Ignore them if you can (I’m trying still) and focus on that you LOVE making games for yourself and your friends.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Brian Hammond — January 18, 2011 @ 5:08 am


  14. Paul Ward

    Its an unfortunate reality that its difficult to price iOS games at their actual value, since the freetards have decided that software has no value. In any case, Chopper 2 looks like fun, so you got 2 bucks from me!

    Comment by Paul Ward — January 18, 2011 @ 5:21 am


  15. John

    Don’t let the idiots get you down. I first played Chopper 2 on my iPhone, became obsessed with it on my iPad, and couldn’t wait to buy it for the Mac—it was my first Mac App Store purchase, and I love it. Thanks so much for creating such a fantastic app!

    Comment by John — January 18, 2011 @ 5:23 am


  16. David Chartier

    I’m sorry to hear about this. Chopper’s a great game and you deserve better treatment as a developer.

    Have you considered pricing your software a little higher? It’s certainly worth it. But if you dig your price out of the bottom of the barrel and set it for a more reasoned and mature audience, maybe it will scare away a good portion of those 10-20% customers that you don’t want, need, or deserve.

    Either way, good luck. I hope the bad apples don’t ruin a good thing.

    Comment by David Chartier — January 18, 2011 @ 5:54 am


  17. Glenn Fleishman

    I echo Mr Chartier: Chopper is a great game, and it should cost $20+ on a Mac. You’re being very kind by pricing it at 99¢.

    When I wrote the Five-Star Apps book last fall (in which your iOS Chopper 2 “stars”), I read an enormous number of reviews, and, man, people do suck. But they suck more on inexpensive apps than on expensive ones.

    People who spend $30 on an app have made a more deliberate decision, and they spell better, too.

    Comment by Glenn Fleishman — January 18, 2011 @ 6:03 am


  18. bitolithic

    David, I’m sorry the inconsiderates are getting you down. You didn’t ask for any suggestions but here are a couple anyways!

    - Get yourself an account with one of the hosted support sites. Someone else mentioned ‘Get Satisfaction’, I use ‘Tender’ (www.tenderaapp.com). Customers with an actual issue can go there and find answers very quickly. The emails that end up getting to you are more likely to be aimed at you. So it doesn’t help with the trolls, but it does help get you some of your time back.

    - When you sit down to do some ‘real’ work (coding!), don’t think of the trolls, don’t even think of the nice people that emailed you, think of the thousands and thousands that haven’t emailed you but are out there quietly enjoying the game and anticipating what you come up with next.

    Comment by bitolithic — January 18, 2011 @ 6:06 am


  19. Satoshi

    David you really should read this: http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2011/01/three-reasons-creators-should-never.html

    I know he mostly talks about the Forums but this also applies to Reviews and such.
    I whish you the best! Hang in there!

    Comment by Satoshi — January 18, 2011 @ 6:51 am


  20. Alex M.

    Sorry to hear that an annoying contingent of Mac users are getting you down. For what it’s worth, I picked up Chopper 1 on the iPhone on a whim and played it to the end. It was awesome. I was actively waiting for Chopper 2, and I don’t normally play video games. Chopper 2 was great, although I couldn’t beat it on the hardest level…

    When the Mac App store launched, I saw Chopper 2 on the Mac, and I passed. Even at 99¢, I doubted that it would do me any good to play it on a Mac. But I am avidly looking forward to Chopper 3.

    You do great work. I am definitely one of those who quietly enjoy your games, and I am fondly anticipating whatever it is that you come up with next. At 99¢ or $5, I would pay for your next game. $5 is probably too high for the overall market, but 99¢ is far too low. Perhaps charge $3—you’ll almost certainly make more money. Your true fans will support you. By charging too little, you’re not valuing your work appropriately. Don’t be surprised that so many customers treat you accordingly.

    Comment by Alex M. — January 18, 2011 @ 7:32 am


  21. Sakuraba

    Dude, haters are gonna hate no matter what.The vast majority of those mails are just dumb fucks that are jealous of your success, because they are not as creative as you or simply cant pull off shit like this.

    Their communication is not a real representation of your product or their perception of it, it is a conglomerate of negative energy caused by them being unhappy about themselves and being in need of unleashing this negativity on someone.

    You have seen the downside of standing in the bright light. Negative fucks are gonna try to throw their feces at you. That is the reality of what has happened to you. The question is, are you gonna let them hit you and drown in a pile of shit, or will you dodge it and continue to stand in the spotlight by continuing to do what has brought you up there.

    Comment by Sakuraba — January 18, 2011 @ 8:09 am


  22. Stephen

    I’m so sorry that you’re being trollbombed. I own Chopper, I love Chopper, and I can see the effort you put into it. Just hang in there man, and try to focus on the 95% that appreciate your work.

    Best of luck.

    Comment by Stephen — January 18, 2011 @ 8:11 am


  23. Paul Hoadley

    “Customer Reviews” for both the iOS and Mac App Stores are a misnomer (they’re not reviews, they’re a magnet for trolls), and should be scrapped. Hang in there. To hopefully make you feel even marginally better, I just bought your game.

    Comment by Paul Hoadley — January 18, 2011 @ 8:31 am


  24. Ken Carpenter

    Hi Dave,

    Maybe a small thing, but I think one reason that you are getting more negative replies is that many people just can’t be bothered to type out long hate mail on their iPhones, since it just takes so long.

    Typing it on a computer is much faster!

    Comment by Ken Carpenter — January 18, 2011 @ 9:15 am


  25. kidcandy

    Hi Dave,
    I´ve made similar experiences. There are a few people out there expecting everything to be free ignoring the fact that someone put some effort, time and money into the development of an app.

    Cheers,
    K.

    Comment by kidcandy — January 18, 2011 @ 10:15 am


  26. Eric

    “Wah, I just made six f’n figures in a week but mean people yelled at me.”

    Granted most of the people are probably morons, but still, what a horrible way to look at things.

    Comment by Eric — January 18, 2011 @ 11:16 am


  27. Apollyon

    You should read the “4-hour workweek book” from Tim Ferris ( NYTimes Bestseller) and learn how to hire a virtual assistant to take care of your support. Anyway, for someone who earned more than $2 million from the AppStore(s) I think you are over exagerating that some little kid makes you bad. C’mon, most people doesn’t make $2 million for their whole life. Also “18 months” of hard work is nothing compared to the cash you have coming in. You turned from rag to rich in 2 years. These reviewers are just cocroaches in which you can buy them.

    Comment by Apollyon — January 18, 2011 @ 11:23 am


  28. Silky

    To be fair, you did just rip off Choplifter, which ripped off defender.

    Comment by Silky — January 18, 2011 @ 11:34 am


  29. christian

    I bought the game for iPhone and also for Mac. Also gifted the iphone app to a friend. The vast majority of your customers love the game – don’t let the tiny percentage of negative comments bring you down. I saw the review on the Mac App Store from someone saying he already bought it for $1 for iPhone, why should he have to pay again to get it on Mac – as if paying $1 should entitle you to play on iPhone, iPad **AND Mac. It actually made me laugh. I have voted down on that review and urge other Chopper fans to do the same if they think that his review is not helpful. I’ve also rated the game 5*stars on iPhone App Store and Mac App Store. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by christian — January 18, 2011 @ 12:05 pm


  30. Santiago Lema

    Simple solution: be cynical, build a generic email where you apologize (yes seriously) for any issue and tell them that you will do your best to enhance the product to satisfy them. As soon as you receive a mail that looks insulting, quickly reply with this template, then trash and ignore them.

    Only answer personally what is useful to you or to the product.

    Comment by Santiago Lema — January 18, 2011 @ 1:28 pm


  31. Bob Eddings

    First of all, congratulations on creating a giant hit in such a competitive and crowded market! Its success is a testament to the energy, care, talent, and love you breathed into it. To have achieved such high volume early has perhaps found you ill prepared for the harsh reality regarding morons posing as customers.

    A brief observation of politics today will easily prove that the world is fairly divided between humans and morons. Morons gripe, weep, and gnash teeth over a buck and will even spew their ignorance all over something of beauty provided to them for free. Humans, on the other hand, are typically born indoors and raised with a better sense of values. They usually eat their vegetables, say “please”, and almost always wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

    It is for these well mannered and appreciative humans you are creating and passing along the gift of enjoyment. It is they who will reward your love with adoration, yachts, gold chains, vacations in exotic lands, and pimped out rides. It is they for which you burn the brain cells and the midnight oil.

    In this situation one could do worse than simply ask, “what would Steve do?”

    He would ignore the morons and delight the humans. That’s what. He wouldn’t lash out, or fold the tent. He’d redouble his effort and win. It’s also worth remembering that he’s both undeterred and unrepentant in charging appropriately for value provided. And wouldn’t you know, it’s universally those unwilling to pay for value who are always the biggest whiners and vocal detractors.

    Oh, and one more thing: In case you haven’t heard, the humans like you. A lot. So you’re way ahead of the game. And—lucky for you—now that the humans have acquired a taste, they’re counting on you to deliver more sugar to them in the future.

    Comment by Bob Eddings — January 18, 2011 @ 1:54 pm


  32. David Frampton

    Thanks for the kind words.

    For those saying things like “Wah, I just made six f’n figures in a week but mean people yelled at me.” – money isn’t everything. Frankly if your bank account makes you ignore what people think then you’re a psychopath.

    Comment by David Frampton — January 18, 2011 @ 4:54 pm


  33. Bryan O'Malley

    Dave,

    Keep your chin up. You’ve made a great game, it’s reached (probably) unimagined success, and you should be proud of your accomplishments.

    No matter what you do in life, there will always be someone who feels it’s their job to rain on your parade. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, some people are always going to gripe just because they can. I’m sure Mother Theresa had people complaining about her work as well.

    As a developer myself, it does amaze me how indignant and self righteous some people feel after spending 99¢. Of course they have the right to feel disappointed if the app doesn’t meet their needs. Unfortunately, a small few act as if they’ve just been swindled out of their life’s savings.

    It’s the same cost as a pack of chewing gum. You don’t see people picketing in front of the 7-Eleven because they didn’t enjoy their Tutti-Frutti.

    My advice? Work hard, do your best, and listen to the majority. If sales are good and most people are happy, you’re doing it right. You’ll never please everyone. As long as the complaints are the exception, not the rule, stay the course. It might not be easy to hear the complaints, but they come with the territory.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Bryan O'Malley — January 18, 2011 @ 5:12 pm


  34. David Chartier

    Upon thinking about this a bit more: why do you need to finish the remote app before you raise Chopper’s price? Did you promise that to customers somewhere? If not, you’re well within your right to raise the price, perhaps after giving folks a few days warning across your public channels.

    I recommend a price of at least $5.

    Comment by David Chartier — January 18, 2011 @ 5:17 pm


  35. D'Arcy Norman

    I bought the game for both iOS and Mac, and I love it. I remember playing Choplifter back in the old C64 days, and Chopper is a great reimagining of that kind of game.

    As for the app store reviews – they’re really more like Youtube comments than real reviews. It’s so easy to vent and snark, without any investment in the app or any literacy in writing a meaningful review. Ignore the crap reviews. They aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

    Everyone has a list of stuff they want added to the game. But it’s your game. I’m perfectly happy to see what you come up with, rather than demanding you respond to my list of awesome features that would make the game awesome. I’m guessing you’ve already thought of every single one I have, and more, because it’s YOUR game.

    Just keep on creating stuff.

    And thanks.

    Comment by D'Arcy Norman — January 18, 2011 @ 6:03 pm


  36. seriously

    If I moved 100,000 units of anything I made, the next thing I would do is go on the internet and bitch that people were being mean to me in emails instead of being happy at my success.

    Comment by seriously — January 18, 2011 @ 6:38 pm


  37. Alex Hardy

    It’s a sad state of affairs, but sometimes the biggest benefit of higher prices is better customers.

    I suspect it’s a lot to do with why the community on Flickr ($25 per year) is mostly positive, while YouTube is a sewer. The price is an idiot filter.

    Raise your price.

    Comment by Alex Hardy — January 18, 2011 @ 6:45 pm


  38. SteveReynolds

    As a fellow developer I can understand your pain. For me, I’d actually prefer to receive the emails. I’d rather that 20 times over some idiot posting a 2 line “This is shit” review on the App Store and giving it 1 star.

    At least with email it’s contained and you can delete, ignore, or reply. You have none of those options on the app store… Well you coil ignore, but prospective customers won’t.

    Chin up son. Live is good :)

    Comment by SteveReynolds — January 18, 2011 @ 6:47 pm


  39. hahahaha

    Hey, your app sucks, stop whining like a b*tch!!

    Comment by hahahaha — January 18, 2011 @ 6:48 pm


  40. Gumby

    Sorry to hear it’s so demotivating for you. If it’s any consolation, it’s a sign that you’ve moved into “the big time” — beyond just the enthusiasts and into the larger world, where a certain percentage of people are just (as you’ve charitably put it) “idiots.” Some friends of mine (a couple) run a restaurant. The stories they tell…. So know at least that you are not alone. It seems to be worse when the product is .99 — when people spend more I think they are more likely to be afraid to criticise!

    And an amusing way to handle this (although it won’t work for you): my friend Brian Fox (author of, among other things, bash, which is on your mac right now), got many many flames about bash. Since it was free software he had a canned response to these: “please return bash for a full refund.” He never got a response!

    Perhaps it might be cathartic to post collections of the most infuriating comments as blog posts? Then you could read the supportive comments (and ignore the counter-flames)….

    Keep up the good work, and don’t let the losers grind you down.

    Comment by Gumby — January 18, 2011 @ 6:53 pm


  41. A. Nonimmus

    Go cry emo kid.

    Comment by A. Nonimmus — January 18, 2011 @ 7:02 pm


  42. Matthew Harmon

    Hi David:

    A fellow game programmer at my company sent me your blog. I’ve been making games for over 20 years, and have felt a lot of what you are going through. Just a couple words of wisdom:

    First, and I mean this kindly – get over it and move on. In the same way that your customers expectations are totally out of whack with reality, your expectations of your customer are probably skewed as well. Deal with the 90% of your “good” customers and don’t spend too much time worrying about the vocal minority. They will always be there, and you simply CAN’T satisfy them with your economic model, so don’t try. Just politely say “I’m sorry our game didn’t meet with your expectations. We are a small shop and do the best we can to serve the vast majority of our customers.”

    And note that this happens at all levels of game development. From 99c app store games to $70 AAA titles. You can’t please everyone, so you gotta’ please yourself. And, seriously, if you are actually making money selling 99c apps, then you CERTAINLY DID SOMETHING RIGHT, so keep doing it. You’re ahead of 90% of the developers out there and you should be proud!

    If you stick with it, you will be surprised how fast this kind of thing brushes off your shoulders. It’s all part of the business, so embrace it! Once you’re “jaded” to all this, consider yourself a real game developer. (Well, I take that back, you need to deal with an insane publisher first before you are in “the club.”)

    Finally, what most people don’t appreciate is that video games, in general, are the most under priced form of entertainment in the history of mankind. “Kids these days” (I hate to find myself saying that) expect amazing things for almost no cost. If somebody get’s 15 minutes of fun out of your 99c game, then they got a bargain.

    Comment by Matthew Harmon — January 18, 2011 @ 7:17 pm


  43. Jason

    If you’re getting a glut of reviews and support emails (negative or positive) on the Mac version where you didn’t on the iPhone versions, I’d attribute it to the relative ease of writing something on the Mac vs. iPhone/iPad. It’s easier to go right from the game into an email client or the App Store (or Twitter, or a blog…) on a whim and write a lengthy rant, where it’s probably not “worth” the hassle for them to scrawl it out on a virtual keyboard.

    And I’d agree that the low price point invites the wrong kind of customers. It’s not completely analogous to your situation, but I’ve raised my consulting prices over the past year or so, and the shift in quality of clientele has been a breath of fresh air! (not to mention better for my business and my workload) People who buy something on the cheap are (literally) not investing themselves in your work… but for some reason they always seem to bring high expectations for the experience. I agree that for a good game app, it’s not out of line to charge $2.99 – 4.99, considering the hours of entertainment it brings. I personally think a shift in app store economics is imminent as more developers realize the support aspect of the business, and adjust their pricing accordingly. (Jason Fried of 37signals had some great thoughts on this with their own iPad app pricing)

    Just thoughts. Still a bummer that people have to be assholes… but realize that there’s more to the surge than just the ratio of asshole customers to non-asshole customers. Do what you can to minimize the voice given to the 20% assholes (even if it’s just a filter between the comments and you), and you’ll have more time/attention to focus on the “good” 80%.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Jason — January 18, 2011 @ 7:25 pm


  44. Jon Steinmetz

    I wish I could get to this point. I have a Mac app in the store, Ringer (a ringtone creation program). It was in on day one but a crappier competitor put theirs on sale for $0.99 right away and it put them in the top paid list at around #4. I later tried to match the price but it was too late, they are now still in the list and even when Ringer is priced cheap it stays at the bottom. Ringer has so far gotten nothing but 5 star reviews in the US store but that is not good enough to raise it in the rankings. It would appear that their strategy was successful and that even if I do further sales it will not raise the ranking high enough to garner much attention.

    You have apparently learned this lesson because that was your strategy and it worked for you. It is too bad that there do not seem to be many ways for a competitor to get noticed once another app is already high in the rankings.

    Comment by Jon Steinmetz — January 18, 2011 @ 7:29 pm


  45. Justin

    Congrats on making a huge pile of cash (and then whining about it)

    I have software on the App Store and I would trade places with you. I would gladly read some bitchy emails in exchange for $70k revenue

    Turd

    Comment by Justin — January 18, 2011 @ 8:12 pm


  46. G4b0r

    “Frankly if your bank account makes you ignore what people think then you’re a psychopath.”

    Do you think Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer cares that some people hate Windows/Microsoft? Do you think Steve Jobs cares that a certain percentage of people think the iPhone sucks because it doesn’t support flash?

    Nah, I think they simply ignore the displeased minority. Their bank accounts probably help in making them happy, but I think knowing they created something that people love and use makes them happier. They all have lots of fans, and so do you.

    As long as you have customers that love your product, and it provides you with enough money survive, you should be happy. My wife’s 13 year old cousin loves your game. He keeps wanting to borrow my cell phone so that he can finish the game. Chopper2 provides a ton of entertainment to many people, and that’s what you should pay attention to. That’s what matters.

    I disagree with people that say you should raise the price to get higher quality customers. I don’t think a higher price point results in better customers. It simply results in less customers, and more people would pirate the game. Software should be priced such that it provides the developer with the most amount of money possible. If $0.99 generates more income than $4.99 for your particular product, that’s the price it should be sold at.

    Comment by G4b0r — January 18, 2011 @ 8:13 pm


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