The conventional App Store wisdom is that you should sell as strongly as you can in your screenshots, description and keywords, as they’re some of the few sales tools you have.
In the lead up to the Chopper 2 release, I spent a great deal of time agonizing over the staging and choice of screenshots that would be displayed in the App Store. But later, in the lead up to the launch of The Blockheads I spent a couple of hours to put together a few crappy screenshots, and left it at that.
There are a couple of reasons for the change of focus, and in hindsight it was a mistake to under-sell The Blockheads to that extent in its screenshots.
But there was some merit to the theory behind it.
There is a natural tendency to want to right wrongs in the world. If something looks better or worse from the outside than it actually is on the inside, people virtuously tend to warn or encourage others, let their friends know what to expect if they were to venture on in.
If you mis-represent your game in a positive light, new players will be more likely to download it, but less likely to find the positive experience they were expecting and recommend it to friends, and more likely to warn others against the experience. On the other hand, if you under-sell the game, new players are less likely to download it, but a little more likely to try to sell the game to their friends, even encouraging people to give it a go despite the barrier to entry of poor presentation.
I went too far with my crappy launch screenshots, and they under-sold The Blockheads to the extent that more potential players were probably put off than I would like. But if you (like me) are a developer in it for the long haul, and want a quality game and word of mouth to drive long term downloads, you really need to find that fine balance, where people aren’t put off by under-selling, and most importantly aren’t forced into a negative experience by over-selling.
There is a sweet spot, but don’t over-sell your game. You’re under-selling it.
(On a side note, It’s been far too long since my last blog post, mostly because I have been far too busy for far too long. But now with version 1.3 of The Blockheads about to be submitted, I think that might change. There is a Blockheads ‘postmortem’ coming one day… sorry for the neglect!)