This week Crush the Castle hit the top 10 list on the iPhone App Store.
I’ve helped release a dozen iPhone/iPod Touch apps in the last year and a half. Some have made money. Others have tanked. But Crush the Castle is the first to have climbed to the top echelons of iPhone apps. It’s the first to make serious money.
Why is CtC succeeding more than the others? What sets it apart?
I believe that this app has three clear advantages that are working together to propel it up the charts.
Great gameplay. First things first. Crush the Castle is fun. It’s simple to play but hard to master. It has some of the smoothest, most realistic physics on the iPhone (thanks in large part to the Chipmunk Physics engine). And knocking down castles filled with screaming lords and ladies just never gets old.
Very high quality. It’s amazing how many ugly, awkward, crash-happy games there are on the App Store. We worked hard to make CtC friendly, smooth, and solid, and I believe we succeeded.
The iPhone is a slick piece of technology and it deserves quality apps. CtC meets the high bar of presentation quality that the iPhone establishes. Reviewers seem to agree with us that CtC just feels good to play. Although a lot of “bathroom-quality” apps come and go on the App Store, great quality wins in the end.
Strong cross-promotion. Even the highest-quality, most fun game in the world will fail on the App Store if nobody knows about it. Armor Games invested in getting the word out about Crush the Castle and that smart decision has paid off. The browser-based Flash version of the game has cross-promoted the iPhone version since the day it was launched. We also released the free version of CtC simultaneously with the paid version. So a great many people played free versions of the game before plunking down their hard-earned $1.99 for the paid version. I don’t believe that an iPhone game can be successful without a free variant.
I’ve written before about how tough a platform the iPhone is. There are a lot more people making iPhone apps than people making a living making iPhone apps. But success is there if you invest in great design, high quality, and strong marketing. Oh, and if you’re willing to roll the dice a dozen times or so. Persistence was a key factor too.