is ios development dead?

Apprentice
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Joined: 2015.01
Post: #1
Is it possible to make a living off of making ios games or is the industry dead?
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⌘-R in Chief
Posts: 1,277
Joined: 2002.05
Post: #2
Obviously it's possible, but obviously it's rare. The last statistic from Apple was 1.2 million apps (and certainly a large portion of that is games) and $10 billion in payments to developers.

You can do the math.
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Moderator
Posts: 3,591
Joined: 2003.06
Post: #3
Okay, let's do the math!

AFAIK, 20% of those 1.2 million apps were games. That is 240,000 games. If the sales of 10 billion dollars are evenly distributed, then that should be 2 billion going to 240,000 games, which means $8,333 should be distributed to each game. Clearly that is not at all what has happened.

Instead, we have known for a fact for at least six years that the top games get loaded with most of that money, so let's say that's 90% of the distribution. Also note that many of the top games tend to stay in that top category for long periods of time. That leaves $200,000,000 to be shared amongst the chaff, which works out to about $833 per game. That roughly matches sales I've seen myself. As far as I can tell, if you're not in the top charts, that is sales reality at its best. Also, I have been in the top one hundred for a short period. It's not necessarily as crazy awesome as you might expect, although that happened several years ago, so maybe things are different now.

I don't know actual numbers, but I am pretty sure there are iOS game multi-millionaires who have been/are forum members here. It's awkward to ask them to step forward and share what their experiences have been, but I suspect they would not dispute what I am saying here. It is awkward for folks who have made hardly anything to speak about their experiences. It is awkward for folks who have made say $40k to speak about their experiences. The whole thing is awkward. I have friends who have invested heavily and been burned. I have friends who have earned a lot. I don't even want to say what I have earned, but I will say it was never much, and it certainly was never enough to live off of. I have earned a lot more developing custom iOS apps for business clients that are not even intended for app store distribution.

I can't say who I know or what they've told me, but I can safely say that betting on developing games in the iOS market is highly statistically not in anyone's favor. If you have some crazy awesome game, then go for it. Otherwise, stick with your day job.
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #4
(*looks around the internet*) So if you take this number of submissions per day, it'd be 27%, but they say there are "312,324 active" games out of "1,474,233 active" apps total which puts it at 21%. Interesting. I really woulda guessed as high as 40% given all the reskinned and cloned spam games. It looks like that percentage is increasing though.


As for the rest of your post: yup. Such a sad state of affairs.

I think the best way to make games now, is making them for your own amusement, not financial gain. Once you've got the idea, do a kickstarter and hope for the best. At least then you'll get some money, but even that's difficult these days.

I think the indie game gold rush is over. All of the good claims are taken, and only the very well positioned, and the very lucky are going to strike it rich.
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Moderator
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Post: #5
Quote:I think the indie game gold rush is over. All of the good claims are taken, and only the very well positioned, and the very lucky are going to strike it rich.

Agreed.

I actually think your point about doing it for your own amusement, ignoring financial gain, may be the key to continuing indie game development in the shadow of iOS. At this point, it seems to me that one great way to draw people in is to make something fun enough, and completely free, with no ads, to create a following for it. I think I am seeing some developers doing this already. Then, at some point in the future you might be able to turn it into a paid app and strike it rich. The days of simply making something and putting it on sale to see what you can get for it are long gone. It seems like most of the developers who do face that reality simply give up, walk away, and are never heard from again, which is sad to see. That's probably a big part of the dramatic decline in iDevGames forum participation, along with disgust in the crappy quality of games these days, but I digress. Free indie games now appear to be the future. If you make a good one, then some day you might be well paid for it. Until then, you have to accept working for free in the trenches. That's probably the way it should have always been, and maybe it always was, but honestly, it is a much different mental model than I had all these years.
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Member
Posts: 92
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Post: #6
For me its about having an outlet, having fun. I've never actually finished anything but I enjoy the tinkering.

Justin "LordFire" Baldock
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Nibbie
Posts: 1
Joined: 2015.12
Post: #7
Everyone added some really good points especially with the statistical facts. It really is quite tricky making iOS games when only the selected toppers gain the kind of revenue which drives iOS developers to consider it a viable career oppurtunity. Although Apple users are not hesitant to go for paid games, not all are able to excite gamers as anticipated.

Trends fluctuate so abruptly that if you create a game based on a current trend, it may be forgotten by the time you launch your game. In the end, game development is all about passion and nothing should dull your love for it if that's what you really want to do with your life. Is iOS game development a good investment today? Maybe. Maybe not. You could strike gold but don't expect it. Being part of the development team at http://incubasys.com.sg/ I have seen many ups and downs where iOS game developement is concerned. If you have expertise in this OS then go for it. Game development really boosts your creative spirit and helps sharpen your mind in other areas of mobile development.

I would say don't stop developing games in iOS just because market oppurtunites seem bleak at the moment. You never know when there might be a place in the market for a game just like yours. It's important to have a day job because simply game development doesn't always pay the bills. Know how much to invest in it and when would be my advice.
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