With big game publishers dominating the ranks of the App Store’s best-seller lists, what’s an indie game developer to do to get his or her app noticed? Give it away for free as part of the soon-to-launch FreeAppaDay community.
FreeAppaDay is run by a coalition of mobile game developers and tech providers: Joe Bayen, CEO of ICS Mobile, Blacksmith Games, mobile ad tech platform TapJoy, and iPhone game platform OpenFeint. The service officially goes live Jan 18; each day a single paid app will be available for free for 24 hours. Users will be able to sign up for email alerts for specific genres of games, and the site will keep track of highlighted games as part of an “app of fame” section.
FreeAppaDay’s founders were inspired by the success of the Appvent Calendar, a promo that gave a free game away each day leading up until Christmas (via pocketgamer.biz). Blacksmith Games started the calendar; ICS Mobile said one of its games garnered over 100,000 downloads after being featured as part of the list, hence its push to launch a more comprehensive platform.
And comprehensive it will be. With participation from DeNA-backed OpenFeint, one of the more popular open-source social and mobile game development platforms, the FreeAppaDay site will likely attract a variety of game developers wanting to promote their apps. The group says the selection criteria for apps that get featured will be “solely based on quality.”
Of course, the biggest question will be whether the free downloads actually drive subsequent sales of the paid app — since promotion is only good if it helps to drive revenue. It is not clear whether developers can just make a freemium version of their games available on FreeAppaDay, and then require players to buy an upgrade to get more functionality or reach higher levels. Still, with no sign of a decrease in the number of new games coming to the iPhone, the time is ripe for third-party services like FreeAppaDay and Playhaven to help the indie developers stand out. Release.