The Trends of Top 5 Apps

The sheer abundance of applications vying for attention and selection on the App Store and Google Play is enough to make the aspiring app developer keel over in horror at the prospect of attempting to make it big in such a massive, and often unforgiving, market. Yet, a quick scaling of the top 5 most popular free apps on both iOS and Android-served devices reveals that there are many trends within the market’s most downloaded.

Currently perched proudly atop the App Store’s free-to-download list is Bitstrips. Garnering its frantic popularity from its affiliation with Facebook, this comic book-influenced application allows users to create their own detailed avatar (as well as those of their friends and loved ones) and place these characters in mundane or zany cartoon landscapes, accompanied by a humorous caption. The outrage that these harmless images have received from miserly internet commentators has done nothing to dent Bitstrips’ runaway success. Bitstrips’ social media credentials when coupled with its simple blend of wit, social interaction and accessibility has allowed its developers to target a wide, and ever-expanding, audience.

The third-highest shifting free app on iOS appears to have elevated simplicity to a higher art form. Its minimalism is reflected in its every detail, most notably in its elementary name, Dots: A Game About Connecting. Setting its user the simple challenge of joining as many matching coloured dots as possible in fewer than 60 seconds, the rudimentary content of the app does not undermine its enjoyability but merely enhances it. A variation on the Candy Crush, Bubble Witch and Bejewelled formula that tests its users’ skill, composure and speed in completing an easy task over a short time period, Dots is once again proving that developers should be going back to basics to produce a game that is as addictive, accessible and in the words of its creators, ‘easy and fun to play but difficult to master’, as this one. As would be expected from such a game, this title subscribes to the Freemium model, and offers users the option to purchase add-ons to help them achieve higher scores and optimise their gaming experience.

Also operating to devastating effect on the App Store’s free chart is the official Dunkin’ Donuts App. Demonstrating the awesome repercussions that investing in mobile technology can have for an already world-renowned and flourishing brand, with this app, the American snack giants have added another string to their well-defined marketing bow. Pushing exclusive offers directly to the palms of those in possession of the app, providing a useful store locator and encouraging owners to send a virtual gift card to a hungry friend, the app has proven to be a sumptuous way of increasingly Dunkin’ Donuts’ revenue, consumership and consumption by exploiting the Smartphone as a revolutionary marketing channel, granting their advertising department immediate contact with the consciousnesses (and rumbling stomachs) of their clientele.

Bringing up the rear and occupying fifth place in the race (well, sort of, as the other four are noted for their ubiquity) to be crowned most popular free app on Google Play this week is the rather colourful title, Jelly Splash. Following the example of Dots, Wooga’s hit game is all about connecting objects, this time substituting the former’s coloured dots for fluorescent jelly shapes. True, the game bears more than a passing resemblance to King’s aforementioned money magnet (Candy…) but its theme of connection cleverly mirrors how social interaction and social networks drives the success of apps such as these.

In a virtual world where people are obsessed with sharing their every activity (see Bitstrips) with others and who are not content until they have rocketed to the top of a particular game’s leader board, Jelly Splash’s themes reveal that the key to an app’s popularity is simple: it’s all about connection. Its Facebook-generated leader board encourages the inviting of friends, the challenging of loathed ones and facilitates the endless bragging that clogs up News Feeds across the globe in notifications that appear something like this: “I’m on Level 73 of Jelly Splash, have you got the nerve to outdo me or are you as shaky as the eponymous foodstuff?” This app owes all of its success to people relishing interaction, conversation and competition, the same elements that drive addicted players to throw money at supplementary and (at-first) small in-app purchases to progress more quickly through the game than every body else.

Although Dots and Jelly Splash may be harbingers of an army of Candy Crush Clones set to flood the market, their success proves that players can just not get enough of matching colours and beating the clock. And anyway, isn’t Candy Crush just Tetris with sweets?

Google’s four remaining top-shifters merely underline the previous point, with the irrepressible Facebook followed by WhatsApp, Skype and Ebay in the rest of the chart. All of these apps promote social interaction and connectivity, with Skype encouraging face-to-face video conversation across the web and Ebay cementing its place as the pre-eminent virtual one-stop shop where the savvy consumer can nab a bargain. It is increasingly apparent that applications are no longer the exclusive province of fantasy worlds and escapist games but have many real-world (excuse the pun) applications. Linking your app to social media (both physically and thematically) is the way to ensure of healthy downloads and consumer recognition. The world may have migrated online but the human impulses for connection and competition remain, albeit in a more virtual vein.

The Innovators of Appsworld

Appsworld, the leading multi platform developer’s event, is now in it’s fourth year. On the 22nd and 23rd of October, the event will host luminaries of the industry, such as Steve Wozniak, the co founder of Apple, and Trip Hawkins, the founder of EA. It promises to be an essential gathering for experienced and new developers alike, where knowledge can be shared and new software demonstrated.

It would be expected that most of the attendees would be games developers, looking to make the next big smartphone game. However, reading through the speakers list brings up some surprising companies. Why are asos, the clothing website, there? Or McDonalds? Or Tesco? This shows that these are companies who are using app technology in new and exciting ways. Just how is the technology being used now by this year’s speakers? (All apps mentioned are linked by company name).

Food apps

Several fast food companies, such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and Subway, are increasingly using app technology to interact with their customers. McDonald’s use the app to deliver nutritional information about their menu and information about their locations, but also for more direct communication with the user. They are currently running a competition via the app for users to win a free iced frappe when they upload their very own advert.

The Starbucks app, on the other hand, actually acts as a digital stand in for the Starbucks Card. Using this, customers can transfer funds to the card, pay for their goods and automatically log ‘Stars’ in their rewards system. Doing so creates a ‘one stop shop’ for Starbucks customers.

TV apps

The TV apps represented at Appsworld all offer services allowing users to watch their programming on demand, which is a huge step forward in the technology and the way we watch TV. The BBC iPlayer app is one of several services the BBC offer, alongside their News and Weather apps.

However, other players are taking the technology one step further. Sky offer a Sky+ app, allowing Sky users to remotely manage their recorded shows on their phone, as well as wifi app that allows users to use their service on the go, and their own betting app. ITV offer a unique service, where several of their own shows, such as Britain’s Got Talent, The Cube, and The Only Way is Essex have their own dedicated apps. These are a new way of getting viewers involved with their shows, and an interesting use of the technology.

Shopping apps

There are a plethora of stores that are now embracing app technology as another marketplace for their wares. asos, Argos and Tesco all have apps allowing their customers to shop their phone, with Tesco also developing the technology to allow customers to use the phone as a Clubcard, in much the same way as Starbucks are doing. However, The North Face have taken advantage of the technology to create Snow Report. This app is designed with ski enthusiasts in mind, telling them where the best ‘powder’ is, and updating them on the resorts with the best current conditions.

Entertainment apps

The advances in entertainment that have been made in app technology are simply too numerous to describe, but there are two interesting examples on the Appsworld speakers list. The first is Shazam, an app that ‘listens’ to any music that the user holds their phone up to, telling the track name and artist. It also allows them to buy the track directly from the app. This is a prime example of the technology solving a problem we didn’t even know we had.

The second is Disney. They have several apps and games, mostly related to their cinema releases (although they were the company behind the hit game Where’s My Water?). They are now experimenting with the technology to create ‘Second Screen’ screenings of their classic films, allowing viewers to interact with each other and play games and quizzes as they watch.

There’s plenty of exciting things happening in the app development field, as this by no means exhaustive list proves. Anyone attending Appsworld will surely come away with hundreds of ideas as to where to take the technology next,.

Dojit Games will be in attendance at Appsworld this year, so if you see us please come and say hi! We’ve been working on our own technology, Dojit Notify, which will help developers use push notification technology more effectively to really connect with their users. See you there!

Chicken Strike Game: Out Now!

Dojit’s new game, Chicken Strike Game, is now available on iOS and Android!

Mr Farmer’s farm is in danger, and it’s up to you to save it! The chickens have gone on strike, and just to add insult to injury, are now throwing all their precious eggs out of the barn window! Using the tilt controls on your phone or tablet, direct Mr Farmer left and right to grab the eggs in his basket and save the farm.

Special power up assist Mr Farmer in his quest. There are fire eggs that explode all eggs on the screen, purple eggs that slow down time, stone eggs that turn all eggs to stone, and silver eggs that double the points you earn! You also gain seed bags as you save every 100 eggs, allowing to buy special bonuses for use in game.

Game treats for the game will also be available on our blog and Twitter page, so keep an eye out for them!

Chicken Strike is the game created by students from the University of Hertfordshire in Dojit’s first Game Jam.

We ran a workshop with NACUE Create and students at the University of Hertfordshire, their aim was to come up with a new game idea, these students after two hours then pitched it to a panel.

We selected a team with three students, Richard Davy Pooransingh, Touchen Alphonse and Daniel Sibanda who proposed a game called Chicken Strike. They have completely developed the graphics with the game and dojit has done the game software development. The game can be downloaded from Apple iTunes and Google Play stores for free with in game purchases.

If you enjoy Chicken Strike, be sure to check out other Dojit games, such as Home Bear, Soccer Zillionaire and Run Swim, Fly!

Secrets of a Successful App

Creating a successful and profitable mobile phone application can be a daunting prospect, owing to the sheer magnitude and vastness of this market, with a choice of over 900,000 apps now available on iOS alone. This collection, which ranges from the downright silliness of the juvenile iFart to the sublime concept of sophisticated to-do-list, Clear, certainly validates Apple’s now infamous claim (recently appropriated and mocked in Android’s marketing scheme for its forthcoming operating system update, KitKat) that ‘there’s an app for that.’ So, how can your app survive and thrive in such an over-subscribed market? Simply stick to the subsequent formula to remove the threat of your brainchild plummeting into obscurity:

Simplicity

Candy Crush Saga, King.com’s casual gaming juggernaut is sweetly simplistic. Borrowing its style from the iconic Tetris and other similar games such as Bejewelled, Candy Crush is so popular because anybody (yes, even your mum) can pick up and play, its rudimentary mechanics and infinite levels able to keep users enthralled for either half an hour or several months. Don’t reinvent the wheel but put a spin (for example, a variation of theme or colour) on an old classic.

Community

Without wishing to bang the Candy Crush drum any louder; it is hard not to become overwhelmed by its astonishing daily revenue of $850,000, a figure which should be music to the ears of every Freemium game developer. Yes, you didn’t misread that, Candy Crush is free to download and play but recoups finance from players resorting to any measure to beat the often infuriating game, and perhaps, more importantly, their friends. Whilst it may be available to play on smartphones, King’s wildly successful app built its popularity on Facebook with a delicious mixture of friend invitations, leader boards and friend donations that ignited rivalries and incessantly challenged users to wipe the smug grin of that office colleague who proudly resided 20 levels above them. Offer occasional in-app purchases to speed up player progression and get your app recognised in social media and, as evident, hungry gamers will spend their hard-earned cash in the name of competing with, and out-doing, their closest friends and fiercest enemies.

Push Notifications

The way in which a developer connects with the player is perhaps more important than ever before, as, due to the virtual nature of the gaming industry, players often miss and crave the warmth and energy of human contact. This need is now being embraced by developers from all areas and adopted by Apple and Google in their respective intelligent automated personal assistants, iOS7’s iBeacons and Google Now. Establishing a more personal bond with the user, these helpful touches are ensuring that an owner’s smartphone is forever in sync with the individual. Specific gaming application examples include the humorous download error featured in the ‘Spice Up Your Words’ section of this article or indeed, Dojit’s own Notify service, both of which focus on generating engaging, relevant and vibrant messages to keep players and app users entertained and increase chances of retention. If you want players to invest in your app, make sure that you speak their language!

Freemium

As a hefty number of mobile games on the App Store employ this model, it is hard to argue with the credentials of Freemium. Although placing an app on the market for free could be viewed as a major risk, if your game is founded on simplicity (in terms of content and accessibility), community (to inspire competition and rivalry) and features language and notifications that really speak to the needs of your user, in-app purchases and the monetisation of the casual player are virtually guaranteed. Constructing a profitable free app is a fine art but by following the recipe above, your chances will be maximised, the statistic that Freemium apps account for 75% of Android app revenue speaks for itself.

Prioritising simplicity and encouraging player-to-player interaction will prove integral to the establishment of a diverse and optimised consumer base for your application. Ensure to use incisive and witty language, in addition to high-quality graphics, to earn the loyalty, trust and appreciation of your players. Not every game will be prove to a Candy Crush or Farmville but these four basic rules will sweeten your customers and allow your consumership to blossom.

Push Notifications Services and Your Customers

In the last few years, the mobile app market has exploded.  As of June 2013, it is estimated that 900,000 apps populate the Apple App Store. With such a vast amount of apps to choose from, how is a customer to choose which one to download? Once they’ve decided on your app, how do you keep them interested? Recent research has shown the average shelf life of an app is only 30 days. Standing out and retaining customers in the market is certainly one of the biggest challenges facing developers today. However, there are solutions, such as the optimised use of push notification services, available.

Think of the last time you downloaded an app or game. What made you keep coming back to it? Most successful games right now follow a certain template in their design. There are clear goals for the customer to follow, with appropriate rewards when they are reached to make them feel accomplishment from the task. There are also rewards given every day when the customer opens up the app. Also, many apps include seasonal content, for example at Christmas, which is available for a limited time only.

In addition, there are social elements used to keep friends playing together. If one person is stuck at a certain part of a game, they can reach out to their friends (usually via their Facebook friends list) through the game for help. This can bring a player back to the game who may have been neglecting the app themselves. Also, goals within the game often focus on adding or contacting friends through the app, thereby spreading word of the app in a very cost effective manner.

The apps that use this model, such as Where’s My Water? and Minion Rush, are successful because they are designed with the customer in mind. A game will get boring and stale very quickly if the consumer is asked to repeat the same tasks day in, day out. Achievable goals and rewards mean a player will come back again and again and get the most out of your app. Since both the Android and Apple App Stores are now factoring the ‘stickiness’ of apps in their rankings, how do developers achieve this with their own apps?

This is where push notifications come in. These Apple and Android notifications act as a ‘nudge’ towards the player, reminding them to play your game. In most games, push notifications are used to remind players to perform an action, usually within a specific time frame. However, they can be used in much more creative ways, to allow you to keep your players involved in your game and increase your Frequency of Visit ratio. Why not use them to alert players when their friends have visited them with gifts? Share short term rewards if the player opens your app in a specific time frame? There are multitudes of ways to use push notifications that haven’t been fully explored yet.

Services such as Dojit Notify can be used to create these kinds of push notifications. Using the system provided, the developer can create personalised notifications for their players, sharing tips and rewards that are geared towards each individual. The whole process is done online, through a simple interface that allows the developer to create notification recipes in seconds.

This means that the consumer receives a much more personalised, involved experience from your app. When they receive push notifications that are meaningful to them, they are more likely to stay with your app and keep logging in everyday, keeping your app successful!

Morning Gamers!

Our recent study has shown that gamers like to play our mobile games between 7 and 10am in the morning. This would make sense as the morning commute to the work or school is a pretty boring one, what better way to kill time by playing a quick mobile game to get the brain and fingers going.

On my morning commute to Dojit, passengers are mostly on their mobile phones, tablets or handheld gaming systems. Compared to my commute to college 5 years ago, people were only reading newspaper, books or some sort of literature.  This shows how mobile and handled devices are more prominent in people’s lives. And the rise of social games, how easy it is to complete a level or beat boss in just a few minutes and pick up later and continue your progress.

What are you doing in your morning commute?

Share your HomeBear adventure and stories

Have you had awesome adventures with HomeBear?

We would like you to share your HomeBear adventure and stories! Take a screenshot on your device and post it on Facebook or send a tweet to HomeBear . You could see your story posted on our website and in a video on Youtube if all of you send your stories and pictures in!

To take an screen shot on iOS, press the home key and off key at the same time. Screen shot will be saved in your Picture Roll.

Android devices, hold the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time.

We are looking forward to your stories and adventures!

Next Generation of Developers.

We here at Dojit had the pleasure of having Joss Harris, 22, a young and upcoming developer from Worcester, working for us for two months

He has worked on Totally Milkshake, Home Bear and our new game coming soon, Chicken Strike.

We interviewed Joss on his experience’s working with dojit and asked about him about his ambitions, oh and some geeky questions some of you would like!

Where did you first hear about the Dojit games?

I first heard about the company when looking for game jobs online. I saw a Unity game developer internship advertised on Internwise, so I sent an application and was lucky enough to be invited to work at Dojit for 2 months!

Was working as a game developer always something you wanted to do?

I think I knew that I wanted to work in video games ever since I got the original playstation with crash bandicoot 3 when I was about 10 years old.

Has working with dojit helped you further your knowledge of game development? If so in what way?

Working at Dojit has definitely helped me further my knowledge, I feel like I’m a much more competent programmer now. It was great to be able to work full time in game development, doing it everyday really improved skills.

Did you play mobile games before joining dojit? If so which ones?

To be honest I haven’t played any mobile games recently as I still haven’t made the move to a smart phone! However I’m a big fan of plants vs zombies and spent a lot of time playing it on my iPod touch in the past.

Which game studio would you love to work for and why?

I’m a bit of a Nintendo fan boy so I’d love to work for their first party development team Intelligent Systems, as they’ve made some of my favourite games like paper mario and fire emblem. It would also mean living in Japan which would be very interesting.

What game are you playing at the moment?

Currently I’m spending a lot of time digging up fossils and selling turnips in Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS, it’s brilliant!

Mario or Sonic?

It has to be Mario!

PC or Consoles?

I prefer playing most games on my PC as I like to be able to push the graphics further than the current consoles can. That will probably change as soon as the next gen consoles are out and the graphics card in my PC is out classed.

iOS or Android?

After working on Chicken Strike I have found Android to be much easier to develop for than IOS, so for that reason I would have to say Android

David Bozward, Dojit’s CEO  “Chicken Strike has been an opportunity to get together students from Hertfordshire University who have created the graphics, Joss Harris and up and coming developer, to provide a learning environment for them to create a new title. Joss has done a fantastic job in getting the title ready in less than two months. “

We like to work with the next generation of developers, the industries future.

Dojit and MAXIME – Move for Change takes London!

Dojit recently went to MAXIME to take part in a games evaluation. A few students looked into our games and what we could do to improve interaction between our games and the real world, and ways to bring these two worlds together in games like Home Bear. They presented us with a lovely presentation and went to spread the message of Move for Change and to ask the people about what made them play certain games, and what they looked for in these games. All in the magnificent city known as London!

MAXIME came up with the idea of Move for Change, where you implement features into the game that allow movement in real life to build up a currency or gain rewards within the game. These features can be personalisation such as a Hat or some Boots, to something that can give you an advantage within a game like a speed boost or the ability to use an already present item. They tell us that by using this feature you can start to engage a user even when they are not playing the game. This is a fantastic point and is sure to take off if we were to implement it in a game. As our games are made for children, parents would see their children actively seeking to be exercising and engaging in sport as there is more rewards for them to gain from it. You can then build on this by making it competitive. You can bring in this element by creating a leaderboard which measures the most active countries using your app and unlocking rewards by moving about.

By engaging the user on more fronts, we can create a more successful game that people will want to enjoy more often and be more involved with, and they reap all the rewards. This is fantastic for parents who don’t have to worry about a child being glued to a screen attempting to grind unlocks as we, by deploying Move for Change, can make unlocking in game items a more physical and healthy way of playing a game.

So should we, and others begin to Move for Change, and Move for Community?

Don’t forget to check out the students spreading the word of Move for Change and Home Bear in LONDON!