The Cleansing Wave of Apple – Reducing Spam & Reskins. What you Need to Know.. In the past few months a lot of people have been talking about new rejections from Apple. Is this good or bad? I vote, bring it on. It’s a change for sure, but let me tell you why I think…
Mobile App recycling The idea of recycling someone else’s abandoned project is something I’ve started putting more resources into. I don’t think it’s a new thing, but not too many people are talking about it because they probably busy doing one of the below things: Making their first few apps they thought the market should…
MoneyFromApps.com Update & How to THRIVE as a small indie Developer in 2016+ Earlier this week I sent an email out on behalf of Justin and Lee that explained an ownership update of MoneyFromApps.com. If you are not on the email list, please take a moment and sign up here. If you didn’t have a chance…
The following is our video response to independent app developers wondering about the profitability of app reskinning: If you’ve been around the app development world for some time, you might’ve heard that app reskinning is dead, or not profitable anymore, or anything along those lines. It makes me laugh. Independent app developers from a wide…
Join our list now to learn exactly how we’re still making money from apps. Is app reskinning dead? This is one of the most asked questions we’re seeing from new entrants looking to reskin apps, but also from developers who are struggling to find appropriate themes, long-tail keywords & phrases, and ideas for their new apps….
Warning: This is a controversial post. I’ll first note that we wouldn’t be where we are today without Apple, so yes, I am thankful for that; however, most developers agree that the App Store review process is severely broken and subjective. On one day, you can submit and be fine… the next, you could submit…
Note: If you’re interested in publishing a portfolio of games with low costs that bring in downloads long-term, I recommend first checking out our free video that describes our simple App Scaling Formula and how we made well over six figures last year from apps. Update: November 12, 2014: We no longer have Buildbox and thus do not see the updates, fixes, improvements, etc. Buildbox and Game Academy will continue to improve their software, but we will not see these changes anymore and cannot comment on that. Also, I would like to mention that GameAcademy support has always been very helpful (as seen in the comments below)–replying very quickly (within 24 hours) and providing the answers we’re looking for.
Damn, that Trey Smith is so good at marketing… (and more on that later). My partner and I, of course, watched his presentations about his new software: Buildbox. At the time (August 2014), it was impossible to find a Buildbox review because the software was brand new. After being blown away by the videos, we talked about it… then talked again. We were on the fence. With other projects in the works, it would be tough to dedicate time to this; however, it would be nice to have if we could spit out games quickly without spending so much time on coding. Thanks to some profitable projects, we were in a position where we could spend the $2,675 and it wouldn’t completely break our bank account. When we put the pros (assets that come with it and bonuses if we buy early, plus we’ll be able to review the software for you guys) against the cons (price, software could very well stop getting updated after 6 months to a year), we decided we were 51/49 in favor of biting the bullet and buying it. To be honest, it was me that pushed us from 50/50 to 51/49 to buy it. 2 months later… we haven’t created anything with the Buildbox software, and not because we’re lazy. Damn (sorry, Lee!). Here’s an honest Buildbox review for you if you’re on the fence, especially since it is reopening for sale (very convenient, and more on that later). There are no affiliate links here and we are in no way affiliated with Buildbox or GameAcademy.com.
Buildbox Review – The Buildbox Software by Trey Smith of GameAcademy
When you’re thinking about this type of investment, there are some obvious things to consider. Let’s go right through those factors; hopefully that will help you understand if the Buildbox software is right for you.
The Software Itself
This is probably what you’re looking for if you stumbled upon this post after Googling “Buildbox Review.” You want to know–is the software good? My answer is yes and no. When we first bought it in August 2014, Buildbox was buggy as hell. I bought it thinking I could remake Swing Copters (the new app that Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen released), but boy was I wrong. I totally thought it would be easy, especially since Trey Smith shows that he can build a Flappy bird clone in less than 1 minute using the Buildbox software. If you can build Flappy Bird, you should totally be able to build Swing Copters, right? Wrong. After messing with it for a few hours, I realized that you can’t make the levels move upwards–meaning, you could only have the game move right–like a character walking across or flying across the screen. That was extremely frustrating, especially since it was shown to go in multiple directions in the videos of Buildbox. But that’s not all… the action of the character in Swing Copters is to move right when first clicked, but move left when clicked a second time. Buildbox doesn’t allow this–your character can move multiple directions, but you have to assign different buttons to those actions, so making the character go left instead of right with the same button click isn’t possible. And that’s just the half of it. Trey shows that the code can be exported easily to Xcode. When I exported, though, the code was pre-compiled, making it very difficult to work with. On top of that, the app did not function at all like it did in Buildbox. Bummer. That said, GameAcademy.com did respond to my concern and noted that they were working on the fix for the directional problem. Since then, the software has been updated a handful of times, and I believe you can now make a game that moves forward up & down instead of only left & right; however, I haven’t had the time to test it because with less effort, I could reskin a $27 Quiz code or our Bingo game, which would almost certainly make more money. Also, I still wouldn’t be able to make Swing Copters because of the movement of the character that I mentioned above. You could, however, make a portfolio of runner games, if that’s your thing, and you could use the characters and objects he provides so you wouldn’t have to hire a graphic designer.
Images, Music, and Sounds
This is actually probably my favorite thing about the purchase–it did come with a good amount of images, music, and sounds as you can see above and below. However, they are very specific to action games, like a flying dragon or a spikey wheel. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to use the images with our other apps. The music and sounds are pretty good, too, but you can license this stuff for like $1-$5 a piece on GraphicRiver (actually it looks like all of the graphics that he gives us are on GraphicRiver!!), so it’s not that big of a deal.
Price/Cost of Buildbox
When we purchased it, Buildox was $2,675 outright or you could do monthly payments for a larger total cost. When thinking about this, here’s what you should consider:
How risky is $2,675+ for you?
For us, it’s a sizable risk, but if we do absolutely nothing with it, yeah, that would suck, but we can recover because we have so many other apps and projects. Is that true for you? Would you recover, or will you be spending your entire app budget on it? I would only recommend buying this if you have a lot more money to work with. You will certainly need it. Publishing games with Buildbox might look and sound very easy, but there are some details that are left out in the videos and it still requires a lot of patience and knowledge.
What else could you do with that money?
This is really important to think about. You could spend $2,675 to make an unlimited amount of pretty much only runner-style games with the Buildbox software (and get access to the fairly large selection of images and audio), or you could spend that money to buy 10 or more different source codes for apps that are proven to make money in many different categories, like a Bingo game would. The key here is portfolio differentiation. Yes, you can make a bunch of different apps in Buildbox that look different, but there’s no chance you can make a Bingo game. There’s no chance you can make a Photo editing app. Even if you drill into games, you can’t make a Casino game like a slot machine. Really, you’re limited to Adventure-style games that will pretty much only be runner-style games (with levels, or endless runner style, or both). Flappy Bird would be included in this style because it’s essentially a runner game–the only different is it’s flying instead of running. So if you’re thinking about it, is that what you want? Do you want a collection of runner adventure games? If you’re new and just starting out, I would advise against it. Here’s why… When you’re a beginner in big bad app world, you need to hit what makes the most money, and adventure-style games are some of the worst at monetizing. Bingo and other casino games, like poker, solitaire, and dice, on the other hand, do the best with ads. Or if you want to hit long-term in-app purchase revenue, specific niches with content-based source codes kill it (learn more about that with our free video here). But adventure just doesn’t pay much in terms of ad revenue or in-app purchases. We know this from experience. You might be thinking: but Trey Smith’s first game built with the Buildbox software reached Top 30 in the App Store and made a ton of money, and his Line Zen app did even better! But did you know that it was because of a licensing deal that he hooked up with the major app development company Ketchapp? If you’re not familiar with Ketchapp, they published a game you might’ve heard of: it’s called 2048. Now, whenever they release any title, it reaches the Top Charts in the App Store, despite how crappy how it is. Trey, with his marketing power, hooked up with them and teamed up to re-release the game under Ketchapp, and that’s when it shot to the top of the charts because of Ketchapp’s insane power of cross-promotion. If you want to get that many downloads, you’re gonna need a deal with Ketchapp, too, or some crazy marketing power. And good luck getting that! Thousands of people try to make deals with Ketchapp, but if you can’t sell a ketchup (no pun intended) popsicle to a woman in white gloves, you won’t be so lucky. Conveniently, right after the huge surge in downloads (over 1 million) of his game, Trey and GameAcademy are reopening the Buildbox software for purchase again… and I’m sure we’ll hear about how the first game he built with Buildbox achieved a million downloads. The point needs to be emphasized that the game wouldn’t have hit the Top Charts without Ketchapp.
Updates & The Future
So far, they’ve been making a lot of updates to fix the many problems that the software currently has, but I’m genuinely concerned about the future. Here’s why: Pretty much every year, Trey Smith and GameAcademy release a product like this. Before, it was named Project Zero or Project Mayhem. Then it was Project Mayhem 2. We wrote about that one, and it had an even bigger price tag. Knowing that he had these other software packages (that some people claim aren’t being updated nearly enough) should’ve been a red flag. It’s almost certain that he will release a new Buildbox type of software, but maybe it’ll be named something different, and you’ll have to pay all over again to get access… and it’ll be much better than this version, albeit with its own set of problems and bugs. After Buildbox gets 1,000 sales and makes Trey another couple million dollars, why would he spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in support and fixing the software, when he could just create another Buildbox and sell it for $2,675 all over again? See the predicament? Sadly, as much as I think Trey seems like a genuine, cool guy, I don’t see updates going beyond a 12-18 months, and we could be left with an inferior product that never gets updated or doesn’t keep up with changes in iOS versions, etc. That’s the risk that comes with software like this.
The Bottom Line: Should You Buy Buildbox?
What this comes down to is awesome marketing with somewhat-good software. My honest opinion is that you should only buy Buildbox if you can afford to lose all that money, you have the time to spend to only focus on adventure-style games (and for some reason, those are the only games you want to build), you’ll make use of the graphics & sounds, and you can get it done fast, before the app landscape changes significantly. In other words, I’d rather buy something else, like a collection of really cool source codes, so your portfolio is more diversified and thus, less risky. If you’re a beginner, it’s really easy to learn how to reskin apps–easier than learning the Buildbox software. Drag and drop software and limiting yourself to adventure games isn’t the answer. If you’re just starting out: [Tweet “Don’t spend $3k on software you might not use. Buy 10 source codes instead.”]
Do you have the Buildbox software and disagree? Agree? Let us know if the comments. We really want this to be an honest Buildbox review, and getting other perspectives is more than welcomed.
Did you know that Chad Mureta, one of the biggest names in App Reskinning and App Development, started out in 2009? Five years ago! How much of his success was based on being in the right place at the right time? Most of it, probably. If you are in the app reskinning business, you should always keep track of new phones, devices, and app stores (I know, it can be a pain). With the release of the new Amazon Fire Phone, which comes with access to the Amazon AppStore, it’s time to start thinking about if Amazon AppStore development and reskinned apps is right for you.
Amazon App Store Development: For You?
We’re here to give you the breakdown of the phone and help you understand if it’s something you should jump into. Here at MoneyFromApps, we want to stay ahead of the game and alert you of what to look out for, so you can focus your time on more important things, like creating that next reskin.
The release of a new phone or device is often an app reskinner’s worst nightmare. A new iPhone or an iPad release can mean brand new image sizes that we have to deal with. Remember the release of the iPhone 5? The longer screen created all sorts of headaches. However, the release of something like the Amazon Fire Phone essentially expands a market, making the Amazon App Store much more available to users. This doesn’t even include the fact that Amazon recently made a deal with Blackberry, making the Amazon AppStore available on Blackberry devices. With fewer than a quarter million apps in the Amazon AppStore, this market is still in its infancy, and that means you can capitalize.
Introducing the Amazon Fire Phone
First, let’s take a look at a video showing what the new Amazon Fire Phone has to offer:
Pretty neat, huh?
Amazon Fire Phone Features
Let’s break down those biggest features quickly.
- Firefly – Identify products, text, movies, songs, other media and more by “scanning” pretty much anything with image-recognition, audio-recognition, and/or text-recognition. This is all part of Amazon’s master plan to let you find something quickly on Amazon and purchase it.
- Amazon AppStore – Also runs on Kindle Fire tablets. Google Play cannot be accessed. The Amazon AppStore is its own entity with its own apps, and you can develop for it.
- 3D Screen – Using multiple cameras in the front, the phone can detect your movement and allows you to peak around corners, and more. This can be a game-changer (no pun intended).
- Of course it comes with everything else that standard smartphones come with, like a nice camera, etc.
- Currently AT&T only, with the cheapest model at $199, but it comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Prime ($99 value)… again, all part of Amazon’s master plan.
Amazon AppStore Development with Reskinning
If you’re a frequent reader here at MoneyFromApps, then you’ve probably been wondering what this means in the world of app reskinning. Should you move away from iOS and/or Android and try to beat other apps in the Amazon AppStore? After all, timing is everything.
Our answer: it depends. Right now, it’s very difficult to say if consumers will love this product. After all, they will need to love it enough to replace their iPhone or Galaxy. But assuming it’s a success, there are still a lot of things to consider…
What Are Your Strengths?
Do you have a system in place? Or are you doing the development work yourself? If you’re on your own, it can be tricky to move into a new landscape. On the other hand, if you have a team already in place, chances are they know what they’re doing and can code in Cocos2dx or whatever you need to enter the world of Amazon AppStore development.
Do You Have the Resources?
If you have the team (or you plan to do this yourself), do you have the time and money to test this out? The first go will always produce the worst results, even when you’re starting out on something tried and true like iOS. The first apps we released weren’t great, and we have that data to show you. We had some losses early on, and that was even with lots of reading, researching, and access to great Instagram marketing. If you want to dive into something even newer, you should be prepared to take some early losses.
[Tweet “Bet on your 1st app failing. And the 2nd and 3rd. The key to success is picking yourself back up.”]
Time is also an issue. While getting in early is great, are you prepared to take the additional time to learn the ins and outs of Amazon AppStore development? It’s going to be 100 or even 1,000 times harder to find great resources, video walkthroughs, free source codes, and more for a new marketplace.
Do You Already Have the Source Code?
Source codes are, and always will be, the cheapest and most cost-effective method of entering the app market, and that applies to any store, from Google Play to the iOS App Store. The Amazon AppStore is no exception.
Do you already have a code you can work with? Developing from scratch is expensive and time-consuming. With more and more developers entering app development every day, you will run into competitors, and you’ll likely be developing a similar Amazon app as someone else at the same time. Are you okay with that risk?
If you don’t already have the code and are thinking about purchasing one, then you need to look at that source code specifically. Is it really a winner? Will it do well long-term? Take a look at our guidelines on purchasing a great source code.
Can You Handle the Risk (and Stress)?
Making a move into this new field will cause you stress in a bunch of different ways because it’s much riskier. It might seem like it’s less risky because there are fewer apps in the Amazon App Store, but there are also a lot fewer users. There’s also less support, less overall knowledge, fewer tricks, and more.
Can you deal with the stress? Can you handle this risk? As an entrepreneur, you need to take extra care of your health. If you’re consistently taking home a comfortable amount of money from app development, then you’re in a much better position to take the plunge; otherwise, you might be better off getting your feet wet and trying out the basics first.
Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Resources
- What programming language does the Amazon AppStore use?We recommend Cocos2dx because you can use that language for multiple devices: iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon.
Amazon also claims that 75% of apps developed for Android will work in the Amazon AppStore.
- What apps are already available in the Amazon AppStore?Check out AppAnnie’s list of the Top Amazon AppStore apps.
- Can I hire you to develop an Amazon AppStore App?We’re not currently taking on custom development work, but you can ask anyway, and/or inquire about our services.
- I love your source codes and video tutorials. Do you have any for the Amazon AppStore?Not at the moment, but getting your feet wet with our current source codes and video tutorials will surely help you.
Feel free to comment with additional questions and thoughts. Are you going to venture into the world of the Amazon AppStore?
Fairly recently, Apple added a new field when you’re ready to upload your binary.
Below that, you need to answer:
Does this app use the Advertising Identifier (IDFA)?
If your app is showing ads, you’re going to need to click “Yes” for this. And that opens up some more questions…
Serve Advertisements Within the App
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Are you showing ads? If so, click yes. That is the one that we click 99% of the time, and also 99% of the time, this is the only one we click.
Attribute this App Installation to a Previously Served Advertisement
You select this if your app is using the unique identifier of the iOS device. Call me lazy, but I have never felt like looking up every single SDK’s documentation to figure out if they use the unique identifier. And I vaguely remember when crap hit the fan and all the ad networks were updating their SDKs like crazy because of all of this. So do they use the unique identifier? I have no idea.
In all of our apps, we have not checked this box, and we’ve passed the review process.
This has been true for the following SDKs (we did not click the checkbox when using any/all of the following):
- Upsight (PlayHaven)
I am definitely not an expert in this area, but the point of this is to tell you what has worked for us.
Attribute an Action Taken Within this App to a Previously Served Advertisement
This one has to do with re-engagement; that is, a user will click an ad, enter an app, and events that happen are attributed to the ads. Again, we don’t click this. Hey, maybe we’re wrong, but I’m writing this to let you know what we do and what has worked for us consistently.
Feel free to comment if you’re an expert in the field of identifiers and tracking, or if you know for sure that specific ad networks do use the IDFA/re-engagement, etc. This post is more about figuring it out than telling you how to answer this question
Now for my iOS Developer rant of the day: Have you ever noticed that you can have Frequent/Extreme Sexual Content & Nudity–not just mild, but extreme… but if you select even Mild Graphic Sexual Content & Nudity, you can’t submit your app to the App Store? Classic Apple Review, making no sense as usual.
Updated: June 11 with the recent explosion of the news of Apple Rejecting Apps That Offer Rewards For Video Views and Social Sharing.
We’ve heard from 3-4 members of the Money From Apps community about this, so it’s time to bring it up. Have you seen this rejection from Apple lately?
2.25: Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or to provide significant added value for a targeted group of customers.
Your app displays apps, other than your own, for purchase or promotion, in a manner similar to the App Store, but it is not designed for a specific, approved need. This is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
Please refer to the attached screenshot/s for more information.
Please review your app to evaluate what features you can add to significantly differentiate your app from the App Store, both functionally and visually. Apps that also include filtering, bookmarking, searching, or sharing recommendations are not considered to be significantly different from the App Store.
Also, be sure to restrict your app content to a specific need, such as health management, aviation, accessibility, etc. or provides significant added value for a specific group of users. Additionally, your app should feature robust editorial content, for example, from industry experts, bloggers, or publishers.
This is another example of a ridiculous rejection. The screen shots they show are referring to the Chartboost More Apps page! How many apps use the Chartboost More Games page? Tens of thousands, easily. We, ourselves, probably have about 50 apps that use it. Same thing goes for the Upsight (formerly known as PlayHaven) More Apps page.
So why the rejections all of a sudden? As I mentioned, in the last week or so, we’ve heard about 3-4 of these cases coming up from our community, and they’re looking for answers.
Yet no one else is talking about this, at least not that I’ve found. Getting a rejection from Apple can ruin your day. I’ve been there many times, and it’s crushing, especially after you worked your ass off to get an app into Apple’s hands as fast as humanly possible.
So for those of you that are struggling with this, here’s what worked for someone in the community:
- Clear out all the information in iTunes Connect about your app, including the description, icon, screen shots, etc. (but copy this info to paste later). Fill in the icon and screen shots with “dummy”/blank images.
- Create a new bundle ID/provisioning profiles.
- Recreate the app in iTunes Connect and input new IDs for the In-App Purchases and Game Center.
- Change out the IDs for the Bundle ID, In-App Purchases, and Game Center in the source code.
- Temporarily disable most of the ads, including the Chartboost More Apps page–disable from the ad networks’ webpages themselves. Leave only one ad network showing ads. Why show ads at all? Because Apple can reject you for using the advertising identifier, but not showing ads.
- Resubmit to Apple.
- Upon approval, turn the ads back on from the ad networks’ webpages.
Some tips for those of you that haven’t seen this rejection, but are submitting apps soon:
- If you’re using a “More Apps” page, try either turning it off completely or showing maybe 1-2 of your own apps that are similar and complement your new app. This worked for one of our readers! See below.
- Turn off most of the pop-up ads. This can piss off reviewers and they’ll reject you for having too many ads or for some other reason. Turn the ads back on after you’re approved.
If you got this rejection and something worked for you, feel free to comment below. We want to get to the bottom of this and help you guys out so you don’t get caught at this step.
UPDATE FROM ONE OF OUR READERS:
UPDATE FROM ANOTHER READER: