033 : Bestselling indie games with A Dark Room’s Amir Rajan

Amir Rajanawake. head throbbing. vision blurry.

So begins one of the most unique games to ever hit the App Store. What follows is an experience that takes the player through a dystopian world that starts with the simple gathering of wood and slowly grows in scope to places you’d never expect.

Amir Rajan discovered the original web-based A Dark Room (developed by Michael Townsend) on Hacker News and knew it needed to be on mobile. He negotiated the rights to create the iOS app and began his journey into RubyMotion and Objective-C development. He shares how he promoted his app and what it felt like to have a meteoric rise to the top of the App Store.

You should listen to this episode if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to have a best-selling app.

NOTE: It’s highly recommend that you finish A Dark Room before listening to this episode!

Here’s what we chat about:

  • What drew Amir to the original game by Michael Townsend
  • Why Amir used RubyMotion instead of Objective-C
  • Amir’s experience discovering the original web-based A Dark Room
  • Why Amir couldn’t just copy code from the web version to his mobile version
  • Negotiating the exclusive rights to the mobile version of the app
  • The benefits of Amir’s development log
  • Why Amir decided to share every detail about the development process
  • How Amir chose the original price of $1.99
  • Why Amir recommends starting your app at a high price
  • What happened when Amir learned that A Dark Room 1.0 didn’t work on the iPhone 5S
  • Amir’s experience with promo codes
  • How Amir used Twitter to get press for A Dark Room
  • How the UK reception was way different from the US
  • Releasing a new version of the app to hide old reviews
  • What Amir has planned for the future of A Dark Room

Links mentioned in this show include:

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Do you find indie games easier or harder to sell than utilities? Let us know in the comments below!

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