Making it to the #1 Spot in the App Store


Binge Coding - Languages

  • C# 4.0+, Scala
  • F# 
  • Objective C
  • Clojure 
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby

Now What?

Meaningful Work

Trust and Like Minds

Me: "Have you thought about porting A Dark Room as an iOS game? I'm actually a developer on sabbatical right now and would love to give it a stab."


Michael: "If you want to do a port to iOS, you have my blessings. I'm sick of working in the corporate world, too. If this goes well, there may be a mutually beneficial partnership in our future =)"

Failure in Dollars

Success in Meaning


"I've got my 3 sisters addicted to the game, and since we're all blind, we all appreciate the new additions to the game, so thanks to the developers."


"A Dark Room helped me to get through a particularly tough time in my life. Thank you for providing such a fun and accessible way to tune out and heal."

Technology Spans Oceans

Connection Across the World

Connection Across the Free World


Connection Across the Free World


Meaningful Work

"I was inspired by your game, I would like to create my own game using javascript. I am 14 years old which also makes it difficult (or maybe easier as I have a lot of time) to do this. How do I get started?"

A legend (Latin, legenda, "things to be read") is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude.


(from Wikipedia)

Legend of A Dark Room


Verisimilitude, in a narrow sense, is the likeness or semblance of a narrative to reality, or to the truth.

Note to self: this is where you show your chart topping game.

First Week of Downloads

57 downloads at $1.99

Obsession With Twitter

30 dl's...

less than 10 downloads per 1000 followers

But it works! Figure out your sales funnel.

Notable interactions (but, don't just target the people with the most followers).

First Unsolicited Review

Forum Entry by the TouchArcade Bot

Turkey Day!

All this happend in the same week!

Here are the download numbers


December 27th, the day my life changed

The results...


Keep realistic expectations

Now what?

I posted more stuff....

Promotions and Engagement

100 promocodes per release. Be generous. Encourage engagement. Release again for more codes.

Give aways for a month...

Better than December at least ;-)

Now what?

And the results...

Went from 22 downloads to 351! But it tappered off quickly.

Now what...


Another promotion and engagement push followed on TouchArcade and Reddit.

And the results...

294 downloads at its peak!

Ranked in the top 10 for my category!

But the sale and Spring Break brought in more.

Now what?

I made A Dark Room iOS free. Thinking that I'd keep my rank.

I lost my top 10 ranking in my category...

The results after being free two days...


Went back to paid. Surely this will carry over...

Nope. Back down to 187 downloads.

Now what?

I "happily" gave up.

November: $  555
December: $  943
January:  $1,300
February: $1,760
March:    $2,500

Added a well placed review button.

Did an iPad release.

Did a postmortem on /r/GameDev. Presented about it at a local user group.


A Dark Room iOS went viral in the UK and became the #1 app overall. Netting 23,000 paid downloads. US ranked remained unchanged.


I got bombarded by 1 star reviews.

Bit of a scam - I bought this a week ago thinking the reviews looked positive. Now having played the game and read through further reviews I feel scammed. Poorly hidden “I don’t usually write” fake reviews are littered everywhere.

Fraudsters!! - This game is awful. All the reviews are fake. The people behind this have broken the law as this is clearly fraudulent activity designed to get you to part with your money for false promises. Absolute disgrace. Pure theft. Pure criminality.

note to self: talk about how reviews work.


A Dark Room started to climb in the US.

#1 RPG. #5 Game. #10 App.


It became the #1 app. US app store being 3+ times larger than the UK. Mostly positive reviews! More staying power.


It continued to stay number 1. But downloads did start dropping. They spiked again on 4/20.


A Dark Room fell from the top spot. Even with news coverage from Huffington Post, two writeups from Cult of Mac, and a write up by a former tech editor of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Now what?

Increase engagement.

Note to self: talk about timing releases.


It rose to and hit the #1 spot for another 2 days! Then dropped...


The interview we did for the New Yorker published. Leading to a substantial increase in rank. But not #1.

Eventually A Dark Room was forgotten.

There is no leveling out. I was back at the #6 spot in the RPG section. #1 app in 5 countries, now totally forgotten across the board.

Now What?

Made ADR free again.

Day 1: 36,831

Day 2: 111,209

Day 3: 203,882

Day 4: 223,006

Day 5: 213,379

Day 6: 187,014

Day 7: 43,307

Total: 1,018,628

After ADR went back to paid, The Ensign hits the App Store

  • The prequel The Ensign releases and get's featured as a Best New Game
  • The two games complimented each other

*reminder: talk about featured lists

45 days after 1 Million Free Downloads

45 day average before: 907

45 day average after: 1,022

45 day average after (including free days): 901 

Low point after 60 days later: 200 

After all was said and done....

Total Paid Downloads: 715,000

Revenue: $707,850

After Apple's 30% cut: $495,495

After 50/50 split on profits: $247,748

After taxes of 45% (income + self employment): $136,261

Income: $9,732 a month (with a falling average)

TL;DR; Don't do it. Unless you're doing it because it means something more to you than money.

Time to actualize profits: 14 months

$60.83 (net) per hour working full time, which is $111 per hour (before taxes)

Adorned App Page

Now what?

Amir Rajan

twitter: @amirrajan

Making it to the #1 Spot in the App Store

By Amir Rajan

Making it to the #1 Spot in the App Store

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