Making it to the #1 Spot in the App Store



Don't do it. What I experienced is synonymous to getting a lottery ticket.

But if you must, make sure you believe in what you're building.



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

First Week of Downloads


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.

After all was said and done....

Total Paid Downloads: 685,000

Revenue: $678,150

After Apple's 30% cut: $474,750

After 50/50 split on profits: $237,352

After taxes of 45% (income + self employment): $130,534

Time to actualize profits: 13 months

Income: $10,041 a month (with a falling average)

or $62.50 (net) per hour working full time, which is $112 per hour (before taxes)

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

Now what?

Subscribe to the blog, because the story isn't over:


Amir Rajan

twitter: @amirrajan

And download A Dark Room iOS ;-)

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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