Our Business

Our Thoughts on the Mac App Store

With the January opening of the Mac App Store, discussion has ensued regarding the effect it would have on small developers. Many argued that the store would be a way for small vendors to gain visibility. This would, in turn, increase their business. In fact, the Mac App Store has proven quite the opposite for GamesForOne.

Several issues have combined to decrease our business. The first is that free apps enjoy increased visibility in the App Store as they have their own category. The rankings receive equal billing with paid apps, and therefore customers gravitate to the free apps first just as you would expect. Many customers seem to feel the free offering is “good enough” and therefore do not search further for a solitaire game. Potential sales are lost. How is this different from the previous Apple Downloads pages? Before, free apps moved down the list as new releases of other games were posted. The effect was that a new release, paid or free, enjoyed the spotlight at the top of the listings for a time. In the App Store, the free apps enjoy a never ending spotlight.

There has already been a race to the bottom in the Mac App Store. Prices are too low overall. For example, one competing solitaire game vendor that charges $30 for their product in direct web sales, released it for $5 in the Mac App Store. Some would argue that was a bold move to garner share. However, combined with the first issue I just presented regarding free products, there is simply not that much money flowing for paid apps in the Card Games section of the Mac App Store regardless of price. Another well known vendor released a 99 cent game from the opening. Surely they are suffering a fall in overall income because we have not observed enough paid app volume to make up for lost sales at previous price points.

How can we make such a judgment about the sales volume? Solitaire Plus enjoyed the #1 position in the Top Grossing lists for the Card Games section for several days back in January. We must have enjoyed a windfall, right? Not so. Our profit on those days at #1 was less than $150 per day. And the drop-off once you fall out of the top spot is severe. The normal average per day is far less. Our game can still crack the top 5 in the Top Grossing list with only five sales in a day!

The App Store does indeed provide a way for small vendors to gain visibility. One person in the Far East can produce an app, post it for a ridiculously low price in the App Store, and take business share. $50 per day profit for such a person is probably a windfall. This means that App Store customers enjoy lower prices. It also means that it is harder for US vendors to compete as we have a far higher cost of living and operating expenses (can you say TAXES and state/local FEES).

The result? Cheap imports are taking over the Mac software business just as they dominate the shelves of your local discount store and US jobs are lost. Does that worry you? Perhaps not, but the day will come when your job will be at risk from the same economic forces. No industry is safe.

Have some thoughts about the Mac App Store? Drop us a note and let us know your thoughts. Feel like we are bad sports? Let us know that too and what we can do to gain your business. If you think our price is too high, tell us at what price you would buy.

New Website Design and Blog

We have redesigned our GamesForOne website layout to match the new Mac and Windows product sites that have been up for some time. We hope the new layout is clear and easy to navigate. Please send us your suggestions if you feel something important is missing.

This new blog is intended to keep our customers informed of the latest news. It will also host our general observations about the Internet software business (including business and development issues) with all the ups and downs we encounter in our daily operations. We hope you enjoy our posts!

Special Summer Price for Solitaire Plus! for Windows

It has been a long, hot summer already and our Windows version needs some sales. Therefore, for a limited time you can purchase Solitaire Plus! for Windows for $12.95. That’s a 35% off our regular price. This special price won’t last forever, and we do not plan to post the date it will end, so please order now!

FileKicker Issues and The Power of Google

In order to serve the demand generated by prospective customers downloading our demo from various 3rd party websites, including Apple Downloads, we use a download bandwidth provider called “FileKicker”. FileKicker is a subsidiary of a Digital River which is a large company with a strong presence in the Internet download market -- including managing downloads for the on-line Microsoft Store. You would think they would be able to run a file distribution service.

However, in December ’09 as well as the weekend of July 10th, one or more files were allowed onto the FileKicker domain that Google deemed “malware”. Apparently it is Google policy to flag an entire domain as a possible malware source regardless of whether every file on that domain is suspect or not. Our files were never compromised, but our links were flagged by Google nonetheless. Our customers wishing to download the demo/trial of our games were greeted with a big RED warning page with a scary “Get me out of here” button.

We were disappointed when this initially occurred with FileKicker in Dec ’09. We were shocked when it happened again in July. Obviously it is not an acceptable situation for us. We apologize to any customers that were confused by the Google warning.

We quickly changed all the download links on GamesForOne sites to Amazon Cloudfront where they still remain. However, that was not before our order volume for the weekend of July 10th was severely diminished because we were unable to change the download link posted on the Apple Downloads site.

Consider the power that Google is granted when browser developers include this Google feature. We have never had a domain we own flagged so we do not know the level of detail that Google provides to webmasters as far as what is deemed malware, however this info should be very detailed indeed in order to wield that kind of power over website owners. Frankly, Google has the power to put you out of business if they flag you for possibly capricious reasons.
However, consider the power that Google is granted when browser developers include this Google feature. Google can