Peppa Pig Helps App Developer Pass 600K Paid App Downloads

Peppa Pig Helps App Developer Pass 600K Paid App Downloads

By Stuart Dredge for The Guardian

A lot of companies shy away from talking about sales figures for their apps. Some are scared of Apple, others are waiting for the right milestone, and others hide behind the “we’re a public company excuse”. And yes, some are sensibly not admitting publicly that their apps have flopped.

Thankfully, some companies do give figures. Here are some, fresh from BAFTA’s What’s App event in London on 13 March.

“In 16 months we’ve sold just under 600k apps across all of our brands, and we do around 15k downloads a week at the moment, all paid for,” said Peter Sleeman, co-director of British publisher P2 Games, which has published iOS apps based on Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and other children’s brands.

“Peppa is the dominant brand, although Fireman Sam is doing extremely well. One of our apps will have sold in excess of 300k units in the next three months, while five or six will be through 100k units by the end of 2012.”

Sleeman said that P2 games spends between £50k and £60k developing each app on average, noting that the company’s business model is profitable, while warning that app publishers “can burn cash if you get the market wrong”.

More figures came from Paul Bennun, chief creative officer of content design and creation firm Somethin’ Else. Its Papa Sangre audio-only iPhone game cost £4.99 on the App Store. “We did about 70k copies of that, which is good business,” he said at the event.

Bennun added that Somethin’ Else’s The Nightjar – a free follow-up to Papa Sangre sponsored by Wrigley’s 5 Gum – has been downloaded more than 130k times in the UK so far, and is now nominated for two BAFTA games awards.

The event, which focused on storytelling and children’s apps, although not exclusively the latter in Bennun’s case, threw up some interesting lessons learned by the two men and third speaker Tom Bonnick, digital project and marketing manager at book and book-app publisher Nosy Crow.

Sleeman explained that P2 Games’ producers aren’t generally drawn from the games industry, but instead have a background working with children’s TV, brands or content.

“It’s easier to turn people with broader media and preschool experience into producers of games than the other way around,” he said. “We’ve had games producers come in and hate games that we know from focus groups are games that kids love, and love to repeat.”

He also criticised the idea of using freemium models – free apps that use in-app purchases – for a preschool audience. “We don’t believe in the freemium model for preschool, we believe in a priced model,” he said.

“If the app is high quality, we believe people will pay £1.99 or £2.99 for that product. It’s cheaper than a comic, and it lasts longer! We think the freemium model is just not right for preschool.”

Bennun said that with its premium-priced apps, Somethin’ Else had been inspired by Apple’s hardware strategy of pricing its products high, and relying on their quality to avoid being sucked into price wars with rivals.

He talked engagingly about how the company goes about its business though, with critically-acclaimed book-apps including Cinderella and The Three Little Bigs under its belt.

“You have to convince your audience that they should pay for digital content,” said Bonnick. “It’s a constant battle that we’re facing, and a lot of digital markets are. There is still to some extent – although it’s dissolving day by day – resistance to the notion that apps and any kind of digital content is worth paying for.”

He also talked about Nosy Crow’s decision to keep its app development in-house, including recruiting team members from the games industry. And he said that publishers targeting the children’s market must have a focus on quality above all.

“Children’s expectations for interactivity are set so high when they hold an iPad,” he said.

“If you just squash a lot of [book] pages onto the screen without them doing anything, a child will inevitably be disappointed. And we didn’t want children to be given a book on-screen and feel disappointed about it.”

In the Q&A section of the event, the panel were asked about Android, and whether they see a big opportunity for children’s apps on the platform. Bennun pulled no punches.

“You can’t make any money out of Android,” he said. “It’s a total waste of time, and also an incredibly difficult platform to target technically because of the fragmentation.”

Even so, Somethin’ Else is starting to make some Android apps, including some for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. “I’m not looking forward to it: it’s going to be like pulling teeth,” he said.

Bonnick agreed that fragmentation is “a huge problem” for Nosy Crow, focusing particularly on the different aspect ratios of Android devices, and how this impacts “what can happen where on the screen” in interactive book-apps.

However, he also implied that Nosy Crow will support Android once it sees a healthy market for its apps there. “There is no financial incentive to do it yet, but maybe one day.”

Sleeman was more positive: P2 Games’ first Android app will come out in March or April this year.

“We’re hoping that the strength of Peppa Pig, and the fact that we’ve already had to take down four or five fake apps [on Android] means there is a demand for preschool apps,” he said.

“Game publishers are finding that growth is exponential on Android for good-quality products, but there absolutely is a ton of dross and a host of incompatibility issues. It has not been a particularly pleasant initial development experience for us, but we are planning another one.”

This is an excerpt. Click here to read the full article in The Guardian.