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Article Written By:
Johann Dowa

How To Know If An iOS App Publisher Will Rip You Off

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About 12 years ago several freeware games I had created started to get a large number of downloads, and I was approached by a couple of publishing companies. I didn’t think too much of it as I wasn’t making any money off the games and decided to give it a shot. A short time later both of these companies claimed to go out of business (even though in one case it appeared as though they were selling one of my games as part of a collection for years) and of course I never made any money.

In one case I was even sent a threatening sounding document within days after signing the initial contract stating I had broken the agreement as the game was downloadable as freeware.  In the other case they added adware to the game, that set off virus checkers.

Weeding Out The Bad Publishers

As you can imagine I’ve grown pretty cynical about small time publishers. In my opinion here’s how the unknown small time publisher con usually goes — they’ll make claims such as connections with massive game industry icons (ie. Big Fish Games published several of our games!), even mention that they were somehow involved with some massive hit games (without any clear details).

Usually it’s easy to spot these guys, as they will typically end up having a website with zero traffic that looks like it was designed in 1996.

Since the iPhone and iPad are so hot right now, it’s almost guaranteed that you will get approached by publishers if you have a popular or good looking app.

Markus Nigrin has come up with a nice set of questions to ask a publisher at:
Six Questions To Ask A Mobile Publisher

There are actually a lot more than six questions there 🙂

Final Considerations

I would have to add that you should not take any answers they give you at face value.  Check their Alexa.com ranking (Maniacdev.com ranks about 70,000, so if they cannot rank lower than say 500,000 it says a lot about their marketing department).  Google the apps they have published, look around forums for any bad mentions and if there are any take it as a black flag.

The beauty of the app store is that you can gain mass distribution without a publisher.  In my opinion it would be better to forget about any publisher..unless you can get one of the bigger names behind you.


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