Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Become an App Store Millionaire: Make a Hit App, and Don’t Make Anything Else

Three years ago, Igor Pusenjak and his brother Marko unveiled Doodle Jump, an addictive game that quickly became one of the biggest hits at Apple’s App Store. It turned them into millionaires.

So, what are they doing for an encore?

Nothing.

While most other developers might try to follow the success of one app by rushing out follow-ups, the brothers Pusenjak have been content to ride Doodle Jump as far as that will take them.

Which turns out to be pretty far. Igor Pusenjak says the brothers have sold 15 million copies of the iPhone game, at 99 cents each. And while the game is no longer routinely perched in the App Store’s Top 10 list, he says it is still selling 300,000 copies a month.

And since the Pusenjak’s Lima Sky company is a tiny one — it’s basically the two of them, along with a handful of contractors — that means they are doing very, very well. After you subtract Apple’s 30 percent fee, iPhone/iPod sales alone have netted them $10.5 million.

And they don’t have any venture capitalists or angel investors to share the proceeds with, because they’ve never taken outside money.

They’ve made some very cautious line extensions — there’s an iPad version of the game, for instance, as well as an Android one, and in the future they’ll finally start licensing the game for things like T-shirts and plush toys. Today, the company has updated the original version of its iPhone game, which includes extra goodies like in-game purchases.

But that’s it.

Why not try to sell more games? Or, alternately, why not try to sell the company to, say, big publicly traded acquirers who need hits?

Let’s let Igor Pusenjak explain himself:


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald