At an iPhone gaming talk at the GDC, iPhone app developers Adam Saltsman (Wurdle), Sergei Gourski, and Jamie Goch (Fieldrunners) got together to discuss the nitty-gritty of developing successful games and entertainments for the iPhone platform with a field of wannabe gamemakers.
During this talk, Saltsman dropped the following piece of wisdom that you will likely find both obvious and depressing. When it comes to iPhone apps: "Quality is largely irrelevant...I think the defining thing is how quickly you can describe your product to someone else," Saltsman said.
It makes sense, too. Look at what's popular on the iPhone store -- all the top ten games can be easily described in seconds. No matter how good your complicated, heartfelt or perfectly balanced your game is, if it's not immediate, no one will care; they will download the app that makes fart noises, mimics a mood ring, or provides instant "Yo Mama!" jokes.
Remember, too, that those cheapo apps and games that are often rip-offs of other, better titles, are making people rich. Welcome to the downside of "casual gaming," where a crappy idea with inexpert execution can make someone money if it's stupid in just. the. right. way.
On the other hand, creating an application that is simple, but useful (like the dog whistle app pictured above) is pretty cool. Using the iPhone to call your dog is definitively a good thing.