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How to Hit #3 in the App Store: An Interview With Maciej Czekala - Developer of Gravity Maze

How to Hit #3 in the App Store: An Interview With Maciej Czekala – Developer of Gravity Maze

As my first app gets closer and closer to completion, I can’t help but daydreaming of what might happen when it’s finally released.  How many downloads will it get?  How much money will it make?  How high will it rank in the list of top apps?  These are questions I ask myself on a daily basis, even though I know I won’t have the answers until it actually happens.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing someone who is no longer daydreaming about how successful his app idea will be, because he actually lived this fantasy.  Maciej Czekala, a producer at Geemzo, is one of the talented individuals behind the smash-hit app Gravity Maze.

Gravity Maze is a simple, physics-based game which players attempt to help a team of “Fluffs” escape from different mazes.  At it’s peak it was the #3 app in the whole US App Store.

Today, I will be sharing with you the interview I did with Maciej via email.  Maciej provided us with some great insight into what it takes to develop a hit app as well as what it’s like to be the creator of one.

Let’s get right into it!

Are you an individual developer or are you part of a company with in-house developers?  If part of a company, what is your position?

I’m a producer at Geemzo which is a small mobile and HTML5 game developer. I do a lot of things here as we decided to go for quite an open development approach. People here are highly skilled in more than one discipline which is what makes our development very flexible and fast.

What made you decide to get into mobile app development?

This market is still growing and people seem to keep looking for new and innovative games all the time. The mobile market gives you an opportunity to develop games you really want to make. Mobile games are fairly small and during a year you can develop between 5 and 8 titles. In small teams you have more to say and the whole process seems to be a little bit more personal.

How many apps have you made?  If you don’t mind sharing, how many times have they been downloaded total (roughly)?

I made 5 games till now and 3 more are in production. Our total downloads for all the games is above one million.

What categories of apps do you mostly create apps for?  Is there a reason you prefer these categories?

I really like physics based puzzlers so those are the games we are planing to concentrate on at the moment. Our puzzle games get really good reviews and have the highest download rate.

What platforms to you develop apps for?  If you don’t mind sharing, which platforms make you the most money?

We make games for iOS (iPhone and iPad), as well as Android and web (HTML5). I can only say that Android does not make any real money.

What happens if you have an idea for an app but someone already “beat you to it”?  Would you still consider pursuing this idea?

There is always some room to improve upon an existing concept or even reinvent it. If it’s something I really like and I think it has some potential than yes, I would keep pushing to make it.

How did you come up with the idea for Gravity Maze?  Were you certain that this idea was a “winner” from the beginning?

This was mainly related to the old wooden game where you had a metal ball and the goal was to get it to the exit. This was the base and then I added much more balls, I gave them personality and a more complicated exit structure which is what makes the game challenging.

How long did it take to create this app from start to finish and If you don’t mind sharing, how much did it cost you (roughly) to build this app?

I believe it took more less 6 to 8 weeks to make it. The most difficult part was the level design. It’s not as easy as some people think.  You have to count 3 full time staff for at least 2 months…if you get average IT hourly rate you will get the number you are looking for.

What were some of the challenges in developing this app?

The most difficult part was designing and testing the levels to make sure people can complete them and feel satisfied. It’s hard to make a well balanced game that people will keep coming back and trying to beat their score in each level. But I believe I managed to do that in Gravity Maze.

How has this app been doing sales wise?  Is it your most successful app?

Gravity Maze is definitely our most successful game and it is still doing ok in the App Store.

How did you market this application?

We used AppGratis as one marketing provider and then we got in contact with Free App o Day which was very helpful and pushed the game to the top of the App Store.

How is this application being monetized?

We have in-app purchases in the game where players can buy extra level skips.  Plus the full version is paid.

What is your typical day like?

Breakfast, reading some emails, and then design or coding. Might have a meeting or two with my team and so on. It’s quite fun as there is always something to do. Plus we drink beer and eat pizza like in every game development studio :).

Where do you see the mobile app industry going?

It is still going ahead and it does not seems to be slowing down. Everything will be controlled and present in mobile devices and the most important thing is to be part of it.

If you were able to go back in time, what would you do differently in regards to app development?

To be honest not much.  I believe we did all that we could to make our games successful and fun. I play my game and people at work like them too.  There’s nothing more you can wish for.

What is your advice for people interested in making mobile apps?

Make sure to have an innovative/fresh idea. Make the game awesome, because good games are everywhere. Keep doing what you love and you will definitely be a successful game developer sooner or later.

What are your plans for the future?

Game, game, game, and maybe some cake 🙂

What To Take From This

First of all, with my eagerness to see how my app will perform – it only gets me more excited to get my app out on the App Store for sale!  But with that being said, it’s obvious that Maciej and his team put a lot of work into this app and it definitely wasn’t an overnight success.

Also, Maciej and the team at Geemzo prove that you don’t need to be a huge company to develop a successful app – you just need to have a great idea and great execution!

Maciej Czekala Headshot

Maciej Czekala

Hopefully you got as much out of this interview as I did and I would like to thank Maciej one more time for giving me the opportunity to pick his brain a bit. 🙂  If you would like to learn more about Geemzo and Gravity Maze, make sure to check out their website here!

I hope you enjoyed this interview – this is the first of many to come so stay tuned!  Also, if you have any questions you would like me to ask in future interview, let me know in the comments area below!

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