janiJani Kahrama is the founder of Secret Exit, begun in 2006. Secret Exit is the developer of some of the most innovative–and some of my favorite–games on the App Store, perfect examples of what you can do on the iOS platform like Zen Bound 2 and Stair Dismount. The company’s latest game, Eyelord take a slightly more metal tack. All in all, its games have been downloaded 13 million times.

I fired off a few questions to Jani to get his take on the App Store 5th.

148Apps: How has the App Store changed your professional life?

Jani Kahrama, Founder at Secret Exit: The App Store is the single reason we (Secret Exit) exist as a gaming company. In our early years we evaluated the different options that were available, and App Store made the most sense for us because of its short approval time, monthly reporting and payouts, and iPhone itself, which was an interesting and unexplored territory for games.

148Apps: Since the release of your first app on the App Store, what has changed with the way you release a game.

Jani Kahrama: Probably far less than should have! It seems these days app discovery has polarized to either being featured by platform holders or to buying your users. We’re not in a position to influence the former or rich enough to attempt the latter, so we’re trying to find new ways to spread the word.

148Apps: In the five years since launch, the App Store has gone through considerable changes. The number of users has skyrocketed along with downloads, prices for paid apps has stabilized way lower than man expected, free to play has dominated the top grossing charts. If, knowing what you know about the App Store now, you could go back and influence your path five years ago, what would you say?

Jani Kahrama: At heart I still naively wish for a world where a quality game would be recognized and appreciated by an audience willing to pay a good price for it.

But when I put on my time-traveling bizdev hat, what else could I say but be the first to drop the price to one dollar, be the first to go free with IAP, and beat Supercell at clashing clans together :)

148Apps: What have you seen on the App Store, outside of apps published by
you, that has surprised you most?

Jani Kahrama: The overall randomness and variance of successful titles. Coming from a console gamer background, I was stuck with certain preconceptions on how games should look, feel and play. The App Store has time and time again proven me to challenge those notions.


Zen Bound 2 intro trailer

148Apps: Any predictions on what the App Store will be like five years from now?

Jani Kahrama: I am concerned with the ability of big companies to simply buy their way to the top of the charts with paid user acquisition. Unless that practice is limited in influence by platform holders, it may change the landscape to such where developers need big marketing companies or rich publishers to promote their games. Smaller independent companies will find it ever harder to compete in a business where the marketing costs of a game are higher than the development costs.

Thanks very much to Jani for his time. I enjoy it every time we speak.

[ Photo credit: Jon Jordan ]

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