Yesterday we reported on a plan by ngmoco:) to remove Rolando from the iTunes App Store once Rolando 2 had been released. Today, I spoke today with Clive Downie, VP of Marketing from ngmoco:) and we've got some good news for Rolando fans.
After reading our article and others relating to the proposed plan to pull Rolando from the iTunes App Store and the response from consumers, ngmoco:) have decided to rescind the plan to remove Rolando. Rolondo will remain on the iTunes App Store and Topple, the original, will be coming back as well.
To understand why this all happened and why the plan was hatched in the first place, it's important to understand the climate that publishers on the iTunes App Store are currently working in.
The App Store is a whole new environment in which to run a software business. Apple has full reigns over what's allowed and how you can operate. That's great for Apple, their app store, and their devices. But it's non-standard in the software world and not so great for publishers. It's particularly difficult considering that Apple does not publish full guidelines on what is and isn't allowed and has even been known to change it's mind without telling anyone.
Then there is the sheer volume of new apps launched every day in the app store. Currently the app store is averaging over 300 new apps in the store every single day. That's more new titles per day than most platforms see in a year. Just a staggering number.
At this point, the app store is less than a year old and has had over 57,000 apps approved. Some of the standard practices of marketing software just don't apply to a volatile and chaotic market such as this. Trying new things, finding what works amid the chaos is the key. That's what ngmoco:) is doing.
For ngmoco:) the question was become how do they best launch a sequel in the iTunes App Store. There's very little history on how to do that. One method they wanted to test was to remove the prequel to see what impact that would have on the launch of Rolando 2. What happens if you launch an episodic title into the app store without the predecessor there. It was learning they thought was worth doing.
That was the plan, until they started hearing from consumers. Consumers didn't like the idea of it. It can be a big concern to a user who has purchased a copy protected digital file when they discover they may not be able to download it again if something happens to their copy. Since all that was really purchased was a bunch of bits, if it's no longer available, it can seem to the consumer like you've lost your purchase.
What the consumers said was the they didn't care about the test, they want their Rolando and Topple to remain safe. That's what ngmoco:) have decided to do.
So due to the consumer feedback, Rolando will stay in the store and we will see Topple return soon as well. Since Apple provides no way for customers of the apps, people who have already paid for the app, to get it any other way than for the app to be live in the store, this is what's required.
I think we can call that a lesson learned. But maybe not the lesson they were looking for.
Mr. Downie made it clear that ngmoco:) will continue to test the market, figure out ways to best navigate the turbulent seas of the app store. In addition, they will continue to innovate, as they remain laser focused on developing the best games for the iPhone OS platform.
As a closing thought, Mr. Downie wanted to remind us all that after the dust has settled over this Rolando issue to remember that Rolando 2 is coming out really soon and it looks fantastic. He's right about that -- we got a chance to see it recently in it's nearly complete form. It's looking very impressive.
When we asked if the release date was still July 1st, his response was "let's hope so."