TAG | iphone

This comic illustrates what happend to me when I really wanted to buy an app on my parent’s ipad when I was in China.

While in Australia you only need to type in your visa card details, the way the iTune’s App Store currently works in China can take ages – especially in my case where I don’t have a fixed phone number attached to my bank account, therefore I have to go to the bank to change my phone number while bringing my ID with me. The thing is, these banks in China will normally require your phone number so when you are paying for something that costs more than 200 yuan, they will send you a random password to confirm that you are the owner of the card and you are the one that’s making the transaction.

Here is a translated page of a tutorial on how to charge your apple ID in China – if something requires a tutorial, it already kinda tells you how troublesome it is, right? http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fw2v.wistone.com%2Fpay_help%2Fappstore_rmb_help.html

Also, people in online forums are complaining about that after their bank got charged, it took more than a day for the money to be applied to their account.

So, if you want to buy a 6 yuan app in China, the only way to do it is that you need to pay 50 yuan (equals to 10 small bowls of noodles in China!!) in advance while going through all these banking details ( roughly 10~20 mins),  then wait for a day to have the money applied to your account, and only then can you get the 6 yuan app you wanted! At the same time, buying a free app would take only a couple of seconds to type in your password. Which one would you choose? I happened to be the group that just gives up on the paid apps and just get the free ones. I believe most people would do the same thing.

I’ve also tried to gift an app from my Australian account – but guess what, after I spent the money and tried to get the app from the Chinese account, I found that the gift code is only to be used within Australia. XO

You might want to know why Apple has made the payment system so troublesome for the Chinese market – but I guess they were trying their best. In the previous system, people had to pay Apple via American credit cards only (as they charge American dollars), so that there were a lot of American credit card owners who had their cards stolen and illegally used by Chinese consumers who didn’t know that they are using these cards illegally (well, some of them know but not everyone). The thing is, there are a lot of online shops on Taobao.com (China’s biggest trading website) where people can pay these online merchants to get an Apple ID with a American credit card attached to it.  Once the illegal use of the Apple ID has been reported, Apple would freeze that account and return the money to the credit card owner in America. However, the result is that lot of transactions that the app developers have worked so hard for are fake. *shattered dev hearts* Therefore Apple has recently changed their payment system in China and allow the Chinese to pay for apps using RMB – however, like you saw, it’s pretty troublesome.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is actually not all that uncommon for Chinese consumers to pay for virtual content. In fact, the free-to-play style MMORPG have earned A LOT in China. People could spend more than 100,000 yuan (roughly AUS$17,000) on a sword in a popular MMORPG and it’s not that unusual. These super rich and hard-core players just want to show off their wealth by owning that sword and walk around in the virtual world. On the other hand, a recent research has found that in China 95% of young females reject buying pirated products – and that’s quite true, because of ‘vanity’. How? Well, let’s use a conversation as an example.

Girl A carries a new bag to work.

Girl B: ‘Ah! you have a new LV bag! It looks great!’

Girl A: ‘I got it from Hongkong, it’s really expensive but I got it with a discount.’

Girl B: ‘OMG!’ looking at the bag inside-out.

A few days later.

Girl B and Girl C are going shopping.

Girl B:’You know Girl A? She bought a fake LV bag and tried to pretend that it was real. Disgusting!’

Eventually everyone knows that Girl A once used a fake LV bag and Girl A never wants to use it again.

This kind of psychology would also work on these girl’s phones, even though it’s not that much similar. At the same time, some of the girls might not even know what jailbreak means but they just get it as the other people recommended them to do so. If these girls think that jailbreaking their iPhone equals to using a fake LV bag, then at least among girls, the chance of people jailbreaking their phone will be reduced. It is quite sad for me that it seems playing on people’s vanity is the best way to make profit from Chinese, but I can’t do anything about it – the simple reason is just that there are way too many rich people in China, while there are also a lot of poor people.





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We spend a lot of time being all creative and fuzzy and nice here at The Voxel Agents, but often we need to stand back and have a good hard think about what’s actually happening out there in the mobile games space.

To make sure we are all still on top of everything, I spent all of last week researching the mobile market space. I forgot everything I knew about iPhone and Android and had a good hard look at the information that is out there. Some of my findings certainly will be old news to you, and some might change what you thought you knew. So, if you’re interested in the business (pronounced “biz-niz”) side of being an indie game developer, check this stuff out:


You may think the iPad is a mobile device, but you’d be wrong.

  • 43% of iPad owners use their iPad more than their desktop computer 
  • 28% say it’s their primary computer
  • 34% use it more than their TV
  • 83% use it primarily while at home. Only 11% use it on the go.



Developers are flocking back to the iOS platform

According to a blog post by Flurry, in the first quarter of this year, about 65% of new projects were for iOS compared to a respectable 35% targeting Android. However, in the second quarter, iOS accounted for 75% of new projects, leaving just 25% for Android.
It’s worth considering this is based on Flurry’s information alone, so it could equally be taken to mean that Flurry itself is proving to be more popular with iOS developers compared to Android dev’s. This would mean Flurry’s stats in the future are going to have a strong iOS bias.



Even though iOS has more Apps, Android has more free Apps

And that’s not proportionately, that’s in total. The paid model is just not working well on Android.
This same report concludes that sometime this year, the total number of Android Apps will equal the number of iOS Apps (contradicting the story told by Flurry).



iOS has served 15 Billion downloads compared to Androids 4.5 Billion

Given that the iOS App Store has been around for so much longer, this is not a bad showing from Android. However, the vast majority of the iOS downloads occurred in the face of competition from Android. The nail in the coffin: a greater proportion of those iOS downloads were paid.

Those numbers should have six 0's after them too, by the way

Also interesting: the average iOS user has downloaded 75 apps.



Android App installs per day may be reaching parity with iOS installs

But more of the Android installs are free Apps. Clouding the picture is the fact that Apple has clamped down on “incentivized” installs which has removed a lot of “false” installs.



500,000 Android devices are activated every single day

Which means that in the time it took you to read this post another 30,000 Android users began on their merry way. What’s less clear is how many of these devices really deserve to be considered competitors to iOS devices; presumably a large number of them are low powered devices designed only for basic email / web access and social networks.




and most importantly of all…

Android or iOS regardless, it’s a very VERY tough market out there
There’s only so much pie, you see. If we all got an equal slice of that pie, then we’d take home about $8,500 each, which is hardly “quit your day job” money. If you then consider that Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are both very very fond of pie, then you start to realise that a lot of developers are going hungry (so to speak…).

Thanks for reading this far. Hopefully this is useful information for you. Please let us know your thoughts on the state of the market. Should game developers consider market forces, or should they make games they love and hope that there’s an audience?

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Our number #1 fan, 4 year old Andrew of the U.S., has been waiting MONTHS for the chance to play Train Conductor USA.

He is a massive fan of the original Train Conductor Australia, and back in March we got an email from him wanting to know when he’d have more levels to play.

Well, after the release of Train Conductor USA today, Andrew got his chance and he was kind enough to record himself playing. Andrew, I have to say that you made my day.

Click here to listen (Warning! Incredibly cute!): Andrew Plays Train Conductor 2

We’re glad you love the game Andrew and we’ll get some more levels made for you to play soon.

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Hello Agents!

For the past few months we have been planning to release the mega sequel to Train Conductor on the 4th of July.

Just like this blog post, our submission was unfortunately not released in time for the Independence Day celebration of fireworks and barbeques.

Train Conductor USA

No need to stress! Train Conductor USA will be available shortly after the holiday weekend. It’s currently in the submission process. We’re simply waiting for Apple’s approval before we release – we thought it would be nice to give them the weekend off.

Gamble with ghost trains in Las Vegas

While we were researching trains in America, we were actually quite inspired by the enormous impact they had upon the American industrial revolution and the role they continue to play today.

We pay homage to this throughout Train Conductor USA. It features the steam trains of the old wild west, the modern monorails of Miami, and of course the electric subways of New York – enough historical transport to make Paul Revere proud.

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Nashville, Miami, and New York

No need to wait long! We expect to be approved soon after the long weekend is finished. After that we’ll start our own celebrations with a few competitions and prizes for our very patient Train Conductor fans. We’ll be running the comps over Twitter and Facebook so if you’re not already friends with us make sure you don’t miss out – join us at Twitter and at Facebook.

The labyrinthine New York Subway

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Some time last week we stumbled across AppRelief.  We thought it was such a great idea we decided to join up. We signed up for the period of our Australia Day Sale (Jan 20-26), donating 100% of our net profit during that time.

We’ve just received the daily figures from apple for the period, and after operating expenses, we will be contributing $1,697! We don’t pay ourselves (yet), so this represents quite a hefty commitment on our part.

Our most sincere thanks go to all the players of Train Conductor, in particular those in Australia, Italy, USA, Japan and Great Britain who represent the largest contributors.

Distribution of sales by country

Extra kudos goes to Japan and Italy, sales of Train Conductor jumped significantly in those regions during the donation period. (And thanks to AppViz for the PieGraph)

We’re still trying to decide between whether to donate to the RedCross or MSF or perhaps another worthy source. We won’t be receiving the cheque from Apple for the sales until the end of Feburary. If anyone can help suggest a worthy charity, please let us know before then by leaving a comment.

Update: We have chosen to give the proceeds to Médecins Sans Frontières Australia. The full amount of $1,697 has been donated and will go to helping MSF’s efforts around the world and in Haiti. Thanks to everyone for helping us to do this!

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Train Conductor is in review at Apple HQ.  To satisfy your train-spotting needs while the reviewers do their thing, we’ve posted these great screenshots for you.

The first level.

Get started in Alice Springs, the first level of Train Conductor.

Sydney featuring Gold-rush trains.

Sydney featuring Gold-rush trains.

Ghosts running amok in busy Melbourne

Ghosts running amok in busy Melbourne

The Main Menu of Train Conductor

The Main Menu of Train Conductor

Welcome to Train Conductor!

Welcome to Train Conductor!

The sunny beaches of Cairns

The sunny beaches of Cairns


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Screenshot history. From early concepts to final release.

Screenshot history. From early concepts to final release.

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Train Conductor is looking great and it’s thanks to the efforts of Logan Dowell, Derek Pritchard, Joe Gatling and Jarrod Andersen, our nationally distributed art team.

Logan Dowell and Derek Pritchard were selected to join the Agent ranks as part of the QANTM college internship program. together they developed the level backdrops of Sydney and Melbourne, created numerous train models, and designed the entire menu art style. They also collaborated together to produce the wonderful loading screens and game website, amongst many other things.  The pending release of Train Conductor marks their explosive debut into the games industry.

Joe Gatling, a long standing friend and fellow university graduate member of our sif90 roots, initially set the style of the game seen in the early teaser images, and they became the defacto style guide for the rest of the development process.

Jarrod Andersen connected with The Agents through a serendipitous reddit post in July 2009. Jarrod developed the Mr. Train Conductor character and set the initial train model style, as well as the scary Skull Train.

We are tremendously grateful for their assistance and the beauty of the final game is a tribute to their efforts.

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Check out the newly completed icon for Train Conductor on your iPhone. We think it will look mighty fine on your home screen – what do you think?!

Train Conductor icon

Tell us what you think in the comments or on twitter #trainconductor.

Also – we are reviving the somewhat dying art of the desktop background! While we were making the icon, we thought we’d put these images up as well – they’re the wallpaper de rigueur for everyone in our office now 🙂

iPhone Wallpaper

Train Conductor iPhone & iPod Touch Wallpaper

Train Conductor iPhone & iPod Touch Wallpaper

Download link [320 x 480 pixels]

Desktop Wallpaper

Train Conductor desktop wallpaper

Become the greatest Train Conductor of the Australian Outback

Download link
Widescreen: [1280 x 800, 1440 x 900, 1680 x 1050, 1920 x 1200]
Standard: [1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024]

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Swimming with Agent Duski the Dolphin Hero is a whole lot of fun regardless of how you play, but if you like maximizing your score and challenging the best secret agents in the world, this post is for you!

Can you master all of the Dolphin Hero tactics?

  1. Collect multiple people of the same color at once to get bigger combo scores
  2. Watch the arrows at the top of the screen for clues of what is coming
  3. Each person on your back is worth another 100 points when you eat cake
  4. Drop the victims at the party boat at the last minute – new ones could drop at any moment allowing you to get a bigger combo score
  5. When you’re in trouble, drop people quickly by swimming through a pufferfish. Use this method to drop one color to pick up the other.
  6. *ADVANCED TACTIC!* Try juggling two groups of blue and pink by ‘swapping on the puffer’.
  7. *ADVANCED TACTIC!* Swim through a pufferfish from above to release the people further up in the water, allowing more time to collect them later.

We’d love to hear other tactics that you discover and come up with… post them in the comments below!

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