App Store Proposal
Due: Saturday, April 29th at 11:59 pm
Historically, the final formal document for this class was the game manual (just as it was
in the introductory course). However, game manuals are even less appropriate for mobile
games. The entire purchasing process is digital, and there is no box to bundle a manual
with. Furthermore, the shortened play times of these types of games made a manual more
of a burden than an asset. Therefore, many students requested that we replace the manual
with something more modern and relevant.
The obvious choice to replace the game manual is an
app store page.
This is all a potential player will ever seen before purchasing your app, and it is where
you would put many of the things that you previously put in a manual. Even if you are
making a PC game, Steam pages are very similar those on an app store.
Unfortunately, app store page formats vary quite a bit between platform. Therefore, we
have come up with a compromise that we think will be relevant for everyone. Below, we
describe the important features of an app store page. We then
explain how we want you to take those features and put them in a
single PDF that is easy for us to read and grade. Finally,
we have provided several examples for you to look at.
Creating an App Store Page
We are basing this exercise off of the instructions for creating a page on the
iOS App store.
The Google process is very similar. Even though Some of you are Android developers
(and at least one group is really a Steam developer), we prefer to focus on the Apple
style because it is more limited. For example, Apple does not allow you to put HTML tags
in your descriptions, while other stores do. Therefore, if you know how to make a page
for the iOS app store, then you can make one for any platform.
If you read the link above, you will see that creating an app store page consists
of submitting multiple files. Most of these files are either XML files or Property
Lists (which is an Apple-specific type of XML file), that fill in important information
for several predefined properties. These include things like the seller name,
the game name, the game price, ratings for age restrictions, and so on. The platform
(in this case, the iOS app store) uses these XML files to autogenerate the web page
for your game. This ensures that all apps in the store have a uniform look.
These XML files contain all of the textual information for your store page, including
the app description. However, they do not include the images for either your icon
or screenshot. Those must uploaded separately, and they must adhere to specific
guidelines set out by the app store. You cannot have any images other than your icon
Because your app store page is autogenerated, it often seems like it is hard to get your
app to stand out. As a result, there are lots of guides online for how to
optimize your description
for more traffic. Whatever you do, there are four main things that matter.
Title and Icon
The title and icon are often the only thing that a potential player sees when
scrolling through a list of games. Most of your have already settled on your game title,
and there are no clear guidelines for how to title a game (on the other hand, there are a
lot of rules for how to come up with a name for a productivity app). So that leaves the
Your icon is the single most important piece of artwork that you will create for your
game. It is what appears in the app store when your game is listed. It is what appears
on the home screen of a phone or tablet. It needs to convey some important feature of
your game, such as the main character, the art style, or the basic gameplay. It should
look great at 512x512 resolution on your app page, but it should also be recognizable as
a 57x57 thumbnail on any of the various app store lists.
Apple has a very important rule about icons that you should be aware of: no alpha channels
allowed. To many people were using transparency in their icons in ways that were
deceptive, so Apple outlawed it. You might ask "but how do I get rounded corners?"
They answer is that Apple cuts off and rounds your corners after you submit the icon.
So the submitted icon must not have any transparency.
For this class, we will compromise. You can round the corners yourself, but no other
transparency is allowed. If you do not understand how corners are rounded, look at this
The description is a plain text description of your game and its features. It is
a lot like your concept document, except that it is written for players instead
of a producer. App store descriptions often start with a high concept pitch, and
then include descriptions of features and design goals. They also often include
quotes from reviews, if you have been doing a lot of outside marketing to review
Apple keeps its descriptions in plain text because too many submitters had abused
formatting features such as bolding and special characters (see the examples at the end
of the article for optimize your description).
Apple decided that they only wanted section breaks to occur at places defined by the
metadata, so they eliminated all formatting and all special characters.
However, you still want to break your description into sections, even if that means using
low-tech ASCII art. Modern app store pages often use all caps in place of bold, and
underscores or equality symbols (=) to indicate section breaks. The app store page for
is an excellent example of this type of formatting.
The key thing to understand about the description is the character limit. You are limited
to no more than 4000 ASCII characters. This includes all white space (such as blank lines)
and section formatting. In addition, only 255 characters are displayed
above the fold.
By default, the potential player only sees the beginning of your description, which ends
at a place called the fold; the player must click on "more" to read the rest. Just like
the concept document, your most important information needs to go at the beginning.
Apple does not support sophisticated search algorithms in its store. You get to choose
the keywords that will match your game.
They have to be exact matches; misspelled keywords will not match your game (which is why
many shady apps include misspelt keywords). You can provide as many keywords as you want,
but they are limited to 100 characters, including the spaces between keywords.
Keywords are a topic for which you can get a lot of advice online. It is not that much
different from search engine optimization. In addition, there is a helpful site call
Sensor Tower. This web application
allows you to reverse-lookup the search keywords for all of your favorite apps.
That is how we found the keywords for the Monument Valley example
The last important feature are your screenshots. They need to be self-contained, since
they are uploaded without captions. Furthermore, they need to be actual screenshots from
your game (though they could include a title screen or tutorial) and not include any
additional annotation. If you are targeting multiple devices (e.g. both smartphone and
tablet) you need to upload screenshots for each device type. This is particularly
important if your UI is different on different devices.
Creating a Store Proposal
As you can see from the
iOS App store instructions,
creating an app store page involves a lot of files. We do not want you uploading a lot
of files to CMS. Instead, we want a simple PDF, just as you have submitted for all
of the other assignments.
In addition, we would like to understand your reasoning for the various choices in your
app store page. Why did you design your icon the way you did? Why did you choose those
keywords? What are you trying to highlight in your screenshots? For this reason, we want
you to submit an app store proposal. This is a PDF that will contain all of the
important elements (mentioned above) of your app store page, together with a short
As with all documents in this class, the exact format of the document is up to you. However,
your document needs to include the following information.
You need to design an icon and include it in the PDF. The icon should be accompanied
by a paragraph (or two) describing the important elements of your icon and why
you think it will be effective. As we said above, you are allowed to round your icon,
but no other transparency is allowed.
This section should include a table with (what we consider to be) the most important
metadata for the store page. In particular, we are looking for
Seller: Your studio name
Version: The current version number of your game
Category: Your app category, which should be Games
Subcategory: The category indicating your type of game
Price Tier: The amount to charge for your game,
consistent across multiple currencies
Rating: The official
age restriction for your game
Size: The amount of storage space required for your game
Compatibility: The exact devices and OS versions required to run your game
Keywords: The search keywords for your game (100 characters or less)
Your proposal must include all of the information above. You are also free to include
any other properties outlined in the
iOS App store instructions.
For example, if you have an external website to market your game, you can include that.
If you support languages other than English, you should also include that.
In our experience, the two trickiest issues are the keywords and the age rating. After
the table, you should include a short subsection justifying your keywords. You should
explain why you chose the keywords that you did, and why you think they will be effective.
As for the rating, please use the Apple age rating categories which is not the same as
ESRB. There is no E for Everyone. Apple breaks things down into much finer age
groups. Most of what you think of as E for Everyone is actually ages 9+. If you have any
violence at all, even Bugs Bunny fantasy violence, you are ages 9+.
This section should include the description of your game. You are allowed to recycle
features like the high concept statement or design goals from other documents. The
challenge in this section is to stay in the character limit and format it appropriately.
We will also be looking at the information above the fold to make sure that it is punchy
enough (you do not need to indicate the fold; we will determine that on our own).
Because ASCII formatting is such an important part of this section, you should use a
monospaced font like Courier, Courier New, Lucida Console, or similar. You should all
caps for section headers and underscores or equality symbols for section breaks.
If you want a bulleted list, use asterisks (*) for your bullets.
You should include 4-5 screenshots to show off your game. The screenshots should not be
captioned, but you should include a paragraph explaining why you chose the screenshots
that you did. If you are targeting multiple devices (e.g. both smartphone and tablet),
then you should have a separate screenshots section for each device.
We introduced this assignment for the first time two years ago. Therefore our examples are
limited. However, the students really liked this assignment, and though that it was
a lot more useful than the manual assignment. So we have made it permanent.
To get this assignment off the ground, we created a fake
store proposal for Monument Valley.
This proposal used information taken directly from their
(the one they had at launch, not the current one), but reformatted to match the format
outlined above. In addition, we have added several commentary paragraphs to show what
justification should look like.
The description for Monument Valley is very enlightening, and is one of the reasons
we chose this game. You will notice that it has three clear sections: a high concept
statement, a list of review quotes, and a list of design goals. The high concept statement
and design goals are exactly like the things you have written before in class. Reviews
are new, but none of you have reviews, and I do not want you to add fake reviews.
Because we took this document straight from their store page, there are several issues
in the description that violate the
Not all of the subsections are in all caps. The section headers also mix word cases;
some headers are adjectives while others are nouns. The makers of Monument Valley
did not get a grade on this, so they are okay. However, you are getting a grade, and
so we will hold you to the Writing Guidelines even when it is just ASCII formatting.
CS 4152 Examples
Because we used this assignment for two years now, we do have several other examples to look
at. Some of these examples are really instructive, because the games were later released
in an actual mobile app store. That means you can compare the proposal to the actual
Winner of Most Polished (Mobile) Game in the Spring 2017 Showcase, Inari has an
example of exactly what we are looking for in an app store page. The description is
short and to the point, and they cover all of the important issues.
Winner of Most Innovative (Mobile) Game in the Spring 2017 Showcase, Squeak & Swipe
also has a very simple and straight-forward app page. We are not sure if we are a fan of
the "review quote", however. Avoid these unless you have a good reason.
the winner for Most Polished Game in the mobile division at the 2014 showcase.
They also had a commercial release and you can compare this proposal to what they really
have in both the
Google Play Store and
iOS App Store (currently unavailable). However, this document has a problem in that they
use monotype font for both their description and their explanations. Do not do this.
Only use monotype for the description.
The puzzle game Project Apollo was the winner for Most Polished Game in the mobile
division at the 2015 showcase. It was not a strong as Beam, but it was also released
iOS App Store.
However, the screenshots do not have any description associated with them. We want at
least a paragraph describing why you chose the screenshots that you did.
We have used Over the Arctic Hills
all semester as an example of good documentation. Once again, they did a really solid
job on this assignment. Why they are talking about a commercial release, they have not
had one yet.
The flicking game
Flick Ship Spaceship
was an audience favorite in the mobile division at the 2014 Showcase. They later released
this game for free on the Apple store, but it appears that it has been take down (one of
the creators went to work for Apple, and they might have required this). Unfortunately,
I did not screenshot the Apple store page.
The multiplayer game Stack N' Smash has a very simple app store proposal, but it is
everything that we are looking for. However, we had to show it off because of the icon.
This is the best game icon anyone has ever made for this course. Notice how it clearly
illustrates the action in this game.
Due: Saturday, April 29th at 11:59 pm
You should submit a PDF file called storepage.pdf
representing your proposal. As usual, we ask that the file be a PDF so that we can
annotate it in order to return it to you with feedback for possible revision. More
importantly, we are expecting some art assets in this proposal, so you will need to
use PDF for that reason as well.
As with every other document in this course, this is not the final draft of your proposal.
You will get another chance to revise this propoals for
final document portfolio. However, because we are so close
to that assignment, there is no chance for intermediate revisions before then.
Therefore, this assignment is different from the rest. For the store page proposal, "final"
document portfolio is actually just another draft. The final, final version of your
store page proposal is to be submitted at Showcase.