Release day

Unless your Internet tubes are broken, you’re probably aware that we released Frenzic for the iPhone today. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re all very proud of what we’ve accomplished—and very grateful for the great feedback we’ve been getting. As always it’s been a great pleasure working with Wolfgang Ante on this game.

But let’s go beyond all of this self congratulation and look at some of the details about how to coordinate your App Store release.

The first trick is setting your release date. As we all know, there can be some long wait times in the iTunes Connect queue. Indications are that the approvals are getting quicker, but it’s still an indeterminate value. And not knowing when your application is going to appear in iTunes means that it’s hard to coordinate press releases, website updates and other things that are dependent on having an product for sale.

The way to handle this is surprisingly simple: when you add or update your application in iTunes Connect, set the release date far into the future. Then, once you’ve been approved, you can update the release date to coordinate with PR. We knew that Frenzic would show up in the App Store on November 19th. But we didn’t know exactly when.

So what does it mean to “show up” in the App Store? iTunes is a worldwide enterprise so the date and time on your wall clock doesn’t mean much. There are timezones that will see November 19th before you do. Since Frenzic stores scores with unique ids and timestamps on its website, we collected some data that provides insight on how applications are deployed on iTunes.

The first scores started coming in just before midnight GMT on the 19th. The bulk of the traffic was coming from throughout Europe, although there were also some scores from Australia. As far as the listing in iTunes is concerned, we first saw it appear in the UK store. It then appeared in Sweden and Austria: this was not an exhaustive search, merely one of convenience (we have employees in these countries.)

The most important thing, of course, is getting the iTunes link for the product. This link is used throughout the site on buy links. We needed this information before doing a website deployment.

Happily, the link that showed up in the UK is also the same one that’s used in the US (we assumed it would be, but were reluctant to a deploy until we were sure.) You can get the link by control-clicking on the product icon in iTunes and selecting “Copy iTunes Store URL”. The resulting URL looks something like this:

Unfortuately, the only way to know this URL is by having it show up in iTunes. It would be nice to have this information ahead of time, and if you agree please submit a duplicate for ID# 6386452.

Updated November 19th, 2008: Thanks to Derek Del Conte there is a way to get the application ID. Just click on App Details in the “Manage Your Applications” list. The “Apple ID” can be used to create the link.

Another option for the purposes of deployment is to use a URL with the product name:

This format generates a redirect to the iTunes product URL. Unfortunately, it has been buggy in the past, so use it sparingly.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some eye candy. Wolfgang has posted some screenshots of Frenzic throughout its development:

  • The first prototype that we ever played on OS X. This is what got everyone at the Iconfactory hooked.
  • The game screen. The first pass at this used the same color scheme and contrast as the desktop version. That was a bad idea: put this screenshot in Photos and take it outside and you’ll see why.
  • The scores list. There is an art to making table views look nice. Both Wolfgang and I are lucky to work with some very talented designers :-)

So give Frenzic a try and if you like it as much as we do, tell your friends. Thanks!