Post updated August 13, 2015 – We added more technical tutorials and current 2015 market information.
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Market Research
- Step 2: Understand the Technical Steps
- Step 3: Registering as a Developer
- Step 4: Find a Support Community
- Step 5: Action Checklist
Ever wondered how to make a game app? It's not surprising. Angry Birds, the mobile app that has grossed over a billion dollars and is stupidly addictive, has become a cultural phenomenon. Even adults are obsessed with the game and have a hard time breaking away from it once they start playing.
When you think about how many people are searching for new apps each day, you can see how quickly that money can add up if you create a popular paid app.
Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, has also built a successful franchise by spinning off numerous versions of the original game. In the process, it has become a household name and they make millions with licensing deals.
Don’t lie, I know you have some Angry Birds underwear.
But I digress…
So if you want to know how to make a game app like Angry Birds, this post will give you the exact process on how to make your own version.
More importantly, I will show to a framework that you can use to research any app and find out what the developer is doing to make it successful.
If you want to cut the line, you can just sign up for our app business workshop (and get all the information you need).
Step 1: Market Research
Original Ideas with Copied Gaming Logic (Beware)
Be sure that you are not straight up copying another idea without realizing it. For example, don’t just replace the birds in Angry Birds with Irate Monkeys.
…or Disgruntled Goats. Yeah, you know what I mean.
If you have played a lot of video games over the years, it may be easy to mix and mingle other ideas that have already been done.
Try to be creative and think outside of the box.
The goal is to learn from the original game, but make something that is even better. That is good for your players and good for business.
This is a common practice among successful apps. If you don’t believe me, read this post to get 20 examples of game sequels.
Also make sure your idea isn’t so complex that the Average Joe couldn’t play the game. You want something with mass market appeal and not a game that only rocket scientists can play.
Angry Birds was first to market with their overall game structure and relies less on the creative side and more on the actual game play – get creative in how you design your game so that people keep coming back and have to build up a skill that requires time and play.
BTW, if you think physics games like Angry Birds are cool, but you really want to create casino games, be sure to read this post on the best casino game genre we have ever developed games for.
Alright, now that we understand each other, I’m going to break down the process and show you how to research the success of Angry Birds, so you can apply when they are doing to your app.
If you want the easier way to do this, just register for the free app workshop and get a free 150 page ebook here..
Study the Game and Similar Apps
The first thing that you want to do is to actually download Angry Birds, if you haven’t already. Play it for awhile and figure out what makes the game successful.
Yes, you probably have to spend some money.
$0.99, oh no.
If you really are serious about making a successful game, you need to spend some money and do it right. Set a budget and buy all of the best games within that budget.
One place that you can find games similar to Angry Birds is AppCrawlr. It doesn't have to be a huge budget, start with $25 and see how far that gets you.
We typically recommend being ready to spend $100 to do proper market research if you want to make a game app.
As you are playing the game, think about what makes the game fun. What about the game mechanics keeps you playing?
…or why did you stop playing?
Also pay attention to things like:
- How they promote social sharing
- Player tutorials
- Beautiful graphics
- Fun subplots
- A gameplay map so players can measure progress
- Action and movement during gameplay
But don’t limit yourself to just these characteristics.
Due Diligence on Existing Games
One thing that you can do to find potential bugs in Angry Birds and other similar games, is to read the reviews for these apps. This is called Review Mining and it can literally be a gold mine of information for people who take the time to go through the process.
It can take awhile, but it will give you a lot of insights into what people enjoy about the game and what people hate. This will help you craft your app into exactly what people are looking for and will enjoy.
To see reviews in iTunes, search for the app you are looking for on the App Store and look at the reviews.
The process is similar on Google Play. Head over to the website and check out the reviews of your target app.
Have your notebook handy and jot down things that you discover through this process. You can also estimate the number of downloads these apps get by using an App Intelligence platform like Apptopia.
Step 2: Understand the Technical Steps Behind How to Make A Game App
Outsource What You Don’t Know
Before we dig too deep, I think it’s important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to build an app yourself, especially if you are technically challenged. There are a variety of programmers online who would be glad to build the app for you for a fee.
You can always find a developer to create an app like Angry Birds, so you can build your passive income app empire.
I remember when Facebook came out and I thought it would be pretty sweet to learn PHP so that I could build my own social network.
Obviously that didn’t pan out.
Going through that process, however, was extremely helpful in understanding exactly what I needed to ask for and how programmers went through the process. There is a lot of coding and technology involved in building an app, so it may make more sense for you to hire this task out to someone on a freelancing site such as Upwork.
There are some very competent professionals on these sites who are reasonably priced. If you go down this road, check out their feedback and portfolio before hiring them.
For free developer hiring strategies, especially if you don't know how to code, get a free 150 page ebook guide by clicking here.
Leveraging App Blueprints
There is also no reason that you have to start from scratch. By using existing app code, you can drastically cut your development time and cost.
They are also known as Source Code or App Templates. This is how many people inside Bluecloud Select got their start and continue to be successful today.
Do some research and find a good App Blueprint that you can use as your foundation. Remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself, leverage existing code!
Wireframe the Game
Here’s the exciting part! This is where your game really starts to come to life.
Take everything you have learned in the research process and create a wireframe of how your Angry Birds-like game will work.
Here are some tools that can help you create your first wireframe mockup. Try them out and see which one works best for your personality and budget.
These solutions have tutorials that will show you to use their product, so be sure to take advantage of their documentation.
Programming Meets Design
Once you have the wireframes designed, the programming part enters the picture. Again, you can outsource this part or do it yourself using Swift. This would require you to learn some programming language and skills if you don’t already know that information.
For more creative types, this part may be quite difficult which is why outsourcing may be attractive.
If you do lean more towards the creative side of game design, here is quick overview of how the coding process works…
You will need to test your app in the iPhone Simulator – which runs an instance of an iPhone on your computer and creates a simulated version of your app.
You will simply load your app and test it.
This is where you are looking for glitches and bugs that could derail your app. Use it in as many ways as you can imagine a customer would. You can also export the application to your phone as a test environment if you want to see it on the actual device.
Once you have worked out all of the kinks, you will need to shell out a bit of cash. There is a yearly member fee of $99 that you have to pay to load an app into iTunes (this falls under the umbrella of the developer account).
After you pay, others in the community can test your app and see if they run into any problems. Remember that a lot of these people in the app community are self appointed “geeks” so they are happy to mess around with your new creation to see how it works.
You will then have to submit your app for approval to iTunes. The approval process may take some time, so be patient while the team looks over your new baby.
To see the average App Store review times, check out this site.
Once your new app shows up on iTunes, you are now the proud owner of your own creation!
For more information about the entire process of how to make a game app, take a look at the developer area on the Apple website as it will walk you through each stage of the process in depth, as well as some of our favorite game builder software, Buildbox.
If You are Doing the Coding Yourself
If you don’t have the money to outsource the process or you want to dig into the code yourself when learning how to make a game app, the next step is to download the software development kit for the iPhone. The download is huge (4GB or something) so make sure you have enough space on your computer and time to download it.
You will then need to download Xcode. According to Apple, this is the “complete developer toolset for creating Mac, iPhone and iPad apps including Xcode IDE, performance analysis tools, iOS Simulator and the latest Mac OS X and iOS SDKs.”
Xcode is the kind of thing where you look at it and feel overwhelmed, then you start using it and realize how sweet it is.
Now that you have your app drawn out on paper, you need to develop it using the templates in the SDK.
You may have used Photoshop as part of your design process as well. There are many templates available within the SDK, so you should have plenty to choose from.
Again, this is highly simplified, but it’s a learning process. You’ll figure it out as you go.
Definitely reach out to developers in the communities you have joined.
If this is all getting a little too complex, you may have to scale it back a little. Read this blog post on the easiest way to make a game app.
That will get you up and running with a game in as little as a few minutes. Once you get that process down, you can come back to making a game like Angry Birds.
Side Note: If you are serious about developing, you need to invest in a Mac. As the iPhone is a product of Apple, it uses a variation of the Mac OS. Since iPhone development tools are only available to Mac users, you will likely need a Mac to get it into the iTunes store.
Step 3: Register as a Developer
The next part of the process is registering as an Apple developer. In order to work with the SDK and iTunes Connect, you will need to sign up as an Apple developer here. You can register for free by filling out some information and agreeing to their terms.
This area of the Apple website has tons of useful information to guide you through the process of developing an app. There are development tools to create apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch including an interface builder and iOS Simulator.
It’s going to ask you for things like your company name and EIN number so make sure you have a company that you can apply under. If you are an individual you can use your Social Security number.
One thing to note: Once you set this up, you can’t change it, so make sure you do it right the first time and choose the name you want.
The iOS programming guide explains how to implement the features of the iPad into your app. You can also use the iOS Human Interface which will help you to design a great user experience.
There is sample code available so that you understand how to properly build your app using their technology. This is a HUGE improvement from the original Apple iPhone developer kit releases and actually makes it feasible to get up and running in one day.
Mess around with it and understand how the interface works, along with functionality like swiping, user interface, and speed.
Getting into the game in the mobile app market is tough at first and you have to take it one step at a time. Don’t miss out on these Common Mistakes That New App Developers Make that could save you time and money.
Step 4: Find a Support Community
This might not be a technical setup per se, but you should find a support community that will help you with any roadblocks that you hit along the way.
Step 5: Action Checklist
Now that you understand the process, here is a quick summary of what you have to do right now.
- Commit to the process of building an app like Angry Birds. Your research may tell you that it is not a good idea, but you have to be fully committed to development process, to get to that point.
- Download and play the different versions of Angry Birds and similar games.
- Take notes on what those games do well and where you see opportunities for improvement.
- Research download numbers and reviews to find bugs and possible new features.
- Wireframe your game so you know exactly how the gameplay will flow.
- Look for an App Blueprint that you can build on to create your game.
- Find outsourced talent to cover the skills that you don’t have.
- Get support from a developer community to help you on your journey.
- Sign up for your developer account and launch your game!
That’s how it’s done!
It’s not easy obviously, but this checklist will give you the roadmap that you can use to understand the entire development process.
Now it's time for you to take action.