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Build Your App with the Ideas Behind “Curiosity”
by Chris Luck on 01/22/13 12:26:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

More and more developers are flooding app stores with downloads and now we’re even seeing apps to develop apps so that any given user can also instantly become a “developer” as well. This rapid growth is prompting over-saturation of choices for users, intense developer competition, and a crowded landscape that is starting to infringe on the user’s app store experience. Users are becoming overwhelmed before they can even dive into a sub-category to explore, thus creating a growing distance between the user and the actual download. We’re moving toward an unfavorable scenario for driving consistent and increasing revenues for developers.

So how exactly does a developer survive and thrive in the current app marketplace slash cesspool? How can we stand out as quality among the quantity?

Find Your Curiosity

Think like Peter Molyneux. His latest app release, “Curiosity – What’s Inside The Cube,” went viral and for good reason. “Curiosity” embodies all of the key components of a top app. And just like the cube concept behind the game, dimensionality is everything.

Molyneux’s highly successful interactive creation can be generally described as a cross-user game that challenges players to collaboratively solve a solitary problem — giving new meaning to “group activity.” The app is based on the premise of continuous “chipping away” (or tapping rather) to get closer to the core. The catch: users don’t know what the core really even is, but they are progressively provided more details with each layer.

Complex Psychology

This really isn’t a novel concept considering this is how all games are typically structured (beating level after level with increasing difficulty), but the design of “Curiosity” employs psychology in a far more complex way than most games. It plays to a number of different aspects of the user’s psyche setting it far apart from other gaming apps. After chipping away at the engineering behind “Curiosity,” there are plenty of elements contributing to its app phenomenon status:

  • ASO or app store optimization via strategic app title
  • Appeals to wide scope of users of multiple demographics and psychographics
  • Stats feature allows users to compare and gauge their activity
  • Facebook integration yielding endless downloads tapping into users’ “friend” networks
  • Elusive quality playing to users’ zeal for the unknown
  • IGC or in-game currency allows users to enhance the interface by unlocking more features with increased play
  • Simplicity of the app’s concept leads to decreased user drop-off
  • Built-in anticipation within the in-app store or the “coming soon” effect
  • Requires minimal focus and brain power yielding optimal engagement time
  • Concept is geared toward virality as the size of the user base is directly correlated to how quickly the “center” is revealed

Simplicity to the User — Complexity for the Developer

“Curiosity” is bringing something more complex to the world of apps. Instead of appealing to one aspect of the user’s psychology, it appeals to multiple facets of the user’s psychology within the confines of one single app experience/gaming session. “Curiosity” is infectious because of its front-end user simplicity and a rather complex backend configuration. Users aren’t truly aware of anything else that is taking place within the app other than the objective of uncovering the core, and all of the above elements are taking place in a behind-the-scenes manner.

Developing apps isn’t cheap, so it may not seem like tying in human psychology is the best place to center an app concept around. However, it’s more part of an approach than a standalone strategy. The major way developers are using human curiosity to monetize their app is not with ads, paying to unlock things early, or pushing paid versions. The more users an app boasts, the more leverage you have to cross-promote other apps.

Leverage Mass Appeal

If you’re an app developer, try building apps that are totally unique, strange, or different with the objective of building a massive user base. The larger user base translates to greater probability of paid downloads down the road and direct deals with other developers. Volume breeds opportunity when it comes to app development, and that’s where the actual, long-term revenue potential exists. 


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