highlights
  1. Required Skills for developing an iOS Game
  2. Coding and programming skills
  3. Computer science concepts
  4. Photoshop and Blender/Maya knowledge
  5. Audio production skills (voice-overs, FX, and music)
  6. Market and business knowledge
  7. Build iOS games in trend
  8. Ad Revenue:
  9. In-app Purchases:
  10. Premium Purchase:
  11. One-Time Purchase:
  12. Apple Arcade:
  13. Making an iOS game tutorial list
  14. 1. Assess your skills
  15. 2. Understand your audience
  16. 3. Formulate and Refine Ideas
  17. 4. Decide on monetization
  18. 5. Create a guiding document
  19. 6. Pick your tech
  20. 7. Produce an alpha
  21. 8. Choose your team
  22. 9. Build your assets
  23. 10. Produce the Code
  24. 11. Test the app
  25. 12. Promote your app
  26. 13. Publish your title
  27. Create an iOS game with the future in mind
  28. Our experience with IOS Games
  29. Final Thoughts

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When venturing into the concept of how to make an iOS game, there are many factors to consider but first, it’s important to understand the industry and the market. The sheer number of apps available on mobile devices is staggering, with over 230 billion worldwide, it is important to understand that your iOS game is joining a diverse catalog of titles. Because of the diversity and availability of content, it’s important to narrow your field and market towards a specific genre or niche.

Making an iOS game has advantages over building a game for android users, as the Apple app store takes up roughly a 64% share of the worldwide consumer base for mobile applications. Not only that but the third biggest revenue generator is a mobile multiplayer title, Honor of kings, which means should you land in the right niche with users, it can be quite lucrative. In this article, we’re going to cover the essentials of how to make an iOS game as well as general mobile game development to give you a better understanding of the potential hurdles as well as the outcomes you can expect.

Required Skills for developing an iOS Game

Making an iOS game requires an extensive skill set, especially if you plan on going into production by yourself. You need to have a good grasp on not just programming and computer science, but marketing and design aspects too. If you want to build an iOS game and have it be successful, especially if you’re working alone or with a limited team, you’ll need to be an all-rounder.  Core requirements to create an iOS game can be broken up into categories. 

Coding and programming skills

The common sense skillset to be able to implement is a solid base of coding knowledge. There are several ways to create an iOS game when it comes to coding. The typical Apple way of developing games means using Xcode, which is Apple’s dedicated development environment and is free to access.

Applications developed through Xcode require a great understanding of C++, Swift, or Objective-C. Swift tends to be the one people gravitate towards due to its streamlined abilities to create useful apps without using C++ or Objective-C. Swift is similar to python, and by that, we mean it not only does it offer incredibly robust flexibility, but it is fairly easy to comprehend, even for entry-level coders.

Computer science concepts

Understanding foundational computer science when building a game for an iPhone is a massive advantage for a developer. The model behind the flocking algorithm allows you to create complex movement behavior that feels realistic and yet if done any other way would be very time-consuming. Understanding a concept like Dijkstra’s algorithm, to find the shortest path between two points can assist with AI implementation into your title, these are just a few computer science concepts that can be used to build an iOS game.

Photoshop and Blender/Maya knowledge

An often overlooked skill set when considering how to develop a game for iOS is nothing to do with the programming, but the assets and visuals. More often than not, most that are proficient at coding tend to be less creative and visually inclined, so this is often a skillset that concerns most developers, especially solo developers.

However, if you watch most iOS game development tutorial videos, they’ll often provide some great free resources to get you started. Just like any other part of iOS game development, some processes and techniques can assist you. Photoshop tutorials are everywhere and the beauty of photoshop is it's very user-friendly and easy to pick up, as is foundational Blender and Maya for 3d assets.

Audio production skills (voice-overs, FX, and music)

An absolute essential when considering how to make an iOS game is understanding sound design. Sound is an interesting element in game titles, it's something that you only notice is needed when you don’t have it. Some games are entirely transformed by the punchy sound and expansive soundtracks. When you look at game titles like No Man’s Sky, you can almost hear the soundtrack just by looking at the images for the game. It almost serves as an identifier for your title.

There are a few options for the smaller or solo developer when it comes to sound, the first is to purchase audio (this can often be quite pricey) but the other is to create your own. Funnily enough, with a free software suite like audacity, some items around the house, and a decent microphone, you’d be surprised at the quality sound FX you can produce for a game.

In terms of music for your title, there are endless libraries of free-use music that you could use for your title, or you could consider outsourcing music on an outsourcing site like freelancer or Fiver. Whilst music and sound FX are key components to consider when considering how to make an iOS game, there are a lot of options available to you the developer.

Market and business knowledge

It wouldn’t be an article on how to develop an iPhone game if we didn’t touch on Marketing. Partaking in market research is actually what you should do first, before any other step in the production pipeline. Understanding the market, and what is trending and what isn’t, are pivotal when it comes to creating a successful iOS game.

Most iOS game development tutorial videos or articles you’ll read will often skip this step or neglect to mention it, but understanding your market allows you to make game design choices that will resonate with your target audience, making your title more fun and ultimately more popular. Partaking in basic market research will teach you that Casual games are the most popular genre, they’re accessible because their file size is small and their game loop is simple and yet addictive. Just little bits of market research information like that can turn your good idea into a great idea.  

Build iOS games in trend

The iOS game market is massive as we mentioned previously, and although casual games top the market other popular genres include action/adventure, arcade, battle royal, casino, puzzle, racing, RPG, and even digital card games. However, something that they all have in common is how they’re monetized. During your development process, you need to consider how you want to monetize the product. This is an important step when considering how to develop an iPhone game.

There are multiple ways to go about this, these options include:

Ad Revenue:

The application is free but contains advertising, however, you offer a premium version that contains no ads. The only real drawback of this way of doing things is that it can be off-putting to users, and whether your game is enjoyable or not, can often take a back seat to users being annoyed by invasive ads. 

In-app Purchases:

In this structure, your title is free but contains purchasable content to improve the game or speed up the progression of the title. This is probably among the most common ways of monetizing.

Premium Purchase:

This format is a more traditional way to sell application content, it essentially provides users with a demo version or version with limited access that gives players a taste of the game content but then provides an unlock fee to the user.

One-Time Purchase:

Lastly, there is a one-time purchase, as you would do on any console-based game. This is less common on mobile platforms but is a perfectly suitable way to distribute and monetize your title. 

Apple Arcade:

Apple Arcade is a subscription gaming service available on all Apple platforms except watchOS. The user buys a subscription, and in exchange gets the opportunity to play their favorite games without ads. In order to upload your application to this service, you must submit an application on the official website.

Making an iOS game tutorial list

In this section, we’ll outline the steps involved and explain step by step how to make games for the iPhone.

1. Assess your skills

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are a lot of elements that go into mobile game design and when we consider everything involved when it comes to how to make games for iPhone, it’s important to understand your limitations. What can you do? What can’t you do? On the steps you can’t do, how will you proceed? Will you hire additional artists or coders?

2. Understand your audience

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again, understanding your audience is the key to success. Partake in extensive market research and adapt your ideas and concept according to the data you collected. The app market is massive, and to stand out and gain users, you need to understand every aspect of the users on the market in the particular genre you’re going for.

3. Formulate and Refine Ideas

 A key component in the steps of how to make your game app for iOS is to formulate and refine your ideas based on your market research. If you’re working alone, seek feedback from friends, family, and peers, the broader your range of feedback, the better. Most popular mobile game titles are an evolution of old ideas that have been done, consider how you could put a twist on an old classic.

4. Decide on monetization

We discussed the different options when it comes to profit from your game title, but this needs to be decided upon fairly early on in production.

5. Create a guiding document

 When you’re up to this step, you’re essentially cataloguing all the decisions you’ve made up until this point which includes what the game is, how it plays, the mechanics, goals, and rewards as well as some concept art, early designs and everything you’d want an extended team to know. This step is a must when considering how to make your game apps for iOS. 

6. Pick your tech

 Decide on what engine, coding, and software you’re going to use for the project, it is important to remain consistent with this as it can streamline production.

7. Produce an alpha

 Build a basic test for your game mechanics, ultimately mobile games need to be fun and in the best case, addicting, so you must test out your core mechanics before you move further into a development pipeline.

8. Choose your team

If you’re not going to work solo, begin to consider your team – what kind of artists or coders do you need? What is missing in your skillset that can be filled by another team member? Could you use more experience from someone who knows how to make a game for iOS already?

9. Build your assets

Produce all the assets in your game, these could be 2D animated sprites or 3d models, backgrounds, level design – basically everything that will be part of your game.

10. Produce the Code

Coding and scripting can take place during step 9 or after depending on your team size. You must have a strong coder working on your script to ensure it is bug-free, as this will make testing stages and final production easier.

11. Test the app

Once you have an asset-filled version of the app, test it again to ensure it is ready to be part of the app store – keep in mind that you only get one first impression so make sure it is ready!

12. Promote your app

This step needs to take place as soon as you can, being to plug your game in places that are relevant to its genre and style – the idea is to create buzz for the title before it hits the market to get your off to a good start.

13. Publish your title

Finally, release your title onto the market, it is important that even after release, you maintain support for the game and continue to provide updates and any potential bug fixes that may be required. The best and most popular mobile games are the ones that are consistently maintained by their dev team. Ongoing support is key when considering how to make a game for iOS.

Create an iOS game with the future in mind

We must look forward when we consider how to develop a game for iOS, ideally, you want your mobile title to stay relevant on the market for as long as possible. When you think of a title like Candy Crush, for example, that has been on the market for years and is still among the most popular and that’s due to a combination of its marketing, its game loop, and the accessibility of the game. The gaming industry will hit 218.7 billion dollars by 2024 and the fastest growing game platform within that? Mobile games!

Our experience with IOS Games

At Pingle we have various experiences when it comes to mobile game production. Famously, we were responsible for bringing beyond a steel sky to Apple arcade by providing extensive co-development services. Essentially our role was to optimize all the assets and code in the game to make it perform correctly on devices that support Apple Arcade. As a result, the game runs with at least 30 FPS even on iPad mini 4, iPhone 6s Plus and Ipad Air 2. Another critical task was saving the unique visual style of the game, because it’s developed by Dave Gibbons, a co-creator of the Watchmen graphic novel. 

Not only do we know our stuff when it comes to mobile games, but we’re also efficient. We managed to bring tinybuild’s hit game hello neighbor to mobile in just one quarter, including reproducing procedure generating gameplay, developing controls from scratch, and achieving decent framerate on any chosen device.  If you need assistance with mobile games, Pingle Studio can help you.

Final Thoughts

It may seem like there is a lot to consider when thinking about how to make an iPhone game, but ultimately it comes down to your ideas and your drive to create. Technical skills can be gained over time but good ideas take iteration and inspiration. If you want to create the next big hit, have a look at the market, play apps that are available, and see what the next big trend is. Who knows, you could make the next Candy Crush – and we could help you do it!

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