My Little Roguelike on Apple’s App Store

In the past couple of weeks or so we have had people coming up and asking us about publishing apps on Apple’s App Store. How much does it cost? Is it difficult? How long does it take to be reviewed and published?

Apparently, having an app on Google Play makes people believe that you known all there is about any app store, as if all were alike, but we did not know how to answer any of those questions. And what do you do when you do not know about something? You try it!

And boy, did we find the differences between Apple and Google!

First of all, there is the obvious difference of the price: To register to Google Play there is a one-time fee of $25, while with Apple you have to shell out $99 every year to keep the membership to their developer program. Also, Apple, unlike Google, does not allow you to use “made up” names, such as the name of a group, and must divulge your real name, or that of your company.

The next difference is tooling: To publish an app to Apple’s store you must use macOS. And that effectively means that you must have Apple hardware, because installing macOS on to anything other than a Mac is against its EULA (§2, B).

Fortunatelly, you do not have to own a Mac; you only need access to one. Therefore, we rented a Mac from the fine folks over at Mac in Cloud that offer a pay-as-you-go plan for a shared Mac mini with all the tools we needed—basically, Xcode and Android Studio.

Once we had access to a Mac, we had to navigate through the rigmarole of having to create a certificate for seemingly everything: one for the developer himsef, another for the app id, and yet another one to provision the app to the store. That is not difficult in itself, of course; what it made it harder than usual was our lack of familarity with both Apple’s way of doing things and having to use an alien operating system—where is that keychain thing, again?.

What made it fun was wasting hours to find out that we were missing a new intermediate certificate installed to the system, preventing us the use of our developer certificate to sign the application. Fun, fun.

Finally, there is the web form to send the app into reviewing and publishing. Both Google and Apple ask more or less the same information about the new application, but Apple goes one step further yet again requiring you to upload screenshots for at least two iPhone and two iPad models; we wanted to put five screenshots of our game that ended up being twenty images. It also demands for you to publish a privacy policy, even if your game does not collect any kind of information.

At the end, what surprised me the most was how fast the app progressed from being in review to published: just shy of hour and a half. Google Play, for comparission, took almost nine hours, if i remeber correctly. See? Everything has its good points.

So, to sum up: we now have our first game on Apple’s App Store! Here is a link to its page.

Download “My Little Roguelike” on the App Store