It is great that Codea has such an International following.
.@macflyerdk - Thanks for downloading. Yes you need to be a paid developer to submit to iTunes. So yes if you were just releasing free Apps this would be lost money. However, I have 9 Apps in iTunes which easily pay for this $99 every year. I talk about this at the start of this tutorial: http://codeatuts.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/tutorial-12-submitting-to-app-store.html
.@West - Thanks for reporting. I haven’t been able to replicate it yet. What difficulty level were you on and what sort of iPad do you have? And thanks for downloading. I will publish the download volumes once I get a few days worth of data.
.@Jmv38 - merci beaucoup!
.@PTN - much appreciated and thanks for downloading.
.@veeeralp - There are a number of different ways to “monetise” (is that a word?) your App. I will do a tute on this at some stage as it is a big topic. My next step will be to add iAds to MineSweeper, however, I’m doing it mostly for the educational value. iAds works best for Apps that people use more than once (the more the better as you get paid by impressions and click throughs). So it is quite well suited to games. A few of my other Apps are use once (e.g. LifeAudit) - I have iAds on this but get hardly no return. What has worked best for me is a free initial App with inApp purchase (Personality Profile) or a relatively expensive up front price (e.g. LifeGoals which sells for $4.49 on the Australian store). These two Apps contribute 83% of my profit. I then did a standalone version of the inApp purchase from Personality and sold that at 0.99c. This contributes 11% to profit and was a good return on my time since the code was already written. Maximising downloads and maximising profits are not necessarily the same thing. A higher price can produce more profits but you need a product which is worthy of that price.
Unfortunately, there has been a bit of a race to the bottom from a price perspective with regards to games so unless you have something special, people don’t expect to pay more than 0.99c. This has driven a new model called “freemium” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium). This is similar to what I do in Personality, give away the App but then charge for upgrades or consumable items (e.g. coins or extra lives). This has been very successful for some folks. I don’t think there is a one best model, it depends on the situation and keeps changing as everyone jumps on the bandwagon of what works. I wouldn’t worry too much about upsetting folks, no matter what you do you will upset someone. I’m guessing your objective is to be able to make your hobby self funding. Giving your App away for free is one way to increase downloads (as you have reduced the barrier to entry to nothing) but it is not the only way. Marketing your App can be just as effective - assuming you have a quality product. My suggestion would be to start off with it free and see what feedback and download volume you get. You can suggest that this is an initial sale period in your iTunes description if you want. If the game has the potential for upgrades or premium features you can then add that it with subsequent releases. If you are going to implement iAds at a later date I would also add some new feature for free to rationalise the inclusion.
As to your other questions, the Apple ranking algorithm is a bit like the google search algorithm. Everyone tries to game the system but in the end it is probably easiest to focus on writing a fun game, updating it frequently and marketing it well. It is not so much first day downloads which are important but trying to maximise your downloads over a short period of time (which is easiest to do at launch). This will catapult you up the rankings which has a positive feedback mechanism (i.e. the higher your ranking → the more your downloads → the higher your ranking → etc). The holy grail is to be featured by Apple in the iTunes banner or “New & Noteworthy” section. My experience is that this has a 10x effect on downloads. You can get a similar boost through someone notable writing a review of your App.
You can also do what I do and shamelessly promote your app on this forum and to all your friends on facebook (insert social network of choice here). This helps boot strap your rankings. Everyone here is a supporter of Codea so the more Apps written by Codea on iTunes the better. Theoretically this should have the side effect of improving Codea sales which allows Simeon and the crew more time (and incentive) to keep improving the product.
My final suggestion would be to build into your App the ability to easily rate and share your App (e.g. game centre makes this very easy now). You can always add this to the next version. Release early and often is my mantra (bug free if possible!).