Games, Resources, And XCode

Up until a few weeks ago, I never had any problems with iPhone game resources. I just added whatever I needed to the XCode project, and it was ready to load from within the game. That simple.

But that was because of the kind of games I was making, which were very light on content, with mostly procedurally generated assets (the consequence of working by myself and being much better at programming than at Photoshop).

That game that Miguel and I are working on right now is a lot heavier on assets. It has locations, and levels, and the whole shebang. And that’s where XCode starts falling short.

Explicit Resources

copy_bundle_resources.pngBefore, I was adding all my game assets to the Resources folder in XCode. That adds the file to the “Copy Bundle Resources” step. And as you expect, when you do a build, it checks the date of the existing file, and only copies it if the source file is newer than the destination file.

Personally, I really like this approach. I like to be explicit about what gets included in a game, and I don’t mind at all having to add files manually to the project.

Unfortunately, it has one major flaw: It collapses all assets at the root of the application directory, ignoring the directory structure where they came from. I have no idea what the rational is for this “feature”, but someone needs to be taken out to the public town plaza and whipped for that. Actually, make that a double-whipping session if the reason was “convenience”.

The reason this becomes a big deal now is that we have per-level resources. To keep things sane, we decided to use a directory hierarchy, so Levels/Level00 contains all the files necessary for that level. Same thing with Level01, etc. The problem comes that both those levels have similarly named files: Background.jpg Layout.bin, etc.

Any guesses what happens if you add to XCode two files with the same filename in different paths? Yup. One of them overrides the other. Not a single warning either. Let’s make that a triple-serving of whipping, please.

I briefly considered prefixing all the files with the level name (Level00_Background.jpg), but if later I decide to move Level00 to Level05 that’s a lot of files to rename, so I would end up having to write scripts, or create a separate file with the level ordering, or just generally waste my time doing something that should have been taken care of by the tool.

Folder References

Even though I had read they had their share of problems, I decided to look a folder references (at Miguel’s prompting mostly).

When you add some resources to XCode, you have an option to check “Create Folder References for any added folders”. That option automatically adds any files in those folders without having to explicitly add them to XCode. So you could add the Levels folder, and then any files you create there will be copied with the game.


I’m not a big fan of assets copied automatically, but as a side effect, that step preserves the directory hierarchy each of those files was in. So any files copied this way can be accessed from within the game by using their full directory structure.

I have to ask again: Why are directory structures preserved here but not with explicit resources added to the project? The mind boggles.

But hey, at least it works, right? Not exactly. There are a couple of gotchas.

The big one I had read in multiple places, is that XCode doesn’t detect any changes to files inside the referenced folder. So you can be making all sorts of changes, building the game, and not seeing anything different. The recommended solution was to add an extra step to the build process that would start by touching the reference folder, forcing a full copy of all assets.

I tested that, I’m glad to report that at least in XCode 3.2.4, that’s not the case. If you modify any file inside a referenced folder, the file will get copied over correctly during the build process without the need of extra steps.

The bad news is that all the files in the referenced folder will be copied. Why oh why??? They clearly know which file changed, why do they feel the need to copy all of the other files? No idea. This is not a big deal early on, but as you start to accumulate dozens and hundreds of megabytes of assets, build times start increasing quite a bit, especially on the device itself.

This is what the copy command looks like for referenced folders:

CpResource build/Debug-iphonesimulator/ Levels
cd /Users/noel/Development/Test/trunk/Test
setenv PATH "/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneSimulator.platform/Developer/usr/bin:/Developer/usr/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin"
/Developer/Library/PrivateFrameworks/DevToolsCore.framework/Resources/pbxcp -exclude .DS_Store -exclude CVS -exclude .svn -Testve-src-symlinks /Users/noel/Development/Test/trunk/Test/Levels /Users/noel/Development/Test/trunk/Test/build/Debug-iphonesimulator/

It’s nice touch that it automatically excludes .svn directories though. I was wondering why they use CpResource instead of plain, old cp, but I guess that’s to be able to -exclude specific files. Fair enough.

However, what CpResource apparently doesn’t do is to process any of the resources in ways that were processed before by XCode. For example, a png file would have been processed by premultiplying it and byte swapping it so loading it in the iPhone would be slightly more efficient. CpResource just does a regular copy and leaves it alone. So if you were relying on that behavior, you need to do it explicitly yourself in your asset baking step.

What I Really Want

For now, I’m using folder references for the levels, and explicit references for everything else. That way I keep the data size to a minimum but I get to have the directory hierarchy. Not ideal, but at least it works.

This is what I would really like thought:

  1. Easiest: Explicit assets with paths. I really want to just add resources to XCode and have it preserve the directory structure. It’s not that hard. If XCode were open source, I would have made that change a long time ago. Can we at least have this as an option?
  2. Second easiest: Folder references that only copy the changed resources. That would also be OK in my book, and I can’t believe it would be much harder to implement either.
  3. Best: A remote file system hosted on the Mac during debug build. All file references go out to the host machine and get loaded on the fly. This would allow for fastest build times and loading times would not be that different from a fragmented drive on an old device probably. I know some of you already have something like this. Has anybody made one open source (preferably minimalistic and standalone)? I’d love to check it out.

Of course, all of this has probably changed already with XCode 4, but I’m deathly afraid of installing it while working on a production game. Has anybody tried it yet? Have they fixed anything, or is it even more broken?

To wrap things up, and since Miguel is spilling the beans on Twitter, I’ll share a few assets from our current game. Now back to the game because we’re submitting it to the Independent Games Festival on Monday. Next Thursday I’ll talk about the IGF. Wish us luck!


This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.

Communicating With Players

By now every iOS developer knows that making a great game and putting it on the App Store is only part of the work. In order to get significant sales, it needs to be noticed. You need to spend a significant amount of time in marketing and PR, making sure that blogs cover it, magazines review it, or at least jump-starting it with a group of devoted and vocal forum fans.

Most often, the advice stops there. So you get your initial sales spike and then sales go way down. What do you do then? Usually, developers release new features and updates. That’s great, but how do you get people to notice it. You need to establish some form of communication with your players.

Update Messages

The simplest form of communication is through the “What’s new” section in the update. You can use that section not just to list what features you added and what bugs you fixed, but also to let your players know about other things: plans for the future, other games to try, or even the URL for your Facebook group.

Credit goes to Igor for bringing up this idea and pointing out the URLs are even clickable in this field (but they aren’t in the app description).

Of course, if you’re like me and you update your apps only once in a while, this technique isn’t as effective. Right now my iPhone tells me I have 67 new updates available. I’m clearly not going to be reading through the release notes of each one.

In-Game News

fg_promo.jpgA more direct way of reaching out to your players is to have some sort of in-game news system. At any point you can update a file in your web server with any news, and it is displayed in the game. It can be implemented in many different ways depending on “on your face” you want to be about it: a pop up that comes up when the user runs the game, a ticker that runs constantly across the bottom of the screen, or, what I did for Flower Garden, a news icon with a badge indicating how many unread items there are, that brings up the news page when you tap it.

Make sure players are able to click on URLs in your news messages so you can direct them to different web pages easily. More on that on a bit.


Update messages are only good for players who update their apps (ahem, ahem), and in-game news for active players who’re currently launching your apps. For maximum effect, you can send an email newsletter and that way you can also reach users who played the game at some point in the past, but aren’t currently playing it now. They’re the ones probably most interested in new updates and features, and chances are you can rekindle their interest in the game.

To do this, you should encourage users to register for your mailing list, or collect their emails with their consent in some other way. This was a technique I started using back in December of last year with great success.

I’m currently using Your Mailing List Provider as a means to delivering thousands and thousands of emails [1]. By the way, don’t miss a chance to join the Flower Garden mailing list 🙂


Similar to the mailing list approach, Facebook groups can be a very effective form of communication. An additional benefit is that friends of your players might see them participating in the page and might make them try out your game.

Case Study: Pocket Frogs Cross-Promotion

All that is fine in theory. How does it work in practice? I have been using all four forms of communication for a while, and I’m definitely seeing good bumps of sales and downloads with each update and each major communication.

Last week, Ian and Dave from Nimblebit and I, decided to set up a cross promotion between Pocket Frogs and Flower Garden.


I updated the in-game news and send out an email newsletter coinciding with the latest Flower Garden update telling the players that if they downloaded Pocket Frogs from within Flower Garden, they would be awarded 5 doses of fertilizer. Nimblebit awarded players a flower if they downloaded Flower Garden Free from within Pocket Frogs.

When you have over a million downloads in a week like Pocket Frog did, that kind of player communication is the equivalent of a nuclear cannon. The effects of the cross-promotion were obvious the instant the news went live:


As you can see, Flower Garden Free made it all the way to the number 56 in the iPhone Top Apps chart in the US! The effect even spread to the paid version of Flower Garden:


Pocket Frogs at the time was hovering at around #9 on the charts, so it was difficult to have much of an impact on that position without major numbers, but we suspect it might have hovered there a little longer because of the extra downloads from Flower Garden.

Here is what the downloads for Flower Garden Free looked like for the last month. The Pocket Frogs cross-promotion is quite noticeable:


All those downloads also translated into in-app sales through the Flower Shop. Here are the revenues for that time period:


One consequence I wasn’t expecting, but in retrospect I’m not that surprised about, is that the ratings for Flower Garden Free dropped by a whole star (from 4 to 3), with a large percentage of 1-star reviews. That’s because a lot of people who wouldn’t have downloaded Flower Garden otherwise did it anyway, didn’t like it, and deleted it right away.

To wrap things up on a better note, there was yet another side effect of the cross promotion. The Pocket Frogs link was using my LinkShare referral code. Sending all those users to the App Store to download a free game link resulted in about $200 in referral profit for the week.


Communicating with your players is more than just profitable: It’s crucial to the sustained success of your games. Make sure you try to engage with them in every way you can, keep them up to date with developments in your game, and don’t hesitate to run the occasional cross-promotion, especially with other games that are a good match for your target audience.

[1] If you decide to use them and wouldn’t mind using my referral code (WQHVUF), I can get a small percentage back.

This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.

Lag: The Bane Of Touch Screens

Lag in games is as inevitable as taxes. It’s something we can try to minimize, but we always need to live with it. Earlier this week, I noticed that input for my new iPad game was very laggy. Excessively so, to the point it was really detracting from the game, so I decided I had to look into it a bit more.

Lag In Games

got_lag.pngI’m defining lag as the time elapsed between the moment the player performs an input action (press a button, touch the screen, move his finger), until the game provides some feedback for that input (movement, flash behind a button, sound effect).

Mick West wrote a great article on the causes of lag in games, followed up by another one in how to measure it. I’m going to apply some of that to the lag I was experiencing in my game.

Lag can be introduced in games by many different factors:

  • Delay between gathering input and delivering it to the game.
  • Delay updating the simulation to reflect new inputs.

  • Delay rendering simulation state.
  • Delay displaying the latest rendered state on screen.

The new game runs on the iPad and involves moving objects around the screen with your finger. To make sure it wasn’t anything weird with the rest of the game code, I wrote a quick (and ugly!) program that draws a square with OpenGL that follows your finger on the screen. When you run the sample, the same lag becomes immediately obvious.

The iPad is a much larger device than the iPhone, and it encourages a physical metaphor even more. As soon as you attempt to move an “object” on screen, the lag kills that sense of physicality. Instead of moving an object around with your finger, you’re dragging it around with a rubber band. It moved the player from applying direct action on screen, to being removed and disassociated with the actions on screen.

Loop Structure

The place to start looking for lag is in my main loop. The main loop looks something like this:


So I was reading the input correctly before the simulation. Nothing weird there.

Touch input is delivered to the code as events from the OS. Whenever I received those events (outside of the main loop), I queue them, and then process them all whenever the main loop starts in ProcessInput().

The loop runs at 60Hz, so the lag here is at most 16.7 ms (if you’re running at 30Hz, then you’re looking at a delay up to 33.3ms). Unfortunately, the lag I was seeing in the game was way more than one frame, so there was to be something else.


For some reason, I thought that iDevices were triple buffered. I ran some tests and fortunately it looks like it’s regular double buffering. That means that if I render a frame and call presentRenderBuffer(), the results of that render will be visible on screen at the next vertical sync interval. I’m sure there’s a slight lag with the iPad screen, but I’m willing to be is close to negligible when we’re talking about milliseconds, so we’ll call that zero.

Main Loop Calls

The game uses CADisplayLink with interval of 1, so the main loop is called once every 16.7 ms (give or take a fraction of ms). I thought that perhaps CADisplayLink wasn’t playing well with touch events, so I tried switching to NSTimer, and even to my old thread-driven main loop, but none of it seemed to make any difference. Lag was alive and well as always.

That the simulation and rendering in the game are very fast, probably just a few ms. That means the rest of the system has plenty of time to process events. If I had a full main loop, maybe one of the two other approaches would have made a difference.

It looks like the lag source had to be further upstream.

Input Processing

On the dashboard, press and hold on an icon, now move it around the screen. That’s the same kind of lag we have in the sample program! That’s not encouraging.

A touch screen works as a big matrix of touch sensors. The Apple OS processes that input grid and tries to make sense out of it by figuring out where the touches are. The iOS functions eventually process that grid, and send our programs the familiar touchesBegan, touchesMoved, etc events. That’s not easy task by any means. It’s certainly not like processing mouse input, which is discrete and very clearly defined. For example, you can put your whole palm down on the screen. Where are the touches exactly?

TouchesBegan is actually a reasonably easy one. That’s why you see very little lag associated with that one. Sensors go from having no touch values, to going over a certain threshold. I’m sure that as soon as one or two of them cross that threshold, the OS identifies that as a touch and sends up the began event.

TouchesMoved is a lot more problematic. What constitutes a touch moving? You need to detect the area in the sensor grid that is activated, and you need to detect a pattern of movement and find out a new center for it. In order to do that, you’ll need several samples and a fair amount of CPU cycles to perform some kind of signal processing on the inputs. That extra CPU usage is probably the reason why some games get choppier as soon as you touch the screen.

Measuring Lag

Measuring lag in a game is tricky. You usually can’t measure it from within the code, so you need to resort to external means like Mick did in his tests.

I decided to do something similar. I pulled out my digital video camera, and started recording my finger moving on the screen. The quality leaves much to be desired, but it’s good enough for the job. I can see how far my finger gets from the center of the square, but that’s not enough information to quantify the lag. How fast is my finger moving exactly? Fortunately, that’s something I can answer in code, so I added that information to the screen [1]. Now, for a given frame, I can see both how far the finger is from the center of the square and how fast it’s going.


The square is 100 pixels wide. When I move my finger at about 500 pixels per second, the center of my finger is on the edge of the square. That makes a rough 100 ms total delay from input until it’s rendered. That’s a whopping 6 full frames at 60 fps!

What Can We Do About It

As iOS developers, there isn’t much we can do. Make sure your loops are set up correctly to avoid an extra frame delay. Make sure you provide feedback as soon as you can and don’t delay it any longer than you have to. Other than that, there’s nothing much we can do.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but I’m a big fan of layers as long as you can get to the underlying layers when you need to. Here’s a perfect case where it would be fantastic if Apple gave us raw access to the touch matrix input. Apart from being able to process the input faster (because I know what kind of input to expect for the game), can you imagine the possibilities that would open up? Input wouldn’t be limited to touch events, and we could even sense how “hard” the user is pushing, or the shape of the push.

At the very least, it would be very useful if we had the option to allocate extra CPU cycles to input recognition. I’m not doing much in my game while this is going on, so I’d happily give the input recognition code 95% of the frame time if it means it can give me those events in half the time.

I’m hoping that in a not very far distant, iDevices come with multiple cores, and maybe one of those cores is dedicated to the OS and to do input recognition without affecting the game. Or maybe, since that’s such a specialized, data-intensive task, some custom hardware could do the job much faster.

Until then, we’ll just have to deal with massive input lag.

How about you? Do you have some technique that can reduce the touch event lag?

LagTest source code. Released under the MIT License, yadda, yadda, yadda…

[1] I actually shrank the OpenGL view to make sure the label wasn’t on top if it because I was getting choppier input than usual. Even moving it there caused some choppiness. This is exactly what I saw last year with OpenGL performance dropping when a label is updated every frame!

This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.

Customizable Color Sections With OpenGL ES 1.1

One of the items in my ever-growing list of things to write about, is the rendering techniques I used in Flower Garden. In the end, it would make for a post with lots of pretty pictures, but there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking. After all, it’s all limited to OpenGL ES 1.1 on the iPhone, which means only two texture units and a two-stage texture combiner. As a result, more interesting ideas keep bubbling up to the top of the list and the poor rendering idea keeps getting passed over.

Every so often, something happens that bumps up the priority of one of the items in my list. Maybe it’s another related blog post, or a game coming out with something relevant to what I wanted to write about. In this case it was a tweet from Paul Pridham [1]:


Customizing colors in a sprite or texture is very frequent in games, from changing player characters into blue and red teams, to creating color variations of an armor piece, to letting the player pick the exact shade for their pet’s fur color. Or, in the case of Flower Garden, to change the colors of the petals on the fly.

There are two requirements for this:

  • We want to change colors dynamically.
  • We only want to affect certain areas of the original texture.

That rules out creating texture variations ahead of time, although that might be a valid approach sometimes if you have lots of art resources, don’t mind increasing the download size, and you have a fixed number of variation to deal with. It also rules out modulating/blending the texture by a particular color because it would tint all the texture, and we want to limit the effect to particular areas (leave the player’s arms their normal color, but change their shirt color).

This is one of those funny cases that it was a lot easier to do many years ago, when we used palletized color modes. You could set all the custom color areas to a particular palette entry, and then update that entry on the fly. Ah, all the awesome tricks palettes opened up the door to! I still miss them to this day.

color.jpgIn modern hardware it’s also really easy to do with a shader, but Paul wanted to use it across any iPhone device, and the majority of them are still stuck on OpenGL ES 1.1, so fixed-function pipeline it is.

The simplest approach would be to just render the model twice: First pass renders the texture, and second pass renders the custom color bits (you can render them with a white texture modulated by the global color to get the right color). The main drawbacks are that you’re doubling the number of draw calls, and, with 3D objects, it gets a bit tricker because the second pass needs to use the glDepthFunc(GL_EQUAL) depth comparison function.

The better way to do this is using the texture combiners. Texture combiners allow us to perform a limited number of operations to control the final look of a pixel. We can add two textures, or multiply them, or even do a few more complex operations. The true power of the combiners is that they can be chained together, so the output from one feeds into the input of another, allowing us to create much more complex operations.

The iPhone 3G is limited two two texture combiner units [2], but even two combiners are good to create a good range of effects.

Let’s think about what we want to accomplish. We want to leave some parts of the texture completely alone and display the original pixel value. In some other parts of the texture, we want to replace the pixels there with a custom color. Actually even better, we probably want to multiply those pixels by a custom color. That way we can author the part of the texture that is going to change with grayscale details, and our color adds the tint to it.

Let’s express it mathematically. Let’s make a function M that is 1 for every pixel we want to color, and 0 for the ones where the original texture is supposed to be displayed. Our desired color is c and the texture it t. In that case, the final pixel color (p) is:

p = M*(c*t) + (1 – M)*t


We could express that with two combiners: The first one is a modulate (multiply) operation with c and t, and the second one an interpolation operation between the result of the previous combiner and the original texture, based on the function M.

Obviously M is just a mask texture. We can paint it white where we want to color the texture, and black elsewhere. We could even use the alpha channel of the original texture, but there’s one big thing to watch out for: If you have your texture as a png and process it through the default iPhone resource operations, the image will be premultiplied for you (whether you want it or not), so your color information will be set to zero everywhere that the alpha channel is zero. Oops. You’ll probably want to use the alpha channel to store transparency anyway, so we’ll keep the mask separate. If not, make sure you encode the image yourself (as raw or PVRT formats) so it’s not premultiplied ahead of time.

Are we ready transfer that formula to the texture combiners? Not quite. Apparently (and this was just trial and error, I haven’t seen it documented), the texture assigned to a combiner can only be the one at that stage. If you look at the second combiner, we would need to have the first texture as one of the parameters, in addition to the mask.

So instead, we can reorganize the function above like this:

p = c*(M*t) + (t – M*t)

What did we gain by that? The color is what’s going to change dynamically, but the mask and the texture always stay the same. We could precompute the M*t term by simply multiplying the texture and the mask. We can call that new term A. We can do the same thing with the (t – M*t) term, which just means turning black all the pixels in the texture where mask will go. That one will be B. The easiest way to “precompute” those values is just doing it in Photoshop and exporting it as a new png.


Our new formula is now:

p = c*A + B

Nice and simple! Now we can really add that to the texture combiners like this:

// c
glColor4f(m_customColor.r, m_customColor.g, m_customColor.b, 1);

// A = M*t (precomputed)
glBindTexture(GL_TEXTURE_2D, m_maskHandle);
// c*A

// B = t - M*t (precomputed)
glBindTexture(GL_TEXTURE_2D, m_textureHandle);

// c*A + B

One more thing to watch out for: Because we’re using two textures, you need to have two sets of texture coordinates. In this case, we want them to be the same, so we can just point them to the same set of data:

glTexCoordPointer(2, GL_FLOAT, sizeof(Vertex), &vertices[0].u);
glTexCoordPointer(2, GL_FLOAT, sizeof(Vertex), &vertices[0].u);

That’s it! You can see the results in the included project and play with the register combiners to achieve different operations.

At this point I was going to describe the texture combiner setup I use in Flower Garden to render the petals, but this post ended up taking longer than I had hoped for (I’m trying to shoot for an hour per post, but this has taken me already two hours between the code and the the post itself), so I’ll save that for another time.

[1] Paul developed Sword of Fargoal, by far my favorite iPhone RPG.
[2] The 3GS allows up to eight I believe.

This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.

IAP Bundles: More Than Just Good Deals

fg_bundles.jpgIn-game point bundles are nothing new. Even before the time of in-app purchases, Zynga was famous for releasing “points” apps to increase your game reputation or other stats. The fact that they released not just one way of getting points, but many different apps at different price points, was something I dismissed as a marketing tactic to try to get noticed on the charts.

Fast-forward to now, and as more companies are jumping into the bandwagon of games that need “points” to make progress, we’re still bundles. Again, I chucked that up to legacy reasons and doing what worked with the standalone apps.

Discovering Bundles

It was at the last 360iDev in San Jose, that Mark Johnson said something that really stuck with me. I can still hear him say it with his fine British accent: “I think we might be underestimating how much people are willing to pay for in-app purchases”. Really?

As soon as I had a chance, I looked at the best-selling IAPs for some popular games. The screenshots below were taken today, not back when I looked at them, but the results are very much the same. I let you guess which games these IAPs came from.


I was very surprised with what I saw. The top-selling IAP was never a $0.99 one, and there were bundles of $49.99 or higher towards the top! That was crazy! I was indeed underestimating what players are willing to buy by only offering a measly $0.99 fertilizer bottle in Flower Garden!

Bundles In Flower Garden

As part of the next Flower Garden update, I decided to run a little experiment and add two more fertilizer options: A $2.99 one and a $5.99 one, each of them giving you a slightly better deal on fertilizer (20, 70, and 150 doses). That was still nothing compared to the price tags I was seeing in those other games, but I didn’t want to alienate users by slapping some ridiculously high bundle prices.

The results?

The most popular item by number of sales was still the single fertilizer bottle for $0.99. But a lot of people took advantage of the the other two bundles as well. This is how fertilizer sales for Flower Garden Free have been for the last two months:


But now, let’s look at that same period by plotting revenue (again, only Flower Garden Free, the full version is very similar but it wasn’t easy to combine the two to display them here):


Now the two bundles are a lot closer to the single bottle, especially the larger, $5.99 bundle.

More Than Meets The Eye

In the end, were bundles effective, or are people buying the same amount of fertilizer and leaving less money in the process? Unfortunately I can’t answer that question from a pure data point of view. Looking at fertilizer sales before and after I introduced the bundles is no good because the number of users increased dramatically at each update. I can’t even normalize them by the number of sales, it would have to be by the number of daily users, and unfortunately that’s not a statistic that I’m tracking.

However, I think we can argue two really good points about why bundles are great.

1. More choice

Having different levels of bundles give players more choice on how they want to purchase something. From what I’ve read about buyer psychology, people love having choices when buying something (just don’t give them too many choices!). They are more involved in the buying process, they evaluate it, and they feel better about the decision they eventually make. So that seems to indicate that more people might buy fertilizer if there are a few bundle options than if there’s only one.

2. Commitment

This is the biggie. Whenever a user purchases a $5.99 bundle (or a $49.99 one!), they became more committed to your game. You can also guarantee they will come back again to get their money’s worth from that purchase. Even if they had the intention of coming back to your game without the purchase, having spent that money is a nice reminder to do so. And having people come back to your game is what this is all about: They will explore more of the game, get hooked more, make more in-app purchases, show it to more of their friends, and send more bouquets to their family.

I have no doubt that I’ll be using bundles in the future. Players get a good deal, and you get committed players. It’s a win-win situation.

This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.