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The Three Rules To Starting An App Business

Hi, my name is Trey Smith and I'm the founder of Game Academy.

After getting over 13,000,000 downloads for my different apps and games, a lot of people have asked me what the secret is.  In this post I'm going to share exactly what I do, because the sad truth is most people who start an app business don't make it.  

What's even worse is they typically are very close, they just make a couple small wrong moves that end up being the nail in the coffin.  

Here's what I did to build a highly profitable business very fast:

RULE #1 - Don't Program It Yourself

Tagged: $2.4 million per daybiggest mobile game companyclash of clanshay dayios grossingmobile game chartsmobile game revenuesupercelltop grossing chartstop grossing revenue

About The Author

Trey Smith

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Thank you very much Trey for your article!


Thanks Trey Smith


Simon Crack

Now that was an EPIC post. Gold right there.



Awesome article Trey – keep em coming!.. you are a big inspiration.

Avatar of Trey Smith

Trey Smith

Thanks man, will do :)


hitendra prata

Like the ABC’s of Marketing an app. I think this formula more or less should work for any field where we want to achieve stuff. Thanks for the motivation!



You always remind us on how to understand the demand of market, know what people wants. Thanks for that!!

Jazzel Yousef

how about the creators of puzzles & dragons arent they the biggest mobile game company? they are doing over 4 million dollars per day!

colleen wakefield

that is what we would call golden nuggets.. Thanks for your blueprint for the newbie here


Correction: you have 41 students past the 500,000 mark! I followed your MGS course last year :)


great article Trey, like always. the 2.4 million dollar question is HOW do they do their marketing? that would be a swell blog post too :)

Judy Wong Dobberpuhl, CEO Love Fun Apps

Thank you Trey! Always appreciate your awesome blogs and terrific insight! :) :) :)


Steve Baker

Hi Trey , thank you for your inspiration and much needed information. I have been following for about a year and have come up with a game idea based on a previously successful game . Hopefully will be launched in July. :) You opened up a whole new arena for the un initiated . How to market . Is this all in your Academy ?


Just when I start to get a bit discouraged, Trey gets me excited again.
Thanks man

geneaux vanilla

Take a look at this website – “Is it possible to buy your way to the top of the app store?”



Greg Dawson

Spot on. Great games need an even better marketing plan. I cannot tell you how many developers have come to me with “I launched a game last month and it’s only had 50 downloads … what can you do for me?” I always recommend planning at least 3 months in advance of launch. Because after launch day it is extremely difficult to get press attention.

The App Store moves so fast and there are so many apps launchded each day that if you don’t have a plan in place leading up to launch you’ll be just like the 1,000 other apps that launched that day … at the botton of the charts.

Tip 1 – Have a media outreach plan: Just google “app review” and you’ll find a ton of sites to pitch your game to. Tailer your pitch to their coverage style. 148Apps, AppAdvice, Appcraver, TUAW, MacLife, etc. Send a simple / short / sweet game description, link to game, review code and youtube trailer of gameplay. Spend a few bucks on the trailer.

Tip 2 – App Store Optimization: Your title and your keywords are the only thing that matter with organic discovery within the App Store; use your description to entice/secure the download. I believe Trey has a post or two about keywords / ASO.

Tip 3 – Advertising: If you have budget … Facebook app install ads are a great resource of being able to target an attract users. You can advertise (and monetize) via Revmob, Chartboost, 4Mads, etc. Expect a $2+ cost per install (CPI). This method is really only applicable to freemium games that are monetizing through in-app purchases. Ever seen a Clash of Clans ad on your mobile Facebook feed? Yes, it’s a very powerful ad tool.

Tip 4 – Start blogging, taking screen shots, sharing artwork, telling friends, tweeting, retweeting, liking, pinning, snapchatting, instagramming, etc. before your launch to help build an audience before the game is even available. Integrate a waiting list form via a free Mailchimp account.

Ok, just a few thoughts. Good luck!


Jake Mckeon

Thanks for the insight Greg. You’d be glad to hear that our company are on the same track as you suggest… We are preparing to launch our first app, it’s social sharing based though rather than a game!


Thanks for the tips dude! Great sharing on building massive traffic to game app!


this just looks like so much damn fun. I’m so anxious to start! I’ve been saving forever to get your training Trey. it sounds like so much of a kick ass job title too!

“oh, what do you do?”
“oh nothing much, just make sweet ass games, have you heard of XXXX?”
“I made that SH**!”

I will learn how to make a game app like you trey! I’m just trying to get the capital to get the training….

amazing blog, thanks for the read!



Trey is awesome. tanxx


Steve Young

Trey, great reminder that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.



Hi Trey, I’m following you since 2010 .Thank you very much for amezing infos.


Avatar of Trey SmithTrey Smith

Wow, thanks man :)



Great reminders, Trey…awesome!!



Hey Trey, where and how can you sort the apps by “top grossing”?

ive never seen this feature in the app store.


Thanks again for the insightful article. I play this game off & on all day, everyday because the game never ends and there are no ads in the game. Truth be told, I have the game on right now as I’m typing this reply…lol. So I guess they’re making all of their revenue on this game from virtual goods…niiiicce.


Hey Trey, awesome stuff as usual. Just to add to the SuperCell story;’s Candy Crush Saga’s making a little more than half a million dollars per day – Unbelievable really ;)



What’s even more unbelievable is that Japanese game maker GungHo Entertainment overtakes Nintendo, EA and Zynga in market cap ($15B+) with it’s stock price climbing by 30% due to the success of it’s “one” game Puzzle & Dragons which now pulls in an estimated whopping $3.75 million a day – that to the bank)?!



Great article trey.
My thoughts exactly! Theme is important as you want to expand to the largest demographic possible. The colors used, the style, the simplicity and the theme all come together to make a fun experience for all, girls and boys of all ages.
It’s what I’m
Always telling other devs- if your looking for commercial success, you have to make that target as big as possible. In other words- broaden your demographic. Fantasy is a popular theme. Medevil times, dragons, ect. But I have another one that’s popular I’ve been wanting to do for years now, and we decided its a good time to make something similar to CoC, yet unique, and with a unique theme that people love.
So We put a plan into action over a month ago have the experience (in both development of games and marketing) so we are a couple steps ahead of the game. We will have a hit equal to that of CoC when it’s over ;)


About Game Academy

We're passionate about not only games, but the game business as well. We've built mobile game companies to over 10,000,000 downloads and now we teach others how to build companies from the ground up.





  • app store
  • consoles
  • development
  • game marketing

RULE #3 - Keep Cost Down... and here's how to do it

Keeping cost down is VERY important.  It's been one of the big secrets of my success.  Believe it or not, after over 13,000,000 downloads and 100 games, the most I ever spent on a game was Jump Pack.  The next game we made was Maze+.  It rocketed to the top of the app store upon release and made over $30,000 it's first month.  How much did it cost to make?  Only $3,000.  Why?  Because we just edited the Jump Pack source code to make that game.  A large part of the hard work had been done.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Well that's great, but I don't have a code to edit".  To answer that, I have something cool to share with you. has grown tremendously since we opened our doors less than a year ago.  We now have over 5,000 customers and 150,000 subscribers.  We've had over 1,000,000 unique hits to our site in a few short months and our students have over 100,000,000 downloads (collectively) in the app store.

How You Can Get Started For FREE

To celebrate our success, and to help new people get started who might be on a shoestring budget, we're giving away one of our best source for absolutely free.  Not only that, it's a Match 3 source code so you can make many variations of the most popular puzzle style gameplay currently in the market.  This code won't cost you a dime and comes with both the Android and iOS version.  It's our way to celebrate our students success, which has been larger than we ever imagined.

You can download this match 3 code here and we'll also include 3 videos and an 80 page report on how to get started.  You'll also get a sneak peek at the GameAcademy team, where we work and how we started.  Typically this is the type of high end training code we use in one of our paid packages.  This code isn't available anywhere else and will only be made public for a limited time.  

The code itself includes the full gameplay including menu, core engine and a few surprises like a lightening powerup.  We've created the code so it's very easy to add new ideas, features and improve upon.  This is the essence of our model and improve motto and you can experience first hand how to take a proven game that is known to be successful and make it your own.  Download this full source code for free here.

With the training you'll get an 80 page report I personally created that shows specific examples of how to monetize your game.  Not only will I show you exact tips and tricks we use to make money in our own games, I also scoured the top 25 grossing and documented any monetization paths that were worth noting.  Previously this guide was only availble for purchase from our website, but we've included it for free as part of this Match 3 promotion.  Grab both the code and training here.

On behalf of we appreciate you checking out our site.  The game business is the most rewarding and fun business I've ever had the pleasure of being apart of, and if you are looking for a unique challenge that can turn into a real business, then I can't recommend enough to check it out.  There is truly nothing better than creating a business that brings joy to millions of people.  Before the onslaught of mobile devices, it was near impossible to break into, but now with the tools at our disposal, and outsourcing that is cheap and available, it's easier than ever.

Thanks and take care,

Trey Smith

This might be controversial, but through experience I've seen more people have success when they do NOT know how to program.  I personally can't program a lick and that has forced me to actually spend all my time thinking about the marketing side of the business.  If you look at most successful app companies in the store right now, the person running the company is NOT the one actually programming.  This is not a coincidence.  Even if you ARE a programmer I strongly recommend outsourcing the development so you can spend your time thinking about how to get downloads.

RULE #2 - Model and Improve (aka Innovation is risky) 

As the owner of, you can imagine how many people come to me with new ideas for the "next big thing" in apps that no one has heard of yet.  The truth is, those pan out about 1% of the time.  Instead of reinventing the wheel, we think you should MODEL AND IMPROVE.

This is exactly what I've done with my personal apps and a great example is our hit game, Jump Pack.  We modeled the popular game Doodle Jump and it paid off like crazy.  Jump Pack has made over $100k and has over 1.5 million downloads.