This is Happening

By Mike / On / In Technology

On Monday, I’m presenting a post-mortem of the launch of Lemurs Chemistry: Water at the fourth annual This Happened conference in Amsterdam. It’s going to be a fresh topic, since the app is launching this very weekend. (I’ll be sure to start with my failure to foresee a 38-day app review.)

Another thing I’ll be pondering is my propensity to jump into a market without paying much attention to what others are doing in that space. To wit, I’ve never looked at the paid educational iPad games section of the App Store until I started looking for our app there.

My market research consisted of talking to parents and looking at what they felt were the best educational apps on the market. That gave me a much better sense of how customers were being served over how the market’s being divided.

The upshot is, I don’t care what other companies’ strategies are. I care about why their customers are unhappy. When I did take a look, I was unsettled by what I saw.

A list of the top 21 paid educational iPad games, with icons

Seriously, if I look at that picture too long I start to feel very nervous. All those primary colors and simple topics make our little lemur feel very claustrophobic. I can hear the creaking of a swing and disembodied voices on the breeze, singing, “one of these things is not like the other…”

I’m going to have to reconcile the fact that the market being served by this category is very likely not the market looking for my game. When I tried to figure out what category our game belongs in, I realized the problem was not that we are misclassified, but that most of the page is misclassified.

Some of these don’t seem educational. Some of them don’t seem like games. Most of them are for a primary school audience. I wouldn’t call most of these educational games. I would call these kids games. I would call these apps for children. There should be a category for that. Oh wait, there is.

A list of the top 21 paid kids iPad games, with icons

The time difference between those two screenshots is the amount of time it took me to figure out that there actually was a kids category that, unsurprisingly, is mostly the same stuff cross-listed into educational games.

If the App Store is to evolve games like Carmen Sandiego from its current selection of animated globes, Apple may need to curate this distinction. Maybe busy boxes, toys, and primary tutors should go into the category of Kids Games, while the game equivalent of algebra and higher should be classified as Educational Games.