Targeting iOS? Create Your Account Early!

This post is part of my Mobile Game Development series. Start at the beginning to catch up. This series was inspired by the things I learned developing a new game for Android and iOS called Mirror Maze.

This post is about a lesson I learned the hard way. I’m putting this post early in my Mobile Game Development series so you, hopefully, don’t have to learn it the hard way as well.

I knew from the beginning that I would be developing Mirror Maze for both Android and iOS. However, I previously only had first-hand experience of releasing Android apps. With Android, you pay your one-time $25 developer fee to create an account, then start publishing your apps. There’s a little delay between pressing the publish button and having it go live, but it’s minutes only. iOS can’t be THAT much different, can it?

Yep. It can.

Right out of the gate, an Apple developer account costs $99 per year. That Apple tax kicks in immediately. In fact, that’s the reason I DIDN’T create the account earlier in the process. I didn’t want to spend money on an account, then have that account sit idle for months while I finished the game. It’s easy enough to adhoc deploy iOS apps to your physical device via USB, so I didn’t think it was a big deal to wait. Rookie move because I didn’t count on how slow the process moves.

Actually, to be fair, the part of the process that moves slowly is creating a business account. I have an LLC that I want to run everything through with my games. So, I wanted to create a business account. However, Apple wants to make sure your business is legit. So they use a third party, Dun & Bradstreet, to do the verification and provide a DUNS number to Apple. Without that DUNS number, there’s no business account. Fortunately, you can create an individual account immediately, then migrate it to a business account, which is the route I ended up going.

I started off creating the Individual account. Unfortunately, there was a problem with my account creation and also a problem with my email server at the same time. Apple tried to contact me to fix the problem, but I wasn’t receiving emails. So my account creation ended up taking around 3 business days, which also fell around a weekend (making it 5 days). During this time, I also requested a DUNS number. Once the account was created, I put Mirror Maze in beta testing. It took around two weeks to get the DUNS number, then I started migrating my individual account to a business account. That in itself took several emails and phone calls over two days before Apple started the migration process for me. Once they verified everything, it only took a few hours before the account was fully migrated. Finally, there is the matter of getting the app approved for publishing, which was another five day waiting game.

What’s interesting is that I started the Android and iOS accounts at the same time. On Android, I was able to create the account, beta test the app with some friends, then published it to the Play Store, all before my iOS account was ready for me to even log into.

The moral of the story is to create your iOS developer account early. This will allow you to use TestFlight to beta test earlier as well. So your account isn’t just ticking away its yearly fee doing nothing.

Maybe you’ll be able to actually release your app when you are ready. I hope to do that too. Next time.