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Cash prize helps app stand out

A games designer is giving away a cash prize to one gamer who completes his recently-released iPhone game - claiming independent developers have to work harder than ever for their titles to be noticed in Apple's App Store.

Paul Dobson, director of Spaghetti Studios, says his company will part with the equivalent of $500 to one gamer who completes the developer's debut game, Rasher Basher, before the end of the year.

He said the game had been critically acclaimed and yet it still had not been enough to propel it into the top 50 iPhone and iPod touch purchases.

Gamers who take part in the Rasher Basher Challenge need to finish the game and take screenshots, with one entry picked at random to win the prize.

Mr Dobson says he thought of the challenge as a potential reward to customers but he also said small indie developers lacked the marketing budget of the increasing numbers of big name game producers and that it meant small companies must be more innovative, especially when breaking new intellectual property.

"The App Store is currently dominated by familiar names and they tend not only to smash into the top 25 or 50 but stay there for huge periods of time," he added. "The majority of these games and apps are extremely well polished and they fully deserve their place but, without wishing to come across as a moaner, that doesn't make it easier for smaller companies.

"What the rest of us have to do is keep hammering away and hope that our hard work pays off. We felt that it would be a good idea to offer money to one gamer who completes the game because we are so convinced that people who pick it up will want to play it the whole way through."

Rasher Basher is a retro-style game that has reviewed well in reviews and on forums.

A moderator of the Eurogamer forums, called Alex who goes by the name of Lexx87, has been posting about his progress through the game and said it was "really addictive and enjoyable". It has also achieved four and five star reviews on sites such as on the Portable Gamer.

"The App Store is one of the most exciting platforms in gaming and it has opened the way for so many developers to produce innovative products," says Mr Dobson. "We just hope it doesn't become an overly commercialised area in the future, dominated by well-known brands."