Dark Horse app: What's working, what's selling

201104291640.jpgThe Dark Horse comics app has been live for 48 hours and the reviews are starting to come in as is some info on what’s selling.

While you can’t get sales figures from Apple, they do list a running top ten of in-app purchases for all commercial apps. Here are the DH best sellers as of about noon today:
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MASS EFFECT is of course a video-game tie-in comic, with two four-issue miniseries available — all seem to be doing well on the app.

Two “Whedon-verse” titles are also on the list, SERENITY and Felicia Day’s THE GUILD. The Top 10 is rounded out by LONE WOLF AND CUB, one of the most famous manga of all times.

Meanwhile, David Brothers puts the app through its paces and gives it generally good marks:

I like the app. It’s visually attractive, easy to navigate, and does exactly what it needs to do. I don’t have any real complaints, other than the login page being hidden in the browse menu. I believe if you purchase or attempt to view a comic, it will prompt you to login, so it isn’t a huge issue, but my first instinct is to login, and then shop. I can tell from my experience with the app that it will be more pleasant on the iPad, but that’s the entire point of the iPad, isn’t it? The bigger screen works wonders. This is perfectly fine, though.


Aside from the server crashing on launch day, (A good sign!) the glitches on the app seem minor and fixable. Brothers also notes something fairly key: the comics themselves are offered in HTML and not Flash, still a minority among digital comics offerings.

We’ll offer our own 2¢ here — the app comes with some free comics which we immediately tried to read. The interface on our iPhone was just….ick. We read comics on our handheld from time to time, but only in emergency situations. Guided view, pan and scan — whatever it is, traditional comics with lively page layouts are at a distinct disadvantage on a small handheld device.

We also read some comics on the nice 21″ iMac at the office and they looked fine. THey looked significantly less fine on our old iMac and laptop.

We don’t have an iPad yet but in our imagination, that is where they may have looked just right.

Digital comics on mobile devices and tablets are not there yet as a seamless experience — at least from what we like to read.

Comments

  1. Yeah, I could tell just poking around that it seemed like the iPad is the primary platform, then web, then iPhone/iPod. The “how to” guide uses an iPad icon, even.

  2. The two really should be considered separate-though-related platforms, and the content formatted accordingly.

  3. Jake Orion says:

    Reminds me of the comics on the Sony PSP handheld attempt: it just didn’t work. It’s bad enough trying to read a comic on a computer monitor, its even worse on a 5″ screen.

    That said, many seem to like this. For me, I prefer the good old fashion paperback.

  4. One thing not mentioned is the content that’s available to buy on the dark horse digital website, there’s a LOAD of great value comics on there in bundles – typically six issues for $5.50 (or, in the UK £3.49) so, for example, The Umberella Academy first six issues are £3.49 (I bought the equivalent trade for £13 in a shop, though I could have bought it from amazon for £8).

    You buy from Dark Horse’s digital webstore (handing over your credit card info at the same time), go to your iPad and it’s available to download – pretty seamless.

    Even when darkhorse had a couple of titles on the comixology app they were priced aggressively. Personally, I think they’ve priced them exactly right for digital content. I’d have no qualms, at those prices, to buy print AND digital (though I’m more likely to skip paper backs and go to the hardback / library edition style books).

    I wish there were preview pages of individual issues (even just one or two pages) though, as I still feel the need to have a peek between the digital covers before buying (even when the prices are dirt cheap).

    -pj

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