PrepZilla manages the impossible, to combine student study revision with fun – there’s not many educational apps that can do that.
We will be reviewing PrepZilla in due course, but first we wanted to find out more, behind the scenes and background to this app.
Read our exclusive interview with the developers of PrepZilla, gWhiz below…
JC – Please explain how your app was originally thought of and what were your thoughts behind the marketplace, specifically?
gWhiz – Over the last few years we’ve learned a lot about education, and specifically test prep, from our customers. They tend to be extraordinary students who utilize our apps to achieve goals above and beyond the “norm” in academic expectations. Since our corporate DNA compels us to create engaging, innovative mobile applications, we knew that we wanted to give those users an app that was effective, unique, designed for the mobile student, and also fun to use.
Most contemporary educational games don’t involve test prep, and the few that do are limited by features, a single subject, or architecture constraints.
With PrepZilla, we set out to go in a different direction. We designed the app to allow up to four players to quiz each other given a common set of questions from an extensive library of premium publisher Q&A content. We structured the game rules to reinforce the user knowledge of the material and provide for exciting come-from-behind wins. But the most interesting element of the design is the game’s asynchronous nature – it uses the “play-when-you-want” game style that apps like Words With Friends made popular. This allows students to play/study between classes, on the bus, or wherever and whenever they have a few minutes.
Once the PrepZilla game concept was combined with our strong self-study feature set, we knew we had a winner.
JC – Explain the design, how you came up with the colors and themes.
gWhiz – The theme is “Serious Fun”, the idea being that students know they have to work hard to get good test scores, and our app gives them an effective, but entertaining, path to get there. We picked up the name PrepZilla from an Urban Dictionary that had a tongue-in-cheek description of the type of student who feels disappointed when they get an A-. This seemed to be an apt description for our high-achieving student user base.
Once we had the name, our staff artists created a funny-looking dragon creature to represent a “PrepZilla.” All the other app interface elements followed from that design.
JC – Who do you see as the main target market for this app in terms of age, genre and expenditure?
gWhiz – We believe that students, professionals, and gamers of all ages will enjoy PrepZilla. The content available for download runs the gamut from current events trivia to major test prep topics. Users can choose questions from a growing library of premium content from leading publishers including McGraw-Hill, Barron’s, CCI, and Florida Virtual School. Topics include content for AP (Advanced Placement), GRE, CNOR, NBDE, USMLE, NCLEX-RN, Security+, Algebra, and basic math subjects. And with more titles added regularly, test takers are sure to find something of interest.
JC – How long did it take from the original planning to the production process of this app?
gWhiz – We spent several months planning, producing, and preparing PrepZilla for distribution. Of course, with nearly 150 mobile educational apps on the market today, our development of PrepZilla occurred simultaneously with the development of several of our other apps.
JC – How do you predict sales to be, is there a good solid market for this style of app?
gWhiz – Since PrepZilla was released in May 2012, downloads (and sales) have grown steadily. We expect an overall upward trend as users discover just how useful and fun it is to play PrepZilla.
JC – What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding this app development?
gWhiz – The multiplayer and asynchronous nature of PrepZilla game play was particularly challenging from a technological point of view. And marketing of a “container” app (i.e., one that supports a broad range of subjects) in a crowded marketplace is also difficult. That said, we are enthused by the steady increase in the daily downloads rate and the numbers of users signing up to play the game.
JC – Would you consider developing apps for third parties?
We typically don’t do “for-hire” development projects, but most of our apps do involve a partnership with leading educational publishers. For example, PrepZilla’s content library consists mostly of subject expert Q&A from leading publishers like McGraw-Hill, Barron’s, and so on.
JC – What have you learnt from the App Store?
The App Store is a very effective tool in the marketing and distribution of our iOS apps. We have been fortunate to have several of our mobile educational apps featured by Apple in iTunes.
JC – Have Apple supported you well with your App development?
We have had a positive experience with Apple. Developer tools are excellent and the review process has continually improved over the last few years.
JC – What next, are you developing another app, would you go for the same genre again, if not which?
gWhiz – We have several apps currently under development and we remain focused on building engaging mobile apps for education.
JC – Have you considered developing apps on other platforms such as Android? If so, what has the experience been like?
gWhiz – In addition to Apple’s i-devices, we have developed apps for Android (including Nook and Kindle Fire), Netbooks, and BlackBerry. Each of those platforms has unique features and challenges. Like many other developers, we’ve seen the best sales results come from Apple/iTunes, but there have been some rare exceptions where Android-based apps outperformed those on iOS.