Wednesday, July 17, 2013

App Dev Empire review

Some time ago I found App Dev Empire - a course promising to teach you how to create Android apps and, what is more important, make big money on them. At first glance, it looked highly suspicious to me. There were only positive testimonials in the comments section and numerous sites giving it raving reviews (just type "app dev empire review" into Google). Anyway, I decided that $47 is not that much after all and even if I didn't make a fortune, I could at least describe my experience on the blog. Also, I was secretly hoping that if I didn't like the course at all, they would give me the money back based on the 60-day money back guarantee with no questions asked, which they promise. Here's the whole story.

The App Dev Empire site looks great and almost makes you beg to let you pay to finally take a peek at the course. The promotional video is very professional and makes you think that if the actual content is half as good you might have found a gold mine. What is more, it claims to be able to teach you all necessary stuff without any prior programming skills. Seems unreal? Well, let's see...

So I finally clicked the "Buy" button, having that strange feeling in my gut that I was doing something incredibly stupid, but at the same time whispering to myself "come to me my precioussss"... When the transaction was complete, I was so excited to see my latest purchase that I almost fell off my chair. Unfortunately, here it was when a streak of disappointments began, slowly putting out all the enthusiasm that had been built up so tenderly before.

The first thing that you see is an upsell screen telling you that although the course itself is great as is, you might be interested in acquiring some additional source code helping you to understand it better and have a base for further experimentation. All that for only $47. Having just paid the exact same amount and not being prepared to put my hand in the pocket again, I politely refused the offer and proceeded to the long awaited members area.

I found and played the first video dying to see what it had to offer and heard the familiar soft voice of the guy from the promotional material. Time flew while I cherished every single word that I heard, instructing me how to organize my environment and tools. It seemed like minutes when the video was over. Or perhaps it was minutes. I checked it to be sure and in fact it lasted only 4:24. Well, I thought to myself, there are 11 more from which I can still learn highly valuable information helping me to become a successful app developer. Each one of them putting me a step closer to the final goal.

Then another thing happened. I saw the second video and it was only 2:19. No, there is no spelling mistake: two minutes and nineteen seconds. I got seriously worried that the beautiful game they sketched so vividly would never get done or perhaps appear magically with the soft voice guy saying something like: "We've omitted parts of the code to let you work on them yourself. If you have problems with it, you can buy the source code pack for only $47". Fortunately, I was wrong this time.

The whole course turned out to be a little more than 5h long. Actually, I wouldn't use the word "course". It's more of a screencast in which you see the creation of a simple game. I quite liked the idea that you see everything that is done, from installing the environment, through downloading and processing of graphics and sound resources, up to coding. Unfortunately, it also makes the videos unbearably boring. You just watch the code being written with a speed of an 80-year old who just found out how to use a keyboard. Wouldn't it be easier to just paste the code and then review it?! Sorry, I always get frustrated when I see someone type so slow. But I do have to admit - the game eventually gets created and works.

After watching the last video, I asked myself the question: "What did I learn from all this?". The problem was, I couldn't really tell. It wasn't a programming course, because they assumed you already knew how to get around in the programming environment and handle the code (sometimes quite complicated). They didn't show me any good libraries to automate the game creation process and make it easier and less time consuming. In fact, they used the most basic Android tools: drawing on a Canvas, playing sounds with a MediaPlayer and handling all logic (collisions, animations, etc.) by themselves.

What got my attention was that the code didn't meet any Java coding standard. Variable names started with capital letters or had underscores. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure if a name was referring to a class, a method or a variable. It made me wonder if the guy who actually wrote it had any Java experience. You just don't make such things... ever. Sometimes in the video you could see files with names written in cyrillic which only confirmed my thesis that the author was a freelancer from the eastern conglomerate. And when the soft voice guy pronounced "onTouchListener" as "onToughListener" he lost all the respect in my eyes.

I could probably give some more examples of the lack of quality like the fact that using image resources found with Google is probably illegal and that the game doesn't handle situations when there is an incoming call or the screen size changes. I have to admit, though, that making a playable game in such little time is quite impressive. Especially, taking into account the speed of typing and that some of the video material shows you how to install the programming environment. At the end of the course you should have a ship flying in the right direction, obstacles forming a kind of a tunnel and coins that you have to collect. Everything looking quite pleasant to the eye, including menus and backgrounds.

Besides video lessons, App Dev Empire offers 6 pdf reports. I didn't expect much from them after finishing the course, but they turned out to be not that bad. They describe the most popular app categories as well as monetization and marketing techniques. You shouldn't expect too much from them, since they are usually two to three pages long and use a couple of sentences to explain each point, but they do mention some useful sites and techniques (although you'll have to make some further research on them yourself). To me they seemed too general - almost like typing "android monetizing techniques" in Google and checking out the results.

There's another section on the App Dev Empire site called bonus material, but its content only says: "This additional bonus training module will be released 17 June 2013". It's mid July 2013 when I'm writing this, so I'm not quite sure if it will ever appear.

As you may easily guess, I wasn't quite satisfied with the course and I decided to make use of the money back guarantee. It required some effort, since the support email address on the site didn't work (I kept getting undelivered email notifications). I eventually managed to do it via ClickBank, which is a bigger platform App Dev Empire is sold through. You can find detailed instructions on how to get a refund in this YouTube video. By now, all the cash has already been transfered to my PayPal account and, quite surprisingly, I still have access to the course. Not that I want to go through it another time, but it was helpful while writing this review. Perhaps some day they'll upload the promised bonus material as well...

To sum up, App Dev Empire is not a great product. I'd give it a score of 3.5/10. I liked the form of video lessons and some material from the reports, but in general, it offered less value than an average Android book (which would probably be cheaper anyway). If you're willing to commit 6h of your time and $47, I'd still say to try it - especially with the money back guarantee. Just don't expect to become a millionaire afterwards or to learn how to program if you're a total beginner. You have to at least understand someone else's code and get around in Photoshop or some similar piece of software to be able to follow the lessons.

I hope this review will help you make the right decision. Especially that there are plenty of them showing the course in a totally different way. Feel free to share your own experiences, if you have any.


  1. I watched the videos too. It was previously called The Android Empire, they might have changed the name to attract more people. The course was disappointing as expected.
    The best way to get into mobile game development now is to use a free cross platform engine/library like Cocos2Dx/LibGDX and buy a good book regarding them.

  2. Hi there! Thank you for doing a review on this product, you saved me six hours of time and $47!! :) Your sense of humor is enjoyable to read and your posts are very informative. I've stumbled across this page because my boyfriend has an idea for an Android App.. an idea that upon countless researching, has never been done before (I know I know, hard to believe lol). We both lack programming skills and in fact, I'm struggling to start my own blog dedicated to couponing for charity myself... so to find someone who seems to be succeeding in BOTH areas we're lacking has beyond peaked my interest. If you think you might have any interest in developing this app with us or could offer us ANY advice, we'd be very appreciative!!! Thank you
    - Ashley

    1. I'll be happy to help. Please write me an email with more details. My address is bartas.wesolowski [at]

  3. Thanks just saved me 6hrs of my time and $47. Great review btw

    1. I'm glad you liked it. Check out my other posts - you might find them interesting as well.
      As to online Android learning materials, I suggest you to try Coursera ( It's free and their quality level is excellent. The only problem is that they start their courses at specific times (once per a couple of months or so).
      Anyway, if there's anything I can help you with, feel free to write me an email at bartas [dot] wesolowski [at] gmail [dot] com.

  4. Thanks Bartek, I'm an ex old school programmer that has just got an Android phone and been blown away by it and am looking to get back into coding again. I'll look at Coursera - do you have any book recomendations ?

    1. I didn't use books to learn Android. Probably because they get out of date really fast and you can find all the information on the Internet. You could try these:
      and the official Andoir Developer site:

      I wouldn't recommend reading about everything at once. Try to come up with a simple project and implement it - that's what has been working for me so far.

      Good luck, and let me know if you need any more information.

  5. Thanks Bartek.
    Review really helped me to save my $47 dollars and 6 hours of time.