Jero Juujärvi is the founder of Acquire, Engage and Monetize and has worked as a game designer for Nitro Games.
Being a game developer is one of the riskiest jobs you can have. You can have superb execution and create a vast marketing campaign for your game only to realize that all the money spent on user-acquisition, promotion, PR and game launch campaigns did not create an effective enough user base to initiate the viral marketing that would yield those millions of free downloads we so vividly dream of. And we can see the successes happening all around us (Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga).
Childhood Studio was started in September of 2012. Their core members used to work for the same employer, but that development house ceased its operation back in July of 2012. Sharing the same creative vision, they decided to form their own studio to carry on their passion for games. Childhood Studio’s CEO Believe Liu shares the story of Sliding Angel.
'It’s important that young people of color see someone like them making games.'–Micah JacksonTweet Me
Micah Jackson has been working in the games industry for 15 years. He began his career as a senior web designer at Infogrames which would later be rebranded as Atari. From there, he was recruited to manage the Games portals for AOL’s kids and teens channels (KOL and RED) where he began to produce Flash online games. After several years at AOL, Micah went on to become the senior content producer at Yahoo! Games, where he focused on video games editorial and was later recruited to be an online game producer for Disney Interactive. At Disney, Micah was responsible for the concept and execution of dozens of online games, and in 2012, he collaborated with Walt Disney Feature Animation on the creation of the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade machine, which was used to promote the film Wreck It Ralph. He is currently working as a consultant for Canadian digital studio Bkom and is releasing his first independent game, Bugchinko, under his own AVCV studio label.
It was 2012 when Matt Seslar first conceived of the GameBeat. Back then he was sure a similar product already existed. He searched eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and found nothing. Back then he did some sketches of what the GameBeat would eventually look like. Fast forward two years to November 2014, and nothing like it had been introduced to the market, so he thought it was time to change that. As a person who works at technical support for a telecommunication company and runs his own technology related blog, he knew how he wanted the GameBeat to connect and work with smartphones.
Loud Panda Games is a year-old mobile games studio from the Philippines. Critter Camp is their first game, which is currently in soft launch on iOS, and the company’s Product Manager Jon Roque shares the story.
How the company started
Loud Panda Games used to be a part of a larger short-lived tech startup that also dealt with other non-game related properties. After a bit of restructuring, the gaming team was recreated as a new company, which now focuses solely on making mobile games.
SMALL CHANGES GONE BIG
We were already midway in development of a game called Reel Monsters while with the previous company. It shared many similarities with what would eventually be Critter Camp. Reel Monsters also has monster collecting, training and questing. It drew inspiration from the Philippine cockfighting industry, which pits roosters against each other in an arena. It was a very gambling-themed game concept with training taking place using slot machines, and where players could bet on monster battles.
We initially thought it would be a simple rebranding and a bit of gameplay tweaking.
Having started over, we initially thought it would be a simple rebranding, and we’ll just tweak the gameplay a bit and continue development. But after we were done with the reconceptualization, only the battle system was left mostly intact. The slot machine training system was changed. The questing system was also changed. There was also a pivot from fewer critters with many skills and different skill paths to more critters with fewer skills.
Teamwork battles challenges
Our first major challenge was when after a month in production our Product Director Marvin Apacible was diagnosed with lymphoma and had to be out of office for several months while he underwent chemotherapy. This caused some major production issues. The team had to rely on the game design document to bring the idea to life, as there were periods of time when the Product Director was out of reach. Nonetheless, the team stepped up to the plate.
The team brainstormed whenever they encountered a design issue and decided together on how to move…Tweet Me
The team brainstormed whenever they encountered a design issue and decided together on how to move forward. It is not the optimal setup and may have caused some design inconsistencies, but it also empowered the team to take charge of important product decisions.
Another challenge is that as we get deeper and deeper into development, we realize we might have bitten off more than we can chew. We started with only two developers. We expected to hire two more within a month of operation, but had some trouble with hiring competent Unity developers. It took us more than 6 months before we added another developer to our team, and this caused a major delay from our initial estimates. On top of that, due to our game’s genre, we might be compared to mobile games such as Puzzle and Dragons, Summoner’s War and Brave Frontier. These are huge games with a significant amount of content. With our limited resources, we had to be very conscientious in deciding where to apply our efforts.
We had our soft launch at the end of December 2014 after 10 grueling months of hard work. We’re very proud of what we accomplished. The graphics are great and the amount of content that we were able to put out was remarkable, considering our manpower at that time. But soft launch release was of course just the beginning. The next few months have been a particularly tough time as we started supporting a live game. Some players encountered connectivity issues that were difficult to replicate internally. Up to now, we are still hard at work improving the game’s performance and stability. We’ve also released a PvP system and more critters during the soft launch.
It was a great privilege for us to be part of Casual Connect Asia 2015’s Indie Prize Showcase. It was our first time attending such an event. It gave us plenty of opportunities to show the game to publishers, investors and other developers. More importantly, the energy exuding from the passionate developers in the event inspired us to keep becoming better and better at our craft.
The team is currently porting Critter Camp to Android and is still in discussions with several publishers for possible partnership. Nothing certain yet though, and they’re still open for talks, the developers say. Their Product Director Marvin is in remission and back to work, Meanwhile, the game can already be played on iOS devices.
Who would imagine that one of Europe’s biggest free-to-play games studios is situated in a quiet part of Hamburg in the north of Germany? Over there, Goodgame Studios, the makers of the hit mobile game Empire: Four Kingdoms, have established their own little realm where more than 1,200 employees from over 60 nations are busy working on new and existing games. GameSauce published an article about the German high-flyers in 2013, and a lot has happened since then. “The speed with which we have been growing is incredible. In 2014, we nearly doubled the number of our employees as well as our revenue,” founders and brothers Kai and Christian Wawrzinek explain. Read on for the brothers’ story of their company’s extraordinary development.
AerServ, the only mobile-first video mediation platform, recently announced the launch of rewarded video for mobile, helping developers monetize their app offerings in a crowded and challenging marketplace. CEO Josh Speyer provides more insight into their offering as well as the growth of video and the mobile games market.
Today, there is an unanswered question many mobile gaming developers are struggling to answer.
What makes a successful game?
When trying to feed the equation for a successful game, many developers and analysts simply accept the disparity between success and failure. We see, therefore it is – some games are just more popular than others and you don’t know what works until you test it.
Nob Studio is an indie company from Singapore, run by Shu Wan Cheng. He has been working as an indie game dev full time since 2008. Initially Shu Wan was developing Flash games only, and gradually switched to mobile. He barely survived as a solo dev for many years, and calls Prison Life RPG his biggest success so far.