Time to unload what’s been happening development wise over the past few months and to start making an effort to keep at least a monthly development blog. Investments have been made to move towards becoming an official UK company in April. Spending has been kind of crazy! Lots of ideas have been pursued but also the realisation that not everything is possible and aspirations should be lowered. Returns on mobile are not great and it really comes down to survival over the next year and perfecting the pipeline to deliver great Indie games. The aim is to find the right recipe for success and stay in the game.
With that said new projects have been frozen. At this time we have 17 games in the works in various states, 3 would be a manageable number. It’s horrifying how quickly ambition can get away and an important lesson, especially as so many game companies bite the dust before the game is even finished! It’s a stressful time clearing the backlog will take at least a couple of months. I’ve always been a believer in early delivery to market. If a game is complete flop you might a well find out quickly and move on. Else if a good game catches you can quickly concentrate efforts on that adding more features and getting feedback from players. This worked really well for games such as Pocket God. As long as players have a complete game and the basic mechanics are down. The masterplan can be rolled out in later months.
Anyone entering the mobile market now is late to the party! The gold rush for Appreneurs is over… As with web the sheer number of apps and games make it a very dilute market. Everyone would love to deliver the next Indie game sensation but the reality is survival. Rovio developed 47 games prior to Angry Birds and we’re on the verge of folding. As with a good stock portfolio controlling risk means hedging and diversification. Last year I spent a lot of time with Unity3D a fantastic and easy to use platform for creating AAA+ cross platform games. Even with Unity we would still be looking at creating maybe one or two games per year. A very risky return on investment should a game flop. Rovio developed 47 games prior to Angry Birds and we’re on the verge of folding. Sometimes you just need to keep hitting!
In October 2013 I did some research by reading App Empire by Chad Mureta and Appillionaires by Chris Stevens. I’ve been an app developer for five years and Chad’s book read like a get rich quick scheme to the jaded. Your actual chances of making any return on your investment on mobile is extremely low! Read this. There, I said it. However, I did take away few good tips: use templates, outsource and publish lots. I came across a few sites selling game templates (the dreaded re-skin) which provide a low point of entry to create an actual game. This kind of clicked with me as I’d been using my own code this way for the past 5 years. I’d start by creating a fairly simple app or game and publish it to market. Instead of starting over, I re-theme the game with the same code and new graphics, perhaps adding some new features. This very quickly built up a portfolio that returned revenue and I merrily went on developing. Chad refers to this as flipping, a term taken from the housing market. Codebase sorted my next issue was graphics the most important element of any game. This is where outsourcing comes in, but that’s a story for another day. If you want more info on how to create a game this way check out The Reskinning App Business by Tim Buchalka, it contains everything you need to know to make a start yourself.
So that was the starting point of Imaginate Games in October 2013. Thing’s have moved fast since then, more on that later. So todays take-away is by far the best business model during a gold rush is to sell picks and shovels!