Game market is absolutely booming and will top $ 108 billion this year. Growing at a CAGR of 19%, mobile games remain its most lucrative segment and now account for 42% (or $ 46.1 billion) of the total revenue generated by app publishers. Want to grab a share of the pie? Here’s how to create an indie mobile game that will overwhelm users.
It all starts with an idea – and your idea has to be validated.
Here’s what you should do:
Your success largely depends on your ability to see beyond stereotypes. You surely remember Alto’s Adventure, the endless runner game created by an indie studio from Canada? Although the game made use of simple mechanics and went paidmium on the App Store (it’s currently priced at $ 4.99!), Alto got featured by Apple and created enough buzz to attract and engage players.
And that’s why you should think of a flexible monetization strategy early on. Since only 0.19% of mobile users spend money on games, you’d better go freemium or employ different monetization strategies on Google Play and the App Store like Snowman (the vendor behind Alto’s Adventure) did. Going free-to-play (and pay-to-win) is the middle ground for most indie developers, although it remains to be seen whether you’ll manage to provide enough content to engage users in the long run.
Ok, once you decided on the game genre, it’s time to develop game concept.
How to make a successful mobile indie game? According to Michail Katkoff, Product Manager at Supercell, it’s all about choosing the right theme. Put yourself in your potential users’ shoes. If you browse the App Store and come across a post-apocalyptic game, you already know what it’s all about (trying to escape from zombies, stopping the spread of a deadly virus, etc.). If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll download the app straight away – and you don’t even need to watch explainer videos to understand what you have to do to kick that zombie in the face.
However, you should pick something neutral: Pavel Shylenok, CTO at R-Style Lab (you can check his profile here), believes the casual games market changes every two or three years. In early 2010s, it’s farm simulation and epic fantasy games that gained most traction; today we see more space war and steampunk apps released to the market. Targeting a specific niche – for example, players who love Harry Potter and therefore might spend a few dollars on a game taking place in a bewitched castle – might be an option.
What’s next? You should hire several game script writers to develop different concepts taking into account the game mechanics and mobile platforms (it’s either iOS or Android or both) and select the best one. A couple of settings and game levels would do for a start; don’t go into much detail since the concept will evolve over time.
In the second part of the article we’ll discuss the actual game dev and testing process, as well as tricks that help indie developers market a game on a limited budget.