How do startup companies begin? It’s different for everyone. For some people, having lots of brilliant ideas is the thing, and sooner or later one of them is brought to fruition. Some people polish their single idea for many years before finally finding the resources to bring it to life. For some, it’s happenstance. OWL-Studio’s CEO Vera Velichko shares her experience.
Plarium started out humbly enough in 2009 on Russia’s social networks with only a poker game and a farming game to its name. Today they are the #1 hardcore game developer on Facebook and a major force on mobile that is continuing to grow quickly. How did Plarium get from one to the other? It all comes down to its content, its employees and its players – with a dash of marketing thrown in.
Ilyon has only been on the scene since 2013, but they already have over 40 titles and are continuing to see strong user acquisition and retention growth every month among their various titles. The company, which was started by four former Israeli military officers who worked on their game projects at home, has since grown to 40 employees with an office in Israel.
The company started around a simple bubble-shooter game with only one game mode which Ilyon COO Ilya Molo says had a “total respectable” 2M downloads. They then took the feedback and data they received from that game and worked on it full-time to improve it. The resulting changes led to 1000% growth in downloads and revenue. Today, the same app has more than 14M downloads.
Ilyon has continuously used this model to grow: Reinvesting in its games as it reaches new thresholds – creating new levels, hiring new designers, adding game modes and improving in-app purchases. Additionally, they create special bubble-shooter apps to take advantage of current events such as the Olympics or holidays.
I recently went to Berlin to prepare for the upcoming Casual Connect show there in 2017. While there I spent several days visiting a few game studios and other companies in the industry, and I would have to say my visit to GameDuell was one of the highlights of my trip.
I remember my first exposure to GameDuell; they were a Platinum sponsor of Casual Connect Europe. They had a really fun setup with very colorful cube chairs, a projector, big banners labeled “GameDuell is cool” and very eccentric people. If you are lucky enough to visit their office, you will probably agree with me that GameDuell is definitely very cool.
SpeedRunners recently sprinted across the finish line to a full release after five years in development. It’s been a long process, but after a few years using Steam Green Light, awards from SXSW and Indie DB and various play-throughs by famous YouTubers, it’s now fully released for Steam, with an Xbox One release coming later.
We talked with Gert-Jan Stolk of DoubleDutch Games about SpeedRunners. They detail how publisher tinyBuild helped with the game’s aesthetic, how SpeedRunners eventually became an eSport and why indie developers should have a back up plan because their first game probably won’t be profitable.
Fishing Cactus is getting serious about games. The studio, based in Belgium, has been creating games since 2008. In that time, they have gone from a small team located in a basement, to a sprawling 30-person team with their own two-floor building. The studio has released 50+ games.
The entire team, bosses and employees, works in an open space – making it easier for everyone to communicate and feel like more than a number in a company. They also do their own internal game jam every year to foster new ideas and inspiration.
Along with many other games, Fishing Cactus has been living up to their promise to make “real serious games” for seven years now. But in some ways, they’re just starting to get down to the serious business of making games. While the company has long been in the business of making mobile free-to-play (F2P) games for others, they are also currently creating their very own game: Epistory.
How did we get started?
We all love super heroines. But it’s been many years since we were introduced to Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Cat Woman, Elektra and even Lara Croft. David Burns, CEO of Eden Films, thought it was time we had a new super heroine for the big screen. But what sort of new heroine? There have been so many introduced over the years. Howabout a Fallen Angel and the need for her to save the world from evil. Enter Elizabeth Grey.
In the mid-2000s, Richard Boeser was studying industrial design at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. However, he had lost interest in product design and had instead become captivated by digital distribution. “They brought more experimental games to a wider audience,” he says. “It felt like a movement I wanted to be part of, and so I decided to focus my graduation project on the design of games.”
His project was part research, part building a game alone. It resulted in a prototype for what would become known as ibb & obb – the first game from two-man independent studio Sparpweed.
Neopix has been in the digital services industry for over three years – building websites, mobile apps, desktop applications, interactive programs for airports and malls, and more. The company’s employees share a special camaraderie – hanging out over beers and even vacationing together. Employees are welcome to voice their opinions at all times, feedback is often sought from others, and everyone feels valued.
From a contract game artist’s point of view, the next few years in the video game industry may look a little more interesting creatively — and a little lighter on the clones — than the previous decade.
“I think things are going to change a lot more in the next year or two than they did in the last three or four years. Even four years ago, mobile was still big,” said Jason Park, Concept Art House VP of operations, during a recent studio tour in San Francisco. “It feels actually exciting for the first time 10 years. It reminds me of the old days, where I actually want to be on the show floor.”