Game DevelopmentPostmortem

KTplay – Retention Through In-Game Communities

August 31, 2016 — by Spencer Liu of KTplay


KTplay is a solution for instant mobile in-game communities headquartered in Beijing with offices in Boston. Founded by Spencer Liu, inspiration struck when he became increasingly frustrated about having to leave the games he was playing in order to hunt across the web for tips to advance to the next level. Spencer shares the story of the startup’s successful evolution from idea to product.

ContributionsDevelopmentGame DevelopmentIndieOnlinePostmortem

Rusty Lake on the importance of creating a community around your games

May 11, 2016 — by Industry Contributions


Rusty Lake is both the name of a studio and the eerie and surrealistic world Robin and Maarten have created. Their indie studio, based in Amsterdam, has been creating mysterious room escape and eerie adventure games since May 2015. With a total of 9 games launched on iOS, Android and web and 2 new games in development they try keep their community involved as much as possible.

ContributionsDevelopmentGame DevelopmentIndieOnlinePostmortem

Star Chef: Your Early Adopters Should Define Your Roadmap

September 21, 2015 — by Industry Contributions


“I want to tell you an incredible story, not just an indie postmortem with lots of great numbers, pretty pictures, tutorial funnels, core loops, etc. of yet another great game. This should be something different that hopefully you have never read before”, says 99Games‘ business performance manager Filippo De Rose as he shares the story of Star Chef, the game he showcased at Indie Prize USA 2015.


Fiksu’s Glenn Kiladis on How to Grow a Loyal User Base

August 29, 2014 — by Industry Contributions


Glenn Kiladis, the vice president of new market and media solutions and the mobile games evangelist for Fiksu, spoke about strategies to build a loyal following, challenges in the mobile marketing ecosystem, and the solutions Fiksu offers in the mobile space with Clark Buckner from (they provide coverage content on employee and worker training strategies, customer loyalty engagement implementations, business intelligence trends and much more).
Listen to the full interview here:

Building to Two Million Monthly Active Users

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 9.57.19 AM
Along with his roles at Fiksu, Kiladis also helped build Fiksu subsidiary FreeMyApps, a rewards-based network that now has the capability to generate 100,000 new games or app installations within 72 hours.

Fiksu, a sponsor at the Casual Connect USA 2014 conference, is a mobile app user acquisition platform that delivers loyal users through utilizing different traffic sources, tracking ad performance, optimizing real-time ad buying, and generating cost-effective and organic leads. Along with his roles at Fiksu, Glenn Kiladis also helped build Fiksu subsidiary FreeMyApps, a rewards-based network that now has the capability to generate 100,000 new games or app installations within 72 hours. Users earn rewards for downloading and engaging with specific apps that advertisers on FreeMyApps want to promote. With a very active and global user base, FreeMyApps now has about two million monthly active users. In a relatively short period, FreeMyApps built a loyal following around a strong community, with over 948,000 Facebook fans, over 496,000 Twitter followers, and over 38,000 YouTube subscribers.

To build such a strong community base, FreeMyApps used the following strategies:

– Contests: When marketing an app or game, they’ll tweet the contest to their community and post about it on Facebook. Sometimes they’ll run contests around a specific game or app just in Facebook.
Responsive mobile app: They made sure that FreeMyApps was a responsive mobile web app on iOS and chose the native route for Android.
Destination Service: On iOS, they made sure to make it a destination service and own that specific traffic.
– Social Sharing Referrals: They’re not a network of mobile app and game offers walled into other people’s apps, so they don’t rely on other organizations or developers to build their audience. Instead, they built their audience directly through allowing and rewarding end users who socially share the app via SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter. Today, 40 percent of all new FreeMyApps’ users come through social sharing referrals.

What Was Learned

In seeing such strong audience growth, FreeMyApps saw the importance for a community to be built around the business. Subsequently, they hired a community manager to run their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels, built a strong community on each platform, and worked to make the app as interactive as possible, even if an end user isn’t downloading games or apps.

The mobile marketing landscape

Through this experience, Kiladis identified some challenges that companies need to be aware of in the mobile marketing ecosystem:

The need for a user acquisition team: UA is constantly evolving challenge. New technologies and new players are continually popping up, and staying on top of the game requires dedicated staff – even if you use a UA partner like Fiksu.
The need to know what tools, tech, or traffic sources, out of the thousands now available, are the best fit for your company: Every app has a personality – so there’s no one answer to “Which tracking software should we use?” or “Which traffic sources are the best?” Getting these answers requires research and testing for your specific app. In addition, they always find that a mix of traffic sources – 5 to 10 in active use, in most cases – yields the best overall user acquisition results, especially when you can continually optimize your bids and budgets across them as you monitor performance data. But choosing which 5 or 10 out of the hundreds of viable ad networks and other traffic sources is no easy task.
The need for a solid attribution and analytics partner: Companies need to look for partners that utilize big data analysis, or at least have access to first- or third-party data, to help them acquire well-targeted users.
The need to understand the value of incentivized vs. non-incentivized marketing: Incentivized marketing can potentially deliver less high-quality users.
The need to keep up with a fast-moving industry: Game companies ought to have mobile acquisition teams, or seek partnerships with companies that can help them acquire and maintain users in the mobile gaming space.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 9.41.31 AM
Companies need to look for partners that utilize big data analysis, or at least have access to first- or third-party data, to help them acquire well-targeted users.

Meanwhile, for companies that try to do it themselves, they need to:

Choose the right attribution and analytics partner: Attribution allows a company or developer to tie media spending back to factual results so that they can know where users come from and through which channels they arrived. This helps to optimize future media spending so that a targeted audience yields high quality leads and customers.
Assess whether they’re buying pure or arbitrage traffic: This is a big issue because a lot of companies represent ad inventory as their own, but their ad inventory has actually been bought from two or three other sources, and can consequently be two or three times removed from the source.
Understand mobile ad technology that addresses media buying, attribution, optimization, etc.

To combat these issues, Fiksu created solutions such as multiple-source media buying, an auction-based approach, and an optimized platform. For more information on Fiksu’s solutions, products, platform, and resources, visit



Big Viking Games, Kickstarter, Community, and the next level of UGC

September 12, 2013 — by David Nixon


KS LogoSince its inception in 2009, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter has seen successful funding of hundreds of game-related projects. From modest one-man projects requiring only a few hundred dollars to over $8,000,000 raised by the microconsole innovator, OUYA, little doubt remains that crowdfunding, and Kickstarter in particular, is a non-trivial force in the creation of new video game content.


Big Viking Games Taps Kickstarter

London, Ontario-based Big Viking Games hopes to soon join the growing ranks of game companies that have found creative independence, funding, and community support on Kickstarter with their new project, Tiny Kingdoms – kicking off today, September 12, 2013.  Founded in 2011 by Albert Lai and Greg Thomson, each individually successful social games industry innovators responsible for products like YoVille and Kontagent, Big Viking Games is “A passionate group of artists, designers, and engineers that love making great games as a part of a great team.” Big Viking pursues success through cross platform mobile and social game experiences based on HTML5.  For more information about HTML5, make sure to check out Chris Shankland’s talk on The Technical Challenges of HTML5 Development from Casual Connect USA in San Francisco.

Tiny Kingdoms is a free-to-play, RPG adventure game for mobile and social platforms.

So in the crowded world of crowdfunding, what makes Tiny Kingdoms stand out? First – a clear focus on User Generated Content as value of the community experience that comes with any good Kickstarter program. The campaign promises future backers that, “Through this Kickstarter campaign, you will not just be helping to fund this project, you will be helping us create it! We want to reinvent the game design process, and change what it means to be a funder. You will receive game updates, dev diaries and partake in polls which will determine the nature of future game assets.”

Albert Lai
Albert Lai, CEO of Big Viking Games

The message is further re-enforced by the company’s press messaging which states,”…what really makes this game different from any other is the way players will be able to influence the development of the game, with unprecedented access to the game creation process. When players become backers in this campaign, they will help craft the vision and direction of the game, along with the developers at Big Viking. They will be given the opportunity to offer ideas and feedback on characters, environments, items, features and tactical gameplay modes. Big Viking sees the backers becoming part of a tight knit development team, as they experience rare insight into the development process. To facilitate this process, Big Viking will host live chats, provide designer diary updates and conduct polls throughout development. This feedback will begin when the game reaches beta and will continue through and after launch as the game evolves.”

Albert Lai, CEO of Big Viking, sees this as a unique opportunity for players to leave their mark on the game and build the game they really want to play, saying, “We want our fans to go beyond just pledging their dollars to also lend their ideas and creativity. The ultimate goal will be to re-imagine the way players interact with game developers, through both Kickstarter and collaborative online platforms.”

Greg Thomson, CPO

Second – a very modest initial funding goal of $50,000 coupled with the wide variety and professional polish of the assets developed to kick off the Kickstarter campaign suggests that while Big Viking Games could potentially bring this game to market on their own, they genuinely see value in letting consumers behind the curtain to become a part of the creative process.  While a few thousand extra CAD isn’t anything a successful games industry indie is likely to turn away, it’s clear to anyone familiar with the genre Tiny Kingdoms occupies that both Albert and Greg conceive of a game that is far, far bigger than $50k will buy. In a super-savvy move, the founders of Big Viking appear to tap the passion of the games crowdfunding community to guide their offering AND build their foundational community at the same time. The low funding threshold also virtually guarantees funding success while compelling stretch goals like free new characters, Co-Op and PvP Multiplayer functionality give ample ammunition for convincing their backers to pony up to the next level for those popular features.

“When players become backers in this campaign, they will help craft the vision and direction of the game, along with the developers at Big Viking.”

Third – virality is built in from the very beginning. Tapping into the natural social component of today’s games, the RPG genre, and the crowdfunding community, Big Viking has built in social benefits even before the game is available by rewarding backers with bonus “buddy” rewards to share with friends. Clearly, the folks at Big Viking understand that gamers, especially midcore online and mobile gamers, want to share the love with their gamer friends, and in doing so, promote the Kickstarter campaign to the exact market most likely to find value in it.  With this core understanding of the power of virality and the gamer’s social networks, Greg, Al, and their team can surely expect to build strong social features into the game as well, completing and perpetuating social positive-feedback loops that enhance Tiny Kingdoms’ growth.


More about Tiny Kingdoms

Tiny Kingdoms is a free-to-play, RPG adventure game for mobile and social platforms. In this game, players take on the role of adventurers on a quest to prove their worthiness to become the next ruler of the kingdom. To do this they must defeat deadly creatures through hundreds of strategic battles as they conquer the most insurmountable odds. They will have to choose a tactical team, craft items and weapons and find the loot that will strengthen their warriors. The powerful enemies in this gameplay can only be defeated through tactical strategy, item and weapon crafting and obtaining the amazing loot. The game is built using HTML5, which allows player to seamlessly play across different platforms, such as Facebook and their mobile devices.

To learn more or to contribute to the campaign, visit Kickstarter.  To learn more about Big Viking games, visit their website.