When entering the European market in the games industry, one faces many challenges. Each country has differing language, legal, culture and demographics which means all of these variables need to be considered. It’s important to keep in mind that success in one country does not equal success in another. At Casual Connect Europe 2018. Tobias Edl, Head of New Business Relations at Whow Games presented the Complexity of the European Market. See the full lecture below.
The participants in Indie Prize at Casual Connect Asia always show amazing creativity and diversity, and this certainly true of these entries for Indie Prize Asia 2018 from Western Europe. From creative learning apps to complex puzzles to adventure games, and even some filled with horror, there is something here for every kind of gamer.
Once upon a time there was a magical game studio named KARIZMA. They were known across the land for developing games, and one day a glorious castle emerged from the studio. The castle was filled with magic and gold so it attracted every looter in the world. Eventually the castle became known as Looters.
When you play as one of the Looters, you must avoid the traps and weapons that protect the castle. Be alert for unexpected dangers; you never know what lies ahead!
Squirrel & Bear: Europe is an adventure game that allows children to explore the diversity of language and culture in Europe. And it is a Badger rescue mission! Players explore Europe’s cities, food, sights and animals, and along the way they find hidden gems. They can listen to the different languages, take pictures, and, of course, save Badger!
Squirrel & Bear: Europe is a new adventure from the characters in Squirrel & Bear: Original. The original game received many awards, including: Die Bienenretter: Comenius-EduMedia Seal 2018, App of the Month September 2016, German Academy of Kids and Youth Literature e. V., Nomination for German Video Game Award as Best Kids Game 2015, Dyslexia Quality Award 2015, German Developer Award 2014 – Best Kids Game, Tommi Kids Software Prize 2014 – Winner Preschool, GIGA-Mouse 2014 – Best Lernapplication Languages, and Pädi 2014 – the Medien Interaktivpreis.
Game Title: ROPAS
Developer: Saif Ahmed
ROPAS is a complex puzzle based on Rock-Paper-Scissors. The goal at each level is to eliminate all but one of the pieces and leave the single winning piece. This winning piece is different at each level.
Each puzzle piece has its own unique features and interacts differently with other pieces; as well, it has a limited number of movements.
ROPAS is the first step toward realizing the developer’s idea of an interesting puzzle game that is both unique and complex. They began with adding mechanics each time they played Rock-Paper-Scissors, until it evolved into ROPAS.
Game Title: Mind the Gap!
Platform: iOS, Android
Country: United Kingdom
In Mind the Gap, a simple arcade game, the goal is survival but at a relaxed, satisfying pace. The player increases their score by collecting power ups and Gwap coins. They can also buy additional playable characters.
Game Title: Need a packet?
Developer: Marginal act
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Need a packet?, a horror-simulator game, takes place against a background of a garbage crisis in the city. The grounds are rotting, recycling containers are overflowing, the water is poisoned and the citizens start disappearing in the forests. The game’s character is Molly, a supermarket cashier, who is gradually losing her mind because of her boring, repetitive work. She begins believing the cash register is turning into a medieval tower and dragons and chimeras are flying around and trying to kill her.
Game Title: Désiré
Developer: Sylvain Seccia
Platform: iOS, Android, Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Désiré is a point-and-click adventure in which the main character sees only in black and white. Désiré, the game’s main character, meets different characters as the game progresses. Each of these characters elicits intense emotional response from him, changing the way he sees the world.
The game has four chapters, more than fifty scenes and over forty characters. At Indie Prize Tel Aviv 2016 it was awarded Best Mobile Game and Best Game Audio. At Indie Prize Asia 2016 is received Best Game Narrative and at Evry Games City it received Best Game Audio.
Game Title: Kabounce
Developer: Stitch Heads
Platform: Desktop Win, Console PlayStation 4
Country: The Netherlands
Kabounce is a fast-paced pinball game in a team versus team experience. You control the ball and must master your movements to dominate the field and annihilate the opponents, taking their points by force. You play parkour time attack challenges to test your skills against ghosts, friends or the leaderboards.
Kabounce was the winner at UE4Jam, 2015, received an Unreal Dev Grant in 2016, and was given a “very positive” rating on Steam. It was the winner at Codemotion Amsterdam 2018 and Grads in Games Winner.
Kabounce was nominated for the Indie Prize by Codemotion Amsterdam.
Game Title: Squire Squarefeet
Developer: Dane Games
Platform: Desktop Win
Squire Squarefeet is a nostalgic adventure that takes the player back to a time when games were easy to learn but hard to master. The characters in the game are the knight, Sir Hot-a-Lot and his squire, anti-hero Squire Squarefeet. Follow them on their journey to save the princess, and enjoy this game filled with fun for all ages.
At Game Scope 2018, Denmark, Squire Squarefeet won the People’s Choice award. People of all ages, groups of friends, and parents with children, played together to figure out the puzzles. The game is filled with adult humor, hard puzzle solving and pattern-based mechanics. These bring out the fighter in players as they sit down to take Squire Squarefeet for a spin.
Squire Squarefeet was nominated for Indie Prize by Game Scope.
Game Title: Circle of Sumo
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac, Console Nintendo Switch
Circle of Sumo is a fast-paced, competitive game that can take place in dozens of different arenas. Players can play alone or in teams as they fight for supremacy in the ring using their power, precision, reflexes and cunning. Sumo is only the starting point, the game is a real mini-games box; it has a joyful and inclusive soul that still keeps its purely competitive aspects, such as controllers’ precision and characters’ statistics.
Circle of Sumo can be played anywhere your imagination can see a ring: a traditional dohyo, the top of a tower, traffic roundabouts, desert islands, carousels, golf courses, sunny cemeteries, dark attics, and all sorts of unlikely places. There are mini-games for everyone’s taste: original creations, re-imaginings of different sports and tributes to traditional video games, such as Pong.
Circle of Sumo aims to be one of the most inclusive, cross-cutting games and to ensure pure fun while keeping the taste for challenge.
This game received the Game of the Fair award at Game Rome, 2017, where a ten-year-old child called it, “the funniest game of the last thirty years.” At Game Jam Rome 2017 it received the Best Game Award.
Circle of Sumo was nominated for Indie Prize by Codemotion Rome 2018.
Game Title: The Wizards – Trials of Meliora
Developer: Carbon Studio
Platform: VR mobile
The Wizards – Trials of Meliora lets you test your magic abilities and your mettle as you defend the realm of Meliora. It is based on the award-winning action/adventure The Wizards, but is a completely new adventure. It takes place in the same world, adapted to Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets. Enjoy the fun of immersive gesture-based spell casting in standalone VR and the breath taking environments from the original The Wizards.
Carbon Studio released The Wizards – Trials of Meliora on July 5, 2018, a mobile VR game that brings the fun of casting spells with hand gestures to Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and Mi VR headsets. This independent title takes full advantage of 3DOF motion controller’s potential and introduces players to the rich world of The Wizards. The games casting mechanic puts magic directly into the player’s hands, eliminating pop-up menus, button combinations and other traditional systems.
The Wizards – Trials of Meliora was nominated for Indie Prize by RESPAWN.
Game Title: The Grandfather Machine
Developer: Shane Hou
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Country: United Kingdom
The Grandfather Machine is a first person maze/ puzzle game featuring a live performance actor. It is set in a desert environment divided into two main spaces, the Real World and the Virtual World. The mechanics of play in the game change, depending on where you are in these worlds. These core game mechanics include wall walking, gravity manipulations and space paradoxes. The game narrative is an experience into the adventure of a surreal world of alternative thinking and bizarre logic.
When you awaken in the game you find yourself in a strange place. A scientist asks you to take several tests to answer some of life’s biggest questions. You must finish a series of challenges in a virtual space; you could walk on every plane, such as ground, wall and ceiling, go through different dimensions and travel by gravity pads to your final destination. But what lies at the end of your journey?
Game Title: OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content
Developer: Last Life Left Game Studio
Platform: Desktop Win
Country: United Kingdom
OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content is an adventure game set in a fictional Eastern-bloc country called Belkasvena. In this narrative-rich game, the player is a game tester who must censor a developing game under government regulation. The government, led by the SUPREME LEADER, continually implements new regulations to “ensure that all video games ensure a healthy and positive culture”. The game tester, employed by the “Last Life Left Game Studio”, has the job of testing a 2D action shooter game, “Ural Death Machine. If they discover any bug or anything that violates regulations, they must take a screen shot and report it.
The total testing period is six months in the story and each pass of testing a level in the game represents one week. At the beginning and end of each working day, the tester can check emails, interact with colleagues on social media and find out the news. This is how the player discovers the effects their work has on the company, the events in the outside world that will affect the pressures of their job, and the changing attitudes and censorship regulations of the government.
OIC explores the origin and development of video game censorship and how it might affect the video game industry and our society as a whole. Developer Shualying “Shane” Hou found inspiration for this game from Metal Slug, Papers, Please and Orwell.
Voxel Clicker is a role playing game with voxel graphics and clicker elements, set in a beautiful kingdom. Players fight with one hero and up to four companions. When you play this game you fight against fantasy creatures, collect treasures, develop skills, and craft new items.
Voxel Clicker was the winner of GTR 2016.
Vocarbicar is a learning app for children in grades 3-4 and 5-6 and was developed in cooperation with Westermann Group. Vocabicar helps children extend their English vocabulary. They control toy cars through theme worlds and collect letters, words and objects, depending on the game mode. As they play, they memorize words which have been collected and repeated before. The game mechanic and high scores keep the children motivated.
Features include individually adjustable difficulty levels, choice of vehicles, exciting challenges in various fields, high learning motivation through high score list, and awards for specific successes. Either German or English can be selected.
Vocabicar received the Best Serious Game at the German Video Game Awards 2018.
Game Title: Bushy Tail
Developer: Fuero Games Sp. z o.o.
Platform: Desktop Win
In this adventure narrative game, we learn the story of Little Fox. Three children are processing their experiences of the sudden arrival of refugees and foreign cultures by turning to the fictional world and using Little Fox as the hero who grows through, adapts to and overcomes the challenges of change. This game constantly transforms, depending on which child is telling the story, giving the player a sense of influencing the plot.
Bushy Tail has received the following awards: PC Indie Pitch award by Steel Media at Game Industry Conference, Best Story/Storytelling at Paris Game Connection, Developer Showcase winner at Games Forum London, Best Game Animation and Best Narrative at Casual Connect USA, and Warsaw Excellence Prize at Pixel Awards 2018.
It has also received many nominations, including: Most Original Game, Most Promising IP, Best Quality Art, Best Casual Game, and Best Console PC/Hardcore all at Game Connection Europe 2017: as well as Indie Game Award Finalist at Taipei Games Show 2018.
To view all of the Indie Prize finalists for Casual Connect Asia 2018, visit indieprize.org.
The Indie Prize competition at Casual Connect Eastern Europe featured an exciting variety of games that displayed amazing innovative talent. With the judging now complete, Casual Connect announces the winners and nominees.
The award for Best Game Audio went to Awakening of Heroes, created by COFA Games from Serbia. Awakening of Heroes lets the player forge through minions to overcome other players and destroy their towers. But for weapons, players must choose between such items as ladles, chimney brushes and hair dryers. The ten minute matches have you exploring character skill sets and best combos as you fight to win.
Entries for Indie Prize at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2018 from Western Europe show amazing creativity. One game brings art to life with gyroscope technology, another has players surviving and building in a world of garbage. Using music and rhythm to create challenging levels, creating your own comic book through a point-and-click adventure game, playing a variety of puzzle games or participating in MMO battles or retro arcade games, you are certain to find games that are fascinating to play.
Game Title: Flotsam
Developer: Pajama Llama Games
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Everything is flooded, and islands of garbage float among the ruins of tall buildings and the polluted coral reefs. This is the world of Flotsam, and you must find a way to survive. You will manage a team of drifters and salvage what you need to build boats and buildings from scrap and flotsam. And you must rescue the seagulls and dolphins who will help you find fresh water and seafood. Flotsam won the prizes for Best Game and Best Game Design at White Nights Prague 2017 and was nominated to participate in Indie Prize.
It’s daunting for many developers to have to constantly create new heroes, units, items to keep pace with engaged players. But designs that avoid the “content treadmill” most often lead to players desiring the game’s content less, and players who desire less will spend less. In a talk called F2P Developers: Get on the Content Treadmill! at Casual Connect Europe, Justin Stolzenberg, VP Publishing at flaregames, it is explained why it’s smarter to embrace rather than avoid ongoing content creation, and gave practical tips for small and medium sized teams. “A gacha is only as deep as the most desirable content.” He further explained, “Nobody plays the lottery for a consolation prize.” He suggests following these three steps: start with the end in mind, design for scalability, and be real about constraints.
Justin Stolzenberg, Vice President Publishing at Flaregames, has been responsible for monetization for a variety of browser and games companies over the past sixteen years. As part of the Flaregames’ management team, Justin now looks after their entire publishing portfolio. Justin came to Flaregames after getting to know CEO Klaas Kersting five years ago. Justin fell in love with Klaas’ vision and the Flaregames culture, which includes true partnerships with developers, a no-asshole-policy and real gamers.
Justin’s favorite aspect to this job is the people, both the diverse and inspiring partners and the brilliant people within the company in tech, marketing and product divisions.
From Gaming to a Career in Games
As Justin was growing up, he played games continually, every day. The most constant of these was Counter-Strike, which he played at the European Pro level until 2001. Interestingly, as he was growing up, his plan for the future varied according to what game that he was playing. “One summer I wanted to be a helicopter pilot because I’d sunk hundreds of hours into Novalogic’s Commanche, then I wanted to be a race driver because of Grand Prix 2.” So it was natural as an adult for him to pursue a career in the game industry.
He started in the industry as a game writer for a major media company. From there he quickly moved to product management and project management during the mid-2000s, while F2P browser games were most popular.
Justin describes, “Games require both artistic and scientific skills. Bringing both perspectives together to solve difficult problems is something that really drives me.” And this is what he enjoys most about his work today.
There are significant challenges in the industry because the mobile game market has become so competitive. There are also, traditionally, challenges in the relationship between developer and publisher. Flaregames wanted to change this dynamic, so they began iterating and learning from mistakes, and continued until they developed what they consider to be a formula that perfectly aligns the interests of both parties.
As a publisher, Justin is most proud of his work when he helped ship and scale something beautiful. These have included Royal Revolt II and Nonstop Knight, two of Justin’s favorite games.
The Key to Effective Marketing
The key to effectively marketing games, according to Justin. is deeply understanding the audience and then telling a compelling, joined-up story. This may be through influencers, media-buying or other ways. Because Flaregames is looking for brands to be successful over a number of years, they must make a deep investment in story-building and how they communicate with the player base.
Flaregames looks for magic in the games they are considering and how the developer manages the ongoing evolution of their game. With respect to the game, this means the themes the game covers, the ways the themes fulfill the needs of the intended audience, and whether the gameplay actually delivers on this vision. Flaregames then looks at the developer’s readiness for sustained live ops and continued content creation after hard launch, and whether this is a realistic proposition.
The Relationship Between Publisher and Developer
Justin emphasizes that the relationship with developers must be based on transparency, fairness and an alignment of interests. He always remembers the developer is the chief architect of the masterpiece while the publisher provides the scale, marketing, infrastructure and F2P expertise to bring the masterpiece to the masses. The developer should be left to do what they do best: making the games.
Making games is a full-time, intense amount of work, with little time for anything else. So, as Justin points out, it is important for a developer to find a publisher just as passionate and invested in the game as they are. If the publisher can offer world-class marketing, production and technical support, this is an excellent publisher to choose.
There are many, many great games from amazing teams that never gain traction. The volume of competition is staggering and a serious threat to most developers; this is where publishers can really make a difference.
“We at Flaregames call ourselves the ‘Guardians of Joy’: we pledge to protect the creativity of our partners in a cutthroat market,” Justin describes. “This is what the best publishers can offer.”
Justin continues to be passionate about games when he is not working. He plays in diverse genres: games that include Grand Prix II, Counter-Strike, Overwatch and all the Civilization games. Currently he is looking for the next game he will play really hard core. He also plays jazz guitar, reads sci-fi and exercises obsessively.
Are you a game developer who has decided to use the free-to-play business model? Then, no matter how exciting your game, you must find ways to make it profitable if you are to continue in business. How will you convert the users into paying users? Then how will you convince those paying users to continue spending in your game? These are difficult but absolutely essential challenges. There is no better person to advise you than Teut Weidemann.
Teut Weidemann is the F2P Consultant at I Teut You So. As a senior online games specialist, he consults with companies in the F2P space, sharing the knowledge he gained working in games since the 1980s and shipping over 100 titles on multiple platforms. He was part of the team that created the browser game of the year, The Settlers Online.
At Casual Connect Europe 2018, Teut gave the session titled Raising ARPPU and Conversion in Your F2P Game. In it he used examples from dozens of different games in best practices for raising ARPPU and conversion: the most difficult problem. Once past this hurdle, raising ARPPU is a little easier, but still tricky. You must always be aware of the fact that players want value for the money they spend in the game.
To learn more about how you can keep your game profitable while providing the value players want, be sure to watch the video of this session.
To read more about Teut including some more of his wisdom from Casual Connect Europe 2017 which took place in Berlin, see this exclusive article.
In 2017, the team at Wooga began an 18 month long journey to ‘bring Diamond Dash back from the dead’. The game did quite well but ended up being retired in 2015 as the market changed. Learn from Senior Product Manager at Wooga Tim Shepherd as he tells the story of resurrecting a 7 year old game. Join Tim for his talk entitled Bringing a 7 Year Old Game Back to Life at Casual Connect Europe 2018 in London.
Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted many entries from all over Europe, including Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, as well as the United Kingdom. And the innovation in these games is remarkable. Competitive games have a variety of new twists that require speed, precision and skill to succeed. Adventure and narrative games pit the player against novel situations and obstacles. Settings range from the historically accurate (or inaccurate) to fantasy or dungeons or even the player’s mind. And a variety of puzzle games challenge players’ thinking in different ways. Whatever kind of gaming you prefer, there are games here you will enjoy. These fantastic games total 38 from Europe. The finalists have been broken up into two parts. To see the other 19, see this article.
Game Title: Falling Sky
Developer: Falling Sky
Platform: Desktop Win
Country: United Kingdom/Norway
Falling Sky is a cinematic 3D mystery game. It was developed at the National Film and Television School and the project leader and sole developer was Jonathan Nielssen. The game uses Unreal Engine and motion capture technology to create immersive, narrative-driven drama. It has a Twin Peaks influence and elements of open world adventure.
The characters of the game are brothers Daniel and Tommy, who are attempting to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. Guided by a series of cryptic messages, the boys set off on a quest to find the truth.
Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted many entries from all over Europe, including Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, as well as the United Kingdom. And the innovation in these games is remarkable. Competitive games have a variety of new twists that require speed, precision and skill to succeed. Adventure and narrative games pit the player against novel situations and obstacles. Settings range from the historically accurate (or inaccurate) to fantasy or dungeons or even the player’s mind. And a variety of puzzle games challenge players’ thinking in different ways. Whatever kind of gaming you prefer, there are games here you will enjoy. These fantastic games total 38 from Europe. The finalists have been broken up into two parts. To see the other 17, see this article.
Game Title: Circle of Sumo
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Circle of Sumo is a fast-paced competitive multi-player game where players alone or in teams fight for supremacy in the ring. This intense challenge requires power, precision, quick reflexes and cunning. Yonder describe the game as “a real mini-games box, a sort of kaleidoscope of playable pills with a joyful and inclusive soul.” But the competitive aspects are always retained. There are dozens of different arenas and the ring could be anywhere a circle could be imagined, even a traffic circle.
Every developer knows how critical user acquisition is to the success of a game. But the mobile app landscape evolves at lightning speed and new challenges constantly arise. So how do you keep up? Fortunately, new solutions are also coming to deal with the latest problems.
Martin Price, Vice President of Product at Vungle, is one of the best people you could ask about user acquisition challenges. Martin runs Vungle’s product team and, as well, is responsible for roadmap planning, research and development, user experience and product design. With over fifteen years experience leading product teams, Martin also has had executive roles at Yahoo!, Vdopia and OpenX and strategy roles at Vodafone and Nokia.
At Casual Connect USA 2018, Martin presented the session Tricks of the User Acquisition Trade: How Advertiser Tools are Changing and What You Need to Know to Drive More Revenue. They discussed what today’s user acquisition challenges are and how creative optimization plus data give the opportunity to transform the way audiences are grown. And they described the ways creative optimization and self-serve advertising tools help to empower a new kind of mobile advertiser. Be sure to watch the video of this presentation to learn more.