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EXECUTION Building a video games business from scratch

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by srodrigo, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. oddball
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    oddball Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I do both, really depends on the project. Right now I am working on a couple of games for myself but also a non-game app with my partner that serves a different market. The non-game has much larger potential but the games can still be really strong earners, 5 to 6 figures a month with a publisher.
     
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  2. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Weekly update 10

    POMS: 61. I set a minimum of 60 per week, so good. It works better like this than daily.

    Game 2:
    • Finished maze generation and included the levels on the game.
    • Started integrating ads. Looks pretty straight-forward with Corona, as promised. Need to play around more to decide where to place them.

    Review of the problems spotted last week:
    1. Game 2 is not as exciting as Game 1 was - It didn't improve much, but it didn't get worse either. Maze generation was interesting and got my butt glued to the chair. It also feels good to get things getting closer to completion. Looking forward to finishing this game.
    2. Too much social media and Fastlane Forum :) - Didn't put away distractions enough. At least I compensated working late some days.
    3. Let leisure activities disrupt my work - Still far from having a strict daily routine. I'm going to bed one hour earlier and getting up earlier. This makes more time in the morning, which is when I work better, although I go for a short walk during the morning and usually struggle to focus again before lunch. Also brought some short meditation sessions back, but need to resume the programme I was following; can't be 100% sure about whether it's related, but I felt far more focused when I meditated consistently.
    4. Got distracted with some ideas - I wasn't as disperse as last week but still keep overthinking about other things I could be doing (endless fight).
     
  3. Schwarz
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    Schwarz New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I really believe it is important that, as some others have been saying, you just focus on one game.

    About the part where you want those bigger games. Once you start earning enough money solo, you can start hiring others. Or you could team up with friends, as I am doing with my current project.

    Have you thought of VR? There are barely any games being made for that. But the games that do hit there make huge loads of cash. People who have VR are spending so much time looking for good, unique games for the platform, but there are barely any. It's a market that's still rapidly evolving. The only costs it would require is a VR headset. Which, I know, is not cheap. It's also not that expensive though.

    If you have any games that need to be playtested, PM me! I'll gladly give some feedback. I know quite a lot of developers (some who work at the company that made Epistory, for example) so I could have them take a look at it as well. If they're not too busy of course.
     
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  4. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    That's the approach I'm taking now. Bigger things will have to wait. I'm not even prototyping new stuff on the side to avoid distractions (which I'm not sure it's a good thing though, I end up not working on that extra time anyway).

    The laptop I bought for work (had an ancient one, it was lagging me too much) is much more expensive than a VR headset. It's not about the money really. I'm don't like VR games at all, and don't really get the "aha!" point at all, which would make it difficult to make something players like. Maybe that's a poor reason to ditch them. Also, VR makes me feel dizzy (have problems with that), I can't imagine how I'd be able to work on a game. Also, it of course depends on the game, but VR is about 3D, and 3D games take longer to make. Many indies explicitly take them out of the equation because of this.

    Adding everything up, I wonder whether that's a good idea for me in particular, even considering it might be a good business opportunity. But there are still others.

    That's cool, thanks! I'll add you to the pool of testers.
     
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  5. OverByte
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    OverByte Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I would suggest not adding ads until you have a popular game else you won’t make any money and just piss off initial users, if the game catches on just release an update with ads if that is your monetization strategy. In my opinion the smarter bet is to ditch ads and focus on IAP.

    Seem to be a lot of distractions based on your posts like looking for ideas, frameworks even debating HTML 5 (which sounds like a horrible idea). Keep focused on mobile, I’d reserve some money for ads post launch to see if it catches on and will get you faster feedback than watching downloads trickle in here and there. I still think you should focus on unity but if you found another framework that suits your purposes then so be it but I’m sceptical Corona is faster to develop with than unity.

    In terms of ideas I would look for popular games that can emulate with your own creative twist. Focus on ideas that are realistic for a solo dev. I think you are on the right track with puzzles.

    The publisher idea sounds interesting, I would definitely suggest looking into that.

    Keep at it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019 at 8:31 PM
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  6. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    This is interesting, I didn't consider that option, as some kind of ads seem to be a good source of revenue, but it's true that can put people off. Anyway I wasn't planning to spam users heavily, and mainly focus on rewarded videos, which are optional and can help making progress in the game. I would imagine those kind of videos shouldn't annoy people? Interstitial videos can be annoying though. So what about a first release with only rewarded videos and hold interstitial ones for when a game gets popular? They are the bridge between IAP and nothing.

    For 3D games, I'd have to go for Unity, but for 2D this one suits me quite well. Flexibility and taste apart, I don't see how Unity's workflow is that good, as you have to keep switching between IDE and Unity and the learning curve is much bigger.

    That's what I'm trying right now. I took at game with +10M downloads and tried to do something a bit different. Let's see how it goes.
     
  7. Flybye
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    Flybye Bronze Contributor

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    Keep in mind that ads do not have to be full screen. There are plenty of simple games with a banner ad at the top or bottom. And if a game is addictive enough, then people will barely be bother with the ads. Look what happened to Flappy Bird. There was a point where ad impressions were bringing in $50,000 a DAY. But the game was addictive enough to keep coming back to it. Video games have been known to release dopamine in the brain. Get addicted enough and people keep coming and coming and coming back with ad impressions being a nice side effect.
     
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  8. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Small ads are usually integrated into the actual gaming experience. So they take a share of the screen while users are playing and are a potential distraction. Interstitials, on the other hand, show up during naturals breaks, for instance after finishing a level. Thus they are much less intrusive and also they generate more ad revenues because users are more likely to focus their attention toward them and interact with them.

    If you do it smart (for instance showing a "Congratulations"-screen including a half-interstitial), big ads are definitely the better option.
    In addition, I would suggest offering an IAP that deactivates ads. Paying $1 for not seeing ads for let's say 1 month is a price, many users are willing to pay.

    Rewarded videos are the smartest approach because they provide an actual benefit for users. If you figure out a working ecosystem, you should definitely go for rewarded videos. But at the same time, you should offer IAPs and sell the same stuff, users can earn by watching videos, in bigger quantities.

    Adding ads later in your app's lifecycle is not a smart idea in my opinion. Long-term users will not appreciate them because their experience will be be worse than it was at the beginning (exception: rewarded videos).

    Using both (rewarded video and content-IAPs + ads and no-ads-IAPs) is a bit risky, as ads might alienate buyers of content-IAPs. A good workaround is to show ads only to non-payers. So every IAP-buyer gets the no-ads-benefit automatically. Also, you could think about giving new users "newbie protection": They do not see ads for the first 7(?) days after the installation. This gives you time to hook them.

    TL;DR:
    - ads from the beginning or not at all
    - interstitials over small ads, but only show them in "natural" breaks in the experience
    - offer IAP to deactivate ads
    - rewarded video > everything else
    - rewarded videos should go hand in hand with IAPs offering the same stuff
    - show ads only to non-buyers of IAPs
     
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  9. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    @Flybye I've got the impression that banners don't work well anymore (notice that Flappy Birds was released quite a while ago) compared to other kinds of ads, and they are constantly annoying. Actually, some of the games I got inspiration from use banners and just ruin the game experience distracting you too much. I wasn't going to include them.

    @Vaughn Thanks for the summary, it's overall the same points I investigated on my own, but great to confirm. I'm still not 100% sure about interstitial ads though, I personally get pretty annoyed by them, even if they appear at natural breaks (e.g. you completed a few levels), but adding them later might be worse. If case of finally adding them, I was thinking about quite a high time interval to make them less frequent.

    I'll check "half-interstitial" ads out, I don't know about them.

    The "show ads only to non-paying users" is what I had in mind too. But does that apply to rewarded videos, or only to interstitial/banners? I would assume paying users would be happy with keeping rewarded videos available, as long as they are non-intrusive and they have to go look for them explicitly.

    The "newbie protection" sounds like a cool idea to consider. Sounds like the old free trial, but applied to ads.

    Is it that common to disable ads for paying users only for a period of time (e.g. a month, as per your example)? I thought it would be more common something like pay once and don't get ads anymore, but again I don't pay for mobile games stuff :) so no idea.
     
  10. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    That applies only to non-rewarded ads.
    Users have to play rewarded videos voluntarily, so it is almost impossible for them to bother player. I would suggest offering rewarded videos when players are in need of the stuff they can earn. For example, they fail to complete a level and lose their last "life". You approach them with a message like "Need more lifes? Watch a video and keep playing" and if they agree, they see the video. Additionally you can offer the IAP first ("Buy more lifes") and offer the rewarded video as an alternative if users decline to pay.

    It is common to charge per period, yes. But to be honest, I know this primarily from content apps. Check for instance USA today. They offer 1 month free of ads for $ 2.99. Not the worst idea to sell it as a re-occuring subscription, so you keep earning if people forget to cancel it :-D
    ‎USA TODAY

    For games, it is more common to show ads to non-payers and deactivate them automatically as soon as users buy an IAP.
     
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  11. OverByte
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    OverByte Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    What CPMs can you get for ads? That will tell you how many DAU you would need to pull in your revenue goals. My guess it’s a lot. Referencing flappy bird is naive, that app had millions of DAU if you hit that level any monetization will work.
     
  12. OverByte
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    OverByte Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    This is exactly what I did when I released my game. I do like this approach as it shouldn’t piss off uses as much as interstitial ads and gives you at least some revenue from users who won’t pay you directly.
     
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  13. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I don't master these terms yet, but for what I understand CPM depends on each specific ad network, so it depends. I use Appodeal, which uses Admob and a bunch of other networks, does mediation and apparently gets the best deal for you.
     
  14. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Yeah, rewarded ads are a great invention. Even better because they are like a free (time to watch the video aside) candy that can help people decide to go for IAP, as you usually offer the same kind of items and they can test whether they enjoy getting extra stuff. I read this on an article, and reiterated this relationship between rewarded videos and increase on IAP. I guess it makes sense.
     
  15. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    CPM = Cost per Mille = Cost per 1,000 impressions
    So it is basically the revenue you make from showing 1,000 ads.

    Usually, advertisers do not pay per Mille though. They pay per Install (CPI), per Click (CPC), per Action (CPA) or -for rewarded video- per Completed View (CPCV). But revenue on the publisher side is calculated per Mille, because it makes comparison easier.
    CPM depends on a lot of factors, but the most important ones are:
    - CPI/CPC/CPCV bids of advertisers (which depend on the app category/genre and country)
    - Relevance of ads for your audience

    Appodeal is a good choice. Especially for rewarded videos, they are integrated with the most important video networks (AdColony, Vungle, AppLovin). Usually CPMs are between $2 and $10.
     
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  16. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for clarifying. I read about all of this a few weeks ago, but there are many things to digest and need a bit more time.

    Seems like showing the relevant ads is important. I've seen this can be a problem though, because it requires enabling permissions to access location and some personal information, and I've read some comments from people complaining about it and not really understanding why a game needs those permissions. I wonder where is the balance, but I guess it'll be a matter of trying out different things to figure out.

    Glad to hear that Appodeal is a good choice. It's the only choice I had really (without going into implementing custom mediation), as they bought Corona SDK and therefore offer integration with Appodeal for free, which is great (the only similar alternative I know about is Unity).
     
  17. OverByte
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    OverByte Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    So with the cpm posted above 2-10 for your network that means best case you could make $10 per thousand users per day (if you showed them 1 ad). Do you think you could get 1000 user per day? This is very difficult. This is why I say focus on iap, ad revenue is peanuts unless you have massive hit. You should really run some numbers on this if you want to treat it like a business.
     
  18. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I never said I wasn't going to add IAP. I'm adding both videos and IAP. Actually, rewarded videos complement IAP. Both combined seem to be the way to go these days to monetise mobile games.

    I'm aware of the high numbers needed to get revenue from ads. Same with IAP, only a very low percentage of users actually spend any money at all. That's how most mobile apps and games can make some money today, you need a good amount of users. If I thought I can't eventually get a good amount of users for one of my games, I'd be doing something else.

    Numbers vary from one source to another and already had a look and apparently was misleading, so I haven't run exact numbers again. It also varies from one kind of game to another, and sources tend to focus on averages, which is not really useful.
     
  19. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Just to clarify: CPM refers to impressions, not users. As users can see multiple impressions per day depending on their in-app behavior, it is inaccurate to pretend the number of impressions is equal to the number of users.

    Nevertheless, I agree that IAPs in combination with rewarded ads will in most cases outperform non-rewarded ads.
     
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  20. OverByte
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    OverByte Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Perhaps you missed it but I stated in my message that it assumed you only showed the ad once per user session. Understood if you show multiple impressions per session the number of users is lower. My point was to figure out the numbers you need to hit revenue goals.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
     
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  21. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    @Vaughn You said Appodeal is a good choice as it includes the most important ad networks. Do you have experience with Unity Ads? They seem to work in different ways (mediation vs auction) so I was wondering about what are the differences in performance (a.k.a. revenue)?
     
  22. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    If I remember correctly, we used Unity Ads when I worked for the strategy games company. We used Fyber (they are a mediation service like Appodeal) and ran Unity Ads, Vungle and AdColony. In terms of eCPM, Unity Ads was the worst of the three. But they had inventory in some tier 2/tier 3 countries, where the other two networks couldn't deliver anything. So if you plan to push your apps f.e. in MENA, Unity Ads are worth a shot.
     
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  23. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    As you can imagine, they sell it as if Unity Ads was the best thing ever :) as they do with everything. They seem more a marketing company than a technology one.

    Anyway, thanks for the warning. I was wondering how easy/difficult is to integrate mediation software in Unity (just read that Appodeal is not straightforward, but no idea). I'll keep digging and have a look at Fyber too.
     

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