"...and that is why I took time out from game dev, because reetlist.com is sure to be a huge success!", I said.
Sounds like the end of a joke. But it was wasn't. It was just another fail to add to the list. Another indie dream that remained just that, a dream.
Aye, Russ King, what a dreamer. But then, that is why I keep going and going. Besides, it wasn't a total failure. I released my first indie website and learnt loads. Every cloud and all that. So, where now?
Well, having taken the time to consider my next move, I've found myself having a renewed urge to release some new games. But with a new strategy - and free to tell me it sucks. Before the phenomenal success of reetlist, my last period of chasing the indie gaming dream ended with a strategy. It wasn't necessarily a bad one, but it was bad for me. That strategy was "build hypercasual freemium games quickly". This resulted in games like Orb Zen and Circles Incoming, and a plethora of unreleased prototypes.
The problem I had with hypercasual is that whilst they can be quick to make the core game, making a good one is hard and time consuming. The core game loop needs to be solid - addictive and fun. The most successful hypercasual games get this perfectly right after iteratively tweaking it to the nth degree, following hours of statistical analysis.
See that last paragraph there? That's it. That's why I failed. Hours and hours of filling my game with analytics, paying for ads so people play my game, and then watching stats till 4am with the baby crying and the wife pulling her hair out. For me, that it not a sustainable strategy. Not if I want to remain married.
To be honest the thing I hated even more, was that instead of spending time making a great game, I was spending most of my time building some artificial currency earning game on top of the actual game, which is then used to drive people to in app purchases or the removal of ads. It's soul destroying.
Build a good game
So going forward, for my next game I will be concentrating on building a good game. Instead of being distracted by freemium rubbish. I find that quite exciting and liberating actually. I'm hoping it will also result in a better game, but I will let you decide.
"But how will you monetise your game Russ?" said the fascinated reader.
I know right... why on god's earth would I go with the premium model for mobile games when they don't make money? Well, that is the perception isn't it, but given that most developers seem to be flocking to freemium, my personal take on it is that it will be easier to stand out in the premium market. Less competition should mean more visibility right?
I've seen some GDC videos recently that seem to support this theory. Therefore, that's where I'm heading with my next game.
Will it work? Time will tell. But one thing I know for sure is, I won't miss building stupid contrived games on top of my actual game. And I certainly won't miss filling my games with ads.
What is this special premium game that's worth 2.99 of your hard earned cash?
That's for another blog post :)
Do you agree that freemium sucks? Perhaps your an indie that has had more success with it. Maybe you think premium is doomed to failed. Whatever your thoughts, please get in touch!