Category Archives: Thoughts

19 Aug

Thoughts and tips from the Big Indie Pitch

moWOW Big Indie Pitch 2014

As you know, last week we attended the Big Indie Pitch in Cologne.  If you have not heard of this event before, it’s a great way to present your game to a lot of journalists in one single event.  Although Twitter and Facebook are cool for making new contacts, there’s nothing better for starting or building connections and relationships than meeting the person directly.

This edition was pretty exciting as there were over 20 indie games competing for the prizes and the media attention.

We didn’t take home any prizes this time. We did however meet a lot of people and had a great time. Now, here’s some tips if you ever attend such an event:

  • Squeeze your pitch in half the allotted time – We had a total of 4 minutes (3 for presentation / play + 1 for questions). We had the pitch and presentation down to 2 minutes. However, you also have to add to that the journalists’ play time and the questions at the end. Add to that the time required to move from one table to another. We ended up pitching in 1.5 minutes and left the rest for play time and questions.
  • Your game matters more than you at the tables. Your names and the studio’s is enough. You are giving them business cards anyway.
  • If possible, leave any bag or backpack out of the pitch. It just gets in the way
  • Learn to play and explain your game upside down. With emphasis on the explaining part.
  • If you have some story or details to tell before the play, don’t show or hand the demo while doing it. Naturally, instead of listening to you, everyone will want to play.
  • If possible, have a special test build or demo build for the pitch with enough resources unlocked or powerups unlocked for all the media + for showing additional press and other devs after the pitch.
  • On the same topic of special build, make sure that the demo can be easily restarted for the next table. Otherwise you will lose time
  • At each table there are usually 2 journalists so if possible have 3 devices.
  • Have business cards ready. Use the presentation time to also hand them out. Two birds with one time stone. If you want to hand out more than just business cards, have them prepared in stacks ready to hand out, especially if you are pitching solo.
  • Don’t count on the wi-fi working. It usually does not. Find a workaround for this.
  • A portable battery to recharge your devices really comes in handy and ensures that you can show your game to a lot more people.
  • Always check on Mobile Mixer party and other parties happening around the Big Indie Pitch (especially before it). Extra connections, extra networking, plus a lot of fun.
  • Stay for the pirate party after the Pitch. A lot of the quality networking actually happens after everyone is a bit more relaxed. Also, a lot of people come to the after party to meet all the devs who pitched. And what’s not to like about a pirate themed party.

It’s true the tips are skewed a bit towards mobile game showcasing but hopefully our problems and tips will help you discover potential details that you haven’t considered. Good luck on your next pitch!

P.S. You can check out the winners on Pocket Gamer.


08 Aug

86% of top grossing & paid games’ screenshots on the App Store use text to support visuals

Screenshots that sell app store Last week we talked about game screenshots that help sell your game on the App Store. There were various talks as to what would work better to convince someone to download.

I thought it would be useful if we had some data on the assets that the top 100 grossing and top 100 paid games were using. So I took roughly 300 screenshots of the screenshots from 150 games (about half from top grossing, half from top paid in the US App Store) and then analyzed them all.

I looked at the cover image or first image they used and the “first” of the remaining 4 images. Here’s what I found out:

The First Screenshot:

  • 57.3% have a custom image. 20% have that new “fun coming towards you” type of photo while the rest have side views, background views, collages or variations with in game and non in game assets.
  • The other 42.7% show only an in-game screenshot or with a small character or ribbon with text overlaid.
  • 50.7% also had the name of the game present on the first screenshot. It is important to note that this percentage is 72% when considering only the games with a custom image.
  • An interesting detail is that all match 3 or linking or bubble popping style games always used in-game screenshots

The second screenshot:

  • 63.3% used only one in-game screenshot per image used. The rest usually went with more in-game shots per photo or a combo with in-game screenshot and cute or nice looking characters. And then some didn’t use in-game visuals at all.
  • 86% of all these games have additional text or ribbons with text to support the images. And close to 50% of these texts usually start with a verb: Battle, Challenge, Plan, Tickle, Twerk your way… you get the idea.

You can see all the initial data collected plus some comments here and there in the public google doc.  I did not bother uploading the screenshots but I can store them on dropbox if you think they are useful for this study.

This data is based on the screenshots taken roughly a week ago. As you know the App Store landscape changes pretty fast so of course the percentages will not exactly reflect the current list of games.

Any other useful insights regarding visuals on the App Store?

29 Jul

Game Screenshots that sell on the Apple App Store

moWOW Screenshots that Sell

You’ve just uploaded the binary, created an awesome icon, added the description and then iTunes asks you for the screenshots.

Now, before talking about game screenshots that sell, let’s think from a user’s perspective what is the order of importance of those elements when it comes to discovering and choosing your game. This is more or less what happens:

  1. The user searches for something on the App Store (not a specific game name).  Usually from their mobile device.
  2. He/She look at the icons and focus on those that are good looking and high quality
  3. They eliminate those that usually have less than 4 stars. I would say 3, but would you be able to answer me if I asked what was your last 3 star game that you installed?
  4. At this point, they compare the first screenshot.  App information is now displayed in a card (icon, title, ratings/reviews, price and the first screenshot).
  5. They tap on those that seem at the same level. And they start reading the description, right? Well isn’t that cute… but it’s wrong! They go straight down to the screenshots.

So the order is in fact: icon -> rating -> screenshots -> (maybe) description. I say maybe because sometimes they get all their info from the reviews below the screenshots.

As Jen Gordon from Designboost wrote in a similar article:

“You tap into comparably priced and comparably reviewed apps to see which one looks the best”

Apps or games.

With screenshots being so important, we wanted to examine some tips and tricks for creating screenshots that will help sell your game.

The first screenshot 

In short, that baby needs to be so good players will be attracted to it like flies are attracted to lights.  That first image needs to convince them to tap on the game and find out more.

Splash image or in game visuals?  Depending on what your game is about, an in game screenshot might not do it justice, even with captions or text. That is why some games prefer to create an attractive wallpaper-ish image.

  Read More

29 Jul

The Way Home, the full unlock and the player’s experience


Today we released a big update for our time traveling arcade twitchy iOS game The Way Home.

It is a free game with various in app purchases, including one that says Full Unlock. It gives you infinite lives, taking you from free to play to premium game and it unlocks all stories (including hardcore stories).

Some players who were testing out the game came back and said that there’s a bug, that the full unlock does not activate all the levels. And that is correct. But it’s not a bug.

The Way Home is an episodic adventure. The levels are divided into stories. Skipping a level and not playing consecutively would ruin the story. We don’t want that!

The Full Unlock gives you access to the first level in every story so you can choose which one you play first. But whether you want to read the stories or not, you will have to go through each level in order to discover it.

Aaaand no, right now there is (almost) no amount of money that would make us agree to unlock all the levels and ruin that experience.

That Full Unlock IAP is powerful enough as it is. Show me how many games give you an IAP that removes the energy/life system.

The IAP however will go up in price as we add more content. So if you’ve already bought it, that is all you’ll ever pay in this game as far as content is concerned.

16 Jul

The Way Home: The Game’s Story And Theme

The Way Home: Incredible Time Travel Arcade Adventure

We never did get to talk about the great (hey, it’s great to us) story behind The Way Home. Let’s do that now. And while we’re at it, we might as well discuss the objects and the pills too.

Eearly Version vs Current version

When we started working on the game, all we had was the 15 lanes and a block moving left and right. No personality. No  goals. Nothing. We wanted and needed a story.

The story had to fit certain criteria though: it had to “get along” with the going from level to level part. We also wanted a context where people playing the game could discover or, why not, learn something.

I still consider this a pretty cool coincidence. During the days when we were thinking about the theme, I caught a post title on Facebook saying (and of course I’m paraphrasing):

“The stories and adventures in the Quantum Leap Series are attractive even today. It’s one of the most watched sci-fi series this summer on Netflix.”

First thing I thought was… “Oh boy!”

Quantum Leap had been one of my favorite tv shows growing up (and after that I found out that Tudor watched it a lot too). Deep down I’m still hoping that they continue/redo the series.

One thing that I loved is that the series had a lot of lessons to teach about life and about character. With some episodes, you also learned a bit of history too.  We wanted to bring that to our game as well.

The more we thought about the time traveling theme, the more we liked it. We liked the time traveling part but also the fact that the whole adventure was split up in smaller scenes  (think levels in the game) to begin with. On top of this, we could use the stories to show and tell players things that were interesting or that mattered from the past.

We decided to create sets of levels that would form a story or one of the time jumps. Since we did get our inspiration from Quantum Leap, as a tribute to the series, the first character that our hero jumps into is also Tom Stratton, the air force pilot.

And now you are probably asking what does bouncing off the edges and collecting objects and the inactive/sleeping people have to do with time traveling and our chosen theme ( and how is it similar to Quantum Leap for that matter )?

Well, in Quantum Leap every time Sam Beckett jumped he had to set things right in the life of the person that he jumped in to. This means doing things for people he meets in that life in order to achieve his goal and jump again.

For our game, we simplified and symbolized all the actions and things our hero needs to do by collecting objects that in turn wake up the sleepers.  Until you activate all the sleeping people and make them happy, you are stuck in that time and moment and that is why you keep bouncing off the edges.

All the objects are specific and related to the story. For example, in the first story where our hero jumps into a pilot, one of the objects is an airplane.

There is only one object that keeps appearing: the mirror. Having a mirror in a level means that you will discover something about your new identity. It usually appears in the first levels of each story… usually.

Go ahead, give our time traveling adventure a try and see what happens to Will.

Play The Way Home Free.