These days I’m taking decisions on marketing and revenue. First time doing this, as well as the rest of the tasks around making a game. I’m enjoying really much every bit of this process and this is not an exception.
I only know what is shared in other games “post-mortem” plus thoughtful post on experts or sellers on these subjects. Blogs are kind of time machines and probably the Crazy Belts own post-mortem will be just the opposite to what I’m going to describe here, but man, that’s the experience!
What is supposed to be done these days for the money
Mobile gaming marketing & sales (<- sounds really old school but it’s exactly what it is!!!) is very active topic nowadays. There is money out there but the secret recipe keeps secret or do not exists as an stand-alone formula.
What seems to be the consensus today is that you need to publish a free game with great in-app-purchase mechanic. And this means that game mechanics may be designed having the in-app-purchase in mind. Game mechanics, player engaging and getting money are three-fold stuff. If you do not go down this path, you are screwed.
Well, Crazy Belts is a classic game. Meaning that there is only a way of playing, a single difficulty level, with challenges and (some) desperation, and level-ups that comes randomly instead of granted after time playing or after purchasing them with real money. This means that I’m screwed.
What to do with this? Coming back to the whiteboard and re-design the entire game changing mechanics involving power-ups, consumables and vanities for super-fans. No way. It is really difficult dressing a classic game with a brand new game mechanic driven by the business model without annoying the player. And on top of this, delivering a solid, interoperable in-app-purchase technology working in a variety of platforms is not an obvious task.
But…wait a minute! the most of the games are classic ones without all this business model innovation inside. And, well, for a first try in this industry would be so much for a humble indie developer trying to create a really innovative monetization model.
A classic game with a classic business model! Yeah! Not so exciting but still lots of things to learn from it. Hopefully will be other chances in the future to test the latest in-fashion monetization strategy on top of the learnings on this game.
What I’m going to do for the money
Delivering a free and a paid version. And delivering at the same time. I do not believe people are going to buy the full version of Crazy Belts out of the blue from a review in a blog or word-of-mouth. Hence, I do not believe free version cannibalizes the paid version as there is not very much to eat from a humble beginning I believe that free version is the only way to promote the paid version of the game.
The game is expected to have 60 levels spread in 5 worlds (well, airports of the World) in groups of 12 levels. First level will be given for free and for playing the remaining levels you will need to get the full version. Pretty simple. Flurry Analytics is being integrated into the game menus to check whether how many people actually reach this 12th level or leave the game before and how many of them pushes the glorious “get the full version” button.
Crazy Belts has a virtual currency system, the air miles. This is a simple score counter that is not linked to any global rank or such. The idea behind this virtual currency system is testing the actual value of collectables among fans. Whether you are using the free or the paid version of the game, there is a “Duty Free” area acting as a shop where you can get things from air miles. In the first game release you will be able to access to a variety of wallpapers that can be used to decorate your mobile phone. Not such a big deal. As free version is capped, the number of wallpapers you can obtain will be limited to only one. Trying to get more wallpapers directs you to the appstore to get again the full version of the game. Flurry analytics will tell me about how many people are interested on this.
And what about advertising? I’m going to give them a try but with two fundamental boundaries:
- No banners. Banners annoys me big time. I hate banners. Banners sucks. Even these that are supposed to be tailored to my profile and preferences. Even these that are supposed to be “well integrated to the overall game user experience”.
- Gaming and mobile related-advertising. Did you ever played with children on mobile and tablet games? Did you ever figured to the external world they are exposed via banners? I’m not speaking about adult content, that seems more or less controlled by publishers and developers. I’m speaking about banners on adult stuff that despite do not hurts children but are definitely useless for advertisers and the audience. Just a waste of time and money both sides.
And what about adults playing games? Looks like more than half of the American smartphone owners are game players. This roughly means that if you are an adult, you hate or love games. If you hate them, no chance to play Crazy Belts. If you are in the bright side of the moon, and you play games, most probably you are interested also in other games and apps or mobile-centric content beyond any other web or high street brand, product or service that will be more naturally covered in other classic ATL/BTL marketing channels.
Then, I will just go for interstitial advertising with content only on gaming, apps and mobile centric stuff with certain degree of customer opt-in if this is possible.
Looks like a self-limiting approach but my bet is that the money coming from really few of a vast spectrum of advertising and places within the app is comparable to getting some from less, highly-focused spectrum.
Finally, I invite any of this blog readers to drop their opinion/comments on this not-so-well educated by the numbers strategy and help me to fine tune this for the first Crazy Belts launch.