This post has been sitting in the wings for at least 4 months. I delayed the posting until the Kondrian release.
One More Thing
Mid 2012, I attended the One More Thing conference.
One of the nice things that came out of this conference was some nuggets of wisdom from Kepa Auwae, he also had a very dry sense of humour.
Kepa is one of the founders of RocketCat Games.
Kepa’s stressed that his business strategy is always in flux, that RocketCat Games are always experimenting. They try to improve their business, by trying different things. One of his most interesting comments, was the description of a simple business model for game developers, which is actually known to us all.
I’ve said before that the most pressing concern voiced at the conference (and still the most pressing concern of iOS developers) is app discoverability.
I assume its actually not too different in the book publishing industry.
When it comes to book reading, if I like an author (I generally read Sci Fi and Fantasy) then I will most likely buy that author’s next book. Nowadays I check out Amazon or Book Repository and the like for when the newest release is happening – and often preorder an authors next book – or at least put it on the wish list.
Thats the way I hope it will work with my customers too, if they like my game, they will buy the next.
Kepa said it more or less like this “You have to drag your customers from your current game to your next one somehow”.
The nice thing about this model is that it doesn’t depend on you striking it lucky and getting mentioned by TouchArcade or Apple. You do have to somehow get some time on the shelf, get noticed and get your game purchased by a not yet determined minimum number – a critical mass – of people. Then hopefully my work will encourage current customers to buy more of my work, and mention my work to a few others. So part of my marketing strategy will be somehow making sure to communicate to current customers that I have created something new. Once you have this critical mass you actually have more flexibility in business model. For example Rocketcat games latest Punch Quest (see here) is a freemiuim (wiki) game. I’m not a big fan of the model – but for sure its going to work a lot better if you have a lot of loyal followers.
(see true fans)
Another nice thing about this book business strategy is that it also translates to a nice development philosophy and general work methodology. Note that authors probably get fewer repeat sales from people buying books in the bargain bin, because price for these customers plays a greater role.
It means that a game – like a novel (or a movie) – is more or less a finished piece of work. it might have one or two updates or bug fixes, but basically its a work of art, which doesn’t need further blemishes added. This contrasts to productivity apps, which in my experience are never finished. Everyone is asking for just one more thing, everyone needs one more feature to buy it, everyone is going through their own development/life processes, and that journey does not always coincide with that particular productivity apps evolution. I don’t think there should be an expectation that a novel (and my game), needs to be rewritten with different characters, different plot line etc, in order that someone re-reads. Good games are generally played for a lot longer than a novel is read for, but they still have a limited play life.
There are good business reasons as for why there are now 101 different AngryBirds variants – but from a creative perspective – its must be pretty dull doing the same thing all over again. I’ve got a dozen ideas for games that I cant wait to get started on – I am sure that I am not unusual in this regard. So working with this methodology means one creates and finishes a work, and then gets on with building the next even better game.
So now, I think of my games and game ideas as novels, not only because there is a story (even though that story might not be fully told or expressed), but because it is a finished piece of creative art.
I had already been at work on my game for a while when I saw Kepa’s talk, but his talk inspired me more than a little.