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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

If you build it...

...they will come... right? Right?

Some days I miss the old school days of gaming where video games were a treat and even if the game was not very good, you would still play the crap out of it.

Finding the audience for a new game as an indie developer without the massive resources of the bigger studios seems like a dauntingly impossible task. As much as I go around and tell people "play my game" even though it is not out yet, I really don't know if any of them will listen. I also don't even know how many people even read this blog ;)

The question I have been asked multiple times that I don't have a great answer for is what make's Burgal's Bounty unique. I am not great at answering this question. I do know it is unique. I think it's fun. When we first made Phat Professional Burglar in 2001 I knew then it was different from anything I had played, and even today it stands out as unique. So I am going to give it a shot right now on this blog. It might give me something to say to the press when I start sending it out:

1. Burgal must be directed and redirected through each maze to collect all the money bags without dying... too much!
2. Compete against your friend's scores on leader boards and social media (social media not actually implemented yet).
3. It's challenging, fun, and far from impossible.
4. Over 30 free challenging awesome levels (with more levels available)!
5. It won't waste too much of your time with ads!
6. It's low in fat.
7. It's high in 1990s style PHAT!

How does this sound? It made me laugh, but my sense of humor is pretty dry and sarcastic.

- Blair

PS - New screen shots are coming real soon, I promise. The game is also going to be released to the beta testers today!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Challenges of getting something to market

A lot of indie game blogs talk about things like "how much money to have before you go indie" or "the tech stack" they are using. But the closer we are getting to bringing Burgal's Bounty to the mobile market my biggest concern has been "Who is going to play this thing?" Facebook and twitter have been used to talk about the game, as well as this blog, and I have been giving it away to people left, right, and center to get feedback. The feedback is valuable, but thankfully I have thick skin because the feedback has also been extremely blunt. Here is some of the feedback I have received (softened in tone with sarcasm removed):

1. "How do I play?"
- Basically this tells me that the tutorial instructions in the game is not enough. Burgal's Bounty is challenging, and in a market space where you are competing for attention, Burgal's Bounty (or any game) needs something to draw them in right away. Make it fast, make it easy (at least in the first couple of levels), to rope people in. Games that have done this successfully are Angry Birds (obviously), Flappy Bird (and about 10,000 of it's clones), and TwoDots to name a few. I particularly like TwoDots because it is a puzzle game and it does teach the game dynamics in an incremental way. As a result, about 11 new levels are getting added to the game that do a lot more hand holding to the game player. For more advanced players, these levels will be able to be skipped.

2. "When a game gets hard like this, I just find something else to play. I don't like being challenged. It makes me feel like the game is forcing me to buy something to keep playing."
- If you don't want to eventually be challenged in the game, then I hate to say it, Burgal's Bounty is probably not for you. To address the concern about feeling forced to buy something, every level in Burgal's Bounty can be completed without an in app purchase. They do get challenging, but if you are patient and want to be challenged, you can do it. If you want a short cut, by all means, make an in app purchase, I will love you forever.

3. "The game is fun - I like puzzle games. Do you know your market and how to reach them?"
- I am glad the game is fun. I do know my market. I do not really have a clear idea how to reach them. I am just throwing so much stuff against the wall I am hoping something will stick and gain traction. I have reached out to a number of Gamer Groups on facebook looking for people who will be interested in testing and have gotten some response. Word of mouth can help, but I do need to get more interest faster. I am going to also reach out to the press once the graphics are done so we have something really sleek for them to look at.

4. "When will it be on the app store?"
- Soon. The release date for the Android version will be announced this week.

Wish us luck everyone!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Hello everyone, I apologize for the delay in blogging, but it's been a busy last few days. I have up and moved from San Francisco to New York City where Phat Games' "head office" will be located.

Yesterday I started the process to officially make Phat Games a Limited Liability Company (this will be the 3rd time in my life I have set up a business either in the US or Canada) so I can start collecting revenue once the game is published which is a great segue into the next topic: Monetization. This is the first time I have monetized an app before. I have of course done a lot of research on the subject and reached out to a number of people for advice.

Burgal's Bounty will be using the Chart Boost API for all of it's money making needs. The monetization will be as follows:

1. Interstitial Ads between each level with the option to turn these off with a small in app purchase of 2 dollars
2. In App Purchases to buy more lives, or arrows/bombs
3. Watch video ads to get more lives, or arrows/bombs
4. Purchasing of level packs (30 levels will be available for free, with the ability to unlock 3 others also for free)

That's about it. Incentivized video ads have become a very popular and (for the time being) successful way of monetizing games. The vast majority of players are willing to watch a 15 second ad in order to get more game content (myself included). This far exceeds the accessibility of static ads or in app purchases (ads only make money if you have a million+ downloads, and IAPs tend to only get used by about 5% of the game's players).

I used to come from the old school mentality where I almost felt dirty about the montization of games like this. I liked the day when you could go and buy a game for a console for $50 or $60 dollars and that would be it. It seems that in game monetization is now the norm and really the only way to make money off your creation these days.

I'll keep everyone updated on the new developments!

- Blair