Octopus 8 Studios launched its first mobile/tablet title in 2013 on iOS, and Android on 2014. Oddlight, as our game is called; featured an interesting new way of interacting with the game which we coined as ‘perpetual touch’. It was new, quirky and different. It sold some copies.
Has it sold as many as it deserved? No, I don’t think so. Our team worked hard on the game, and produced a fun and interesting quirky mobile title that deserved more.
We had worked with the guys who designed the game throughout, and bringing it to market was going to be a challenge which we wanted to be transparent about. Firstly, Octopus 8 is a largely philanthropic venture – we give a very large share to the team of revenue, partially because we’re not funded but also because we want to not just nurture and develop new talent but to reinforce the beliefs of our founders (us) which is that the direct profits of your labor be felt by those who do the work.
What this did mean, was that there was zero marketing budget. We had a lot of research to suggest that unless we had mega-bucks, and even then; marketing on mobile titles is pretty hit and miss. Without any money to risk – it was an easy decision.
Funding for our studio may come one day, but for now this gives great shared values to the publishing/support team at O8S and the development groups with which we work. Everyone was pretty damn happy about the revenue share – but it did get to the point where we started thinking about the platforms we had released on and what we were getting for what the slice of pie they cut themselves. It’s an interesting consideration.
At one point, getting your game out on a mobile platform gave you a huge captive audience where you could get a large amount of potential sales however, it could be argued that as time goes on this value diminishes. This market continues to become incredibly saturated – everyone wants to jump on the quick buck mobile bandwagon, and who can blame them?
Perhaps it’s a better situation with Windows phones. I think it’s been pretty well argued that even with a lot less Windows phone owners, the low competition in games makes it more worthwhile. But that’s another story.
Imagine if you’d had the Apple/Android situation with boxed games ‘back in the day’. Retailers would have needed a bigger boat. So to speak… That’s both the strength, and weakness of this type of medium. But I digress.
Going back to our fruity robot friends, we’ve established that they cast your game into the veritable ocean of titles and they handle the billing. That’s cool. But it’s a hefty price to pay given that there’s not really much else they do to help your product sell, and maybe they can’t given the circumstances.
No one seems to know how Apple and Android decide whose games to promote. Everyone I have asked believes there’s some form of arcane blood magic or chaos theory behind it. Given these seemingly incomprehensible methods, promotion from them is something you can safely assume you won’t be getting included for your ‘money’.
What about help and support? Well, when we published in China we had a lot of problems with jail broken copies of our games on published websites. Our appeals for help from the ‘big guys’ who we figured would be interested in people muscling in on their share as well – met silence.
I can understand that. Dealing with piracy in China could be an intimidating issue even for the likes of our friends in high places and fancy offices with free candy, unicycles or whatever the hell they’ve introduced recently. Also, what is the value to them? Little, unless you’re in the business of smashing candy or dealing with furious avians, in which case you’re probably ok.
I don’t have a problem with any of this, really. But is there an opportunity here?
If you’re not going to promote my game with or for me, and you’re not going to really support us in any way bar stick it up there and take a chunk – shouldn’t that be a smaller chunk now? Shouldn’t that perhaps be in some way related to how many downloads in order to motivate you to have the product succeed too?
It feels like the mobile and tablet world might have a space for some bright new aggressive competitor.
This someone, who isn’t afraid to find a way to make it happen for a smaller slice or a better service.
There’s a ton of holes in the argument and there are a lot of reasons why it might not be possible. I know all of that.
But then aren’t we in the business of making the impossible possible? Don’t we look to challenge the status quo?
Times are a changing, maybe this might too?