Remix!

Posted on May 14, 2011

Hello!

It’s great to be back on the iDevBlogADay cycle, it’s quite amusing that @FredericTessier and I return together as we were the Saturday pairing several months back.

I’m also pleased to see that the success of iDevBlogADay (great work @mysterycoconut) has also spawned  the very successful AltDevBlogADay (credit to @mike_acton for that)

I hope to provide some interesting articles in the coming months, any questions or requests would be appreciated via email or twitter as before so please get in touch.

Since we last posted it’s been an interesting and exciting time for Four Door Lemon but it hasn’t seen a large amount of releases from us. We have two new games to announce in the coming weeks as well as updates to some of our existing titles.

 

Todays article

Today I’m going to write around the topic of updating and ‘remixing’ of existing games.

This is a topic which I’ve been thinking about a lot with our previous work as a company as well as our released games on iOS and I was reminded about it when attending Go Go Games this week.

Both Renate Nyborg @renate (Metro Apps) and Matt ‘Mills’ Miller @millsustwo discussed titles that they’d previously released and had remixed with either new business models (paid -> freemium or just entirely free and added cross promotion) or had integrated brands into them.

In the case of ustwo the integration of other IP wasn’t hugely successful financially but as Mills noted these apps possibly increased their profile on the device even further and gained them some great work-for-hire projects.

We’ve not been quite as quick to actually act on our hunches with what to do along these lines and it’s only now that we’re close to actually putting into actions some of the changes to hopefully improve our catalogue further.

 

So what sort of remixing of our existing products can we perform?

Let’s say we have unreleased game prototypes, released games which are in later stages of their life cycle (but perhaps still doing ok due to the Long Tail nature of digital distribution marketplaces) plus some games no longer selling due to them being on defunct platforms. What options should we consider for each of these to develop our business?

 

  • Apply a new business model

 

There are many different ways to charge for content nowadays (Freemium, Ad-supported, Lite + Paid, Cheaper paid price + In-App purchases to name a few) , all of which are understood by customers and looking at certain stats it seems some are more popular than others.

It may be that your game was originally a very simple straight up purchase, perhaps due to the current consumer pricing expectations people who would potentially love your game are overlooking you. Adopting a new business model is a risk but there have been a lot of success stories especially with the freemium and ad-supported models.

If your current paid app isn’t making money for you making it freemium isn’t that much of a risk and at minimum will increase your userbase to help cross-sell new games to them!

 

  • Find an IP which might boost the profile of the product further

 

Standing out from the crowd can be hard, brands come with an existing fanbase and possibly marketing support that can raise the games profile.

Hopefully your game mechanic fits perfectly with the brand otherwise there may be no connection for fans of the brand to make and other than initial hardcore fans who buy anything with a certain brand on it you’ll not see much traction.

If you have a great game which would benefit from a certain type of endorsement then giving away 10-30% of a larger amount of revenue could certainly be worth it and may open other doors to you in terms of revenue generation or licensing.

 

  • Re-release / Re-promote at a more applicable time of year

 

Unlucky timing releasing on certain markets can mean that your app may be hidden during another companies sales promotion or big IP releases, larger console marketplaces would traditionally help advise on release dates to avoid whereas markets such as iOS can be a bit more of a free for all.

Seasonal events or events relating to your app may provide an opportunity for the marketplace to feature you at that time or simply for more users to be looking for apps of that type, increasing your marketing at this time is something that should be planned for.

 

  • Retarget (port to other platforms)

 

Certainly very applicable with the huge amount of emerging platforms and marketplaces, with technology requirements being fairly consistent behind most of them this makes moving products to other platforms relatively easy if planned correctly.

It may also be that your game doesn’t fit a particular control method or gameplay session length (i.e. a short burst game on PC/Mac right now would make a perfect iPhone/iPod game for commutes?).

 

  • Retry? Apply more polish.

 

Perhaps the first iteration of the product wasn’t quite as good as it could have been which is why it missed the mark. Making sure to learn from feedback from gamers who did play the original adjust and re-release the game either as a sequel or as an update.

Expectations are very high now with ‘AAA’ quality games such as Angry Birds, Flight Control, Cut The Rope, Infinity Blade and Plants vs Zombies. Fixing all those little niggly issues is very important to make sure your game is a polished high quality experience.

 

How do you make your decision?

Some of these changes could be costly to implement or perhaps backtracking could be detrimental to the product or your business, how do you build up enough evidence to support the decision being made.

A couple of ideas..

 

  • Look at other similar products

 

If you’re the only game of a certain type then hopefully you don’t have any problems to solve – if you do have competitors then look at their history, their communities, the business models they use, promotion tactics they have in place. Do there decisions match with your thinking, are they missing a trick?

 

  • Look at your own product and its analytics

 

Analytics really help reaffirm business model decisions, knowing how many active players you have, how long they play for, where they are in the world, perhaps their demographics in terms of age/gender can drive the choice you make on your next steps.

Be sure to consider the design of your product though and that you’re not betraying your original vision.

 

  • Talk to your users

 

While analytics are great for remotely monitoring your users actual actions it can still be worth talking to users about your proposed changes, they may have suggestions you’ve not considered to help you improve the product and those requested improvements may give you a much easier way to improve the product as well as increase the earning potential for your business.

 

Conclusion

Fire and forget is no longer a sensible approach for games development and publishing. All finished (and unfinished) games have value. Evaluating opportunities for all of your projects should be a regular exercise as with a slightly different approach each could be a commercial or critical success beyond their current realisation.

 

Things we’ve been enjoying recently

  • http://altdevblogaday.org/
    • Most likely something people are already familiar with, another great regular resource of interesting blog posts from some very talented people.
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