If god presumably created the entire world in 7 days, can we create a game in the same time? Hell yeah!
Do you want to know what’s The Seventh Day experiment? Then keep reading…
What is it?
Simply put? We are going to create a game every 7 days for the next months. Why? you are about to find out.
This “experiment” as we like to call it, is an attempt from Bigfoot to understand the mobile market, how to create game loops with good retention, and most of all, how to make money.
Is this really what you want to do?
No! and Yes! Here is the reality. Of course we don’t want to just spent a week doing a game, throw it out in the ocean of apps and games, and move on to the next one for the rest of our lives. But here’s the deal, we want to make games, and we want to make our games! And to do that, we have to make money, and to make money, you have to learn how to make it first, and to learn how to make it, you have to actually create a game, and market it, and analyze it, and of course, learn from it. So that’s what it is, a fast paced, full of emotions roller coaster with one single objective: learn.
What do you want to learn?
Mobile industry it’s pretty big. Thousands of apps and games are released every day, you need money to make money and get installs, or else your app ends up in the bottom of the rank with the other 95% that never get more than a few downloads. For a small studio is really hard to stand out, you either have to have luck (not an option), find a publisher (definitely an option), or try to play the metric game (also a valid option).
What we learnt, from working for clients, it’s that no matter how good or bad the game was, if it never reached to the people, all your work is in bane. There is no silver bullet for creating a hit, but one thing is 100% true, to make a hit, you need downloads, so we detected that you need mostly two things to be successful in the game industry:
- User retention
How to get downloads, it’s a question I can’t answer. But you have a handful of options.
- Publisher: find a good one, that can give you freedom (or not, if you don’t mind), let him invest on your game, and then collect part of the profit.
- Total Indie Mode: spent a year in your basement, create a super nice game, and try to sell it to the press, meet famous people that could help you get the word out, and create a community that follows your game and shares it.
- Total Business Mode: find angel investors, venture capitalists, borrow money from your rich uncle, or rob a bank, and invest thousands or millions of dollars hiring people to create a good game, hire more people to distribute it, and hire more people to hire more people.
- I don’t know what the hell to do mode: Create games and throw them in the store hoping someday you will be a millionaire.
Those are all valid options, and the truth is, there is no better or worst option, it depends on your situation.
For us, The Seventh Day experiment it’s about learning what way we want to go. We don’t believe in luck, so 4th option is off the table. We don’t have the contacts to do number 3, so that option is gone as well. So we can either go total indie mode, with the money we’ve been saving, or find a publisher, which can help us distribute our games.
Well, in our case, we know we don’t know a lot of things, so we haven’t tried to go to a publisher, since we don’t have a prototype of a super nice creative game, and we don’t have a team of 10 to pitch a game to a publisher. We don’t want to spend a year in the basement neither, since we could be wasting a year of our lives creating something we don’t even know we can finish. The road we chose, it’s another road different from all those, it’s the one that I like to call, the road of the entrepreneur.
We decided that we are going to make our way into the glory by managing our studio from the ground up. That means, working with what we have, grow as we get better and learn, and find publishers, or investments when we feel like we need to.
Last year, we worked for clients, and learn a lot about creating games. This gave us the confidence that we can create a really high quality game, and that you can certainly earn money doing that. We learn that you don’t need a million dollar game, but you need to cover your development costs, and make profit. You will grow eventually. We also learnt that a ton of games that are out there in the market, have a ton of mistakes, bad decisions, poor quality, and bad taste, which leave us to the 2nd item to be successful.
I’ve seen people with million downloads that had 3% retention on the first day. That means, that out of 100 people, only 3 came to play the other day, you can imagine, that by the 7th day, none of those 100 were playing anymore, and as a result, none of those 100 bought anything from the game. So even if you have the downloads, you still need a good game to succeed. We believe we can create a good game, that can hook the players, and want them to spent their time and money on it. But first, we need training. With this experiment, we want to learn how to create a good game loop, that can retain the player, explain how to play your game, help him identify the different options of your game, help him understand it, and most of all, let him enjoy it.
A couple of months ago, we started to really pay attention to metrics. We made games with 3% retention rates but had a million downloads, and created games that had around 25% retention that have around 3k downloads. So you can’t have one and not have the other, and user retention is achieved by creating a good core loop, and a fun game to play.
The Seventh Day experiment
This consists of creating one game a week. This will allow us to create different types of games, analyze how people react to certain restrictions, gameplays, RPG mechanics, push notifications, social features, leader boards, etc, etc. And we will learn how to get downloads since we will releasing games all day. Plus, we will try to push our website as a place where people can go search for games, so If we manage to do that, and people start using our web as a place where they can find games, we will already have a small distribution site that will allow us to give our new games the initial push. This, plus a couple of ads, might give a game traction, and if the game has retention and good viralization mechanics, we might get good number of downloads with a good retention percentage, which at the end of the day, translates to a nice cash flow that will allow us to create better and bigger games over time.
Thanks for reading thus far, and I would like to know what you think about our approach, and if you want me to get deeper in some specific area as well. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to see some numbers once our experiment is completed in a couple of months!!
For further reading, I encourage you to read this pretty nice blog post from Daniel Cook on Minimum Sustainable Success
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