Indie studios don?t have a formula for success: what works often changes over the course of a few months. Creative design is a must, and usually it?s also necessary to have a local community of successful game developers to help with feedback and ideas.
But unlikely successes do pop up, such as Rappid Studios, a 2-man team based in Athens, Greece, where there are few other developers. Rappid?s hits are Epic Battle Simulator and Epic Battle Simulator 2, in which players create an anachronistic army of spear-wielding gladiators and soldiers armed with machine guns to win skirmishes. The two games became popular in both the West and countries like South Korea and Singapore for their innovative design.
Game design alone isn?t the source of Rappid?s success. In-game ads are the source of a healthy profit from the games, showing that ads have become viable even for games with a more hardcore audience.
Epic ad impact
In EBS 2, rewarded ads increase the player?s ability to buy troops, while interstitials appear between stages. Players are happy with the ads, which the developers attribute to an enjoyable implementation. ?Users always enjoy watching a small video for a reward. In a sense, who won?t spend a minute or less in order to gain something?? asks Antonis Taglartzis, who co-founded Rappid with Nikos Tourlos.
When Taglartzis and Tourlos saw the impact of the ads, they knew they had an opportunity to succeed. The studio switched to Chartboost after its initial implementation, and saw a further 10 percent increase in revenue. ?We think large and complex games could be supported from ads alone, since users are always willing to watch a rewarded video,? says Taglartzis.
The new trick to succeed, and one that?s still valid for other indies to pick up, is to pair high-quality game development with ads. ?It?s not as easily done as said, but with practice and effort it?s plausible,? says Tourlos. ?The thing that surprised us with ads is that you can both make the users enjoy themselves while playing, as well as increase your income.?
Tactics on the battlefield
Studios like Rappid can serve as a role model for indies in similar situations: outside of a few global development hubs, many of the world?s game developers work in cities and countries with few success stories and little or no support.
For Rappid, part of the answer has been reaching beyond just game developers. Chartboost, for instance, has helped Rappid establish more global links. ?Greece isn?t like Finland, or other hotbeds for mobile development. We need advice for critical business parts of mobile development that require prior experience and special knowledge — like negotiating deals with publishers and 3rd parties,? says Taglartzis.
Tourlos?s final advice for fellow indies in countries with a developing mobile scene is to be stubborn:
?You can achieve your goals, but you have work hard without expecting to earn a lot of or even any money at the beginning. In our country with have the motto ?? ???????? ?????, which means that ?if you insist on something, you will achieve it?,? says Tourlos. ?It?s a rather suitable proverb, in this situation.?