Posts Tagged Indie
Justin Beck launched PerBlue while finishing college in 2008. He got to work on the company’s first title, Parallel Kingdom, with his co-founder and a staff of seven in Madison, Wisconsin, surviving on $20,000 of savings from a stint at Microsoft. Today, PerBlue generates $3 million a year, supports 35 employees and has successfully launched three free-to-play MMOs in the Parallel universe on Android and iOS.
PerBlue’s Parallel Mafia and Parallel Zombies both hit mobile devices in 2012, but during his talk at GDC Europe, Beck discussed the specific finances of Parallel Kingdom, which has been live since 2008.
Parallel Kingdom doesn’t have a massive number of players, hype or notoriety in the wider gaming world, but it proves that when managed efficiently, a mobile game can provide huge profit for a small developer. Parallel Kingdom has 1.5 million registered accounts, but only 15,000 daily active users, which Beck admits is “not that big.” These users, however, represent $0.40 – $0.50 per user, per day for PerBlue. Extrapolated to 50,000 monthly active users, that’s more than $200,000 each month in microtransactions from one title alone.
Beck has transitioned from programmer to CEO, tracking PerBlue’s finances with detailed precision, but without self-destructive obsession. From this vantage, he sees Android outpacing iOS in almost every way ? 85 percent of PerBlue’s players use Android, with the remainder on iOS. The Android arket is growing, with multiple carriers offering dozens of devices to potential players, compared to Apple’s slimmer choices.
“Android is continuing to outpace iOS…. Android is a freight train.”
– Justin Beck, CEO of PerBlue
Furthering the hardware imbalance, mobile carriers earn a higher margin on Android devices and have begun advertising those over iOS, Beck has noticed. Previously in Germany, for example, Vodafone advertised iPhones in its windows, but today it’s the Samsung Galaxy S3.
PerBlue sees slightly lower monetization rates on Android, but higher player retention, making monetization across Android and iOS equal. Though of course since more players use Android, its revenue stream is higher.
“iPhone makes a little bit more money at a quicker pace, but Android actually has more users over a longer period of time,” Beck tells Joystiq. During his talk, Beck called Android a freight train and predicts that while Apple is “an amazing business,” it won’t be able to keep pace.
PerBlue itself will continue chugging along, creating games with the tools and approach that it has proven work well, 3 million times over.
A new show centered around the indie scene is set to kick off in Boston on September 22. The Boston Festival of Indie Games is taking submissions right now, gathering aspiring developers looking to show off their wares on the MIT campus this fall.
Organized by MIT Game Lab and Boston Indies at the MIT Campus, the Boston Festival of Indie Games is open to the public and, aside from giving indie developers a soapbox to stand on, will present a digital art exhibit, film screenings, a 12-hour game jam session, guest speaker presentations and a special area to showcase games made within the MIT Game Lab. Some of the names to already sign on and judge submissions are Harmonix Senior Designer Tim Stellmach, Fire Hose Games Creative Director Eitan Glinert, Zynga Boston Creative Director Paul Neurath, and Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab US Executive Director Philip Tan.
Awards will be given during the show based on public voting once cleared by the panel above. Those interested in submitting their digital game for showcase will have to pay a $10 fee if they are a student, or a $15 fee if they are a professional, by no later than August 10. If you’re making something that doesn’t fall into the digital category, you can submit it free of charge. Good luck!
The week after E3’s blockbuster bombardment from high-profile, mainstream publishers seems like a proper time to step back, take a breath and remember that for many indie developers, getting a game made has nothing to do with fog machines, loud on-stage demos or awkward celebrity banter. Sometimes, indie publishing involves standing on a shady street corner in San Francisco until a bus pulls up and offers you a beer and a ride. At least, that’s how it worked out for Chris Pavia, a developer who recently quit his mainstream industry job to create indie titles under his own studio, Cube Roots. Pavia’s first game, a puzzle RPG called Dungeon Hearts , got picked up by Devolver Digital during its Pitch Fork Parker project at GDC earlier this year. Pitch Fork Parker had indie developers vie for a spot on Devolver Digital’s bus, where they would ride around for a while and try to sell their indie games to the publisher. Pavia earned a spot on the bus with Dungeon Hearts ‘ cohesive art style and character designs alone, and in the month before GDC he hired an animator, had his musician tweak the audio and spent all his time refining every detail he could in the first few minutes of the game.