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How to build an indie Game-as-a-Service (on a super low budget)



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How to build an indie Game-as-a-Service (on a super low budget)

  1. 1. How to build an indie Game-as-a-Service (on a super low budget)
  2. 2. Hello! I am Carsten Kisslat Game Designer and Production Consultant, based in London Co-founder of Robot Riot, a small but beautifully formed indie game studio
  3. 3. How to build a super low budget GaaS … … without external funding … with a $40 Facebook-Ad-voucher … with a team spread over 2 countries and 4 cities … and NOT “mobile first”
  4. 4. The Fishing Club 3D
  5. 5. The Fishing Club 3D
  6. 6. The Fishing Club 3D
  7. 7. The Fishing Club 3D Facebook Canvas App (launched 11/2013) Free-to-play MMO Next-Gen Social Club vs Club Built with Unity3D
  8. 8. Some metrics Avg. session time per player: 35 minutes Up to 10,000 Daily Active Users (DAU) Up to 2,000 concurrent users (CCU) at peak time Live in Europe, North America, Asia Main markets western & northern Europe / USA
  9. 9. Requirements Software licences Graphics Sound Servers (scaling!) Marketing (FB) Customer support Payment provider (FB) Distribution platform (FB) Analytics (GA)
  10. 10. Requirements Development took 8 months
  11. 11. Requirements Revenue from day 1
  12. 12. So how can 5 guys in 4 cities with no budget create an international business?
  13. 13. Core team Client & server development Game design / Prod. Mngmt 2D & 3D graphics Analytics Marketing / PR Community Support External Sound design (Sound of Games) Additional 3D assets (Digital Steam) Accounting Legal
  14. 14. Keep the costs down No salaries until revenue covers costs: Boot-strapping, equity and revenue share deals with external partners. IT-Infrastructure costs were marginal when we started (€29 / month) Graphic & sound asset costs were marginal. Embrace the Unity Asset Store! (e.g. €65 for Nature Asset Pack. Approx. $200 for sounds, title theme and jingles ( ) Development tool costs were marginal or zero Virtual studio setup: A (free) team chat is our office
  15. 15. Development Minimum viable product/features BUT maximum viable documentation Unity3D instead of custom engine Agile decision making and execution No HIPPO. No politics. No greenlighting. No BS. Team chat + Agile PM tools = EFFICIENCY! Launch version was not perfect but good enough™
  16. 16. Key decisions Technology: Unity3D offers rapid prototyping/development and cross-platform support Web-first strategy: Facebook Canvas App (No approval process. Deploy anytime. Low player acquisition costs. Still huge audience on desktop. Still good virality and discoverability.) Sustainable monetization design (avg. 6+ payments / paying player. Paying players show super high retention.) Super simple core game loop with universal archetypal appeal. Strong focus on community building (in-game chat) and Club vs Club gameplay. Rapid feature and content updates (and bug fixes) International business from day 1
  17. 17. Marketing & Player Acquisition Comfortable niche with an emerging audience $40 FB Ad voucher —> $400 revenue Extremely low CPI on Facebook (as low as $0.20 vs $1-3 on mobile) Profitable campaigns enable organic growth Lookalike audiences work very well on Facebook
  18. 18. Customer Support Essential for building trust Trust is essential for converting players into payers Well behaved mature community (most of the time) Clubs moderate themselves Google Translate is my best friend
  19. 19. Wrap it up We couldn’t have done this 10 years ago without external funding Freemium tools and services enabled us to build a freemium international business Facebook Canvas was the perfect platform for take-off Full control of IP and decision making process Organic growth with lots of headroom left Next stop: mobile Amazing learning curve and experience!
  20. 20. Thank you! @carstenkisslat my blog: