Karl Bunyan - “Indie Game Developers and the Facebook of Doom”

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Karl Bunyan - “Indie Game Developers and the Facebook of Doom”

  1. 1. Our feature presentation: What does the coming year hold for the independent Facebook game developer?
  2. 2. The story of Facebook so far Three big episodes: 1. 2007-2008: The pioneering debut 2. 2008-2009: The difficult sequel 3. 2009-2010: Increased quality & maturity And what next? 4. 2010-2011: The lame cash-in?
  3. 3. The story of Facebook so far 2007-2008: the pioneering debut • Viral growth, poke apps, simple games • Developers working out how to make money • Generally low quality apps • Novelty value and user freshness
  4. 4. The story of Facebook so far 2008-2009: the difficult sequel • Facebook removing/limiting viral channels • The Mafia/Mob wars • Realisation that apps could make money – Lots of money, >$1m/month • Mid 2009: world + dog decides to get into social games
  5. 5. The story of Facebook so far 2009-2010: more quality & maturity • More Facebook redesigns, less viral growth • Increased game quality • Big-name entries into the market • Big money: EA buys Playfish for $300m+ • The rise and rise of Farm Town, FarmVille and the attack of the clones (yes, I know)
  6. 6. The indie developer today Up against it • Limited access to resources • Facebook favouring the big names • Reduced Platform virality • Unable to match the quality of new games
  7. 7. So what next for Facebook? 2010-2011: the lame cash-in episode? • Big gaming companies dominate? • Impossible to compete on ad spend? • Game quality rises and production costs soar? • Existing game brands (Civilisation, the Sims) conquer all?
  8. 8. So what next for Facebook? 2010-2011: the lame cash-in episode? • Big gaming companies dominate? – EA, Ubisoft, Zynga, Playdom, CrowdStar • Impossible to compete on ad spend? • Game quality rises and production costs soar? • Existing game brands (Civilisation, the Sims) conquer all?
  9. 9. So what next for Facebook? 2010-2011: the lame cash-in episode? • Big gaming companies dominate? • Impossible to compete on ad spend? – Zynga spending $1m+/week on Facebook • Game quality rises and production costs soar? • Existing game brands (Civilisation, the Sims) conquer all?
  10. 10. So what next for Facebook? 2010-2011: the lame cash-in episode? • Big gaming companies dominate? • Impossible to compete on ad spend? • Game quality rises and production costs soar? – Competing with Zynga’s 800+ team • Existing game brands (Civilisation, the Sims) conquer all?
  11. 11. So what next for Facebook? 2010-2011: the lame cash-in episode? • Big gaming companies dominate? • Impossible to compete on ad spend? • Game quality rises and production costs soar? • Existing game brands (Civilisation, the Sims) conquer all? – Civilisation coming in the summer, what will EA bring to Playfish (or vice-versa)?
  12. 12. Things aren’t looking good How can our indie escape?
  13. 13. Fighting the big guns Competing against traditional gaming companies: • Big investments need big payoffs • No evidence that they can succeed: Spore Islands by Electronic Arts Based on the Spore “franchise” Currently around 2.5k DAU
  14. 14. 2010: boom and bust Not everyone can win 2010-2011 will be the year of: • Increasing user-blindness – Reduced virality – Fatigue with virtual goods and offer monetisation • Virtual-world saturation • Social games go from hero to zero
  15. 15. Opportunities for Indies Choose your battles: • Does increasing quality mean increasing complexity? • Do Facebook users even want complexity? The death of the bedroom coder has been predicted for over 20 years now
  16. 16. 5 tips that might help
  17. 17. My tips #1 Go niche • Don’t try to compete with FarmVille – look for an audience that the big guns won’t be interested in • Create an edge that deters the cloners
  18. 18. My tips #2 Retention, not virality • Viral channel effectiveness is reducing • Buying traffic is almost inevitable • Once you have a user, keep hold of them
  19. 19. My tips #3 Concentrate on ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) • 100,000k users at 50c per user, or 1m at 5c? • A loyal audience monetises better than a mass migratory one
  20. 20. My tips #4 Don’t overcomplicate • Release fast, early and often • Don’t try to compete with the virtual worlds • Maximise ARPD (Average Revenue per Developer) • Concentrate on fun, not realism • …but still maintain depth of play
  21. 21. My tips #5 Build a portfolio • Not every game will be a success • Prepare to move on quickly • Cross-promote • Make a virtue out of changing your mind
  22. 22. A holy grail of app development?
  23. 23. A holy grail of app development? Not quite • A tough year ahead • There are still opportunities for indies • Look for the gaps in the market • Take advantage of your ability to change
  24. 24. Thanks karl@core10.co.uk www.karlbunyan.co.uk fbExchange.net twitter.com/karlbunyan

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