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Casually Create an Indie Game Label | John Battagline

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Delivered at Casual Connect USA 2016. Years ago, John created a casual games studio from scratch, by himself, with no money. Now, it’s a thriving small business, and he's reapplying the lessons learned from the casual game market in hopes of launching successful indie games under his new label, Burger Circus. Learn how to launch successful titles, the easy way, as he explains decisions made, data gathered, and marketing strategies developed while crafting their game, RogueMON, on a don't-quit-your-day-job budget.

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Casually Create an Indie Game Label | John Battagline

  1. 1. Casually Create an Indie Label John Battagline Founder, Owner 24/7 Games, Burger Circus
  2. 2. Hi! I’m John Battagline.
  3. 3. I quit my job to chase a dream… Now: I own / operate 247 Games Starting an Indie Label, Burger Circus! 2010: I quit my job to “Make video games!”
  4. 4. 3 Principles for Success 1. Pick a market, pick a keyword 2. Reskin, Reuse, Recycle 3. Burst Campaign with House Ads
  5. 5. Re-Applying Casual Game Principles to Indie Games
  6. 6. 10,000,000+ ad impressions DAILY! Several apps featured on app stores! Front Page on Google Searches
  7. 7. 1.) Pick a Market, Pick a Keyword • Now, several years later, we’re on the front page for solitaire • Over 1 billion PageViews in ~5 years
  8. 8. CardGameSolitaire.com weekly traffic • Our audience LOVES to play solitaire Monday-Friday (dips on weekends):
  9. 9. 1.) Pick a Market, Pick a Keyword • Start small (low competition) • Pick a single keyword, on a single market • Get a small audience • Repeat… (more on that, later) • …And, there’s a great tool for this…
  10. 10. Google Trends: Assess keywords • Relative volume of keywords compared to market (games):
  11. 11. Google Trends - Suggested Use • Pick a keyword you “know” is successful on a market • “solitaire” • Compare with similar keywords: • “mahjong” • “sudoku”
  12. 12. Assess keywords with Google Trends • Relative volume of ‘interesting’ keywords, compared to ‘solitaire’:
  13. 13. This “Theory” Has Lead Us to Success • 247Mahjong.com – 12+ million users
  14. 14. This “Theory” Has Lead Us to Success • 247sudoku.com - 1st page for “sudoku” on Google Search
  15. 15. 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle • Learned: • re-use my code base to create new products • capture “corollary keywords” • Corollary Keywords: • keywords that contain or are often found adjacent to your “main keyword” • Spider solitaire • FreeCell solitaire
  16. 16. Corollary Keywords • Corollary keyword traffic adds up:
  17. 17. Corollary “solitaire” keywords - Freecell • 123freecell.com – 1st page on Google Search for “freecell”
  18. 18. Corollary Keywords – Spider Solitaire • Cardgamespidersolitaire.com – 1st page for “spider solitaire”
  19. 19. 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle (advanced) • We have 14 seasonal variations for every game!
  20. 20. Seasonal traffic spikes around the holidays • Halloween-mahjong.com traffic spikes around Halloween
  21. 21. Seasonal traffic spikes around the holidays • Sumermahjong.com traffic peaks in Summer
  22. 22. All combined, the traffic adds up! • SummerMahjong.com / Christmas-Mahjong.com
  23. 23. Summer Mahjong on Google Play • We got a huge spike in installs—just by submitting our reskins!
  24. 24. This has happened more than once… • We’ve had several apps “featured” on various markets • Chrome Store – 247Mahjong • Amazon App Store – various solitaire / mahjong games • Etc.
  25. 25. 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle - Opportunities • Learned: • Reskins allow more opportunities to get noticed by curators • Occasionally, you get a “slam dunk”!
  26. 26. 3.) “Burst Campaign” With House Ads • “Burst Campaigning: • Push lots of traffic quickly • Leverage your Users • Use House Ads!
  27. 27. 247Backgammon.org traffic: • First few months… (mostly “House Ad” traffic)
  28. 28. 247Backgammon.org traffic: • Not long later… (mostly “Google Search” traffic!)
  29. 29. 247Spades.com traffic • Again, “Google Search” traffic exceed “House Ad” traffic:
  30. 30. 3.) “Burst Campaign” With House Ads • Learned: • Helps “climb the charts” • Operates similarly in other markets: • App Stores: downloads • Social Media: likes and shares • SEO: impressions and (sometimes) links. • Will this work in “Indie” market space?
  31. 31. Ways to Burst Campaign • “House Ads” • In-Game (my preferred method) • Email • Social Media • Purchase Advertisements • Requires a budget • IMHO: Spend more acquiring a user than you get out of them.
  32. 32. Flappy Beak (my first ‘retro’ game)
  33. 33. “Flappy Bird” Publicity Flare • Flappybeak.com – very large spike in traffic, no lasting power
  34. 34. Bashy Birds (my first ‘original’ game) • “Almost” an original concept • Still has traffic! • Inspired Burger Circus
  35. 35. BashyBirds.com – originality ftw! • Traffic has “come back” since the initial “publicity flare!”
  36. 36. Principles Revisited: Indie Game Market • Applied what I learned in Casual Games to the Indie market • 1.) Pick a market, pick a keyword • 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle • 3.) Burst Campaigning
  37. 37. Burger Circus: Raw Games, Well Done • For “Indie Games” • Different Audience • LESS than 10million+ daily impressions… • Starting from scratch?
  38. 38. Nacho Daddy
  39. 39. Dumpin’ Donut
  40. 40. Crackula
  41. 41. 1.) Pick a Market, Pick a Keyword (Indie) • I focused on my keywords: Retro, Roguelike RPG
  42. 42. Google Trends Keyword Analysis • Compared keywords to “Pokemon” to gauge popularity: Learned: “Roguelike” not very much
  43. 43. Market / Keyword Goals: • Important Keywords • Retro • RPG • Learned • “pokemon” too competitive • “roguelike” too small • Goal • Capture “smaller” Indie keywords
  44. 44. 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle (Indie) • RogueMON @ MagFEST ‘16
  45. 45. 2.) Reskin, Reuse, Recycle (Indie) • Our “sci-fi” themed version of the RogueMON combat engine
  46. 46. Market / Keyword Goals: • Future Game / Keyword Concepts • Sci-Fi • Zombie • Goal • Capture additional keyword audiences • Dream • get lucky, and get “noticed”…
  47. 47. 3.) “Burst Campaign” House Ads (Indie) • See the relative traffic / growth of RogueMON.com, given House Ads from BashyBirds.com
  48. 48. A / B Testing • This “burst campaigning” from BashyBirds.com also allows us enough traffic to do some A / B testing…to get the conversions as high as possible
  49. 49. Learned (so far) • You CAN get traffic from casual -> indie markets • But not a ton… • Need to increase conversions • Visitors -> Players • Players -> Regulars
  50. 50. Goals: • Burst traffic from Casual -> RogueMON • Determine % user conversion Casual -> Indie • Develop a small Indie audience • Use audience to leverage next release • Reskin, rinse, repeat…
  51. 51. Conclusion and Forecasts • Paid advertisements (mobile and web) will get more expensive • “House Ads” will become more essential to succeed • Those with an audience will find it easier to expand • Growing an audience NOW is ESSENTIAL • Before it’s too late!
  52. 52. If You Follow These Guidelines: • You’ll start with a small audience • You’ll rapidly create more products / opportunities • You’ll accumulate users with every release • OCCASIONALLY, you will hit a slam dunk, getting you a TON of users • This will have an “upward spiral” effect on your traffic…
  53. 53. Have fun—and keep in touch! • Facebook.com/burgercircusllc • Twitter.com/burgercircusllc • www.burgercircus.com • burgercircus@gmail.com

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