Enhance Expands Platform Support

newsandnotes

Enhance is proud to announce new support for several popular app creation platforms: Construct 2, Cordova and Stencyl!

 

scirrac2

Construct 2 is a powerful, ground-breaking HTML5 game creator designed specifically for 2D games. It allows anyone to build games — no coding required!  Naturally, Enhance pairs well with games made in Construct 2 as a solution to implement useful services and SDKs with no coding required.  Learn more about Construct 2 at www.scirra.com/construct2

 

cordova

Cordova wraps your HTML/JavaScript app into a native container which can access the device functions of several platforms. These functions are exposed via a unified JavaScript API, allowing you to easily write one set of code to target nearly every phone or tablet on the market today and publish to their app stores.  You can learn more about Cordova at cordova.apache.org

 

stencyl

Stencyl is the quickest and easiest way to make games for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac and Web.   Stencyl can take care of the essentials, so you can focus on what’s important – making your game yours.  For more details, visit www.stencyl.com

 

Enhance is excited to now support these fantastic platforms.  We’ve updated the Enhance connectors and documentation for these and many more services, available for viewing at enhance.fgl.com/documentation

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Mobile Success Spotlight – Vector Unit

FGL Community Spotlight – Vector Unit 

The Community Spotlight returns this week to highlight a recent release from a mobile developer in the FGL community.

We sat down with superstar mobile developers Vector Unit and asked them about their new game “MouseBot
 

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FGL: Welcome to the Spotlight! Tell us a little about yourself and your mobile game development experience

Vector Unit:  My name is Ralf Knoesel, CTO and founder of Vector Unit Inc.  Our first mobile game was Riptide GP, which was designed to showcase the tablet/phone graphics capabilities of the time (2011).  We’ve since released the sequels Riptide GP2 (2013) and Riptide GP: Renegade (2016), which have been successful as premium titles on both iOS and Google Play.

Our first attempt at a free-to-play game was Beach Buggy Blitz (2012), which is an endless-runner style driving game.  This game has seen over 50M installs to date and taught is a lot about the nature of fee-to-play and video advertising.  Building on its success, we published Beach Buggy Racing (2014), which is a Kart racing game with fun weapons and power-ups.  By now this game has also reached the 50M downloads mark.
 beachbuggy1

FGL: Very impressive!  We were excited to hear you had a new project launching soon. What can you tell us about it?

VU: The game we’ve been working on is MouseBot, which has just launched.  MouseBot is a cartoon-inspired platforming game that will test your reflexes, skills, timing, and love of cheese!  You drive a robotic mouse through mazes of fantastical mechanical mouse traps created by the cat scientists of CatLab.
 mousebot2
FGL: You’ve utilized Enhance with several of your recent titles. How has Enhance helped your game development process?
 

VU:  I was excited to learn about the Enhance platform last year.  In the past we’ve spent lots of time integrating and updating various advertising SDKs.  The idea that this could be automated to the point of simply uploading a package file was a radical improvement to our workflow.

We since updated Beach Buggy Racing to use Enhance, where we proved out the benefit because we were able to switch to all the latest SDKs by only having to integrate the straight-forward Enhance SDK.  Any future updates are zero work!  We’re also excited to use Enhance on MouseBot, which allows us to spend more time creating a fun game instead of integrating SDKs.

 

FGL: What advice can you give for fellow mobile developers seeking that next level of success for their games?

VU: There’s lots of good advice out there (GDC, Gamasutra, etc) based on lessons learned for mobile developers who are just getting started.  One insight that you don’t read about too much but has helped make us successful is to publish your game to multiple platforms/channels.  Don’t limit yourself to just iOS or Google Play, do both!

Once you have some traction, explore more markets.  Find a publisher in China.  If applicable, publish your game to consoles (Xb1/Ps4/Switch).  Do a Windows Store version.  Make a Steam build.  Publish to Kindle.  Each one of these may be incremental, but at the end of the day they add up.

FGL:  Sounds good! How can your fans follow you and learn about your new projects?

VU:  Our official website is vectorunit.com.  Other good sources of information are Facebook and Twitter.  We also have a YouTube channel.

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I’d like to thank Vector Unit for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. You can download “MouseBot” now on iOS and Android devices. If you have any questions for Vector Unit, follow them on Twitter, Facebook or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

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Mobile Success Spotlight – Handless Millionaire developer Vasiliy Kostin

FGL Community Spotlight – 

“Handless Millionaire” 

The Community Spotlight returns to highlight a recent release from a mobile developer in the FGL community.

We asked Vasiliy Kostin about his smash hit mobile game “Handless Millionaire” and got his thoughts on modern game development.

(This interview has been translated from Russian)

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FGL: Welcome to the Spotlight! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with game development

VK: I started making games a long time ago but it was always only a hobby. My first big game was ‘Pick and Dig’ (in Russian i named it ‘Kirkop’)’. In total, I made eight versions of this game for different platforms. Two of them were published on CD in Russia; I even bought both in a store in my small city! This game was a big part of my life, and my friends even nicknamed me “Kirkop”.

I also made “Normal Tanks” (a 2d game with normal mapped lighting and shadows).  The first time i published it by myself and sold licenses via SMS, but some months ago, after huge improvements, its was finally published on Steam as ‘Iron Impact‘.

For android I made some not-bad titles (and some bad too!); the most successful of them are the series “Pinata Hunter” (with my friend Marcus Hadlock), “Galaxy Siege”, “Flash’s Bounty” and, of course my most popular game “Handless Millionaire“. In all my games i used my own game-editor; it’s helped me through different times, languages, and platforms. First version was on Delphi(Pascal), then 3 versions on c++ (borland, MSVS, Qt) with intervan in 1-2 years, and latest and most powerful is the game-editor I made on flash. And all this time I had never treated mobile games as something serious, and was wrong as its turns out!

hand2

FGL: ‘Handless Millionaire’ now has millions of installs and the franchise has a loyal following. What can you tell us about developing it?

VK: HM is simplest game I ever made, and most successful too. As i remember, I spent less time on it than I spent to make any of my other games. About 2-3 weeks. At first, I thought of making a platformer game about small round creature out of fur, with a long flexible tail. You have to pass levels as you do in other platformers and care about your tail.

The main feature was cutting off tail by bad guillotines and boxes when you do something wrong. Later I simplified this idea, mixed it with the ‘Millionaire’ TV show and it took shape into what you see now. I never thought about the genre of HM; maybe it is ‘limbcutter’ or ‘guillotiner’!

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FGL: What game developer services do you use in your games? 

VK: I started working with FGL about 6 years ago when flash games were at their peak. Its was best game development experience I ever had. When you make a lot of small games you grow your skills very fast. You don’t stay stuck on one thing; you look and try new things with each new project, which change before you get sick of them.

At first, Handless Millionaire was a flash game for web-browser only, but I ported to mobile because you could do it in a few clicks. On android, HM1 was released 3 years ago and at start had a few daily installs. With time it grew, and now it gets about 10k installs daily. Without any promotion.

I decided to try Enhance because I was having problems with managing the adMob account, and there were also issues with the approve code Google was sending.  I just know, that now it is great. Enhance helped me fix all the problems with my account approval and the mess you can get when working with big lazy ad networks. Also, it helped to forget about pain of using SDKs and updates to Extensions which can force you to hate doing game development at all, as its was with me sometimes.

hand1

FGL: Do you have any advice for other mobile developers?

VK: Of course my words can’t be the universal recipe for everybody, and there many people who will argue with me and some one will start kick me, but all my game development experience taught me one simple thing:

Don’t make big projects, even if you have enough powers and skills. Make a lot of simple, small and maybe pure ridiculous games. Between them you will find the true project of your life, which will contain something that we can’t describe, that makes that game “grow-able” and worthy to spend your time and soul to make. It’s the only way to not be disappointed. All big projects are always not first project of their authors. It’s always long journey of forgotten games and trial-and-error.

handicon1

But, if you have your great project already, which you can launch on a mobile device, forget everything I said and go to the guys from FGL. That’s my best advice on game development for now!

FGL: How can your fans follow you and learn about your new projects? What are you working on next?

VK: Maybe I never have enough attention to represent myself, but there’s no one place where you can find everything about my games or about me. In last year, I seriously researched HTML because I feel that it will be the future of WEB.

My latest experiment with HTML is roguelike game Pixel-Cave (you can say what you think about this game here). Its actually my first game without any sounds or music, and now I appreciate how important sound is for games. I have enough knowledge about WEB to make my game-editor in HTML, and soon games should be more polished. 🙂 I am also making a simple multiplayer realtime strategy game, but it is too raw to show it now.

Finally, you can see some short and rare videos on my YouTube channel.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find time to collect videos about all my games and their history there.

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I’d like to thank Vasiliy for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. You can download “Handless Millionaire 2” now HERE. If you have any other questions post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

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Community Spotlight – Sonny developer Krin Juangbhanich

FGL Community Spotlight – “Sonny” 

 

The Community Spotlight returns to highlight a recent release from a mobile developer in the FGL community.

We asked Krin about his new release “Sonny” and got his thoughts on modern game development.

 

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FGL: Welcome to the Spotlight, Krin! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with game development

Krin: My name is Jakrin Juangbhanich, and I first got into game development when I was 13 or 14. I had the thought to turn one of my highschool teachers (someone that wasn’t very popular with the students) into a boss fight. It was a very short game, and once the teacher was defeated, she blew up like a Megaman X boss. From there, I developed games as a hobby. I didn’t have any background in Computer Science, so I had to learn by just ripping apart example projects and copy pasting things a lot.

Between 2004 and 2010, I made a few Flash games that gained popularity on Newgrounds and ArmorGames: Sinjid, Crimson Warfare, Flight, Colony, and Sonny. Flash games were only starting to become big, so I guess there wasn’t that much competition at that time. That’s how my games were able to get so much exposure, and it really encouraged me to do something better than what I had done before. That’s how I grew my skills over the years, and that’s how I met all the amazing people that I’m working with today.

sonny_03

FGL: We’re very excited you brought your latest project “Sonny” to mobile.  For fans new to the series, tell us about the Sonny franchise

Krin: The first Sonny game was originally a Flash game about a zombie who wakes up tries to find out who he was. The gameplay was a linear turn based combat RPG, with core focus being on the skills and buffs. It was immediately really popular, and to be honest I’m not sure why either. The game is really easy to learn, and I think people enjoy leveling up skills and items in general. Maybe it was the weird environments and story, or the voice acting. The music was incredible too (courtesy of David Orr – thanks mate!), so I guess it was a combination of those things.

What really surprised (and motivated) me was all the people who wrote in the comments or forums who were really into the game. They were talking about strategies, skill builds, and the story. It really made me so happy to know that I was able to create that kind of entertainment and value for other people. That was when I started to seriously consider game development as a career.

sonny_02sonny_01

FGL: As a highly successful Flash developer, what was it like making the switch to mobile?

Krin: Prior to Sonny, I made another mobile game called Gemini Strike. It was the first mobile game I ever made, and the first game made using Unity. Double whammy! It was so challenging and uncomfortable at first. I chose to do a space shooter game because I always feel that is the best type of game to make when learning a new platform. But the project eventually grew into a space shooter with procedurally generated loot and RPG mechanics and a massive story script. I had a lot of fun on it, and it was a great project. When that game was done, the very same team began to work on the new Sonny game.

Even with the previous exposure to Unity and mobile, there were still many challenges. Not having vector graphics, or a Movieclip animation system like in Flash meant that we couldn’t just clone the game. We had to re-think how a lot of things worked, but also keep it feeling true to the original. The same was true with gameplay. Sonny was very popular back when it was released in 2007, but now it’s 2016 and the players will have higher expectations. The big design challenge for me was to bring in something fresh, but with the same flavour.

sonny_04

FGL: Do you have any advice for new game developers or developers looking to make the switch from web / browser gamedev to the mobile space?

Krin: Every developer is different and has their own story! But if you’re like me, you are an impatient creator. You get bored if you spend too much time learning or reading and not seeing results. You’d prefer to hack something together and have it work, than spending time to do it the ‘right’ way (bad habit, I know!). We’re like the hares of the fabled race. We’ll burst out the gate sprinting, but then stop dead down the track. Whether it is from laziness, or lack of energy, or willpower, it doesn’t matter.

But eventually to grow, you have to be patient. Learning a new technology or trying something new can take time. It can feel like a step backwards at first. So I think the key is not to give up, but just switch the approach. Stop being the hare for a while, and be the tortoise! Just make slow and steady progress, and bit by bit you’ll get where you want to be. Even if some technologies get obsolete, there are many more skills you’ll gain along the way that will be useful forever.

 

FGL: Where can your fans follow you and get updates on your games?

Krin: I’m in the process of re-creating my blog. In the meantime, my most active channel for updates or conversation is my twitter – @krin_jj! I My shoutouts are to my team (David, Jet, Panit, Akhanan!), to ArmorGames and all the support they’ve given me (Dan, Ferret, Sean, Tass, Dora!) and to all the amazing people I don’t know who create all the free YouTube video tutorials, podcasts, and answers on Stack Overflow. Thanks guys!

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I’d like to thank Krin and Armor Games for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. You can download “Sonny” now HERE. If you have any other questions for Krin, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/krin_jj or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

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Enhance November News and Notes

 newsandnotes

Enhance Comes to iOS 10

FGL is pleased to announce that Enhance™ has been updated to fully support iOS 10!

iOS 10 came with a requirement to support IPv6, which broke a lot of SDKs. We have fixed Enhance™ to be compliant with this requirement and are now vetting our supported SDKs to make sure they support iOS 10.

Some users reported issues with iOS 10 upon launch, and these have now been investigated and fixed! Enhance™ will continue being the fastest way to implement SDKs on Android as well.

platforms-nocopy

 AdMob Banners Made Easy

AdMod Banners have been added to the Enhance™ managed process.  AdMob is one of the world’s largest mobile advertising platforms, serving billions of mobile banner and text ads every month.

AdMob-Logo

 

New SDKs Now Supported!

inMobi – Access premium demand sources from the best performance, brand, and commerce advertisers.  InMobi’s advanced targeting capabilities allow advertisers to reach and bid differentially for high value user segments, enabling you to maximize yield based on your highly qualified audience.

 

inmobi

 

Appodeal – Appodeal sets a new standard for mobile ad monetization.  Their comprehensive mobile app monetization solution for developers maximizes your returns from top-performing ad networks.  Read more about this partnership HERE

appodealpic

 

 

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FGL’s $50 App Promotion Is LIVE!

incent1

FGL’s revolutionary, patent pending Enhance™ process injects SDK code directly into compiled iOS and Android apps with just a few clicks. You can now integrate your favorite 3rd-party mobile services without having to touch an SDK ever again.

We think you’ll love Enhance as much as we do, so we’re paying you to try it out. All you have to do is Enhance™ your Android or iOS app with any mobile service you want, then publish your app to Google Play or the App Store as you normally would, and we’ll send you $50. That’s it!

  1. Sign up or login to Enhance HERE
  2. Enhance one of your apps by integrating at least one mobile service (it takes just a couple of minutes)
  3. During the Enhance process, be sure to check the ‘opt-in’ box for the promotion
  4. Our QA team will test the app to make sure it meets our quality standards
  5. Once approved, upload your app to Google Play or the App Store
  6. After 30 days, we send you $50 for simply using Enhance!

incent2

To be eligible for the promotion, your app must first pass a basic quality check. The app must be completed, working, polished, and contain all the typical components of a successful app.

For more information on the promotion, visit this page or drop us a line at info@fgl.com

 

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Flash Marketplace Shutting Down

A very brief history of FGL

When FGL started – almost 10 years ago now, as FlashGameLicense – it was a marketplace for the Flash gaming industry.  Flash game developers could find sponsors for their games, and publishers could search through thousands of games to find great content.  The site and community grew very quickly.  I don’t think it’s boastful to say that FGL was ubiquitous in the Flash game industry.  If you made a Flash game, you knew about FGL.

But things have changed. There was a time, years ago, where we would see developers using FGL making over $400,000 a month with Flash games.  Last month, we saw closer to $5,000.  Partly this is due to changes we’ve made, but mostly it’s due to the changing market.  Mobile gaming grew at a startling pace, and the PC gaming market has become more accessible than ever.  When you add in browser companies’ desire to limit (or eliminate)  3rd party plugins like Flash, you can see where the Flash gaming industry (and web gaming in general) has taken quite a beating.

Luckily, FGL has always been about developers – not about any specific technology.  When we saw mobile gaming getting more popular we started adding new services to help developers on mobile.  Some of those didn’t work out: Flash on mobile-web, the mobile app marketplace, and HTML5, for example.  But others did extremely well: our Mobile Platform, where we help developers monetize and market their mobile apps, and most recently Enhance, where we help developers integrate with third party services with no need to implement SDKs.  In fact, this year we will make developers more money than we ever have in the past, and that’s with almost no revenue from Flash games, which was our sole source of revenue just 5 years ago. FGL will continue to be about developers.  So if another technology or market comes along, we’ll be there to help developers. That said, right now we believe focusing on mobile makes the most sense.

The FGL Flash Marketplace

A little over a week ago our Flash bidding Marketplace went down due to some server issues.  As we dug into the issues we found that it would take considerable work to get things back up.  Also, we noticed that there wasn’t a large outcry.  If the Marketplace was down for even a couple of hours, 5 years ago, my email inbox would be full of concerns and complaints.  Now… I think in total we received a dozen inquiries.

We built the marketplace nearly 10 years ago, and much of that code hasn’t changed.  And much of it was built for the hardware it ran on.  Hardware now that is so out of date it isn’t supported by updated versions of the software running on it.  As an example, when the “heartbleed” bug came out we weren’t at risk because our system is so old it had never introduced the update that carried the bug!  So, when the server recently went down, and we determined it couldn’t be brought back up we found we were in a really rough spot.  We’d have to re-write much of the code that was written nearly a decade ago.

When we considered this, and looked at the lack of use and lack of money flowing through the Flash marketplace, we decided that we would not bring the marketplace back up.

Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for some time.  And I think many other companies would have taken the site down much sooner, especially since we are doing so well on mobile.  But, there’s nostalgia there for me.  I’m extremely biased because, 10 years ago, Adam and I started this whole thing with that site.  I wrote the first bits of code for the site in my living room.  My developer account is still the first one listed in our database.  I think I remember every developer and sponsor who signed up in the first months, if not year, and I can remember every single game that was uploaded.  In fact, Adam and I were the very first Game Reviewers, so we played every game – good or bad! – that went through us.  I’ve easily played thousands of Flash games 🙂 So, you can see why I might find reasons to delay shutting down the Flash marketplace.  But, the time has come.  Bittersweet as it is: we can no longer support the Flash marketplace, but we are helping mobile developers make more money than ever.

The Good News

The good news is the community is still as lively as ever.  Our forums went down briefly when the marketplace went down, but we have them back up.  Unlike the marketplace, we received lots of complaints about the forum being down.  You can find the forums here.

We know that there are still Flash developers and sponsors and we want to support them as much as we can. So we will also still support Flash developer and sponsor interaction through the forums.  Feel free to make deals and meet each other there!

Also, if you are a mobile developer, or are thinking of making a mobile game, as I’ve mentioned we are seeing a lot of great success there.  I suggest you check out Enhance.

And, we’re always open to feedback.  Feel free to email us at info@fgl.com

Best,

Chris and the whole FGL Team

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Enhance™ Spotlight: Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon

Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon

Before FGL got involved, Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon was a good mobile game that was struggling to find an audience.  Elsper, the developer of Clicker Mine, had managed to get some initial players to install his game, but he wasn’t able to get that player base to grow.  What’s more, the player base that was there wasn’t monetizing well.

 

This is something FGL sees over and over again:  a good game that needs a little help to be successful.

 

First statistics

The first thing FGL did was look at the game’s retention data, which turned out to be impressive:

47% of the players return on the day after the installation. (D1 retention)

19% of the players play for at least 1 week. (D7 retention)

8.7% stay in the game for a month (D30 retention)

 

The usual benchmarks FGL advises developers to hit for retention is around the 40%/20%/10% mark (D1/D7/D30), so the Clicker Mine data was very promising.  It was recommended Elsper to move to FGL’s Mobile Platform to leverage the full power of Enhance.

 

Working Together with FGL

Although the game was well-made, the goal was to make it perfect. FGL first provided better art for the game:

Clicker Mine Graphics

 

 

To improve monetization, Elsper used the rewarded videos from the networks supported by Enhance. This type of ad is received well by the players and can be seamlessly integrated into the gameplay.

Reward Ad

In idle games there are plenty of opportunities to utilize these ad formats and they performed very well in Clicker Mine.

 

Growing the Player Base

The task of increasing the game’s audience was the next piece of the puzzle. The solution included:

  • AppStore optimization of the game page
  • Cross-promotion from the other 2,500 mobile games which FGL has on various publisher accounts
  • Involvement of game promotion services

 

Results:

clicker installs

By pushing users to the app, and constantly A/B testing icons, descriptions, and screenshots in the store listing, FGL was able to get significant traction so that organic installs grew to the point where marketing was no longer needed.

 

In parallel, since FGL was fully managing the ads in the game, CPMs increased and the developer started to see a huge boost in daily revenue.

clicker income

Plans for the Future

Following the success of the game on Google Play, Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon will soon be published to the iOS AppStore.  Enhance helped Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon grow its player base and monetize its users more effectively.  If you’d like to experience the fastest way to implement SDK’s like Clicker Mind Idle Tycoon, try Enhance at enhance.fgl.com today!

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Enhance™ 2.0 is here!

enhance2The newest version of Enhance™, the world’s fastest way to add SDKs to apps, is now up and running! The revolutionary technology has added many new features that not only give developers a fast way to add and test SDKs, but also gives them more control. Some of the new highlights:

 

iOS and Android supported

platforms-nocopy
Hello Apple! Yes, now you can use Enhance to rapidly deploy SDKs on iOS as well as Android apps. This was easily our most requested feature so we listened and delivered.

 

Support for more IDEs and languages.

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Our Drag & Drop Library can be used with: Unity, Android (Java), iOS (Obj-C), OpenFL and Adobe AIR. Just drag the library into your project then add Enhance codes for interstitial, rewarded video or analytics (usually one line of copy&paste code per instance) and you’re done.

 

FGL or user managed ad-mediation.

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Have your ads managed by FGL and take advantage of our on-staff ad team. This means you don’t have to sign-up for any ad networks at all and mediation is changed daily to reflect the best paying ads! Also, FGL pays out net 30, so no more waiting for 6 moths to get paid.

Already signed-up for dozens of ad networks, have a crack team of ad specialists to optimize your revenue and don’t mind waiting for payment? No problem! You can use whatever networks you like and use our great mediation tool to optimize the way you want to.

 

Improved dashboard

dashboard
Cleaner, easier to read with more information just a click away. Check out app performance, manage your Enhanced apps, get paid and more. Less time and less hassle means more money for you.

 

Improved crash reporting

crashreporting
If your app is crashing, users are going to be uninstalling your app. Chasing down crash problems can be stressful, slow and will lose you money. With our crash reporting, you can find the issue quickly, remove the offending SDK, and be back up. In minutes.

 

More rewarded video and interstitial ad networks.

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We’ve partnered with even more ad networks to make sure your revenue keeps flowing. Add your favorite third party ad networks, analytics and more. We’re also adding providers at a constant pace, so your choices will only grow!

 

Check it out!

Rewarded video, interstitials, banners, analytics, crash reporting, mediation. In minutes. Go to enhance.fgl.com to upload your apk or ipa and see for yourself how easy and fast it is! Enhance™ is, as always, free for developers.

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Frequent Conference visitor, newbie at PAX…


I thought I pretty much knew what to expect at my first PAX. After all, I’ve been visiting game conferences for almost 10 years by now. How different could this one be? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

PAX Dev.
Two days of lectures and panels from developers for developers. I expected the usual kind of talks about app store ranking, monetisation, etc etc. Boy was I wrong. PAX Dev is a blackbox-event. This means that everyone agrees that no one will tweet or post or publish any lecture content in any way. Do we sign an NDA for this? No. It’s all based on trust. And here’s where the event starts to feel different already.

A few hundred of us gather in the big lecture room to listen in awe to Elan Lee’s kickoff keynote about Exploding Kittens and their rocky ride of becoming the most backed Kickstarter project ever. An incredibly inspirational talk to start the conference.

In between 2 packed days of lectures there are short coffee breaks where at first it feels hard to network. Usually I see plenty of familiar faces at conferences, but I don’t know anyone here. How do I start talking to people? And then someone walks up to me and says “Hi! How are you?” Oh, right. That’s how you start a conversation. I get reminded that everyone here is attending to learn, to be inspired, to share knowledge, and to share the passion for our industry. I don’t feel like an outsider anymore.

The rest of the days I attend talks from the people over at Kickstarter, Amazon and Google Play. Where else do you find people from these massively important platforms willing to share their data? Not many take-aways from a black-box event that I can share, but I can share one.

Ty Taylor, the creator of Tumblestone, talked about his automated level generator and how he designed it. He pointed out specifically that all this info is ok to share.

We conclude PAX Dev with a closing keynote by Raph Koster about Game Grammer. This is not a good time to zone out after a long day full of lectures. Raph drills down to the core of game design within a 1-hour talk. My head is spinning and I feel like I have to rethink all my game ideas. By the way, I highly recommend his book “A Theory of Fun”.

Next day. The real deal. PAX Prime!
A 4-day consumer event for gamers. With a few years of Gamescom experience I feel like I know what to expect. Big crowds of gamers, long lines for the most exciting upcoming releases, a loud show floor, and standing in line for lunch behind Link and Zelda.

A few points where PAX turned out to be different:
  1. Not just computer games. The event offers a nice balance between online and offline. The popularity of card games, tabletop RPG’s and board games is on the rise again. Magic: The Gathering had it’s own dedicated conference hall across the street, Pathfinder was being played by hundreds of people at the same time, and there were plenty of opportunities to just sit down and with strangers and play even stranger board games together. The new definition of social gaming, perhaps? 😉
  2. Lectures are well attended. Spread out over different lectures halls in the building, and even at different locations in the city. Developers talked about the process of how their game was made, professional gamers shared their experience, introduction talks to the game industry, the history of games, the future of games, games, games, games! Indeed, no lack of love for our industry here!
  3. Big publishers don’t rule the show. At Gamescom it’s quite normal to see 8-hour lines of people who hope to get a 10-minute gameplay demo of the next upcoming blockbuster. At PAX, those lines were relatively short. Also, at Gamescom the indie area always seems quite abandoned in a corner. At PAX, the Indie MEGAbooth and the PAX 10 were buzzing!

My personal favourites?
Well, I just downloaded Armello on Steam; a stunningly beautiful RPG/boardgame game by the Australian developer League of Geeks. For someone who grew up loving the Redwall books, this game ticks all the right boxes for me.

On a more realistic note is ECO, developed by StrangeLoopGames. A complex world builder based on community driven rules. I’m not only looking forward to this as a game but also as a social experiment, since users have to vote on laws and restrictions regarding hunting and building expansion for example. Will we treat this virtual world better than our real one? Their Kickstarter is still running!

Unfortunately I had to leave PAX Prime early. Too little time to play all those amazing games. At least I will still be able to check them out online!

It was time to go to the airport. Or wherever I would end up in one of those bad-ass Mad Max Ubers….

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