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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FGL Mobile Platform Success Story – 3 Pyramid Tripeaks

Recently, 3 Pyramid Tripeaks (a game developed by Bram Schoonhoven and published by Happy Planet Games) used the FGL Mobile Platform to reach #10 on the Google Play app store for Top Free Games.  It also reached a rank of #1 in Cards and #28 in all Top Free Apps!

3 Pyramid Tripeaks was pushed through FGL’s Mobile Platform back in October of 2013 as a premium game on sale for $.99.  FGL worked with the developer and publisher to make the game free and monetize it with FGL’s ADsorb ad system which assured the game had the highest cpms possible.

FGL continued to promote the game and when it was apparent that the game had good organic growth FGL organized more specific promotions around the game, which helped raise it to #10 in the Top Free Games category on Google Play.

Said Kelly from Happy Planet Games, who published the game, “Working with the FGL Mobile Platform has been a great experience. I get to focus on finding developers and games while FGL takes care of all the behind the scene details that would otherwise take up most of my valuable time”

Bram Schoonhoven, the game’s developer, also had a great experience working with FGL and their Mobile Platform, saying: “I am very happy to work with FGL, they know what they are doing and always respond fast. I am looking forward to more mobile successes.”

FGL has enjoyed working with Kelly and Bram and we congratulate them on their achievements, and look forward to working with them on future games!

 

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How to Get Your Game in the App Charts!!!

Part IV of 4 Part Blog Mini Series on Porting your Game to Mobile

There are several options for driving your app higher in the charts: paid marketing if you have the conversions and budget. Cross-promoted games that offer promotion to your games and from your games. There are a few good services out there for cross promoting. FGL has very strong relations to Nook and Amazon but the game has to be high quality. It’s been said that the best hour to publish a game on iOS is Thursday before 4PM. Last, anecdotally and certainly something not to be forgotten is keeping track of your game analytics! And remember, partnering up with a indie friendly publisher can ease your workload tremendously.

 

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How to Market Your Game in the AppStore

Part III of 4 Part Blog Mini Series on Porting your Game to Mobile

An actual spider on the thumbnail for a game called “Spider”, and a spider with Spades on its back for “Spider Solitaire”. Both feature the same gameplay. Which one is clearer?

In most cases, a publisher will help to market your mobile game.  Game Title and Keywords are critical. Does your title contain a descriptive word people are searching for? The title and keywords you use will influence your game search ranking in the AppStores. Matched traffic is important but by far the most important asset to your game is the thumbnail! The thumbnail should attract player’s attention not only in the app store but on the player’s device once installed. Screenshots, Short Description, Reviews and Testing also drive revenue to your game.

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How to Monetize Your Mobile Game

Part II of 4 Part Blog Mini Series on Porting your Game to Mobile

Bread Kittens; Gotta Catch ’em all!

There are various ways you can monetize your game micropayments, in-game monetization, ads and simply selling a game. Some of these methods require multi-session game plays, users returning and playing your game multiple times, while others don’t.

Regardless of which methods you ultimately end up choosing, it’s important to understand how and why people spend money on games. (more…)

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Fundamentals of Porting Your Game to Mobile

Part 1 of 4 Part Blog Mini Series on Porting your Game to Mobile

Martine Spaans has written a 4 part comprehensive article for our blog on porting Web games to Mobile. She is the owner of Tamalaki Mobile Publishing (http://www.tamalaki.com/) and freelance consultant in the field of casual gaming and online marketing. Martine has 7 years of gaming experience under her belt, which can be considered as quite a lot in our young industry. In previous roles she was Senior Licensing Manager for Spil Games, heading the Online Marketing department at the Ubisoft studio Blue Byte and as Chief Marketing Officer at the mobile social gaming network Gramble. While Tamalaki Publishing has only been around for 6 months she already had some successes like a #1 hit on Nook, a #10 paid app on Amazon and multiple games in the top 100 new free charts on GooglePlay. iOS soon to follow…

When porting your game to mobile a few basic elements need to be taken into consideration, regarding screen size, performance, controls and the mobile audience that you have one shot to impress.


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Using Christmas Music and Characters in Games

If you were raised in the USA (or certain other parts of the world as well) Christmas is heralded by things such as decorated fir or pine trees, hearing (the very 1950s) Frosty the Snowman, ads prominently featuring Santa Claus, renting the 378th remake of The Christmas Carol and watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with “limited” commercial interruption.

While these things might feel as if they’ve been around forever, the fact is a vast majority of your Christmas associations are owned and protected. Now what exactly does “protected” mean? Well, at the core, it means you can’t use it without a license. Period.

Here are some examples of protected music:

  • Frosty The Snowman
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Carol Of The Bells
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • White Christmas
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • Sleigh Ride
  • It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
  • Silver Bells
  • Feliz Navidad
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)

and some examples of protected characters:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • The Grinch

Now before you go all Grinch.. err.. I mean Scrooge, there are both music and characters in the public domain.

Public Domain music:

  • Deck The Halls
  • The First Noel
  • Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  • Jingle Bells
  • Joy To The World
  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • Silent Night
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Public Domain Characters:

  • Santa
  • Scrooge
  • Reindeers without red noses

Also note that while even if songs are in the Public Domain, you can not use any recording of those songs (unless the owner of the recording has put it in the public domain). Recordings are covered by a separate copyright. For more info about Public Domain music, you can visit: http://www.pdinfo.com/.

 

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