Things Spotkin Learned That May Help You In The App Store

In the ever-evolving landscape of game development, the journey of Spotkin offers valuable insights and lessons for those navigating the complexities of the app store. This game development company significantly transitioned from a mobile-first, free-to-play model to a PC-first, fixed-price approach due to the challenges encountered in app store discovery. Their experiences shed light on the strategic shifts necessary to thrive in the competitive gaming market.

Spotkin's initial strategy was ambitious, encompassing cross-platform development, creating multiple games, implementing a social backend, and committing to quick iteration for rapid market feedback. They employed Cocos-2dx for simultaneous development on iOS and Android, a successful decision with which they remained satisfied. The aim was to create a network effect by starting multiple games and collaborating with other developers. However, despite its visual appeal and technical prowess, their first game, Quick Shooter, did not monetize as expected. This setback led Spotkin to shelve other games and reevaluate their strategy.

"The Spotkin Network" was created to enhance player engagement through a social backend. Despite its potential, it could have significantly promoted the game. The "fail quickly" approach also faced challenges, aiming for rapid market testing through free game development. Quick Shooter took longer to develop than anticipated and failed to meet its monetization goals, prompting a pivotal shift in Spotkin's approach.

Acknowledging the hurdles in the mobile market, Spotkin prioritised PC development, channelling all resources into one PC-first game with a strong belief in its potential for success. This marked a significant change in their release strategy, reflecting a deeper understanding of market dynamics and the importance of focused development.

Spotkin's reentry into the mobile market came after the successful development of their PC game. They decided to release one mobile game, altering their release strategy based on previous experiences for better market penetration and monetization. This revised approach included removing Android first for quicker feedback and iteration, deferring the monetization strategy until after assessing reach and engagement, leveraging asynchronous multiplayer for virality, and investing in initial player acquisition based on past benchmarks.

Spotkin's journey offers several key takeaways for other developers. Their experience underscores the importance of flexibility in development and release strategies, the potential benefits of cross-platform development, and the challenges of monetizing free-to-play games in a crowded app store environment. By focusing on one PC-first game and revisiting the mobile market with a refined strategy, Spotkin navigated the complexities of game development and app store dynamics.

The company's commitment to sharing insights and experiences is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the game development community. Spotkin's story guides developers in making decisions regarding Android or iOS releases, highlighting the importance of adaptability, strategic planning, and the willingness to pivot based on market feedback and internal assessments. Their journey from mobile-first to PC-first development and the subsequent revisiting of the mobile market illustrates the nuanced decisions developers face in the quest for success in the competitive gaming industry.

First published May 7, 2013 and last updated at February 19, 2024