Indie Game Monetization and Marketing Tips with High Score Hero?s Spark

Developer Stories

October 14, 2015


min read

How do you go from zero to 250k DAU & 50% retention? For High Score Hero, this dream was fulfilled in their latest release, Hovercraft. We were honored to sit down with the co-founder and developer extraordinaire of this indie darling, Seung Won "Spark" Park at our latest meetup.If you missed the meetup (Nooooooooo!) we?ve got all the excitement captured in video below! Hit ?play? and watch Spark deftly answer such questions as; What can you learn from a game that fails? How do you do UA with a small budget? How do you get featured by Apple/Google? What are the best practices for increasing retention?

Don?t have time for the video and just looking for the juiciest highlights? We?ve got you covered! Here are a few of the juiciest tidbits we gleaned from Spark.

Lessons from AAA?s and Failed Indie Projects:

Before going indie, Spark worked on Glu?s Gun Bros, one of the first free-to-play games from the studio. Gun Bros was hugely successful, which Spark attributes to focusing on a fun gaming experience as opposed to aggressive monetization hooks. While there are admittedly multitudes of great games that never reach their distribution potential and languish on the ?shelf,? Glu?s attention to detail compelled him to focus on things he is passionate about., this mindset was a recipe for disaster on his first indie game, Canyon Crashers. While the game charted briefly, Spark believes that he and his business partner, Noah "Nomo" Ruffell failed to generate a good return on the game because ?We took too long and we [spent] way too much money.? From then on, they shifted their development cycle to stay as light and lean as possible. Future games would be made quickly and iterated on.

Indie Marketing and UA on the Cheap:

There?s no secret that the average indie developer lacks a significant war chest for mobile game marketing. So how do you get players when you don?t have the cash? For High Score Hero, the answer was ?Youtube.? Youtube boasts ?hundreds of millions? of people watching ?billions of hours? of gaming videos, so Spark and Noah knew the audience potential was there. tap into this awesome opportunity, they scavenged the internet for contact emails of YouTube stars and bloggers and created a spreadsheet. From there, they put in the sweat equity writing individually crafted emails that showcase why each Youtuber should feature their game. It worked! After being picked up by GFTeeV, ?let?s play? Hovercraft videos racked up over 2 Million views!

Measure twice, capitalize once

Before High Score Hero, Spark worked at Booyah, a company that was hyper data-driven on top of design driven. At High Score Hero, he attempted to manage a vast array of granular data before realizing that determining that everything came back to retention.Lucky for Spark and Noah, their chosen KPI worked famously with Hovercraft achieving D1 retention of 40%+. To replicate this level of engagement, Spark recommends giving a player a reason to come back that won?t cost them anything. For example, game mechanics such as lottery spins or daily bonuses.Even great news like high retention can come at a price. In Hovercraft?s case, this was due to a failure to launch with interstitial ads, denying the team significant revenue during the earlier days. Spark?s final lesson? If you?re using an iterative design process, don?t forget to include the minimum viable monetization methods among your features.There?s plenty more awesome content and valuable lessons from this dynamic duo. Be sure to catch the nitty gritty in the video above.