Barcelona Roadshow: Optimistic Indies, Top Advertising Tips, and the $1000 Indie Burger Award


July 14, 2015


min read

If there is one thing that we?re sure of after our Roadshow, it?s that mobile games really are taking over the world. No place was this more apparent than our fifth and final Roadshow stop, ?Barcelona! We were fortunate to be hosted by Gamebcn, a videogame incubator under the umbrella of mStartup Barcelona. Gamebcn is also host to Corsegames, CBU alum from 2014. our final Chartboost Roadshow panel, we added Adam Jaffe of Social Point to round out veteran panelists Martin Macmillan, a former music app developer who now helps app developers gain faster access to revenues they?ve already earned from the app stores at Pollen VC, and Omar Ramirez, an indie game developer turned evangelist at Chartboost. Adam has had an epic career with tenures at SGN, Playtika, and Neogames. Add a few advisory positions at Big Blue Parrot, Moon Active, and Jelly Button games and he has a tremendous wealth of experience to guide our intrepid indies.


Adam kicked off the conversation by making a comparison between the soda industry and video games: There are really only two major companies invested in the sugar-water game, Coke and Pepsi, but that doesn?t prevent a multitude of smaller shops from running successful businesses.Martin continued, offering that the app poverty line isn?t real - it is possible to run a stable business from a relatively low position on the charts (50-200 top grossing). Of course, this is dependent on knowledge transfer from big guys, so indies need to actively pursue advice, guidance, and benchmarks set by some of the bigger players. In the immortal words of the Steve Jobs, ?A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.? Our humble addition is to pick up any nugget of wisdom dropped by said B players.

Hitting the Mark with Marketing

We?ve already established that game development has become an iterative process. ?Simply getting players isn?t enough, Adam added, a shrewd developer should follow the example of 90% of other top developers and update at least once per month. Candy Crush, as an example, is popular because there are an abundance of new levels that keep paying players returning. This feeds your marketing engine, providing interesting content to promote rather than simply repeating your launch messaging.?When you are ready to start a campaign,? began Omar, ?first time advertisers would be wise to pay attention to free channels like Reddit, social media, and cross promotions (free on networks like Chartboost).? When asked if the panel endorsed services that guaranteed a chart rank position, Adam pointed to the recent changes by Apple as a resounding ?no.? The risks appear too high and platform holders take a jaundiced view towards cheating. frequent question from small teams is ?How much time and money should I spend on marketing?? There are a few components to this. Firstly both Martin and Omar recommended around 30% of total working time be spent on marketing. This includes market research and analytics, which implies that developers need to be analyzing the results of their activities more than just blindly iterating in one direction.Secondly, Adam cautioned against spending too aggressively for your burn rate. Once that has leveled and your cash positive or cash neutral, Martin advocated recycling as much of your profits back into features as makes sense dictated by the metrics. You need to balance both the marketing (new users) and development (retention) in order to have a stable business.

Indie Burger Awards

While in Barcelona, we were fortunate to be able to partner with the Indie Developer Burger Awards - an end of the year ceremony that confers recognition on outstanding Spanish developers. This year was extremely exciting because we were able to offer a $1000 prize as a special UA award for an amazing indie who just needs a little marketing assistance to achieve their dream. Who won? Well, first watch the nominee video to build up some anticipation?

And the award went to Platonic Games with their awesome arcade hit, Sweet Sins! We were impressed by the team?s beautiful design, intuitive controls, and addictive mechanics. There was plenty of variety to keep us addicted, and on top of all that the game was made by a tiny team of two! to Platonic games and all the other nominees. Your hard work is inspiring and we look forward to reading more about your exploits in the future. la pr?xima, Barcelona! Fins molt aviat, Barcelona!Nate