Today’s Case Study is about Game Scorpion Inc., a small Ontario-based Indie developer. Abhinav “Nav” Gupta, better known in the forums as “gamescorpion”, took some time to sit down with us and talk about his experiences with ShiVa, the various platforms his team develops for and the difficulties of establishing a business in a highly competitive market.
Nav, first of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You joined the ShiVa forums around July 2011 and have since become an invaluable member of the community. How has your experience been with ShiVa so far?
My experience with ShiVa 3D has been extremely beneficial; the whole community on the forums has been extremely kind and eager to help each other out. This is amongst the primary reasons we chose ShiVa. Before ShiVa, we had purchased or investigated other development tools such as Torque, Unity, Blitz 3D, Dark Basic, 3D Game Studio and many others, but nothing really compared to the functionality and diversity of ShiVa. This was truly the greatest buy and has helped us so very much that it is now our daily tool of choice to create top quality apps and games. Hands down I would have easily done this again if I had to repeat history, the best investment we ever made!
You have created numerous tutorials for the community, documenting your every steps from ShiVa to a multitude of target devices. Thank you for that, and i am sure the community is really grateful for your efforts as well. What has been your inspiration and motivation to make those tutorials?
When we started using ShiVa, we had to deal with a steep learning curve as there was little or no documentation on many parts of ShiVa. For me this was a challenge, however I knew that if I could learn something and share it with the community, one day we could all benefit from it and move forward and support a great product like ShiVa. Also for me the best way to learn is to teach. I love making these tutorials because my teammates and I personally come back to the same tutorials again when we are creating a new app and look at some of the steps we may have forgotten over time. There is a lot of stuff to undertake during app creation, and when it’s fresh in memory, I try and write it all down somewhere. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from reading the Bible (Luke 6:38) has been to give and I shall receive. Sharing with the community has helped to build not only credibility but also has helped to enhance ShiVa for all. That was a big downfall of other dev tools we tried in the past. They had little support or were not being updated or did not have a supportive community.
ShiVa has helped us to successfully port ALL our apps to iOS, Android, WebOS, and RIM. The process to port over the apps to all the various markets takes approximately 1-2 days. We finalize the app in ShiVa for the majority of our devices at the size of 1024x600, except for WebOS and iOS which we finalize at 1024x768. But you need to have the physical devices for testing, period. If this is a serious business and you are planning to make a living from it, you need to have the tools to test on. Even after compiling apps with the ShiVa UAT with a single click, we tested them on the original devices and would notice that each device was very different in the way it would handle things. For example, Amazon Kindle Fire would require Open AL to play sound properly for some apps, and yet other devices would work with the default sound option. Without actual devices, it can be very challenging to really test things.
From your perspective, which Appstore was the easiest one to develop for, and which is the most promising in terms of sales / getting noticed?
Originally we were only planning on porting out to iOS, however when we saw the great amount of competition on iOS, it just seemed doomed from the beginning. iOS alone was NOT going to pay the bills. Fact is that every new developer believes that he/she has the next hit app. Unfortunately, within the first few weeks on the app store, they wake up to the unpleasant reality. Chances are that their app will not net the amount of money they planned for!
We then opened up the doors of ShiVa’s UAT and said that we would try to hit every market possible, so we started on our quest to port our apps to all markets, so that we could turn profits and sales that were worthy of app developers and the stories of legend we were told about.
|Platform/Market||Difficulty to set up and get approved||Membership||Profitability|
|iOS||Very difficult setup, approval process took us a full month.||$99/Year||If an app sells X units on iOS, it will sell 10x the volume on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.|
|Google Play||Easy setup, slow sales.||$25/Year||Sales are just bad here atm for us.|
|Kindle Fire – Amazon||Compared to Apple, this was amongst the easier approval processes for us.||$99/Year||Bringing in the 2nd highest volume of sales overall.|
|Blackberry Playbook||Backend system takes some time getting used to, but short approval times.||$99/Year||Sales are just behind iOS.|
|Barnes and Noble||Very challenging approval, also limited by citizenship.||$99/Year||This is our best market with the highest sales volume.|
|Android SlideMe.org||annoying, but average approval||$0||Really low sales volume.|
|Android AndroidPit||As long as your app is already on Google Play it will load it up.||$0||Worst sales, not a single one up to date.|
|Android AppsLib||Tedious approval process.||$0||Very low sales volume, $50 retainer|
|WebOS HP Touchpad||Approval process takes a bit.||$0||Not the best and definitely not the worst.|
Reflecting back at all the markets, the easiest one I’d say would be Google Play, however the sales are very low there when compared to other markets for us. The most promising app markets I’d say would be the smaller ones which have less competition and more hungry users ready to buy. If a market has easy to pay methods and a small offering of apps, developers make more money there than on the markets that have too many apps and a multitude of choices, or are hard to pay for.
You have created 3d games as well as infotainment and 3d entertainment titles that are not strictly speaking games. Which titles gave you the biggest revenue, compared to the time you spent developing them?
When we look at the apps we have made, iClock Station Pro is our top app followed by Intimate Fireplace and My Student Toolkit Pro. Ironically it seems that games are not as profitable when compared to edutainment, productivity or lifestyle apps.
The Intimate lineup took us around 2 weeks to develop the first app, Intimate Fireplace. Our new lineup of apps known as the “FunTime 3D eDesigner” series has taken us around 2 weeks to create the base app, however from this base we will be creating several other versions for the various holidays and upcoming events. In contrast, we spent a good 2 months on ASRI (our space runner game), and sadly, it is at the low end of the earning chain along with our other games. Ironically games are not doing well for us even though we love making them. I personally believe this is due to the massive amount of choice that users have in the market when it comes to games.
Being a small Indie Developer like you, is it possible to live on the sales from the various appstores, or is the app store gold rush a dream long gone by?
The dream of being an indie developer or development team like us and hitting the app gold rush still exists, it has simply changed forms. In 2008 when things were just starting out in the app world, you could make an app and make millions. That is no longer possible without having money to market and/or a solid idea that no one has thought of before. Today in order to make it, you must focus on QUANTITY with QUALITY and CREATIVITY, rather than just having one app become the end all be all app. With more devices coming out, more and more people are heading to the markets to buy apps and this means they will be looking for the next best thing! If your app can solve a true need or help people out, you will hit success. People love apps they can show off to their friends on how cool or fun their device is. If you can create an app that can do that, chances are you’ll have a hit on your hands. People also love apps that solve a need. Games however are much more challenging, because there are so many competitors and many solid options out there. We are IN the heart of the app gold rush, but the days of simply creating an app and praying it will make millions is over.
If a developer seriously wants to quit their day job, then focusing on the Game Scorpion motto of “many apps, many markets” strategy is a path to success. You never know what app will hit off and become the next angry birds, however if you keep on creating apps you can guarantee you will be able to make a small fortune.
Finally, what would your advice for young indie developers be - which app stores are worth their time, and which business model should they go for.
If you’re serious about making it as an app developer then here are some helpful final tips and advice I can give to any future developers:
- Choose the right tools: ShiVa 3D is the top of our list.
- Create MANY apps, for MANY markets, don’t just create one app in hopes that it will make you millions over night. It’s now become like a lottery ticket and unless your app is really different, you won’t be quitting your day job any time soon.
- Freemium is the way on iOS and definitely on markets like Android. Smaller markets however have a better rate of return on the Paid model.
- Paid and Freemium apps are the way to make money. Ad supported apps tend to make way less.
- Keep positive and have faith. Stay as humble and grounded as possible. Becoming a successful App developer truly is a dream come true and something like becoming a Movie or TV Star.
Nav, thank you for this very long and extremely informative interview. We wish you well for your current and upcoming Apps, and we are already looking forward to your next excellent tutorial!
About Game Scorpion Inc.
Game Scorpion Inc. consists of 3 team members, Abhinav Gupta (Nav), his wife Seema Gupta and Amit Niraj. While Nav and his wife are based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Amit is based out of Ranchi, India.
Since Nav was a boy, he has loved programming and Game development. He obtained his A+ certification in 2005 and in 2008, he graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. His wife Seema is a Make Up Artist trained at Marca College and has that special eye for colors and design. Amit is a Masters Graduate from Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) India.