This week, AdColony sat down with Marco Mereu, the Co-Founder and CEO of Gameblyr, an indie mobile game publisher committed to changing the way developers and publishers work together. Essentially, Gameblyr works with indie game developers to publish, promote, and grow their games.
Gameblyr was truly formed with the indie developer in mind. As Mereu puts it:
“I spent a number of years working in large scale free-to-play browser games while I watched as many of the more talented indie developers I knew struggled to get visibility for their quality games on mobile. I wanted to help change that and provide indie developers with the support they need to be successful in mobile.”
Albeit ambitious goals, they have proven successful. Since their launch in November 2013, Gameblyr has driven over 3 million organic downloads for indie mobile game developers. Currently, their titles voast over 80,000 daily active users of quality indie games, and they expect that to keep growing, as Mereu states:
“There is an audience for quality indie games on mobile – we just need to a better job as an industry of supporting those games and developers.”
While they currently work with 7 indie developers, Mereu stated that they are “looking to increase that number substantially” this year.
Devoted to forging deep partnerships with their indie developers, it’s no surprise that Gameblyr maintains a small yet agile team of experienced industry veterans. Mereu notes that as mobile changes quickly, “it’s important to be able to recognize new trends in what players enjoy and how we can best help developers be successful,” which their tight-knit team is able to do quickly.
Gameblyr judging and mentoring developers at the Mass DIGI Game Challenge.
Passion for the Games
When asked to choose their favorites among the numerous games they’ve published, Mereu had a hard time answering, as he still plays all of them fairly regularly. However, one recent project stood out: Spirefall.
Gameblyr was taken by Spirefall’s developer Robert Attard:
“He was one developer essentially having his own game jam, working on every facet of his game at night after work and using the best tools at his disposal to make ‘his’ game a reality.”
When that much passion goes into one game, it’s easy to see why Gameblyr is fond of it. It’s also not surprising that the game is a hit, with over 1 million installs this month.
“There are thousands of Robert Attard’s out there around the world working hard on their own time to make the game of their dreams. We salute them.”
Mereu, we agree.
Advice to Indies
Alas, for the same reason tales like Spirefall’s are inspirational, they are not for the feint of heart: making indie games successful isn’t easy. Gameblyr’s clearly found a secret recipe, so we asked them what advice they would give to a new studio looking to publish their first game. Their top suggestions were:
- “Be smart and understand the business component to making your games.” Even if you’re a gifted artist partnered with a genius programmer, you’ll need someone on the team with a strong business sense.
- “Keep your team size small.” How small? Mereu says 2-3 max will do the trick. It’s easy to over-inflate the team too early. Get a title under your belt, first.
- “Keep your development cycle short.” By this, Mereu recommends keeping it to 4-5 months.
- “Adopt smart monetization practices that are a good experience for your user and can make you money as you scale.”
While this is all good advice, Mereu’s following pearl of wisdom is perhaps more striking for indie developers working on mobile:
“Believe in yourself and your vision. Two years ago nobody wanted to hear about indie on mobile. Now there is a lot of attention being paid to these games, and for good reason. The innovation in the space is here.”
What does Gameblyr mean by adopting “smart monetization practices” that are good for the user? We asked:
Opt-In Incentivized Video Ads are a great new approach where it’s a win-win-win for users, developers and advertisers. Collection mechanics and giving players something of value for their time and money is appreciated. Great games like Crossy Road and others have shown you can do this successfully on a large scale.
We can’t help but agree. Value exchange video is a growing trend among many top publishers, enabling companies to “make monetization friendly,” as Matt Hall of Hipster Whale puts it.
Staying true to their advice to keep development cycles short, Gameblyr fans will have reason to rejoice soon, as their next title is slated to release in March. Following this, another title is expected to release later this spring. After that? Gameblyr has “a long list of submitted titles in review,” some of which the Gameblyr team confesses have “blown them away” with respect to vision and quality.
As Gameblyr grows by signing on more indie developers and releasing more titles, they are also looking into ways to scale their support to a much broader group of developers, with “exciting things” being announced later in the year.
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