Bearbit Studios, the developer of hit game Smashy Road: Wanted is just two brothers in Den Haag, The Netherlands. With the success of Smashy Road, it may come as a surprise that just a year and a half ago, one brother was in school making games in their free time, and the other was working at a car dealership.
We sat down with co-founder and designer Mario Kortenoever to discuss the success of Bearbit and what the future holds for this dynamic duo of brothers running one of mobile gaming’s hottest studios.
Before starting Bearbit, mechanical engineer Mario was wasting his time at a car dealership, while Remco was finishing his life-science degree creating games in his free time. Having thought about having his own business for some time, the two brothers decided to strike out on their own and formed Bearbit Studios.
Bearbit is a great example of keeping things simple whilst remaining successful.
The pair started from a place of curiosity. “We play a lot of games in our free time,” said Mario, “We began to wonder how games were made, looked on the Internet for some tutorials, and things took off from there.”
In the beginning, the two worked completely separately. “We only shared our ideas on the weekends, since I was working,” said Mario. This approach might sound unorthodox to most, but it’s difficult to argue with the results.
Bearbit chose to focus on mobile for a simple reason – Reach. “With mobile games we can reach a lot of people, very easily,” Mario explained. “It’s very easy for anyone to publish a game on the App Store and Google Play, even with a minimal budget.”
“Remco does the programming, I do the art,” said Mario, downplaying the incredible work both brothers do on their respective sides of the business.
Although they still call Remco’s bedroom their office, their success has far outpaced their expectations. Bearbit won the Best Quickplay Game award at the 12th International Mobile Gaming Awards.
“Now that it’s a hit, I was able to quit my old job, so we can more frequently work together!”
The inspiration for that success was varied. Mario explained that the brothers mixed and matched their favorite aspects of other games they liked with their own original concept, which resulted in one cohesive game.
But success wasn’t immediate.
“As you can see, it it took a while before our game really took off,” Mario said, referencing the above chart. “Once schools had started, people were able to share the game.”
The sharing hasn’t stopped with schools breaking for the summer this year. Smashy Road has jumped to 40 million downloads and growing. “Now that it’s a hit, I was able to quit my old job, so we can more frequently work together!” Marios laughed.
Words to the Wise
They’ve not been at this as long as some, but the Kortenoever brothers have learned a lot.
“Make a game you would love to play yourself,” Mario said, “Make it accessible for everyone.” When it comes to keeping gamers engaged, the advice was just as simple – “Combine easy gameplay with free gifts, easy achievements for the casual gamer, and hard ones for the hardcore members of the audience.”
When it comes to monetization, Bearbit kept their approach simple, and it paid off. “Monetize the game in a way that is an addition to the game’s experience,” Mario said. “Rewarded video ads are a great way of doing this.”
What’s the biggest thing Bearbit has learned through this whirlwind 18-month journey? “We’ve learned that looking at what’s popular can give you great guidance to create something your users want,” Mario said. It’s more than following trends though. “You have to look at why something is popular,” he finished.
Make a game you would love to play yourself
Mario said that randomization in as many aspects as possible was a big learn for he and Remco. “You should randomize as much as possible and it will keep players interested and excited about what’s going to happen next,” he said. “We definitely plan on continuing this strategy in our future games.
Mario and Remco aren’t done yet.
“There will be sequels to Smashy Road!” Mario promises, “Including multiplayer! We have a lot of ideas we’re excited about and plan on executing those plans in 2016.”
What else is up this year? Full time games work. With the success of Smashy Road, Bearbit is most excited about being able to work full time on their future games. Given what the the brothers Kortenoever created working part-time, we’re excited to see what they can do with this games development thing when they’re doing it full-time.
Follow Bearbit Studios
To keep up to date on all the exciting announcements from Bearbit Studios, you can follow them on Twitter @BearbitStudios like them on Facebook, or visit their awesome 8-bit website. To stay up to date on the latest news on Smashy Road: Wanted, you can follow the game on Twitter @SmashyRoad, Like it on Facebook, or visit the official Smashy Road website.
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