Not every mobile game company follows their dreams from the get-go, and not every app is a success. Sometimes though, the stars align and a company turns a moment of disappointment into a huge opportunity and sometimes that opportunity spawns a winner. Just ask German publisher Fluffy Fairy Games.
We talked to Daniel Stammler and Janosch Sadowski, Fluffy Fairy’s pair of Co-CEOs and Founders.
From Utility App to Game Tycoon
Fluffy Fairy Games wasn’t always in the game-making business. The team’s first game was a goal tracking app called Uberachiever. “Unleash your ambitions! Strengthen your self-discipline! These were the rallying cries of our first app,” said Stammler. The app was designed to help people track and reach goals.
“We began as eager startup entrepreneurs focusing on this app,” said Sadowski
Unfortunately, Uberachiever’s fate was not to uberachieve. The app failed to gain traction, but in true entrepreneur fashion, the team in Karlsruhe pivoted and took the opportunity to get behind something they really believed in. “We were free to pursue our real passion, mobile games!” said Stammler.
The team set out to make a game they wanted to play, but looking back on it, Stammler said they initially bit off a bit more than they could chew.
“Our biggest mistake was starting with a game that was way too complex for our experience level,” said Stammler. “While it is good to challenge yourself, we had to ditch our first game before releasing and start anew with something smaller.”
Stammler said that the company had relatively light expenses, and was able to bring their hugely successful Idle Miner Tycoon to market without breaking the bank.
“Not all studios have that luxury,” Sadowski said, giving other new studios some sage advice; “Basically, don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Wise words from one of Fluffy Fairy’s five founders.
“Don’t be afraid to start small,” Sadowski added. “Build an MVP (minimum viable product) to see if your idea has traction first,” he explained. “Then, focus on iterating rapidly and incorporating player feedback quickly.”
Sadowski explained that the company is more concerned with retaining players rather than monetizing. “Our (working) theory is that if they stick around, you can get them to pay later on,” he said.
Success to Success
Since release, Idle Minder Tycoon has become a bona fide success for Fluffy Fairy, who is pleased to announce the game has reached more than 8 Million installs between iOS and Android. Installs aren’t the only way the company has been succeeding with its first game though.
“We average 75% Day 1 Retention,” Sadowski said. According to Fluffy Fairy, Idle Miner Tycoon also sits at 2 Million MAU. All of this has been achieved in a little over a year.
How did Fluffy Fairy grow their first game so cleanly and efficiently? A mix of old-school word-of-mouth and the latest in mobile user acquisition — and they did it all with user input.
“Initially, our new players were acquired simply by word-of-mouth,” said Sadowski. He added that this organic growth was assisted by strong app store optimization and thorough A/B testing of their icon and screenshots.
Then, opportunity knocked. “We were graced by the Platform Gods in the way of featuring by Apple and Google Play,” Stammler explained, before going into detail of how the team capitalized on their initial success. “Of course, this is not a sustainable strategy, so we have switched to buying video ads – which is enormously successful.”
“AdColony has been an essential part of our growth strategy,” Stammler said, “They have built our most gorgeous and effective ad-units via their Skylab creative team.”
“Our game is designed almost entirely through player feedback,” Sadowski said. “They ask, we build. By relinquishing the egoism of game design, we can ensure that the player base is getting the content they crave, keeping them retained,” he said.
The team has implemented these suggestions in a variety of ways, including expansive mining opportunities, new upgrades, varied rewards, and so on, they explained. “We have also implemented a live-ops system to build specific loci of excitement through a player’s lifecycle,” he said.
Idle Miner Tycoon’s users also had a hand in designing the app’s in-game economy. “Strangely, we built the game with minimal monetization in mind,” Sadowski laughed. “It wasn’t until players specifically requested ways to spend money that we added consumable goods,” he explained. Along the way, the game also now offers ample opportunities for rewarded video viewing to give all players a chance to earn consumables and support the company.
This user-first approach to experience and monetization has led Fluffy Fairy to a perfectly even split between ad revenue and in-app purchases (IAP).
Idle Miner Tycoon is a bright and colorful (despite being set underground) simulator where players run a mine, make smart investments to upgrade their empire and boost their economy. Players can even automate their workflow by hiring managers.
Aside from being a great game, a huge additional appeal for the game is the art style. “Our art style is very cartoonish,” Sadowski said. “This permits us to attract casual players to bolster our user base, even though the gameplay can get quite complex,” he explained. “Since the designs can be a bit simpler, this also gives us wiggle room in implementing new features quickly without looking out of place.”
That flexibility in style has allowed the company to iterate quickly, often in response to player feedback.
“Each of us is extremely passionate about games and most importantly, we are very nimble,” Stammler said. “The ‘secret sauce’ embedded in our culture is to develop a strong focus on incremental goals, then be nimble enough to execute those within five days,” he explained.
“With weekly updates, team members must be trustworthy and adaptable,” Stammler continued.
Like any major studio, Fluffy Fairy keeps an eye on their competitors. “We deeply respect and admire our competitors in the idle clicker space, in particular; “Trailer Park Boys Greasy Money” by East Side Games, “Tap Titans 2” by Game Hive, “AdVenture Capitalist” by Hyper Hippo/Kongregate, and “Farm Away” by Futureplay.
Clearly, the Fluffy Fairy team knows their playing field and combined with a player-centric development style, success has continued for the team as the months have ticked by since Idle Miner Tycoon’s launch — but what’s next?
Coming Soon from Fluffy Fairy Games
The company has one major move coming soon — an actual move. Fluffy Fairy will be moving from Karlsruhe to Berlin in January, which the growing team is excited about. That’s not all though.
“We are in the process of developing our next title now!” Sadowski exclaimed. “It will be similar in some ways to Idle Miner Tycoon, but players can expect awesome upgrades in the way of new features and worlds to explore,” he teased.
Fluffy Fairy is tight-lipped about the launch date. “Given our development style (above) you won’t wait long,” Sadowski said with a wink.
Work for Fluffy Fairy Games
Talented studios like Fluffy Fairy Games couldn’t keep making great titles without great ideas and employees, and the company is currently in the process of growing again. The company is currently thirty strong and ready to add more.
Fluffy Fairy Games is hiring across disciplines, including art, engineering, marketing, HR, and more. They even have internships and an open call for talented people who think they could do great work with the team!
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