Note: Effective 08-26-2015 Free App of the Day (FAD) has been replaced with Amazon Underground.
DotEmu is a Paris based company that specializes in breathing life into classic games on modern platforms founded by Xavier Liard and Romain Tisserand. After being established in 2007, they quickly made a name for themselves as a developer with well received ports of games like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII and VIII for Steam, SNK Playmore’s titles such as Metal Slug 1,2,3,X and King of Fighters 97. More recently, DotEmu became a publisher as well and released popular brands such as Double Dragon, Another World, R-Type and Raiden. They have been moving to mobile and chose to publish their Android based ports on the Amazon Appstore.
I was a huge fan of these games growing up so getting the chance to find out how DotEmu was finding success on the Amazon Appstore was a personal thrill.
DotEmu’s first game in the Amazon Appstore, R-Type, quickly reached the number #2 spot on our best-selling apps list. While DotEmu has had similar success on multiple platforms such as iOS, Android, Desktop and more, they said “we consider Amazon as the best alternative to Google Play in terms of revenues for the Android platform.” Now with seven games in the store including Double Dragon Trilogy, Raiden Legacy, Another World and The Last Express they are continuing to release just what classic gamer fans would love.
Screenshot from R-Type on the Kindle Fire
With so many games being released for the Amazon Appstore, DotEmu tackled the problem from the top down. “From a business perspective we needed to make sure all the costs associated to the publishing of our games on Amazon were below the revenues we could expect.” But this all comes down to an important question on how you can manage the time investment for supporting a new platform like Fire OS and maximize the return on investment (ROI) at launch.
DotEmu’s Android games are built with Cocos2d-x on top of their own custom technology with features to handle multiple achievement/score API support, controllers support and more. When approaching the way to integrate Amazon’s GameCircle API into their existing codebase, DotEmu took a forward thinking approach. They spent the time upfront to integrate the GameCircle API correctly into their framework. While this integration initially took them two weeks for their game engine, it now takes only a few days per game thanks to the effort they initially invested upfront. With this quicker development time plus an additional 1-2 days of QA time for each new port, DotEmu can now easily bring additional games over to the Amazon Appstore that offer the extra features that GameCircle provides.
After receiving a few thousand purchases per game released on the Amazon Appstore, DotEmu is already seeing a return on their time invested. That means moving forward, any additional release with GameCircle support is immediately profitable after launch given the upfront work the put in early on. But there’s more to being successful in the Amazon Appstore than just the time that goes into integrating our APIs.
Marketing your game in the store makes all the difference and DotEmu took advantage of working with our editorial team to create the biggest impact they could at launch. “Amazon is [a] very efficient [way] to advertise our games to the gamers liking retro games.” said DotEmu. In addition since the team didn’t require much help with the porting process, they were able to focus more on the marketing side things.
The good news is that this sort of help form Amazon isn’t reserved for top publishers. Any developer can apply for our Free App of the Day (FAD) promotion to work directly with us to help promote your game and gain brand awareness once you are accepted into the program.
So how did the team do? According to DotEmu, they “generated between 10.000€ and 50.000€ of net revenue on the Amazon Appstore in total”, all of which came from premium priced apps (as opposed to in-app products or advertising). Of course it helps to have a game with a recognizable brand for customer loyalty but it also depends immensely on the quality of the end product. The experience has been a success for DotEmu as they received a positive return on their investment in getting their first game into the Amazon Appstore.
By taking the time to implement Amazon’s GameCircle APIs in a way that supports future projects they can now release games with deeper integration on the platform and continue to increase their ROI. “The way to be successful with Amazon is to really think about long term business relationship and not to just release one game and pray for results without any support from the Amazon team.” according to DotEmu. This way of thinking is true about any platform, not just ours.
The audience for retro gaming is growing in the Amazon Appstore and with the help of great partners like DotEmu we are helping expand that category and open it up to our user base. We can’t do it without more great games like the ones being produced by DotEmu so keep them coming and take advantage of our platform’s unique APIs such as GameCircle as well as marketing opportunities like FAD to help grow your audience.
Screenshot from Another World on the Kindle Fire.
According to DotEmu “Today getting noticed in the digital world is extremely difficult and we can bet it will be more and more difficult in the future” which is why they also went on to say that “building up a long term business relationship with Amazon is consequently a no-brainer”.
For more resources on publishing Android games to Fire OS, integrating with GameCircle and the FAD program, check out the links below:
- Jesse Freeman (@JesseFreeman)
Founded in 2011 Pixowl, Inc is a mobile games developer headquartered in San Francisco, CA. With the success of its four iOS games, The Sandbox, Greedy Grub, Doodle Grub and Safari Party, Pixowl has made a name for itself in casual mobile games. Their game, The Sandbox, is a unique world-building and crafting game in 2D with touch controls and access to over 150+ physics elements. Players can craft amazing worlds, create pixel art, chiptune music, electric circuits or just play with physics.
I had a chance to sit down with Sebastien Borget, COO and Co-Founder at Pixowl and ask him about Pixowl’s experiences porting The Sandbox to the Kindle Fire, what type of success Pixowl has seen in the Amazon Appstore, and what it was like implementing many of the APIs available in the Amazon Mobile App SDK.
“We have built with Amazon an improved version of The Sandbox which is deeply integrated with Amazon’s GameCircle service for a more seamless experience on Kindle Fire.” – Sebastien, Pixowl
Pixowl was able to submit The Sandbox early on in the Amazon Appstore’s launch. “We were present at an event organized by Amazon UK to present other developers success stories on the Amazon Appstore. While it was still in an early stage of maturity we were really impressed by the performance the apps had already seen there. This convinced us we had to be among the early movers and adopt a cross-platform strategy fitted for each partner. Now, we couldn’t be happier about this decision as the Amazon team has held all of its promises and has been over achieving for us.” recalls Sebastien.
For the Kindle Fire version of The Sandbox, Pixowl decided to integrate Amazon GameCircle allowing a more seamless experience. GameCircle is a free, cross-platform API from Amazon that provides everything you need to implement achievements, leaderboards, and saved game syncing across any device, regardless of mobile platform. Once you integrate GameCircle, customers can play and interact with other gamers across any mobile device.
“Amazon is proving that Android users could be as engaged with games as on other platforms and made it worth considering alternative distributions models, with a huge revenue potential.” – Sebastien, Pixowl
“For us, the decision making process was relatively easy. On a business perspective, we wanted to make sure that the platform had enough of our core audience: kids and casual players, from 5 years old to 20+ . On the technical side, we had to check what level of compatibility with existing Kindle models was, evaluate the adaptations required and make sure we could provide the best game experience on the devices.” says Sebastien.
Pixowl already had an existing Android version of The Sandbox so moving to the Amazon Appstore was relatively quick. “The overall porting process took us 2 weeks maximum including development and testing. We are developing in C++ with Cocos2DX and everything worked almost seamlessly.” says Sebastien.
The Sandbox follows the “freemium” monetization model; a free download to all Amazon customers the games utilizes Amazon’s In-App Purchasing API to unlock additional campaigns of level or acquire elements faster.
The API offers a completely Amazon hosted checkout experience to customers and integrates fully with their Amazon account. They can choose to utilize their 1-Click purchase settings as well as Amazon Coins which now work on both Android and Kindle Fire devices.
According to Pixowl the Amazon Appstore represents 5% of the total downloads volume from all Android marketplaces, but over 20% of their total Android revenues. Some days, it’s could be as high as 50%! “That’s very close to the performance we’re seeing with Apple iOS!” says Sebastien.
According to Pixowl Amazon is proving that Android users can be as engaged with games as on other platforms. It made it worth Pixowl considering alternative distributions models, with a huge revenue potential. “Success is no longer determined just by the amount of downloads, but by their quality. Go for the full experience with Amazon. It’s really worth it!” says Sebastien.
Reaching More Customers and Making More Money Per User
In a previous case study, you heard about the tactics that Big Blue Bubble uses to monetize their free to play (F2P) games. In this study, we’d like to share how June Software increased their app exposure by going from an iOS-only producer to an iOS and Android platform producer, and how their presence in the Amazon Appstore has racked up higher Average Revenue per User (ARPU) than any other app store.
June Software is a small San Francisco based software company founded in 2008. They build casual, arcade games and e-learning games for children. Initially June Software only built games for iOS where they have titles such as Math vs. Zombies and Guess the Movie, which is ranked #3 worldwide and is #1 in Australia.
June + Unity + Amazon Appstore = Less Friction, More Revenue
To grow their customer base, June Software decided to address the Android marketplace. June chose to port their iOS games to Android using Unity. Unity allows them to build their app once and deploy it to multiple app stores, including the Amazon Appstore.
When we asked about their experience on Amazon apps store, June Software Director Products Saurabh Jain said: “On Amazon, we have seen 2x times the ARPU [we see] from Google Play, and 1.2x [more than] than Apple AppStore. The overall downloads aren’t there yet, but the revenue makes it a very good market for us.”
Increasing Time in Games Increases Potential Income
One effective strategy that Saurabh implemented is that they have integrated Amazon IAP and GameCircle features in their games, which increased potential revenue and player engagement. GameCircle includes features such as leaderboards and achievements that keep players engaged and can increase user session time and session frequency, giving uses more opportunities to make IAP purchases. And it works on Android and iOS. This is exactly what June Software needs for their games available for both platforms.
What can you do?
We just gave our case study page a quick update to make it easier for you to navigate and find the developer stories that you are looking for. Check out the case study page to see what other developers are building and learn what they are doing to engage their users, promote their apps, and successfully monetize them.
Take a look at some of the developer stories that we’ve recently featured:
Developers like Sean Sheedy and his two sons Tommy and Ian love to participate in MoDevEast competitions. In their latest competition the team created an app that would let you playback a track that somebody else recorded and while it plays back you can record your own track. Sean mentioned that “It was a no brainer to port this over to Kindle. It basically ran right away. We basically did no work.” Since Kindle is Android, it’s just like any other Android environment using Eclipse. “In development, it’s really cool that I can plug the Kindle in, and it’s just like any Android device. That is REALLY nice,” says Tommy. Read the full article.
When we spoke with Bryan Davis, the Director of Development of Big Blue Bubble, he shared some general strategy on how they generated 10%-15% better average revenue per user and 25%-30% better IAP revenue in the Amazon Appstore for My Singing Monsters. Davis tells us: “A very important aspect of monetization from free-to-play games is IAP (in-app purchasing). Our strategy is to go for volume, rather than chasing whales.” While average revenue per user (ARPU) is important, Bryan tells us that a high conversion rate is more important for Big Blue Bubble. Read the full article.
Others like Tribeplay have been building apps since 2012 and created the series of games under the title Dr. Panda that first appeared on iOS and Android. According to the team, making their Android Apps available on the Amazon Appstore required “little to no extra tweaking.” The team added that “one of the best things about the Amazon Appstore is that there wasn’t much work to get our apps on there. We already develop for Android, so getting our games on the Amazon Appstore was a real breeze.” The team ended up doubling their gross revenue in UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Read the full article.
We plan to make these case studies a regular series, so check back every month for a new case study post, and learn more about how the Amazon Appstore is benefitting developers. If you’re interested in checking out other developer stories, visit our case study page. If you have a specific experience with your apps and games in the Amazon Appstore or integrating the Amazon Mobile Developer SDK that you’d like to share with other developers we would love to hear about it. Just email us your story at mobile-app-marketing(at)amazon.com and you just might end up on our website.
Kinetic Art, an Israeli startup established in 2010, is the publisher of the highly popular cooking app Look & Cook. Kinetic Art's core technology and intellectual property revolves around in-app ecommerce optimization.
Recently, Kinetic Art published Look & Cook to the Amazon Appstore (download here) their first ever-Android version. I had a chance to sit down with Dudu Mimran from Kinetic Art and talk about Kinetic Art’s experience publishing on the Amazon Appstore, what it was like implementing the Amazon Mobile Associates API, and what type of success they have seen so far.
“Look and Cook is a cooking and now a shopping app, thanks to Amazon’s Mobile Associates API. We are building a platform for building cooking apps.” - Dudu Mimran.
Having found early success on iOS, including an advertising campaign on Pinterest, the team decided it was time for an Android version. For Kinetic Art the most important thing for Look & Cook was ensuring a great user experience. They were confident they could achieve this vision on Kindle Fire as they only needed to target a single device vs a multiple of Android devices. “On Amazon, you can focus a lot on Kindle. With Google Play you have to make sure you having everything looking good on many, many devices. We decided it would be a much easier transition going from iOS to Amazon because of this.”
Look & Cook was able to leverage Amazon to create a culinary lifestyle experience by integrating ecommerce into the food and culinary world. The current version of Look & Cook now has numerous physical goods related to the cooking of the selected recipe. “We created a small shop within each recipe. The tools that are included in the app are recommended by the recipe creator to make the recipe perfectly. In general, this is what our investors have in mind. Our main business model in the future will be ecommerce. We are not there yet, but this is a great step. We are betting everything on ecommerce and we already have purchases. People are buying for sure,” declares Dudu.
“Look and Cook is a cooking and now a shopping app, thanks to Amazon’s Mobile Associates API. We are building a platform for building cooking apps. Amazon’s Mobile Associates API really excited us because we have always wanted to integrate ecommerce but it’s something very hard to do as a startup. Since Mobile Associates launched it has made it much easier for us. We are very happy working with Amazon,” says Dudu.
Even though the team has seen a smaller number of app downloads on Amazon vs. iOS people are definitely buying goods and they have already seen differences in the behavior of customers. “We have two types of users on Amazon: those that use it on an ongoing basis and those that love it for cooking. We also see those that love it for the very first time. They are more engaged on Amazon, and if I compare the amount and depth of reviews, then totally, people are much more engaged into the app itself,” says Dudu.
According to the team, once they understood the basics of integrating the API for Amazon Mobile Associates, things progressed quickly. “It was very easy, and it just works!” says Dudu.
“Our main business model in the future will be ecommerce. We are not there yet, but this is a great step. We are betting everything on ecommerce and we already have purchases. “
Figure 1- Look & Cook running on a Kindle Fire HDX 7”
Figure 2- Tapping on Shop will bring up a physical good for that recipe you can buy with the Buy Now button.
Figure 3- Clicking Buy Now takes you right to the product from Amazon without leaving Look & Cook
Figure 4- Look & Cook’s category of recipes
To measure success the team built a detailed level of conversion measurement. For example, they know how many people download the app, navigate through the app, navigated to an extended view, and buy products. In the future, one of the improvements will be creating greater exposure to other random products and not forcing people into the ones the app recommended.
It’s too early to tell how much money the team will be making but already they are seeing purchases. “It’s less important for the number at the moment, behavior is what is very important. Really getting customers used to the behavior is important. They are not accustomed to buying within the app. Now we are working on several angles: distribution, volume of users, exposure of more products, and then quality of product and selection,” says Dudu.
When asked about potential growth, the team projects as much as 8-10x growth once they start really marketing to users. Their favorite part about working with Amazon? “I would say the personal touch. This is very, very important to us and a huge differentiator. From a user perspective, Amazon customers are much more engaged and seem to be people that buy.”
Big Blue Bubble is a Canadian development studio out of Ontario. In the last few years, they have focused on creating free-to-play games for iOS, Android, including Kindle Fire, and Windows Phone. Their latest update to their app My Singing Monsters includes catchy new tunes from Grammy winner Kristian Bush and is not only a big hit with customers, but a big hit on the Amazon Appstore. Director of Development Bryan Davis shares some general strategy and how they generated 10%-15% better average revenue per user and 25%-30% better IAP revenue in the Amazon Appstore.
In-app purchasing: Big Blue Bubble goes for volume
Davis tells us: “A very important aspect of monetization from free-to-play games is IAP (in-app purchasing). Our strategy is to go for volume, rather than chasing whales.” While average revenue per user (ARPU) is important, Bryan tells us that a high conversion rate is more important for Big Blue Bubble.
Big Blue Bubble games also use aggressive discounts to be successful.
“Something always needs to be ‘on sale’,” says Bryan. “People like to get discounts, so constantly running the promotions is the way to go.” Bryan recommends letting the promotions run for at least 3-4 days so the majority of your players have a chance to get a discount when they use the app.
Better ARPU and IAP revenue than other stores
How is this working for Big Blue Bubble? We asked Bryan how well this strategy monetizes on the Amazon Appstore. He stated that: “…the overall revenues per user are just about 10-15% better.” However, “In terms of IAP, Amazon Appstore constantly outperforms other stores by 25%-30%.”
Were there any special tricks or tips Big Blue Bubble used to get IAP to monetize so well on the Amazon Appstore? Bryan noted that: “…the fact that most users already have a credit card on file helps a lot.”
We also asked about downloads, and Bryan said that:
“In terms of download units, Amazon Appstore is still behind Google Play or iTunes App Store. In the Amazon Appstore ARPU is better and customer engagement is about the same. The Amazon Appstore conversion rate from downloads to installs) is by far the highest and percentage of users with technical issues is the lowest.”
So is it safe to say Big Blue Bubble is happy with their app performance on the Amazon Appstore? “We are very happy with the performance. It is obvious that the user base is growing every day, not only for our game but for the Amazon Appstore as well.”
It’s good to hear that Big Blue Bubble’s monetization strategy is working well on the Amazon Appstore. We asked for any last recommendations, and Bryan had this to say: “Don’t keep [your customers] waiting too long for new content. Keep engaged with your audience at all time.” We couldn’t agree more.
Learn more about the tools used by Big Blue Bubble: