Game development is an art, like any other. It can be personally rewarding, and like other forms of artistic expression, great games can come from anywhere. Powerhouse game studios don’t hold a monopoly on inventiveness or creativity, and some of the best games of all time were created on a shoestring by two or three people with a shared vision.
It’s hard to get noticed, though. If you’re an indie game developer, it’s usually a headache to get your game in front of people, both gamers and reviewers. Amazon recognizes this. As part of our commitment to independently developed games, Amazon is launching the Indie Games Store, a new category on Amazon in the Digital Video Games Store, designed specifically to address this problem.
The Indie Games Store is a dedicated storefront designed to specifically help indie game developers with promoting their PC, Mac, and browser-based games while helping gamers discover a large and growing selection of innovative indie games.
The dedicated indie-specific storefront offers indie developers several programs to increase discoverability and promote their PC, Mac, and browser-based games while helping customers discover a large and growing selection of innovative indie games including “Don’t Starve” by Klei Entertainment, “FTL: Faster than Light” by Subset Games, and “The Bridge” by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild.
To celebrate the launch, we’ll also be offering features and promotions starting today to encourage customers to engage with the indie game scene:
This is a great time for you to check out the Indie Games Store and participate in prominent merchandising on the new storefront. If you are interested in selling your games on the Indie Games Store, contact Amazon Digital Video Games at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent study of more than 500 games that utilize in-app purchasing on Amazon, we found that mobile games using Amazon GameCircle’s leaderboards and achievements monetized significantly better than other games.
For the three-month period from November 2012 to January 2013, games using GameCircle produced 38 percent higher conversion rates and 33 percent more in-app orders per paying customer than games that didn’t use GameCircle. Conversion was measured by calculating the percentage of app users that made at least one in-app purchase. Combining the impact of both of these variables, GameCircle-enabled games earned 83 percent more average revenue per user (ARPU) than non-GameCircle games.
The free-to-play (or freemium) model, where consumers download and play a game for free, has become one of the most prominent business models in mobile gaming today. However, the biggest challenge for game developers following the freemium model is figuring out how to generate more revenue by converting non-payers into payers and keeping those paying users engaged.
Many of Amazon’s mobile game developers have discovered how GameCircle’s services–Achievements, Leaderboards and Whispersync–have contributed to their success at Amazon. GameCircle lets players connect with other players to compare achievements and compete for higher scores. These social elements get the competitive juices flowing, which may increase a user’s willingness to pay for in-game content, leading to higher conversion rates for developers. “PlayFirst's games on Amazon have performed above and beyond our expectations, and we believe GameCircle has enhanced our ability to connect and engage with Amazon customers, encouraging more play sessions," said Paul Chen, VP of Business Development at PlayFirst.
GameCircle also offers new discovery mechanisms that are an important factor helping drive increased engagement rates. For games that have integrated with GameCircle, players can see their friends, achievements, and leaderboard activity before launching the application, since all of this information is visible right from the user’s game library. Leading games such as Skylanders Cloud Patrol, Diner Dash, and Temple Run 2 have already integrated with GameCircle. The image below showcases how a user’s library is populated with GameCircle meta-data.
This added visibility is a powerful engagement tool. A related study that we conducted in January 2013 found that, on average, games using GameCircle over-indexed on the number of player sessions (defined by the number of times users opened the applications on their device) by 32 percent when compared to the average for the entire games category. For freemium games that monetize by selling in-game content, this enhanced level of engagement is critical to expanding customer lifetime values. "We see superior engagement, retention and monetization from players who download our games from Amazon. The GameCircle integration is helping us achieve 40 percent better per user monetization rates compared to non-Amazon players," said Sean Thompson, Vice President of Mobile Deluxe.
For you, GameCircle represents another opportunity to provide gamers with a more seamless and entertaining in-game experience, which can lead to increased engagement and monetization. Please visit the following links if you would like to learn more about the Amazon GameCircle and In-App Purchasing APIs.
With the OpenFeint shutdown on December 14, 2012, many mobile app developers find themselves having to evaluate other social gaming platforms. One such platform that offers tremendous value to developers is Amazon GameCircle for Kindle Fire tablets.
GameCircle makes achievements, leaderboards, and sync APIs accessible, simple, and quick for you to integrate, giving gamers a seamless and entertaining in-game experience.
Additional benefits of GameCircle include:
For detailed information on how to migrate from OpenFeint to GameCircle, click here.
Today, we announced a new,free A/B Testing service for developers like you, who distribute their app or game through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program. This service was built to help you improve your customer retention and monetization through in-app experimentation. Amazon’s A/B Testing service is easy to integrate, simple to control, and is built on Amazon Web Services. This means you can be up and running in less than a day and trust that the service will scale with your app.
When we set out to buil dan A/B Testing service, we met with developers to learn what they needed most.We discovered that it was something very simple--to better understand customer needs and to be able to react to those needs quickly. Our A/B Testing service provides simple to integrate tools that enable you to continually create and run experiments, view how customers are reacting to these experiments, and release new, improved experiences without writing any more code or resubmitting your game or app.
The service’s benefits include:
Free to Use: our A/B Testing service is free to use for developers distributing their app or game through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program.
Easy Integration: early partners report that the SDK can be integrated and ready for release in less than a day.
Precise Control: set up experiments and monitor results from the familiar Mobile App Distribution Portal.
Painless Deployment: server-side logic allows you to quickly iterate tests and deploy new, improved experiences to customers without having to resubmit your APK or write any additional client-side code.
Effortless Scaling: built on Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s A/B Testing service lets you focus on building great games and apps instead of architecting scalable back-end services.
With Amazon’s A/B Testing service you no longer need to guess when deciding between different customer experiences.You can evaluate which in-game promotion drives better performance, which button design maximizes customer click-through, or which tutorial offers the highest conversion rate.
The Amazon A/B Testing service is currently available in beta. Learn more and get started with A/B Testing here.
TashaKim, Public Relations Manager, GAMEVIL, is our guest blogger for this post.
GAMEVIL is a leading mobile games publisher and developer headquartered in Seoul, Korea,with branches in Los Angeles, California, and Tokyo, Japan. GAMEVIL has expanded their global presence over the years through an ambitious lineup of internal and third party titles localized in eight different languages. GAMEVIL specializes in mid-hardcore mobile games and prides itself on their strong following of players who enjoy their RPG-based titles.
At GAMEVIL,we believe that localization is one of the most important steps during post-game development. Correctly localizing a product not only promotes accessibility toa wide range of players across the world but also establishes global brand awareness. Our games are localized in over eight languages through in-house translators as well as third-party companies. Due to the geographical closeness and cultural similarities, our games are heavily popularized in Asia. Japan, in particular, holds a high percentage of downloads and monetization. We believe this is in part due to the localization of our content into the Japanese language and culture.
Below are a few guidelines we learned in our experiences localizing to Japanese as well as other Asian countries that may help other developers:
Translation is Not Localization
There are countless outsourcing companies overseas that will offer a literal translation of the language, but because so many RPG titles hold a rich and deep storyline,a literal translation would render the story awkward, bland, and lose the interest of the player. At GAMEVIL Japan, we translate the game internally and often outsource to third-party translators as well. Then, we initiate a second round of in-house translations. This portion focuses more on the cultural nuances and idioms that might not have translated seamlessly.
Understanding the Culture: The Importance of Physical Presence
We believe that it’s not enough to simply localize into a language through text, but that a full immersion is the best way to understand a culture and what is relevant in the region. The staff members at our Tokyo office are Korean/Japanese who have a sound comprehension of the social and cultural nuances. As similar as East Asian cultures may seem, there are still dynamic differences linguistically between countries that require sensitivity and attention. Once a literal translation is done, GAMEVIL Tokyo will go through a proofread, cross checking the text of the original document and implement any necessary changes. This process usually consists of omitting phrases that are irrelevant and adding text that will vibe well with the Japanese gaming culture.
The Importance of Proofreading
One key aspect that remains an extreme priority in our localizing is in the final steps of proofreading. We check each line to make sure that the meanings and expressions held behind each word and phrase flows seamlessly. The last thing that you would want is to make your game seem foreign to native gamers. We will usually have at least three rounds of thorough review before the translation is released to the public.
Localize the Entire Experience
One common misconception is that localization simply ends with the text, but localization often applies to the whole game. We cater each game according to regions. For many of our titles, we will implement Global, Asian, and Korean servers to create an experience that is relevant and user friendly. In addition, we take a user’s environment into consideration. For many Japanese users, gameplay will take place during a commute on the subway or bus in addition to heavy gameplay at home. We try to focus on quick loading times to encourage gameplay during short sessions. For our strong RPG and sports titles, we create short side quests such as the Abyss system in ZENONIA® and Exhibition Mode in Baseball Superstars® that can be enjoyed in short sessions. Japanese users are also big gamers and enjoy the anime RPG-style of many of our titles. With an immersive storyline and high-quality visuals combined with a well-polished text, our titles have seen success in terms of downloads and purchases in Japan.
We want to put out a product that seems indigenous to the users as they play the game. Our end goal is to create a game that transcends language and cultural boundaries that can be enjoyed by people regardless of age,gender, and ethnicity.