Casual Arts is a developer part of the Microvalue group. They specialise in hidden object games and very recently won the 2017 UK Developer Spotlight Amazon Appstore initiative, which led to them becoming a managed developer and securing a business manager at Amazon Appstore. Here, Martin King, technical lead at Casual Arts, explains how life has changed for the team since their winning the UK Developer Spotlight.
As an independent games developer, Casual Arts enjoys its own pace of casual game creation and publishing.
Pushing its games across a variety of platforms, the studio focuses on the hidden object gaming sub-genre and is currently focusing its efforts on the mobile end of the market. Its Park Ranger and Cruise Director series ask users to discover hidden objects from a pre-published list, and it proved very popular. That was even before Martin King, technical lead at Casual Arts, and his team entered a competition which would bring them new opportunities.
“The UK Spotlight Amazon Appstore competition was an opportunity for us to get publicity for our games”, says King. “Before we entered the competition, we simply drove our own installs with virtually zero marketing, but the competition offered us the chance of promotion - and of course a relationship with Amazon.”
The submission process was straightforward and, best of all, winning has been excellent for the business.
“We’ve seen uptake in download and conversion rates; games were promoted nationally and internationally on the Amazon Appstore which we could never have dreamed off beforehand”, King explains.
This promotion has allowed King and his team to focus more on its strategy. King and his team are looking to increase their presence on mobile and, with the help and advice of their very own Amazon Appstore business development manager – another part of the winner’s reward – they’ve come with practical steps to perfect the transition from console games to mobile games.
“The transition has taken us some time as we had to consider the input – there’s no mouse or keyboard on a phone – the huge variety of screen resolution and aspect ratios. Fortunately, our games are simple to play, with an intuitive interface, so that wasn’t a consideration.”
Amazon has also been proactive in directly channelling Casual Art’s mobile strategy.
“Amazon has been instrumental in our transition to mobile. We have also found that because most of our target market can be found on the platform, it therefore forms the greatest part of our revenue”, says King, “and we’re continually benefiting from working with them in distributing our products to a wider audience.”
Indeed, King and Casual Games are so positive about this experience they believe mobile will become its dominant publishing platform in the near future, over desktop. It’s a mixture of the experience they’ve had with Amazon, as well as changing customer habits: users spend more time on mobile.
“We think mobile will be our primary platform after a time. More of our customers own more devices and our audience is changing – from desktop to mobile gamers. We’re simply meeting changing audience needs and Amazon is helping us make this transition.”
Alongside this pivot, their point of contact at Amazon, the business development manager, has helped them think about strategies in different markets and monetisation models.
“Some brands consider premium product pricing or free-to-play gaming with in-app purchases or even firewalls, completely free of ads. We’ve decided on using a hybrid of all of those after lots of experimentation told us each strategy has its own merits we could use”, King explains.
And it also means they have aligned their key success factors directly to Amazon’s guidance.
“Our business is now continually evolving, looking for new, niche markets and platforms, and spotting competitions – it’s a different feeling now we’ve won that competition.”
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