A common theme that developers often face is deciding which platform they should make their apps available on next. Are the users on this platform engaged enough? Will I be able to make money on this platform? These are only some of the questions that developers face, before investing their time on transferring their apps. For Playtika, a company which builds highly immersive social games, expanding their apps onto as many platforms as possible has become a core strategy.
Playtika’s app Slotomania currently holds the #8 spot worldwide for highest grossed mobile app on iOS and Android. In addition to iOS and Android, Playtika has also launched on the Amazon Appstore, which has proved to be a big success. According to Playtika, the Amazon Appstore provided the team with the highest ARPU (average revenue per user) compared to other platforms and also contained the highest retention rate amongst its competitors. Recently I had the chance to sit down with Elad Kushnir, VP of Business Development, to discuss how their apps were doing in the Amazon Appstore and their experience working with Amazon.
“The Amazon Appstore does not only make the migration easy from an existing Google Play app, but it also has outperforming KPI’s as well.” says Elad. The team has seen some impressive results since their app has gone live in the store and have done fairly well for themselves in terms of revenue. “When we compared our 2014 data, we noticed that ARPU on Amazon was 70% higher than on Android and 15% higher than on iOS”- Elad Kushnir
The team credits the unique audience that Amazon brings in and how engaged they are. “When we looked at retention rates for 2nd day and 7th day metrics, the retention was relatively the same across all platforms. However on the 30th day, retention on Amazon Appstore was 10%-20% higher than on iOS and Google Play.” Says Elad.
Playtika Sees 150% Higher Conversion Rates from Players to Payers on the Amazon Appstore Compared to iOS and 170% compared to Google Play
Getting users engaged is only half the battle. With a free app like Slotomania, conversion rates (paying users/ DAU) is crucial in terms of making revenue which is why Playtika is using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing API. So how many of these users are actually purchasing within the game? From Playtika’s data in 2014, they determined that the average user on the Amazon Appstore is 150% more likely to become a paid user than on iOS and 170% more likely than Google Play.
Figure 1In-App Purchasing
When the team came together to decide on their next platform, they chose the Amazon Appstore immediately. So why did the team decide that Amazon Appstore was the right choice?
“When we were deciding on our next platform, we already had our app on Google Play. We realized that moving our app from Google Play to the Amazon Appstore would be pretty easy since Fire OS is built on Android. Once we started, we got our apps up and running in a couple days and the process itself was seamless. The best part was that it had relatively low development costs.” – Elad Kushnir
From previous tests, we actually found out that more than 75% of the Android apps we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development required. The team has now launched several of their games on the Amazon Appstore and are working on the getting the remaining ones up and running within the next year.
Moving forward Playtika plans to take their apps to the next level by getting them onto Amazon’s newest devices. Their current focus is to get their app on Fire, in which their team is already planning on integrating Fire’s exclusive feature, Dynamic Perspective. In 2015 Playtika is planning to also have their apps on Amazon Fire TV. For now, the Playtika team tells us that they are very happy with how things are going and plan to release even more apps on the Amazon Appstore in the near future.
On September 3rd, we announced the availability of Fire TV to customers in the UK and Germany, and this week we released Fire phone to customers in both countries. German developer HandyGames launched titles on both Fire phone and Fire TV when these devices were announced in the US and have leveraged the new technological features to create engaging user experiences.
Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Chris Kassulke, CEO and co-founder of HandyGames, and our interview was the perfect opportunity to learn insights and tips for new developers that want to explore opportunities on Amazon devices.
HandyGames is a developer and publisher of mobile games based in Giebelstadt, Germany. Founded in 2000, HandyGames has released more than 150 games on a multitude of mobile platforms, utilizing a wide range of technologies. With a strong focus on researching and developing new technologies as a way to be part of the next evolution in gaming, they develop games on Android, iOS, Windows Phone smartphones, Windows 8, OUYA, Tizen, wearables and tablet computers.
When Chris and his team got a first glimpse of Fire phone, they were wowed. Immediately, they started brainstorming for game ideas that use the new technologies to its fullest. Fascinated by the head-tracking feature, Dynamic Perspective, Chris and his team tested its effectiveness and started building a game around it that creates an optimized device experience to delight customers.
“The head-tracking feature was really unique and we wanted our game to provide some kind of unique gaming experience that you won’t get with any other phone out there.”
The result was Stage Dive Legends, a brand new game that launched as a 2-week exclusive Fire phone game before being released on Kindle Fire HDX devices or any other Android platforms.
“Stage Dive Legends is one of the first games that you can navigate completely without touching the phone itself. That’s so unique, it’s something completely unreal.”
For HandyGames, it is paramount to really explore new technology like Dynamic Perspective. According to Chris, it is up to the developers, not the distribution platforms, to advance and evolve the field of gaming. At the end of the day, if developers do not take advantage of the technology available to them, customers will not be able to experience it. Chris goes on to explain that it is HandyGames’ mission to explore the possibilities offered by distribution platforms and device manufacturers, and use it in a way that delights and surprised the end-user.
“You need to understand the platform. The users are expecting something new. They will be asking ‘Where’s the added value for me?’ And that’s what we do.”
With Dynamic Perspective, the user experience changes because people will not only be playing the game, they will be showing it to their friends. Due to the innovative technology, users will go back to a game to show off its capacities, where they would have otherwise moved on to a new game. Thus, novel technology can help sell the game through word-of-mouth marketing as well as keeping customers coming back to the game more often.
In addition to launching on Fire phone, HandyGames quickly jumped onboard to launch games on Fire TV with titles like Ninja Hero Cats, Farm Invasion USA and Save the Puppies.
Constantly seeking innovative ways to reach customers in the most effective way, HandyGames are moving away from a tablet/smartphone-only strategy, and seek to take advantage of the big screen experience.
“For us it was really important to be on Fire TV, because of our beyond-mobile strategy”.
As Chris explained, this strategy entails that the end-consumer should have access to their games, whether they are on the go or at home in the living room, and is the reason why HandyGames optimized all of their games for Fire TV. Chris adds that this makes a lot of sense for HandyGames, since their games are perfectly designed for the big screen with large graphics, and because they are easy to play with the game controller.
“As a next step, we will be optimizing all our future games for Fire TV, so the end-consumer can look forward to lots of exciting new content from us.”
It’s free to register for an Amazon Appstore developer account and to download and use the SDKs for Fire TV and Fire phone. Fire TV has the power to make your Android games shine on the big (home) screen; take advantage of the opportunity to publish them directly to the living room. Check out our online documentation and blog posts about developing for Fire TV. Fire phone allows you to extend your Android app beyond today’s flat user interfaces. Fire apps can take advantage of the new Dynamic Perspective and Firefly SDKs - two new breakthrough technologies that allow customers to see and interact with the world through a whole new lens. If you have existing Android or HTML5 apps, you can easily and quickly get your app up on Fire phone. Most Android phone apps will already work on Fire. To determine your app’s compatibility, simply submit your app using our updated testing service and get compatibility test results within 90 seconds.
We frequently hear from developers that allocating resources and prioritizing investments can be a tough decision.
Tivola, a kids and family games publisher based in Hamburg, Germany, was not sure if they should build an Android version of their apps until they heard that apps were monetizing well on Amazon – sometimes even better than on other Android platforms. The return on investment that Amazon could potentially deliver inspired them to take the plunge, with Amazon as their Android partner. Their apps were live when Kindle Fire tablets and Fire TV launched in the US, and today they see Amazon as a core part of their strategy.
Recently we had the chance to meet in person with Hendrik Peeters, COO of Tivola, and he shed some light on Tivola’s experience with Amazon.
The developers at Tivola are the creative brains behind 50 apps, including PetWorld 3D and the popular Fire TV game Grandpa and the Zombies. Founded in 1995, Tivola has nearly 20 years of experience building innovative and entertaining apps and games for kids and families.
Tivola is quick to respond to the constantly evolving business environment. They have pivoted their strategy and moved from selling games on PC CD-ROM, to games consoles, and now to apps and games on mobile devices. Tivola published their first iOS app in 2011 and chose Amazon as the first platform on which to publish their Android apps in 2012.
Reflecting on why they built Android apps for Amazon first, Hendrik says that what ultimately affected the decision was the personal support they knew they would get with Amazon. Hendrik states that monetization on Amazon is stronger than expected, with ARPU being 33% higher than on alternative Android platforms. In the US specifically, ARPU for free titles is up to 4 times more than on Google Play. Hendrik ties the high monetization they’ve seen to Amazon’s customer base:
“Amazon provided a unique platform where we can distribute apps to an audience of invested parents who are interested in high quality content and are happy to pay money for it.”
As a kids and family games publisher, Tivola acts very carefully when offering in-app purchasing, so a customer base who is willing to pay for an app upfront plays a crucial role in Tivola’s success. Indeed, Tivola’s preschool-level games perform very well on Amazon, achieving ratings of 4.7 stars on Amazon.de.
Having understood early on that they have to distribute their apps globally, Tivola have emphasised localisation to expand abroad successfully. For example, Tivola worked very hard to publish Grandpa and the Zombies in 9 different languages, which, according to Hendrik, was a crucial customization to reach customers outside Germany. Indeed, localisation has enabled that 70% of revenue from their kids games and casual games now comes from outside Germany. The Free App of the Day promotion of Grandpa and the Zombies exemplifies this success, with 2/3 of downloads coming from the United States.
Confident in their success on Amazon’s tablet devices in the US, Tivola decided to have their apps live on Fire TV for when it launched in the US in April 2014. Indeed, their game Grandpa and the Zombies was one of the first apps on Fire TV. As Hendrik explains:
“We were excited to be part of something big. We saw it as investing in the future and we wanted to be there from the beginning.”
He strongly encourages developers to be present on a platform from the very beginning. As Tivola discovered first-hand with Fire TV, the high discoverability they got from a brand new platform is a clear advantage and incentive to invest in it.
One of the questions we hear frequently from developers is which platform they should target first when building their app. Adrian Barritt, head of development at Barnstrom Games, along with his team asked the same question when planning their app The Chase. The Chase first launched in August of 2013 and was the first app that the team decided to launch in the Amazon Appstore. The app allows a team of four challengers to play against a machine to test their knowledge. When asked why they chose the Amazon Appstore, Adrian said that “the opportunity was huge, and [we] saw similar apps performing really well on the Amazon Appstore”. The team also mentioned that “it doesn’t hurt when you hear good things from others [Square Enix] and how impressed they were with the coverage they received” says Adrian.
Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Adrian to discuss how they got their app to rise to the top of the charts in the UK, and how they view their experience with Amazon Appstore. Here are some of Adrian’s observations:
“Our sales went pretty ballistic when Amazon launched Amazon Coins.” says Adrian. Amazon Coins are generally used by customers to explore and try out new apps. Customers can get Amazon Coins in a variety of ways such as purchasing or earning Coins for free. Developers can really benefit from this since there are a lot of customers waiting to use up their Coins on different apps. Barnstorm Games specifically saw their app benefit from this.
“Our sales went up 10-fold (1000%) for about a week during the Amazon Coins promotion when Amazon gave away a vast amount of Coins to their customers. Even after the promotion we saw a 500% increase in sales from what we used to get.”- Adrian Barritt
Part of Adrian’s strategy is understanding when consumers usually purchase apps. The team made sure that their app would be ready for launch before the holidays. As a result the team saw a “2000% increase on Christmas Day compared to our average sales we usually get per day”. Since then, the team continues to see a consistent increase of 200-300% in sales after the Coins promotion ended and is now consistently ranked among the top 3 apps in the UK.
“We are more than happy with our performance in the Amazon Appstore and our expectations have been exceeded” – Adrian Barritt
One of the goals for Barnstorm was to expand their app onto more platforms. Since the team initially built their app on the Kindle Fire, they knew that Android would be a natural transition. So how was the process for transitioning the app over to Android? “The transition for creating an Android version was very easy since Kindle Fire was just designed that way.” says Adrian. You may recall that 75% of Android tablet apps that we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development needed so it’s not surprising that Adrian said that “there was no additional work needed beyond supporting GameCircle and thinking what services to use. Other than that it was very simple.”
“Even though we are on Google Play as well now, the majority of the time the Amazon Appstore still performs better than Google Play in terms of revenue”.
One service that Barnstorm is using to increase customer engagement is the GameCircle API. “With GameCircles’s achievement feature, it’s definitely helped us retain and engage our users” says Adrian. The team uses achievements to mark how well players are performing against others in “The Chase”, which has really improved average session length. After seeing the success with GameCircle, Adrian is currently looking into more services such as Amazon’s Device Messaging API to engage the audience even more by pushing out notifications to them.
The team has a new app that they just released in the Amazon Appstore called Tipping Point. The app is already topping the charts in the UK as well and the team has high hopes for it. Barnstorm also just participated in Amazon’s Free App of the Day program as well, helping them get even more exposure to customers.
Learn more about the tools used by Barnstorm Games
Launched in 2010, Soundtracker by South Ventures USA, is described as an app that allows music to connect people by making it easy to discover and play music in real time with friends and anyone nearby. With Soundtracker you can create stations, chat with other users, listen and comment on their latest stations amongst other features. Available on the Amazon Appstore here as well as other platforms, Soundtracker has over 4 million downloads and 1 million active users worldwide across all platforms.
I had the chance to sit down with Daniele Calabrese, CEO and founder, to discuss their experience bringing Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore and how they’ve managed to leverage different Amazon Mobile Apps APIs to their advantage.
Even though the app itself is available on various platforms, the reason why Daniele decided to bring the app to Amazon Appstore was simple. The “opportunity with Kindle was too good to pass on since we would be able to create an app for two platforms at once.” Daniele says that early on the team realized that the Android SDK was compatible with Kindle Fire, so they decided to build the apps in tandem. The team found out quickly that “the process in getting Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore was very easy and the results from it has definitely paid off.”
Figure 1- Kindle Fire UI
Besides using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing and Mobile Ads API, Soundtracker also uses Amazon’s Maps API and Device Messaging API as well. For Soundtracker “being able to monetize and engage your users are the most important factor in choosing a platform” says Daniele. The team credits these specific API’s as “the reason why we were able to be so successful in the Amazon Appstore.” By integrating certain APIs you can also qualify for different programs. Daniele says the team is “excited to be admitted into the Appstore Developer Select program,” which provides the team with 500k mobile ad impressions, Amazon Coins rewards to customers, and more.
Figure 2- Nearby feature and push notification
Since Soundtracker detects where other users are, relative to their current location, notifying other users who are nearby is crucial for engagement. The team decided to use Amazon Device Messaging API and Amazon Maps API to help solve this issue. The device messaging and maps APIs allow users to really engage by integrating interactive maps directly into your app, as well as sending out push notifications from the cloud to the user. When your app relies heavily on social interaction, such as Soundtracker’s feature of commenting or discovering other users’ playlist selections, getting a user’s attention is one of the most important factors. By using these APIs, the team was able to see a consistent lift in engagement.
“Engagement in the Amazon Appstore increased by 400% in the last 6 months. Number of sessions, length of sessions, and number of tracks streamed per user increased on a weekly basis.”- Daniele Calabrese
So how long did it take for the team to integrate all these APIs? Daniele says “the process for development and testing altogether took only a week and the process was very straight forward”.
According to Daniele, “since performance has been successful with their current app on Kindle Fire” the team plans to expand even more into the Amazon ecosystem. The next step for the team is “integrating with Amazon’s music offering and getting their app on Amazon Fire TV.” Since the team has already qualified for Appstore Developer Select, the team can now qualify for the Appstore Developer Select Amazon Fire TV benefits as well by optimizing for the Amazon Fire TV. This includes enhanced on-device merchandising and a 500k Amazon Coins offer per qualifying app.
“I would recommend Amazon Appstore to other developers. Getting our app on Kindle Fire was very easy and it gives developers a great opportunity to distribute and monetize their apps.” – Daniele Calabrese
Launched in 2012, publisher DJiT describes edjing as the first and only multiplatform track-mixing application on the market. With edjing, customers have been given the opportunity to mix like a professional DJ, record their tracks, and numerous effects and then share them out with friends. Available on the Amazon Appstore here and other platforms, edjing has already registered more than 15 million downloads and is available in more than 170 countries across iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon.
I had a chance to sit down with Jean-Baptiste Hironde, CEO of DJiT, to discuss their experience bringing edjing into the Amazon Appstore ecosystem, what they’ve found Amazon customers like about their app, and what type of success they’ve seen.
The process of updating the existing Android version of edjing for the Amazon Appstore was a simplified one and done by a single developer on the team. “We have been very pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to port the app over to Amazon. We only had few modifications to do in order to adapt to the Amazon environment, especially concerning the In-App Purchases. We just simply had to match our existing In-App Store SKUs with Amazon’s.” recalls Jean-Baptiste.
Figure 1- Mixing tracks in edjing
Amazon’s free In-App Purchasing API allows publishers to sell digital content and subscriptions—such as in-game currency, expansion packs, upgrades, magazine issues and more—for purchase within their mobile apps and games. It includes a fully integrated checkout experience with the Amazon 1-Click settings customers are familiar with.
Edjing chose to have a Freemium business model for the initial release. The app was downloadable for free but customers could buy additional features as in app purchases via the edjing in-app store. Currently this includes selling additional sound effects as well as customizable turntable backgrounds. The Freemium version also implemented an offer wall within the app, to help offer purchasing options to customers who had not bought anything yet.
“The Average Revenue Per Download (ARPD) on Amazon is actually higher than on Android.” – Jean-Baptiste, CEO
Figure 2- Buying a new Skin via Amazon's In-App Purchasing API
Based on the success with the Freemium model a Premium version of edjing was released. “Amazon monetizes very well, therefore we’re currently offering a Premium version. We actually noticed that though the volume of downloads might be lower than on other platforms, the Average Revenue Per Download (ARPD) is actually much higher than on Android." says Jean-Baptiste.
Soon after being launched edjing was also featured in the Amazon Appstore. According to Jean-Baptiste after being featured, the average daily downloads on the Amazon Appstore for edjing increased by 400% during that time.
“Amazon users spend more time in edjing than any other platform. Close to 25% of edjing for Amazon sessions exceed 30 minutes!” – Jean-Baptiste, CEO
Edjing has also seen a stronger engagement than on competitive platforms. “Amazon users are very qualitative users. User engagement with edjing on Amazon is higher than on any other platform. In proportion, Amazon users spend more time in edjing than any other platform. Close to 25% of edjing for Amazon sessions exceeds 30 minutes! “In summary, it is so easy to port the app on Amazon that there’s no reason you shouldn’t!” concludes Jean-Baptiste.
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)
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.”
Two years ago, Sean Sheedy, saw an opportunity to teach his boys more about mobile app development. He decided to take his sons Tommy and Ian with him to MoDevEast and participate together in a hackathon. These three were our big winners from the MoDevEast competition. It all started out with Sean bringing paper, pens and other supplies so that the boys could help out by drawing the app’s user interface in prior MoDevEast competitions. Once they came up with the user interface Sean would code whatever ideas the boys came up with.
Figure 1Sean with his sons Tommy and Ian
His oldest son Tommy (ten at the time) would always talk to other attendees and sponsors from the hackathon and would work alongside them. When one of the attendees gave Tommy an iOS app recipe, it wasn’t long after that Tommy had an entire app running and needless to say dad was impressed.
At the recent MoDevEast 2013 conference Tommy brought his friend Devin and his Dad to the conference too, bringing the teams total membership to four.
“We were trying to decide what app to write,” recalls Sean, “Devin’s Dad and I like to get together and jam on the guitar. We thought about doing an app called Jam Session. The idea that we tried to implement was an app that would let you playback a track that somebody else recorded and while it plays back you can record your own track. I found two API’s called Audio Track and Audio Record for Android. We found that it was possible to do this and then figured out how to make the app work.”
“Tommy investigated early on of what it would take to make this work on a Kindle. He saw that it would be really easy to port over to the Kindle because it’s basically Android,” says Sean. “Tommy saw the benefit of creating the design and then began writing code. We initially built it for Android. The API we ended up implementing was really a simple audio playback. “
Figure 3 Sean and the boys using post it notes to flush out the app user interface
“There was no porting involved – it was intended to run on any Android device and that includes the Kindle.” - Sean
So what was the process like getting their Android app running on Kindle? “It was a no brainer to port this over to Kindle. It basically ran right away. We basically did no work,” Sean says. “The only thing that would have been a deal breaker is if we had used vendor-specific or unpublished APIs. Nothing stood out to be an issue. There was no porting involved – it was intended to run on any Android device and that includes the Kindle Fire. “
What about the Kindle development environment? 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.
So what do Sean and the boys envision for the future? “We would like to be able to make it easy to buy the music that people are jamming to in our app. You can start off by buying the music you want to jam to and make that the base track and then add your tracks to it. Amazon’s Mobile Associates API would help us do that.”
“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.” - Tommy.
Did the boys have fun on this father and sons hackathon adventure? “Tommy thought this was our best concept yet. We didn’t win the top prize, but we won the Kindle Fire and some money,” says Sean. “Pretty much every hackathon I’ve gone to I’ve gone to with the kids. The boys are getting a lot from the experience, and I highly recommend this to any tech parent.”
Interested in selling Physical Goods in your Android Apps using the Amazon’s Moble Associates API that Sean mentions? Be sure to check out our Mobile Associates Blog Posts and Developer Portal for full details.
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:
Over the last couple of years since our Amazon Appstore launch, we’ve talked with many unique and inspiring developers. Along the way we’ve learned quite a bit and wanted to pass some of those learnings back to our developer community. So to that end, we are excited to continue our Developer Spotlight series. This series will highlight developers’ experiences building apps, ranging from what inspires them and how they’re delivering innovation to consumers to the results they’re achieving.
For today’s spotlight, we’re excited to chat with one of the co-founders of ZeptoLab, a global gaming company whose game Cut the Rope has been an instant success since its debut in October of 2010. The game remains a top app throughout mobile markets, browsers and desktops, and has been downloaded more than 400 million times to date.
Below is our interview with Zeptolab co-founder and CTO, Efim Voinov.
Why did you start Zeptolab?
Creating games was a hobby for my brother and me since early childhood. We’ve started with the games for ZX Spectrum in the early 90s, switched to PalmOS in the 2000s, and jumped into iOS and Android development since the first days of those platforms. At that time we already had experience in several gaming companies, and thought it was the right time to start something on our own. The new platforms offered exciting opportunities for independent developers, and we believed they shouldn’t be missed.
When did you start Android development for Cut the Rope?
The original version of Cut the Rope was released for iOS only, since there were only two of us developing full-time, and we had to concentrate on a single platform. After the game was out, we started to receive feedback from the players that they would like it on other platforms, and Android was the most requested one. Once the company had grown enough, we started developing it and about eight months after the release of the original we had the Android version. The version for Amazon Appstore was released at the same time, and required very little adaptation.
What changes did you need to build into the game to make it available for the Amazon Appstore?
Since we released Cut the Rope, we’ve created other titles, like Cut the Rope: Time Travel, Cut The Rope: Experiments, and Pudding Monsters. All of our titles are available in the Amazon Appstore. The process of porting the app for Amazon is very easy; we simply swap out billing API’s for the Amazon API for billing, which is something we do for all platforms we sell our app on. In addition, we are using GameCircle to handle leaderboards and achievements for games in the Amazon Appstore, which we have built in.
What’s it like to work with Amazon?
We think the Amazon API’s are very well thought through, the implementation is efficient and it’s easy to find information on how to use them. Having this ease of use is very important to us because we have lots of different versions of the games and really value the quick turnaround time to support games. In cases where we need more information the documentation level for Amazon API’s is very good and compared to others it’s in many cases above the competition. We don’t have to communicate with the Amazon team a lot in terms of understanding how to implement.
We also really appreciate your developer relations team. Having these relationships with the team helps us plan for the future, so we can plan for our business and consider the best way to implement new API’s and improvements into our games. The level of technical features being brought to market is impressive.
What are you looking at doing next with the Amazon Appstore?
In our current titles we are actively using IAP and this is proving to be quite successful for us in the Amazon Appstore. They currently bring us more than 40% of our revenue, and this figure is growing. In general, our cumulative income in the Amazon Appstore is doubling every year, and we are looking forward to increasing this trend in the future. With the latest release of the Mobile Associates API, we are looking at various opportunities to sell physical goods for our games.
Do you have any tips and tricks for developers building mobile games and applications?
One of the things that we learned is that it’s really important to minimize the routine tasks during development, and optimize the process as much as possible. That’s why we have invested quite a lot of time into our own framework, which includes different tools that automate various tasks. For example, we have an animation system, which allows us to automatically export animations created in the Adobe Flash directly to the game.
We also try to keep things as abstract as possible while designing a native OpenGL application for the Android platform. We try not to rely too heavily on a list of pre-defined resolutions, even if the list is extensive, because hardware specs are always changing. Instead, we try to invent a system for adopting current graphics to any imaginary screen proportion and only switch version for graphic assets depending on a real resolution. The one constant that does not change is the size of a user’s finger. We try to estimate an optimal physical size for a gesture and calculate using real measures like dpi and screen size in inches on every device.