Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #7. Elbert Perez Hides Nothing

elbertElbert Perez is one of the most productive and most open Windows Phone developers there is. He blogs openly about his experience developing Windows Phone games as his main occupation and Elbert is not hiding anything. You can find all the download, financial and other details in his blog posts.

It seems that there’s not much left to ask, but I’ll try…

Congratulations on your first million downloads. I'm pretty sure the second million won't take another year. With so many apps and users do you see any trend in the rate at which Windows Phone user base is growing? Have we started accelerating after Mango/2nd generation of phones came to market?

Thanks Alan, hopefully 2 million will hit by the middle of the year :) Currently I am seeing my user install base gradually increase in volume without me releasing a new game or doing any aggressive marketing over the past month.This could mean two things, firstly, my games are being discovered more and secondly the volume of users is increasing. I am betting more on the second part especially with the new second gen phones out. User growth from the data I have seen is accelerating, by how much I do not know because the data set is still small. But 2012 is definitely going to be the breakout year for Windows Phone.

You have many games in the marketplace. Does it become easier to promote every new game?

With cross promotion and a broader reach of my games each game has been easier to promote. Although having it easier to promote does not mean it will be a success. That largely depends on how good your game
is to begin with. Marketing and Developing come hand in hand with success in the marketplace.

Was having many apps in the Marketplace (as opposed to 1 megahit) in your initial business plan or was it a shift in strategy based on results you've seen?

DSC_0006I really love making games and as a result I ended up with 14 games on the marketplace, with the 15th one coming out soon. Passions aside, it made perfect sense to go with a portfolio approach to reach out to
more users. It would not make business sense to me to just make 14 shooters, so I diversified the types of games I make to spread out risk. Plus I would grow bored working on just 1 game for half a year.

When one decides to pursue a strategy with many games, it seems that you have to concentrate on promoting your personal (or company) brand rather than specific games. Do you agree? What did you do to achieve this?

I totally agree with this. First of all you need to have games that are fun and properly developed. Doing half-baked games or simple clones will not get you any fans. Secondly, you really have to be active with engaging your players. Players love that they can talk directly to the person making the game, especially since they know their suggestions can be heard. They don't expect you to do all their suggestions, but just the act of listening you would have earned the respect of that player.

You are releasing games under your own name. Was it a conscious decision or you just couldn't come up with a cool moniker/company name at the time of registration?

I didn't know where developing for Windows Phone would take :p Also at the time I did not want to be bothered by all the red tape I had to go through to make a company, I just wanted to make games!

Do you allocate any specific time and/or budget to marketing of each game? How do you decide if this particular title is a success or failure and when it's time to move on to the next project or keep pushing?

Of course! Marketing is the other half of the equation of making a successful game. I start marketing my games early during the development phase by releasing gameplay videos. This achieves two things for me, first it gets the word out that I am working on something new and that they should start thinking about it. Secondly, I usually get a good indication if people will like the game or not based on comments from the videos. Success of the game for me is the average daily sessions each game gets, because ultimately I make money from people playing my game.

Any tips for developers starting out on the Windows Phone platform and looking to go the same route you went? How would you launch your first game, if you were starting today?

Learn the platform really well. Do your research on what types of games work well on Windows Phone and what control schemes work. Nothing makes the customer more angry than less than intuitive controls. If you really want to succeed you need to make lots of noise early in your development time. You need to engage the Windows Phone specific sites, twitter, blog about it, facebook, etc ... Equally as important is the need to have a game that is fun and sticky.

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I thank Elbert for taking a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Hopefully it didn’t affect release date of his next game ;)

Check out Elbert’s games in the Marketplace, his blog at OccasionalGamer.com and follow him on twitter @mechaghost

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