Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #11. Majid Khosravi about Fruit Bump. What, Why and How?

Majid

“Since the launch of Fruit Bump, we were thrilled with the positive feedback it received. With such a strong reception, we are putting in more effort in further development of our main project, and what we hope will become a series of future casual puzzle hits. Twimler is growing daily, and there’s plenty in store for our fans and new players alike.” – sais Majid Khosravi, the Managing Director at Twimler and creator of Fruit Bump. In this interview Majid will share his experience of what it takes to create a captivating match 3 puzzle game and where to pay more attention while building mobile games in general.

Fruit Bump now has over 600 levels of match 3 fun and more than 2 million downloads on three leading platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Currently there are about 300,000 daily players from which half have completed at least 100 levels. This is an exceptional retention rate for a new pick-up-and-go game!

1. What is your background? What did you do before mobile games?

I was always fascinated with computers and the creative possibilities available in programming. I found ways to teach myself the core fundamentals behind computers and pursued a relevant degree in the field. Delving into many areas of computer science and finally focusing on software development. I started working thirteen years ago as a software developer, and more recently, I decided to start my own software development company which has evolved into Twimler. 

2. How did you decide to make match 3 puzzle game in such a competitive genre? Where do you get your inspiration and knowledge on how to acquire more users?

FruitBump

I was always a big fan of mobile games, especially puzzle games. The idea started to take shape around early 2013, when we decided to design our first game. Every member of the team pitched in with original ideas in a number genres and styles; however, after thorough discussion, we felt a match 3 title was perfectly suited for smaller mobile screens, was easy to get into and had almost infinite variations which we could experiment with. Initially, the focus was to build a game that we enjoy playing ourselves, although we have implemented feedback mechanism and in-game statistics tracking from day one to let our customers know how they felt about the experience they were getting. From then on, client feedback shaped our design, and we like to think it turned out rather well! 

Fruit-bumpWe were aware that this was a competitive market but did not let that stop us from building our game. Our team did not follow the herd, putting in and experimenting with original game rules that were not at all common in similar puzzlers, although we kept the basic framework of match 3 very familiar and easy to play. It was a risky approach, but creative and original content is the only sure way of grabbing a significant user base from giants like King and Gameloft.

Originally, we faced many challenges and lots of questions were raised as we were new to the market. We had to try most of the platforms, popular and obscure ones, to find out which ones worked best for us in both monetization and user acquisition. So yes, our inspiration comes directly from our customers and plenty of statistics. Facebook integration from the very early versions of Fruit Bump was also a huge long term boon for us. 

3. We must say that Fruit Bump is on the TOP list in AdDuplex Direct catalog. How do you feel about it from your side? What other ways do you use to monetize this game?

I am pleased to see Fruit Bump is up there and doing well! It was a pleasure to work on, and everyone at Twimler rooting for its success. User feedback was higher than our expectations and we are delighted to see the results. Moreover, AdDuplex Direct platform takes away all of the hassle of building a mediation tool for us to fill up our inventory. And AdDuplex SDK is very easy to use, its stable and doesn’t compromise the game play at all.

For monetization we use a combination of both: ads and in-app purchases. We also experimented with retail priced releases of the game and chapter based pricing, yet skill focused free-to-play model with optional add-ons seems to resonate exceptionally well in the current market, attracting players from all social and age demographics.

4. Do you dedicate specific time on Fruit Bump marketing? If yes: What marketing strategies have you tried on different platforms to promote Fruit Bump?

fruit bump

Yes, the main challenge after releasing the game was marketing it, and we had to try a number of approaches. Everyone chipped in with ideas in this area of production. We also had a dedicated member of staff responsible for generating marketing materials and getting in touch with distributors, publishers and media.  

Using social platforms such as Facebook was the first approach. With Facebook SDK we made it possible for our players to connect and share their scores with their friends. Currently we have around 45,000 fans on Facebook and bountiful number of likes.

We have also tried several advertising platforms to get new players with CPC, CPI and CPM campaigns at regular interval, normally coinciding with major updates to the game. Furthermore both paid and exchange traffic models played a part.

5. Can you identify what works better on Windows Phone?

On Windows Phone, the main challenge was filling up the inventory. We were looking for a platform that was stable, doesn’t compromise user experience and enables us to monetize and promote the game at the same time. AdDuplex, after a number of trials, happened to be the best choice for our needs!

6. Fruit Bump is quite popular on Android and iOS too. How do those platforms compare for you to Windows Phone in terms of user acquisition and monetization?

On Android and iOS, the competition is higher, so it is more difficult to keep up and stand out. Big companies are bidding higher each day on their campaigns and outbidding smaller companies. Since Windows Phone marketplace was itself a new thing, it was much easier to take the fight to the big boys and compete on equal footing. Of course, we had to make sure that we have built a good game which captures the attention of our audience. Without solid content, success won’t come easily regardless of what marketplace is chosen. 

Monetization, on the other hand, has its own challenges for iOS and Android. There are lots of advertising players in the market. Choosing the right one for the game might be frustrating and will take a lot of time and trials. You just cannot take some of their marketing figures at face value. A dozen or so look great on paper but rarely deliver close to their stated metrics. This is why Twimler relied on in-house statistics and monitoring to weed out poor performers. 

7. What was/is the biggest struggle in acquiring new users for Windows Phone games? What Windows Phone game developers should pay more attention to?

In my opinion, the biggest struggle now is to get targeted users on Windows Phone. It is important that you know your audience very well, and ensure your game description, screenshots and advertising materials reflect the game correctly. You only have a few moments to capture someone’s attention, and if you miss the mark by cutting back on quality content, you will suffer from bad reviews and poor retention rates. For a casual game to succeed its appeal must be broad, but it would be foolhardy and risky to release a jack-of-all-trades click trap, and we certainly do not recommend this approach. Find your audience, listen to their feedback and craft experiences deserving of their time — Twimler lives by these principles, and we must say they have not failed us yet.

8. How would you launch your first game if you were starting today?

I would probably launch it across all major platforms at once — a synchronized launch, and give it a higher advertising campaign budget to create the right buzz early on. I believe the first weeks after releasing the game are very important and developers should try their best to get as many of the target audience flocking to their games. Moreover, since Twimler has grown and has a lively community of active users, I believe it would now be much easier to get relevant media outlets and distribution portals interested in working in partnership with us; resulting in a much wider exposure than a start-up can muster.

As it was mentioned before, Fruit Bump is a member of AdDuplex Direct program. For those who are not aware: AdDuplex Direct is a platform for app and game developers and advertisers which enables you to do your advertising directly without having to worry about the technical side of the deal. Are you there yet?

So you can advertise your app or game directly through Fruit Bump right now. And of course take a challenge to complete all 600+ levels! Follow Fruit Bump on Twitter, Facebook and Twimler.com for the latest updates.

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