Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #14. Talking to T-Bull

Karol SliwinskiThis time we’re talking to Karol Sliwinski who is the ASO (app store optimization) specialist in T-Bull development studio.

T-Bull originates from Wroclaw, Poland. At this moment it has 30 games on Windows Phone, many of them listed on the first page of Top Free and Best Rated rankings for shooters and racing games. 

T-BullT-Bull also publish to Google Play, iTunes, BlackBerry, Windows Store and Amazon.

Their games recently reached more than 60,000,000 global downloads, with 15,000,000 on Windows Phone alone!

Karol revealed that they are currently preparing for the launch of their biggest and best game yet. Top Speed is centered around the underground world of drag racing competitions. It’ll be available on all platforms around 23rd of July. You can look it up here.

So let’s talk how these guys managed to get their games to the top.

All of your games are divided into few different genres (racing, football, zombie shooters). Are there any particular reasons why you’re creating these type of games?

After some initial experiments with other categories we’ve concluded that we should stick to creating games in genres that we personally love the most. This way our work became as fun as it is possible – and this is the only way to create amazing products. You have to do what you love to achieve results.

I guess Windows Phone wasn’t the platform that T-Bull started with. What were the main reasons you moved to WP? What perspectives do you see here?

Yeah, we started with Google Play and iTunes at first. Both of them proved to be amazing platforms. When we started to use Unity® to create our games we were presented with an opportunity to expand to other stores. Going to Windows Phone was an amazing choice – this store was still a virgin territory, with a lot of potential to grow, and with an extremely willing and receptive audience. We were actually shocked how easy it was to have an app featured and rising in the rankings simply because it presented high quality – even years ago, when we were still developing our marketing strategy.

What’s the biggest struggle while acquiring new users for Windows Phone games?

Our biggest concerns on Windows Phone are actually the basics – creating an awesome app listing with A/B tested graphic assets and CTAs, and involving some serious copywriting to get a nice and smooth description. Most of the time I handle the ASO and I must say that working with Windows Phone was always a pleasure. I’d only like that my tools of choice – namely Sensor Tower and App Annie – started to provide some support for keyword research on Windows Phone.

Most of the time good ASO is all an app on Windows Phone needs to live long and prosper. As I mentioned before this market really loves good games!

And what advantages do you find while creating games for Windows Phone comparing with other platforms?

The biggest advantage of Windows Phone was the low saturation of top-notch products in this market. I believe that good content on this market tends to be actually curated in the rankings.

What strategy did you use to promote your earlier Windows Phone games? And are you going to do something different this time?

Up to this moment ASO was the way to go for us. Though with Top Speed we’re investing money into advertising with AdDuplex – this way we hope to get the adequate publicity for this game. We’ll also use AdDuplex cross-promotion to target all of our ads in the system towards Top Speed. All of this should provide this game with a huge boost in downloads, effectively creating a snowball effect. 

Top SpeedAll your games are free to play. How do you monetize them? Why did you choose this method?

Global trends in app monetization started to shift in 2011. Freemium app revenue started to overgrow traditional premium model. The only problem was that freemium was simply an extension of the old, redundant shareware. Free to play on the other hand gave the player the possibility to play the actual, full product. We just knew that this was the way to offer our players maximum value while still allowing for satisfying revenue.

Getting the player to pay for the first time is certainly a problem – there’s still a lot of people who won’t hand out cash for anything on the mobile. Many still don’t have any credit cards connected to their account. The culture of mobile payments is still in the phase of painful labor – many players are rather skeptical to the idea of abandoning the old ways of premium games. I believe that this will change as people will notice that free-to-play model provides them with an amazing possibility: to actually play good games without paying upfront.

There are some Windows 8 games of yours. How do you evaluate the difference between WP and W8 platforms?

Desktop Windows is tricky when it comes to getting a reasonable ROI. Although it’s breathtakingly easy to port to when using Unity® and there’s big traffic, people seem to be not so willing to pay for IAPs as on other platforms. I’ve also noticed that ads for Windows apps are quite scarce – fill rates are low and eCPMs are not really satisfying.

I believe that all of this could change with the coming of Windows 10 universal apps – this technology will fill this platform with lots of good content, effectively making it more serious to advertisers.

Do you have any special plans for Windows 10?

We’ll certainly keep publishing our games on Windows 10. Windows has its own quirks but we’ve grown very fond of this platform.

I’ve recently seen estimations that Windows Phone will have as much as 10 percent of the smartphone market share by 2020. (via Bob O’Donnel, Technalysis Research) Let’s keep fingers crossed that this will prove to be true!


Thank you Karol and good luck with your new game. We’re definitely saving the date to try it!

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