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My blog on how what I thought I knew about iPhone games was wrong.

02-18-2011, 03:55 PM
#1
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 881
My blog on how what I thought I knew about iPhone games was wrong.

Simplicity Sells - The Surprising Success of Bocce Ball on the iPhone:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/Willi...the_iPhone.php

The surprise success of Bocce-Ball has changed my view of the iPhone game scene. This isn't the video game industry I worked in for thirty years. This is something new and different.

A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time.

- Shigeru Miyamoto
02-18-2011, 04:58 PM
#2
An inspiring story - I reckon if anyone has a simple IOS controlled idea - go for it. Most people just want to pick up and play.

02-18-2011, 05:31 PM
#3
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,255
Interesting how none of the tips mention "gear your app towards a specific audience/demographic" as it seems perfectly reasonable that a Bocce ball game might easily make it to #1 in Italy, the birthplace of Bocce. It's like making a baseball game for the US market.
02-18-2011, 06:13 PM
#4
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
interesting article, and congrats on getting a front page nod from gamasutra.
sounds like you've got a fair amount of history which led you to this point, would be interesting to hear te ups and downs of it I'd bet

As for the tale of game's success itself, it is a little misleading in that it just sounds like "make something fun and simple that caters to a crowd and follows a formula, and you've a good chance at success." Forgive me if I am misinterpreting - but this has been attempted countless times already, and lots of folks have not cinched it. There's a fair amount of behind-the-scenes which must go on, and of course the all-important timing. If this game released 3 weeks earlier it could have just got lost in all the other news and got nothing. There's so many factors to consider.

All you can do is try to study what's come before, to the best of your ability (what has worked, what hasn't), try to put your own twist on things that's not too much of a substantial departure from "what is accepted," get it all nice and tight and polished, use any connections you've got if you can, and then cross your fingers!
02-18-2011, 06:33 PM
#5
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 881
Thank you for the reply.

I don't think it's a formula at all. What I do think is that UI matters a great deal and it's important to find "best practices" and build upon them. This "iPhone-ness" thing can't be overestimated.

"Paper Toss" was a example of a good "throwing U.I.".

If anything the iPhone is about innovation and breaking the mold.

The issue is usage patterns. How do users play the games?

In my case, 30 years in the game business blinded me (somewhat) to why the simple games (Doodle Jump, Mega Jump, Paper Toss, Flick Fishing) were winning on the iPhone. In 20/20 hindsight Match 3D was handicapped by the sheer amount of complexity and options in that game.

I'm lucky I didn't know about the fancy Nokia Bocce game. I honestly think it wouldn't fit the play pattern as well, although I would be a FOOL if I didn't wish we had the level of look-and-feel that title has.

Now we are faced with the task of adding network play and a host of features without losing the simplicity of this title.

A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time.

- Shigeru Miyamoto

Last edited by PlayScreen; 02-18-2011 at 06:40 PM.
02-18-2011, 06:48 PM
#6
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cilo View Post
Interesting how none of the tips mention "gear your app towards a specific audience/demographic" as it seems perfectly reasonable that a Bocce ball game might easily make it to #1 in Italy, the birthplace of Bocce. It's like making a baseball game for the US market.
Yep, and yes ... we were surprised and perhaps, shouldn't have been.

In the USA we waited for the first update (there was a Game Center issue that didn't show in testing) and then we did ran some ads, it got into top 50 and then watched it take off.

Eventually it hit #6 in all free apps. That was a nice moment. All during the Verizon weekend.

A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time.

- Shigeru Miyamoto
02-19-2011, 04:00 AM
#7
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Morestel, France
Posts: 572
First congrats

>This isn't the video game industry I worked in for thirty years. This is something new and different.

Yes, but this isn't a new industry either. That's the casual industry (BFG like) that most AAA devs had look down on it for many years. Now, everybody want theirs titles to be casual. Personally, I like this trend.

JC
02-19-2011, 02:34 PM
#8
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
Surely a "surprising success" would have been if the game was priced at $1.99 or something. I'm no guru, but pretty and free seems a tad more obvious. I've just downloaded it myself, and I'm no fan of Bocce either.

  /l、
゙(゚、 。 7 ノ
 l、゙ ~ヽ
 じしf_, )ノ
02-19-2011, 03:19 PM
#9
imo "success" is just as much long term as it is short, unless you are really able to hit it big on the paid charts for even a week or 2 (in which case you earn enough to support your company long term).

With our first game N.Y.Zombies, we never even broke the top 100 paid charts in the US, yet we are still chugging along selling 100-300 copies a day almost a year later. It amazes me still that we have achieved this kind of "success" with a game which was never in the spotlight and never was at the top of the charts, and generally flew under most peoples' radars.

Plus, I don't think making casual games is the sure fire way to go for success. Sure, they have more potential to blow up, but they also face much more competition and are MUCH harder to stand out amongst the crowd. For every 1 successful casual game, I see 100s of other well executed games that don't make it, despite good game play, graphics, and presentation.

I think the key is that with other types of games (more hardcore games for ex), its easier to target your market and make sure of at least some success. For one you can reach your user base much easier. With casual games, you don't even have a focused target market (its kind of like, everyone), so you really have to rely a lot on luck, media connections, marketing (which is $$ and not even a sure thing) and how big of an apple feature you can get (more luck to a degree). Imo that is risky, which is probably why so many devs walk away in the end. Going the other route doesn't have the potential for as much success, sure, but then again I don't think its even close to as risky. The problem with going for more hardcore or "gamer" games of course is that you arguably need more resources, manpower, and development time to compete in that arena. So there are definitely pluses and minuses, its just a matter of knowing what you want to do and handling it accordingly.

So far with our 2 games released, we have neither achieved great success, nor have we flopped. We are surviving comfortably in the middle ground, in part bc I think we have successfully reached our target market and are fortunate enough to be able to compete in the "gamer" market, and I think things will only grow from where we are now.
02-20-2011, 12:55 AM
#10
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidianGTX View Post
Surely a "surprising success" would have been if the game was priced at $1.99 or something. I'm no guru, but pretty and free seems a tad more obvious. I've just downloaded it myself, and I'm no fan of Bocce either.
pretty + free that's a huge part in reaching the mainstream.
Also should be easy to grasp concept just by looking at screenshots.

It's not that hard I dont think.