Orlando, FLA-based brothers Alex and Luis Perez created their first app for Windows Phone 7 – way back in 2010! – to help people find garage sales in their local area. At the time, it was one of the first apps submitted to what was then the Windows Phone Marketplace.
“We started developing for Windows Phone in the early days,” says Luis, who oversees the code work for their company Neuralnet. “The platform was unlike anything we had seen in the market before, and we saw an opportunity.”
With attention to detail displayed on every screen, Artifex Mundi crafts highly engaging puzzle-based adventure games that appeal to casual gamers worldwide. The Poland-based company has found its niche, and perhaps like one of the detectives in their games, they are following a trail that is leading to great success in the Windows Phone Store, as you can see in this video interview from Nokia Developer:
With more than one billion users accessing the Internet on mobile devices worldwide, both phone manufacturers and app developers have begun asking themselves the question, ‘Where will the next billion come from?’ The answer can be found in emerging markets like South and Central America, Asia-Pacific and Africa. It’s estimated that of the projected 8.2 billion mobile connections in 2017, 61% of new growth will be from the Asia-Pacific region alone. One developer, Blue Lion Mobile, has already started tapping into these emerging markets with its Java-based app, Qeep, a social gaming entertainment application where millions of users from across the globe play games, chat, send pictures, make friends and more via their feature phones.
When we witness developer success, we want to share it with the community in the hope it will be a catalyst for others! Recently, Game Insight, developer and publisher of free-to-play games, saw its business grow with its first foray into developing games for Nokia devices and Windows Phone 8. Starting with city-builder My Country and role-playing adventure Rule the Kingdom, the company has already surpassed $500,000 in revenue from more than 700,000 Windows Phone 8 users this year.
So how did Moscow-based Game Insight experience such success with its first Windows Phone games? We asked Senior Business Development Vice President Darya Trushkina that question and she gave us a few insights:
Trushkina suggests creating high-quality content that keeps users engaged and doing so in a format that feels authentic to the region. Integral to this is customizing each game for each market, to make players feel that the experience was built specifically for them.
Lean on Nokia
Make use of regional Nokia developer teams (like Game Insight did in Russia and China), who may be able to provide marketing support, including prime spots in the Store, cross-promotion opportunities as well as social media support. They can also help with local market insights and feedback to help ensure an app is successful with consumers in the target market.
As a small developer, Game Insight found this hands-on approach from Nokia’s regional teams to be key to limiting marketing expenses and increasing each game’s overall revenues. Encouraged by the success of their first titles on Windows Phone, the company is now looking to replicate that success in additional markets across the globe as well as expand development for Windows Phone 8 and Nokia devices.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave without internet access for the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed that all-things Zombies are really, really hot right now. The team at Oxford-based Rebellion studios knows this very well, leading the charge when it comes to the zombie-shooter genre.
Co-founded by brothers Jason and Chris Kingsley more than 20 years ago, Rebellion is an indie games developer that creates immersive titles for gamers using PCs, consoles and mobile including Windows Phone 8 devices.
Have a look at the video below to hear directly from Jason and Chris about their games in the Windows Phone Store, and then read on to discover some of the secrets to their success …
As Jason points out: “When we say ‘free to play’, we do mean that people can download the game and play it from start to finish and not pay us a thing, which I think is brilliant value.”
At the same time, if a player wants bigger guns, or to move faster in the game, or skip levels, there are options for purchases within the games to meet those needs.
Working with Nokia
The team at Rebellion was introduced to Nokia by colleagues from Microsoft, and over the past year or so, Rebellion has developed a strong working relationship with both companies.
“We have always kept an eye on the technology scene. Nokia has always been up there in our minds as a partner to work with, and increasingly the phones are getting more computer game/console-like. And that’s getting more exciting for us,” Jason said. “Nokia are producing the type of technology which allows us to put our major games technology on to it, and deliver the kind of experience people like,” he added.
“The support from Nokia has been amazing. We really didn’t expect this level from publishers, from hardware guys,” said Chris Kingsley, Rebellion CTO. “It’s great for us to get the support that we do because it is really good for you as a company, it means other people believe in the quality and the game play and what you are doing is worthwhile,” he added.
The ease of the Windows Phone platform
At the same time, they have an obvious comfort level with the Windows Phone platform, too.
“We’ve been [making games] for 20 years … so making games for Windows Phone is very easy if you’re doing stuff for other Windows platforms,” Chris said. “So it is really a bit of a no-brainer for us.”
Jason agreed, adding: “The technology that is in the phone is broadly similar to what we have on consoles. At some stage it will probably catch up … and that means we can make the kind of complex, in-depth and interesting games that we have been interested in doing on the PC, and we can introduce them to a different form factor.”
There is also a difference when it comes to app testing. “The base line [of Nokia Windows Phones] is very powerful so we can build up from there,” Chris said. “We don’t have to worry about the level of fragmentation so we don’t have to dumb our games down. We don’t have to QA millions and millions of different types of hardware.”
What does the future hold for Rebellion?
“There’s no doubt that Windows Phone will continue to succeed as a gaming platform,” said Jason. “They [Microsoft] have put games at the forefront of the Windows store, and helped developers like us spread the word about our games through PR and social media.”
Jason adds: “Our most recent Windows Phone game – Zombie HQ – can also be played using an Xbox controller on Windows RT and Windows 8. We think lots of developers will really get behind features like this, and it’s just another reason for us to bring more games to Windows Phone in the future.”
For Dangling Concepts, the US-based developer of Air Soccer Fever, using Nokia Ad Exchange (NAX) to increase the mobile game’s discoverability is a winning move. This past December and January, when Air Soccer Fever was featured in a NAX ad campaign, daily downloads of the game to Windows Phone devices more than doubled, from 1,500 a day to 3,200.
Air Soccer Fever is a casual swipe soccer game available for both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 smartphones, and Windows 8 tablets. Available in both free and $0.99 (USD) Pro versions, the game can be played by either one or two persons in the same room or by multiple online and Wi-Fi players in real time.
NAX is a private mobile advertising exchange offered by Nokia that offers app developers and publishers access to more than 120 ad agencies and networks worldwide. NAX also lets publishers incorporate in-app advertising and gives them a dashboard to track their apps’ performance. NAX can be used for both free house campaigns aimed at cross-promoting apps and paid campaigns in which developers bid for ad space on the apps of others.
‘Integrating NAX ads was very straightforward’, says Imran Shafiq, president of Dangling Concepts. ‘We had no issues or bugs, so we spent no time in troubleshooting.’
Because Air Soccer Fever is truly a global game – it lets players choose teams from 100 nations around the world—Shafiq uses the NAX dashboard to target specific countries based on their ad prices. ‘The NAX dashboard is one of the best we have seen’, he says. ‘The UI is clean, and it has great features.’
One feature Shafiq finds especially useful within the analytics dashboard is ‘Performance by Country’ option. This shows a breakdown of ads served by country, along with their comparative costs (expressed as cost per thousand, or CPM). ‘That way’, Shafiq explains, ‘we can fine-tune our ad targeting’. The result: In last 2 months, NAX provided 40% of total ad traffic and revenue for Dangling Concepts. This month Shafiq and his team have redirected more traffic to NAX due to great eCPMs as compared to other ad networks. According to Shafiq, NAX will provide 70% of the overall ad revenue moving forward.
Although Air Soccer Fever has not yet been promoted with either paid ad campaigns or house ads, Dangling Concepts plans to try both soon. For example, when the developer releases his next new game, the game will display house ads for Air Soccer Fever to cross-promote and drive downloads. These cross-promotional opportunities could be impressive: every day, an average of 15,000 unique users play Air Soccer Fever, according to Flurry Analytics figures cited by Shafiq.
Dangling Concepts also finds that when it comes to in-app ads, a little restraint can be beneficial. The free version of Air Soccer Fever shows ads only when the game is paused, never during game action. Similarly, the game’s menu pages only show ads at the bottom of the page, so the ads do not cover or overlap the menu UI. This restrained approach seems to work: Shafiq reports ‘great’ click-through rates on Air Soccer Fever ads, in some regions reaching as high as 15 per cent.
Check out the latest news from, Sanoma Group, one of the largest media companies in Finland. They just came out with an interesting press release for those of you who are interested in evaluating the business case for developing on Windows Phone.
A couple of highlights from a Nokia perspecitve:
“Nokia is a favourite among Finns
The visitor statistics of Sanoma online services also indicate changes in the popularity of mobile devices. It seems that Finns really embraced Nokia Lumia last year.
”Sanoma’s network and number of mobile visitors indicates that the total traffic from Lumia phones exceeded that from Android phones in the summer and it also reached the traffic level of the iPhone at year-end,” says Anders Stenbäck, Director of Sanoma’s digital partnerships.
In the autumn, Sanoma and Nokia launched co-operation through which new Lumia phones have Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomat apps pre-installed.
“The co-operation with Nokia has been productive and it has also clearly increased the number of users of our Windows apps. Finland still remains Nokialand,” says Stenbäck.”
Integrated operator billing helps developers by offering their consumers a seamless purchasing experience as well as a secure transaction model for those who do not own or are reticent about using their credit cards to make online purchases.
As we continue to focus on creating enhanced revenue opportunities for our developers, Nokia has extended its ecosystem of operator billing partners with Nokia Store to include Idea Cellular in India. This partnership will make Nokia Store easily accessible to millions of Idea Cellular consumers, allowing them to use their Nokia phones to consume premium content from Nokia Store and pay for it via their pre-paid or post-paid accounts.
As one of the largest mobile application developers in the world, MIGITAL has achieved success with in-app advertising on Nokia platforms.
Founded in 2004, the company has amassed a library of more than 500 applications across business, utilities, games, entertainment, and sports categories. Using the paid download and in-app advertising revenue models, MIGITAL has clocked up over 25 million downloads in Nokia Store so far.
An example of how they harness multiple monetization models is their popular Bug Smasher app, which is offered both as a paid download version and as a “lite” version supported by in-app advertising.
Monetizing through in-app advertising has been a profitable move. In just six months, the company has experienced a nearly 170% increase in revenue, from just under $15,000 a month to over $40,000.
In order to achieve this growth, MIGITAL collaborated with Nokia’s in-app advertising partner, inneractive, an app monetization exchange, which increases ad revenue by automatically mediating between 100+ global and local premium ad networks and agencies and targeting ads to local and relevant markets in more than 200 countries.
inneractive helps developers make money from their free, ad-powered apps. Working with inneractive’s App Monetization Exchange, MIGITAL has managed to achieve fill rates in excess of 75% and an eCPM of $1.10. (Learn more about in-app advertising.)
Developing for Nokia’s platforms was an easy decision for the MIGITAL team; they appreciate Nokia’s user-friendly publishing interface and helpful developer support team. “Nokia Store has a wide reach and has been extremely helpful when promoting our apps,” said Khyati Mahajan, Business Development Manager at MIGITAL. “It is the most locally-relevant channel given its availability in 190 countries.”
With the combination of Nokia’s global distribution capabilities and inneractive’s App Monetization Exchange, MIGITAL’s average total monthly net revenue has now crossed the $60,000 mark. The company is now setting its sights on exploring new, growing, and profitable platforms such as Windows Phone. “Nokia has always inspired us to work harder and to develop more advanced, lucrative apps and games. We definitely advise all developers to use the Nokia platforms and Nokia Store to help monetize their apps. Nokia has always supported us, and we have had a great experience with them,” said Khyati.
Offscreen’s success highlights how even small companies can use Nokia Store to deliver big success. The company has just 16 employees, working from offices in Helsinki, where Offscreen has its headquarters, and Shanghai.
The company’s success also demonstrates how Nokia Store can dramatically extend developers’ reach. Most of Offscreen’s free downloads come from India, Russia, Turkey, and China. By selling its apps on Nokia Store, Offscreen instantly reaches 120 million consumers in 190 countries around the world.
Those customers can view Nokia Store in 32 local languages – and benefit from operator billing in more than 50 markets. ‘The main thing with Nokia Store is the fantastic reach it gives us in distant markets’, says Harri Myllynen, CEO of Offscreen. ‘And getting downloads from very exotic countries.’
Founded in 2005, Offscreen today takes what it calls a ‘carpet-bombing approach’ to mobile development, creating a wide range of mobile content, including games, utilities, entertainment apps, media apps, and Internet apps for Nokia Series 40 and Symbian devices.
Offscreen also has begun developing apps and content for the latest Nokia Asha Touch and Nokia Lumia smartphones. ‘We always aim in the middle’, Myllynen says, ‘trying to reach as broad a user base as possible’.
Indeed, the company finds that its simpler apps get downloaded most frequently. Offscreen’s Bright Light Touch, a free app that turns a Nokia Symbian phone into a torch light, is also one of the company’s most popular offerings. ‘Bright Light took only about six hours to develop, including the reference design’, says Myllynen. ‘Yet it is so popular.’
Many of Offscreen’s other apps on Nokia Store are similarly straightforward. Its Candle entertainment app simply projects a flickering candle on the phone’s screen. Escape is a puzzle game in which players slide blue and red blocks to make a clear path. And Sushi is a utility that shows the names and photographs of more than 30 types of sushi rolls and platters. ‘Design must be simple’, Myllynen says. ‘End users only have a moment to choose from the selection in any mobile store. They don’t have time to pay attention to complex concepts and designs.’
Offscreen also finds that free apps generally trump premium apps. ‘If we make a premium app free, we see immediately about a 100-fold increase in downloads’, Myllynen says. To monetise their apps Offscreen uses both in-app advertising and in-app purchasing models. Currently, about half the company’s revenue comes from in-app advertising. ‘We’ve been very pleased with our experiences’, Myllynen says.
It’s this combination of simple design, good timing, and clever monetisation that have allowed Offscreen to reach 100 million downloads. ‘There aren’t many companies that have reached this mark globally, and it makes us very happy indeed to have been able to reach this mark right now’, Myllynen says. ‘The whole team felt really proud and happy, and this year’s summer party felt really special. Of course, we had to make a special toast!’
Learn more about Offscreen Technologies’ success in this video.