Google Play helps indie developers succeed in Southeast Asia

These are great, if scary times for being a mobile game developer in Southeast Asia. The region is plentiful of studios breaking into the App store and getting a chance to reach players all over the world; but so, the mobile stores are turning into hyper-competitive environments, and not even a clean record under your belt it’s a safe bet that your next game will succeed.

Enter the Indie Game Developer Program: a way for experienced developers to support the younger talent by giving personalised advice, on areas ranging from polishing the game’s quality, all the way to the business practices it takes to thrive in the app stores. The program, led by Vineet Tanwar in collaboration with Google Play, aims to capitalize on the growth the game developing industry has on the SEA (Southeast Asia) region, by live-mentoring attendants on the intricate business-related issues they will face when tackling the app stores, and that are unique to every project.

The program has success stories backing it up, like Gerald Tock of Inzen Studios’ experience with Dark Dot. Advice for Tock included how to get more installs and how to properly extend the game’s lifecycle post-launch, how to optimize their listing on app stores (with a strong focus on the screenshots and icons you use) and making the user experience consistent, among other not-so-small aspects that most likely escape the head of new developers.

Meanwhile, for Yogie Aditya of Niji Games, the story behind Cute Munchies has more to do with learning to engage their public. For him, the real challenge was implementing the Google Services such as Achievements, Quests, and Leaderboards to keep players on their toes every day. Seizing good first impressions and early-bird hype is a must, and the Early Access and indie Corner mini-programs allowed them to get precious feedback and connect with their audience before the official launch.

According to Tanwar, the program “is designed to identify the top games developers within the region, and provide ongoing support and mentorship to help them grow global businesses.” He notes how, as development tools become abundant and easier to use, the holistic knowledge needed for making efficient use of them (and managing yourself outside the dev space) gains importance every day.

More importantly, they understand how every game is a unique challenge, and tailors the help on a case-to-case basis, meaning no two devs will get the same advice. While all newer developers need to be taught the basics like A/B testing and optimizing for broader audiences, every game needs a different take when talking about monetization, promotions, and translations.

So far, the Indie Game Developer Program is as successful among teams with their ideas still in the oven as with those that are already in the app store with no luck yet, and is a testament of Google Play’s hopes for SEA.

According to Tanwar, “We see this as just the beginning of our journey with the Indie Developer community in SEA. We are already organizing the 2017 Indie Developer Workshops. The program has expanded this year to 300 developers. This year, we will hold three workshops: Bangkok on March 20th, Ho Chi Minh City on March 22thSingapore on March 24th.”

A final takeaway? “Working with the Program does give you that final polish and push that your game needs before launch. That said, I’d definitely budget enough time to enable changes given the feedback from the team. First impressions matter a lot in a crowded market. Working with the Program will help your game stand out. And you definitely want that :).” says Tock from Inzen Studios.

All indie developers on the SEA region should try to find a slot on their schedules for the upcoming workshops on Bangkok on March 20, Ho Chi Minh City on March 22, and Singapore on March 24.

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