Pocket Protector LLC, a Seattle-based game industry consulting firm, wanted to answer a simple question: would it take the advice it gives its clients?
So it developed an iPad game, and committed itself to publishing its process and numbers, good or bad.
2Foos, a 2-player Art Deco themed foosball game, hit the App Store on July 22. Developing the game took 11 weeks, about $12,750, more than 20 people, and one Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The owner, Evangeline Marzec, sold her car to fund development. "The city kept threatening to tow it from in front of my house, due to a 72-hour parking ordinance," she said. "And I tell people how to run game companies for a living, but I wasn't actually running a game company. So I decided to put my Jeep where my mouth is."
She budgeted $10,000, about double iPhone development costs. Getting a 0.1% market share seemed realistic for a high-end game; with 3 million iPads out there, that’s 3,000 downloads. “At that rate I needed to price at $4.99 to make a profit. Since $10,000 divided by $3.50 is 2,857 downloads, that was my break-even. But it’s a hit-based industry, so realistically you’re probably looking at a tiny fraction of a percent on the low end, maybe 10% on the high end. There’s a dramatic difference between winners and losers.”
For the design, Marzec immediately latched on to the 2-player in-person experience. "The iPad does what no other console ever has: lets two people play intuitively on the same device. It's a fundamentally social and physical experience."
It took two weeks to find contractors, six weeks of part-time artists and seven weeks of one full-time engineer working parallel, then seven days for App Store approval.
Art cost roughly $4,500 flat rate, including project management. “The design philosophy was: simple gameplay, beautiful art. So we got great artists and gave them whatever time they needed.”
The development team in Eastern Europe cost $25 per hour. They estimated it would take 160 to 260 hours, but actually came in at 300 hours. “That was my biggest cost over-run, by far.”
2Foos was designed for an international audience, so it contains no text. But a team of translators took about $250 and 3 days to translate 180 words of App Store description.
So far reviews are coming in at 5 stars. “There’s a great player quote: ‘Graphics are polished and the game feels perfect to me.’” The biggest downside? “We don’t have a single-player mode. It’s top of my update list.”
It took 11 weeks and enough money to buy a new car. “But it was a fantastic experience and I’d do it again,” Marzec said. “I will do it again.”
2Foos is available on the iPad App Store. Ongoing sales data will be available at pocket-protector.com/apps.