Capy Games: Niche focus key to iOS success

Sword and Sorcery dev believes iOS indies aren't taking enough risks

Capy Games president Nathan Vella has warned developers against targeting a mass audience on iOS, Gamasutra reports.

In a talk at GDC China, Vella claimed that the success of Capy's Sword and Sorcery EP - which sold 300,000 units in its first six months on sale - was down to clear and thorough targeting of a niche audience.

"What we did was do exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do when you make an iOS game," he said, explaining that the rapid growth of the iOS market has led to the erroneous idea that a mass market focus is the best path to success.

"I believe that iOS development, and specifically the scariest component of the massive success of iOS, is that it's taught everyone, especially independent developers, that you should target everyone. I believe that when you're targeting everyone, you're really targeting no-one."

Vella suggested that 99 per cent of games on the App Store are designed to be accessible to 100 per cent of its customers. This is a major but relatively common mistake.

"In reality, maybe one in 10,000 of those games will hit big. The rest of those will barely succeed or fail miserably. You can target a small component of everyone, and hit all of them."

Sword and Sorcery EP took more than a year to develop at a cost of around $200,000, making it one of the more ambitious, and riskier, games on the App Store. However, Capy committed to the idea of targeting 10 per cent of App Store customers - the same 10 per cent of which they were a part.

"I think it's important that you make a game for a specific group of people, and that you are included in that group of people. We knew that if we got 100 per cent of the people that were like us, we'd at least break even."

By identifying and committing to a niche, iOS developers will only be in competition with 1 per cent of games on the App Store. It also increase the chance of being recognised and promoted by Apple - "the single most important thing about getting sales on the App Store."

"Traditionally independent developers are known for their risky games. Why are there so few independent developers taking risks on iOS? I think risk is one of the most critical steps to making money. Just make sure the game is great."

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Latest comments (3)

I kind of agree. Making another über cute puzzle game might not be your best bet.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 8 years ago
I really like Capybara, although I'd love it if they brought their games to Android as well. I still think Critter Crunch is one of the best puzzle games of the last few years.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
It has ever been thus. And it is the same in books, movies and recorded music.
However when you make it big in mass market you make it really big. 500 million Angry Birds sold, for instance.

Part of the targeting is with the product itself and part with the marketing. If you know you only need to reach, say, keen gardeners it makes life a lot easier.
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