For Jakob Lykkegaard, success and failure often come hand in hand.
Jakob dropped out of university and a comfortable job in Copenhagen to come to Southeast Asia, settling in Bangkok, Thailand. He was able to find early success and sold his first startup called Pagemodo, an online tool for designing Facebook fan pages. Along with his co-founder Thomas Andreasen, he looked to enter the gaming space, and Pocket PlayLab was born.
Pocket PlayLab’s first game was called Thrash the Teacher, and was “a complete disaster for the team in every way imaginable,” according to Jakob.
The company eventually released the game just to be able to work on another title, not expecting to make any meaningful revenue from the game. This led to to their second game called Lost Cubes, a puzzle game where players connect an identical pair of cubes on a game board under a limited amount of space.
Lost Cubes was well-received by players, with a 4.6 overall rating from the Google Play and Apple App Stores and positive reviews from players all over the world. There was a problem though: people weren’t paying for the game.
In the world of free-to-play games where a game is downloaded for free and players are enticed to buy add-ons or unlocks within the game, figuring out your monetization strategy is as much of an art as making a great game that people want to play.
Lost Cubes was a successful game in terms of downloads and player reviews, but did not find a way to get the player to pay for the game in a way to make it financially sustainable.
Jakob and his team went back to the drawing board, and looked at the “Top Grossing” list of games from the App Store to look for successful monetization methods.
With lessons from the first two games in mind, Pocket PlayLab started to develop their third game, called Juice Cubes. The game contained cute artwork similar to Lost Cubes, and had a drag-match 3 mechanic that is similar to the highly successful Match-3 game, Candy Crush. More importantly, the team had used the same monetization mechanics that had made Candy Crush so successful.
Jakob and his team released Juice Cubes in a soft launch in Australia and New Zealand and the game immediately started doing well. This attracted the attention of the major game publishers, who have a business intelligence team looking for good games to publish. Rather than self-publishing their game, Pocket PlayLab decided to release Juice Cubes under the banner of Rovio Stars, better known as the maker of Angry Birds.
Juice Cubes has continued to do well under the direction of Rovio Stars, placing in the top 100 grossing games of both the Google Play and Apple App Stores. This has led to an expansion of the Pocket PlayLab team, with plenty of new hires and a brand new office in the last few months.
Jakob and his team have gone through some tough times, but they have weathered the storms and found their first hit as a company with their third game.
He shares this piece of advice: “Start small and fail fast and often. Unlike a web tool that you can improve over time, with games you need to find something that works right away. You won’t be in doubt once you found it, but you will rarely do it good enough first time.” – Rappler.com
Gabby Dizon has been addicted to computer games since playing Hangman on cassette tapes on a Commodore Vic 20. He has been making games since 2003, and is fascinated about entrepreneurship and game development, especially in Southeast Asia.
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