“I have a cool game idea” or typical mistakes of young game developers

Many young developers and guys who are not yet related to game dev often say the phrase "I have an idea for the game and we will earn a million on it!" Recognized yourself? At this moment they are in an unusual state, when it seems to them that the sea is knee-deep and that cherished million is already in their pocket. On this wave of inspiration, they begin to begin development and do not even think about what lies ahead.

Next, I will tell about my story and what our endeavor has led to. I hope that this story will help young developers understand the current situation on the market and, possibly, avoid the typical mistakes that are common to all novice developers.


It all started with the fact that my friend and I decided to make a game, the idea seemed very fresh and interesting to us. We did not think for a long time with the genre, we wanted to make tower defense, which we really like. We quickly came up with a plot, analyzed the market for the presence of a similar and, to our surprise, there were no games with a similar plot and setting then. It was a sign for us from above and added faith to our endeavor even more. They didn’t think with the engine for a long time either, they chose Unity because of its cross-platform nature, especially since the programmer was doing well with C #.

Having written a design document, we started looking for a team that could work on a full time project. We were even ready to chip in money to pay them. But for starters, they found only a programmer who went over the asset of the finished TD that we bought and altered it partially in line with our idea. He did it rather slowly and not of high quality, so he had to refuse his services.

Then they started thinking about the graphics, found the guys who agreed to work for free, but they did not want to work on the game in the previous setting, so they decided to change the setting. One of the artists proposed his idea; by googling it at the expense of a similar one on the market, it was decided to change the setting to a new one, which, incidentally, was also not on the market. We were lucky. But it did not last long. Over the past six months, we managed to create several low-poly models and draw a little 2D art, then the guys slowly started hammering on the project, as they had no motivation to do something else after a hard working day.

This is a common mistake №1: lack of motivation . If your team is not motivated by money or something equivalent, then most likely they will not work on the project for a long time.


The project was frozen for six months, I tried to find investments and after several unsuccessful attempts I gave up. This is a typical mistake # 2: lack of faith . If it seems to you that everything is going wrong, something is not working out, you are not investing in the deadlines or your team is hammering on the project - do not despair. With this attitude, you will never earn a million. Look for options, think only about your goal, live your project and soon new opportunities will open for you, as it turned out for me.

Six months later, I moved to the capital and, after unsuccessful attempts to find work, I had a choice: either I’m starting my project, or I’m going back to my city and continue to exist.

Since the soul lay to the first option, I decided to start looking for investments in my game. In less than a month, I received the necessary amount for the development of the project, having in my arsenal only a couple of pictures, an idea and faith in my project.


The team was happy, all the guys were ready to resume work on the project. The programmer also just moved to the capital and we continued to work. But everything went wrong.

Typical Mistake # 3: lack of control.If you do not control the development process, then most likely it will come to you sideways. So it was with me. Having relaxed after realizing that I was able to find investments for the project, I missed a very important detail that, in addition to the fact that employees need to hand out tasks and set deadlines, the process of task execution itself needs to be controlled, especially if you work in a “virtual office”. It so happens that not all employees understand you perfectly and there are practically no psychics who can read what is going on in your head. From here comes the typical mistake # 4: inaccurately stated tasks.Remember once and for all: the more accurately you describe the task to the employee, the more accurate the result will be. Do not give the freedom of imagination to the employee where it is not required. Otherwise, what he will do will not meet your expectations by 99% and you will force him to redo the work, and this rests against extra time. There is only 1% of what the employee will do the task better than it is described in the terms of reference.

Typical Mistake # 5: Part-time employees.If you run the risk of contacting employees who will not be fully engaged in your project, and this, say, will be their second job, then be sure that the quality and deadlines will certainly suffer. Only employees who are busy all their time on one project can give a really good result. Otherwise, it is not worth promising investors timelines. Most likely you will not follow them. We planned to complete the project in 4 months. As a result, due to the fact that I lost control, it turned out that after 3 months we had the code ready, but until now the schedule was not ready and the programmer was idle for almost 2 months. While we were solving the issue with graphics, which, due to inaccuracy in the tasks and, again, in the absence of proper control, had to be redone several times. The project dragged on for another 3 months.

And then, when the project was ready and the balance and bugs were corrected, a real hell began. Typical Mistake # 6: lack of promotion strategy. Now it’s absolutely not enough just to make a bright, beautiful, interesting application and put it on the market. It will simply be lost among millions of other, no less bright, and no less beautiful, good applications, and never in your life will earn you a million. Humble yourself.

There is no money for promotion - you can not start. I am 99% sure that launching the application without advertising and featured stores will fail. You will collect up to 10k installations, earn a couple of dollars on advertising - and that’s all.


We initially intended to be published through publishers - companies that have been doing this for a long time and have an appropriate budget for promotion. As soon as the game was ready, I started searching for publishers, googled a lot, went through various lists that I found on the Internet, went to a couple of conferences, talked personally, but the result was approximately the same.

Typical mistake # 7: lack of proper monetization. If your game is not designed for a prolonged pumping of money from users, if the game has a low LTV, then no publisher will take your game for promotion.

After a month of searching, I received more than 30 rejections from the largest publishers, who essentially liked the game, but, in their opinion, did not have uniqueness. And, most importantly for the publisher - the game had poor monetization, it was not imprisoned for free to play. At the same time, the game had an end. Moreover, in our case, the game could be played even without a donut (if you know the strategy) in just 7-8 hours, which is very bad for a publisher who, having poured a million into the game’s promotion, doesn’t have time to beat it off, since the game is too short and the player just needs to do Only 1 purchase to complete the game.

Well, what can I say, we do not like free to play as players, it annoys us, we are ready to pay 2-3 dollars to enjoy the process. We wanted to achieve the same thing in our game, so we did not sharpen it under free to play, although we screwed on purchased bonuses and goods. But that was not enough for the publishers. Investors were extremely dissatisfied with this outcome, since they still wanted to at least return their invested funds. After another 2 months, I still managed to find one publisher who, only having seen our screenshots, had already agreed to sign a contract. To celebrate, we did it.

Typical Mistake # 8: Before signing a contract, reread it 100,500 times.We did so, but it did not help us, as in the end we missed (or misinterpreted, due to the fact that the contract was in English) one very important point, which stated that we were bound by this contract for 2 years and break we can’t. Yes, there are such contracts, it turns out.

But let's get it in order. Having found the publisher, our happiness knew no bounds, we talked for a long time on Skype, they said that we need to change how to improve monetization, what levels to complicate, so that the player makes a purchase in this place, which, on the contrary, to simplify. Everything seemed to be going well and after some 5 months (3 months the publishers did localization), they launched the application. The wait began ...

Typical mistake # 9: don't rush on any publisher. Otherwise, it will turn out what happened with us. Our publisher does not have a very rich history, but, nevertheless, they worked with some large titles, they have offices around the world and some of their applications have more than a million downloads, which, in fact, inspired us with hope.

They promised us mountains of gold, advertising, featured in some stores and return on investment during the year. As a result, we got a Facebook page with 1k followers and up to 10k installations on google play, despite the fact that the publisher (according to him) invested $ 6,000 in advertising! During the year they earned us a little more than 500 euros.


Before you start working with a publisher, google reviews about it. In many ways, this document, which I myself once found in the vastness of Habr, can help you .

My investors have iron patience. If I lived in the 90s, I would probably feed the worms somewhere in the forest, but I'm glad that I live in our time and investors help a lot, as it is in their interests too. It so happened that one of the investors has a friend who is engaged in SEO, mobile applications and their promotion, but before that he had never been involved in games. We decided to talk with him about this. He agreed to try on his own terms.

He said that you need to redo it. After the work done, we launched the game under a new name, on his account and only in his country. After a couple of weeks, we received more than 15k installations and the first $ 120 (the region was completely unprofitable, launched purely to increase the audience and reviews), and then opened to the whole world and by the end of the month, thanks to inappropriate traffic from our friend’s sites and organics, we earned about $ 2500 on in-game purchases and advertising, and the number of installations reached almost 40k. It was a very good sign for us. But the reviews began to deteriorate sharply due to lack of localization - we left only English and Russian. Therefore, I had to translate the game into 8 more key languages, including Asian.

Then what happened was what we most did not expect. This person decided to leave for another business, having left promotion and everything that is connected with it. Accordingly, without support and investment, our application began to sharply lose its audience and profit, respectively.

Typical Mistake # 10: Games with a medium to large budget. If you plan to make a game with a medium or large budget, remember one important thing: if you do not know how to make your game, do not see it in the smallest details, it is better not to start.

Soberly assess your strengths, it may be better to concentrate on small games, which will take you and your team a maximum of a month. Make for the same budget (if you managed to find an investment) several good small games and you will have more chances for success than with one medium of the same quality.

Never forget about promotion. Creating an application is only 20% of the work. Accordingly, the budget should be shared in the same way. If you are not bound by a contract with a publisher and you do not have guarantees that the application will be taken (and most likely they will not be taken), rely only on your own strength. Without money, you and 100k users will not collect, not to mention a million.

Remember that according to statistics, only 3% of your players will make a purchase in the game and only if it is good. Therefore, to earn a million, you must have at least several million installations. There is only 1% that you are lucky and the application will go by itself, without any promotion. Now this is extremely rare.

I hope our experience will allow you to avoid common mistakes. Take off your pink glasses and create really good, high-quality games.

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