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The Bonozo Blog

Thoughts and Musings from the Bonozo Studio...

Introduction

As more and more developers shift their attention over to the mobile market, there seems to be a lot of unrealistic expectations on creating successful apps.  Part of this comes from the nature of the market. Part of this comes from the people jumping into the market.  In the end, even companies staffed by experienced veterans who try to transition over directly to mobile development have a hard time divorcing the lofty expectations of the platforms and their underlying realities.  In deciding to go from Lackey to Leader with Bonozo, I did what anyone who’s spent years studying law and history would do, I did a lot of research.  

 

What I found revealed a dark side to app development that many, myself included, turn a blind eye to in our excitement and passion for making games.  I put this together, originally, as part of a business plan, but around the water cooler, we figured this would be a good thing to just get out there. This first post discusses some of the general challenges, or bad, aspects of the App Market. The next post will discuss some of the general strengths, or good, aspects of the App Market. 



The Bad

Guess what?  Apple’s App Store best selling games tend to be just as hit-driven as normal video game sales.  According to a recent survey by Appolicious and published by TechCrunch, "Approximately 10% of all games sold on the App store sell more than 100,000 units".  This tends to skew the sales data for all games, making the market seem more lucrative than it really is.  Additionally, also via the survey, "90% of all apps sell less than 100,000 units, and 56% of those sell less than 10,000 units."



I call this the Nintendo Wii effect.  The Wii sold like hotcakes in terms of hardware. Everyone, or at least, it seemed like everyone, either had a Wii or was waiting to pick it up.  In its lifetime, to date, the Wii has moved approx. 90 Million units.



As the console life matured, the Wii software catalogue became more and more stratified.  The Nintendo first party products had a solid hold on the top sellers - of the top 14 sellers on the Wii, 12 are developed directly by Nintendo and are Nintendo Properties (the 13th was developed by Sega, but uses Nintendo IP).  One title, ONE, sold more than 5 million units for the Nintendo Wii that was a 3rd Party IP and Developer - Just Dance 2.  The sheer volume of Wii hardware sold made the platform enticing, but the reality was that the only titles to really take advantage of the massive hardware sell through was Nintendo with 3rd Party developers - in their most successful title - capturing a little over 5% of all hardware sales.



Tremendous potential, and huge hardware installation base, does not guarantee success.  Yet, a great many developers look at the mobile market with the same naive excitement with the tremendous install base of iOS based devices that are available worldwide.  



So, back to the App Store.  Over half of games released on the App Store sell less than 10,000 units.  This means that games come and go quickly on the App store, with the vast majority of Apps selling for $0.99 to get as many sales as possible in the hopes of making it onto the top sales lists.  In reviewing blogs of other developers disillusioned by their first forays into Mobile Development, many developers who stick a price on the App and be done with it find that they have a hard time recouping their initial investments, particularly when the cost to develop soars past the $5000 to $7500 price range.  Because Apple takes 1/3rd of the sales cost for every game sold on the App store, a $0.99 game actually makes the developer $0.66.  If a game costs $5000 to make, it's going to need to sell 10,000 units to ensure a marginal profit and rate of return on the investment to the title.  With the vast majority of games selling less than 10,000 units, even creating a game for $5,000 can be a marginal investment. Is it possible, absolutely, but it isn't probable that a game that costs more than, say, $10,000 to make will recoup its investment.



Game developers and Indies who are coming over from the traditional game development industry and trying to break into the App Store and Mobile Markets tend to view the massive hits as their goals - attempting to catch lightning in a bottle, and emulating the worst aspects of the mainstream game development industry.

 


Further, there is a tendency to see that the gold rush days of the AppStore and mobile development may be over.  Since its launch and establishing the popularity of the mobile app market, the bigger developers and publishers have dominated the premium, paid-app market.  The web is rife with former mainstream developers sinking a lot of money and time into a traditional, well-developed and designed game and seeing marginal returns due to poor marketing and excessive development time.  The paradigm of creating and marketing mobile games, given the tremendous influx of new apps that are released daily, is very different than the standard development and release model.


The Latest

Press releases

  • Thinkpierce.com selects Bonozo.com to Develop 5 Apps

    TULSA, OKLAHOMA, April 30, 2012

    Bonozo LLC, a developer for Mobile and Online Software and Game Development Studio, and Thinkpierce.com have joined forces. Working with Jonathan Pierce, the writer, director and musician behind Thinkpierce.com, Bonozo is committed to bringing Jonathan's unique vision to handheld devices everywhere.

    "Few people in Tulsa have the breadth of interests and unique vision as Jonathan Pierce," Bonozo head Matt Harmon beamed, "we're honored and excited to be working with him to bring his talents to mobile devices."

    Bonozo is working closely with Jonathan and ThinkPierce.com to bring his interactive fiction to the digital space via iOS and Android-powered mobile devices. Starting in June of 2012, thanks to the help from Bonozo, Thinkpierce will be releasing the first of five apps planned for this year, which will include 4 movie apps, and one book app titled “Jim Jamkins”. Each one presents an entertaining and unique story in a way that only a partnership between Bonozo and Thinkpierce could have created. Visit ThinkPierce.com for an overview of each upcoming app and be on the lookout for the anticipated release of Thinkpierce's first app, Annihilation Celebration this coming June.

    About Bonozo
:

    Founded in 2011, Bonozo is an independent developer of video games and software focused on creating cutting edge interactive entertainment products. They are focused in bringing the fun to software development by focusing on compelling software development across any platform that suits their clients fancy.  When not coding, the team strives to perpetuate adolescence beyond all reasonable limits, eating the recommended servings of cookies as explained on the packaging and fixing cars whether they need fixing or not. 

    You can check out their digital home at:  http://www.bonozo.com.

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  • Zingo Maps and Bonozo sign software development deal

    TULSA, OKLAHOMA, February 13, 2012

    Bonozo LLC, a developer for Mobile and Online Software and Game Development Studio, has joined forces to bring the awesome art of Zingo Maps to the digital space.  Working with Comic Book Industry Veteran Terry Tidwell, Bonozo is committed to bringing Terry's artwork and vision for fun and accessible local maps to the internet and handheld devices and tablets.

    "Terry is a local legend in the Tulsa area,"  Bonozo GM Steve Mallory explained, "He's been the creative force behind hit indie comics, fantastic and unique local artwork as well as having worked with Marvel and DC.  He is the big time, and we're excited to be working with and for him!"

    Bonozo is working closely with Zingo Maps to bring their products to the digital space - whether online or via mobile devices powered by Android or iOS.

    "Terry has identified a real awesome niche that we are helping fill,"  elaborated Studio Founder Matt Harmon, "Working with someone who has such clear and creative vision is always great for all parties involved."

    About Bonozo
    Founded in 2011, Bonozo is an independent developer of video games and software focused on creating cutting edge interactive entertainment products. The Company is comprised of industry veterans and was formed to develop high quality video games for the mass market.  When not coding, the team enjoys sampling the finest scotch, consuming more media than recommended and leaving bottles of magic shell in the supermarket freezers.  You can check out their digital home at:  http://www.bonozo.com.

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  • Bonozo opens doors

    TULSA, OKLAHOMA, December 1, 2011

    Bonozo LLC, a developer for Mobile and Online Software and Game Development Studio, has opened for business.  Founded by Industry Veteran Matt Harmon, Bonozo has been quietly assembling a network of top-notch artists, programmers and designers since September.  With that complete, the time had come to peel back the curtain on the new studio.

    "We have put together a network of developers that are hungry to make outstanding apps and games,"  explained Harmon, "Our development network is moving forward rapidly with multiple projects, and we're eager to bring them out

    Bonozo has brought together developers from across the globe, embracing the power of the internet to connect programmers, artists and designers to focus their energy on each project.

    Bonozo is a mass-market focused studio that is dedicated to creating new and exciting intellectual property for mobile, tablet and downloadable markets.  It harnesses the skills and expertise of industry veterans whose skills run the gamut from AAA titles to smaller, mobile and handheld projects.  By bringing together interested and dedicated talent on a per-project basis, Bonozo is already anticipating the release of its first mobile title in the next few weeks, and more coming by the end of Q1 of 2012.

    "This feels like the early 1990s with the explosion of the internet,"  says Studio General Manager Steve Mallory, "I'm incredibly fortunate to be here when I am, and to see such vast potential for great games.  This is such an exciting time to be a developer - there is such a fun, 'gold rush' mentality that we are embracing, it is truly exciting to experience first hand.  The die has been cast!"

    About Bonozo
    Founded in 2011, Bonozo is an independent developer of video games and software focused on creating cutting edge interactive entertainment products. The Company is comprised of industry veterans and was formed to develop high quality video games for the mass market.  When not coding, the team enjoys sampling the finest scotch, consuming more media than recommended and leaving bottles of magic shell in the supermarket freezers.  You can check out their digital home at:  http://www.bonozo.com.

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