Gamers Digest - Mobile Ads face Obstacle Feedback in a Taboo Launch Aftermath

Gamers Digest presents online gems that I've come across on my constant internet quest. It should be useful to people who are interested in the bigger picture when it comes to games but don't spend as much time on gaming websites as I do.

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell writes on GamesRadar+ about how games are challenging the taboos of disability and mental health. He looks at various games and in what ways physical and mental health is part of them: from indie titles All The Dead Bones and Perception to AAA Wolfenstein and Hellblade.

Games have the ability to convey somebody else's experience and these games do this in different ways. However the article points out that it is also about realistic representation which in turn helps to build a more interesting world.

It's hard to make games. But as Alex Wiltshire documents on PC Gamer it's no sunshine and happiness after launch either, interviewing indie developers about the daunting aftermath of releasing your dream game. It's quite an emotional journey and not always a positive one even if your game is successful.

The most intense feeling of relief, pride and happiness I think I’ve ever felt in unison. But only for a brief while. It quickly gets replaced by feelings of doubt. What happens now that people are playing it? Are there negative reviews? How is our community doing? Did someone discover a bug? What do we do now in terms of promotion? It turns out the feelings you have before the launch never really go away.
— Simon Stafsnes Andersen, creator of Owlboy

I wonder what it is like for the many other indie developers whose games are not those runaway successes as in the article.

Polygon's Colin Campbell highlights the problem that not-for-profit game developers face major obstacles when they want to publish their games because all the major storefronts are not set up for it.

We reached out to Sony first to ask questions while setting up a developer account. After a bit of email run-around, we were told that they would only accept for-profit organizations as publishers and urged us to create a LLC, LLP, or Inc.
— Evva Kraikul, executive director at Glitch

I have seen quite a few not-for-profit organizations recently that want to bring new people from different backgrounds into game development and I expect that this is a hurdle that more of them could face in the future. There are some work-arounds mentioned in the article as well but this is something to keep in mind early on.

Haydn Taylor from gives us some insights on the mobile games ad space as he writes about Space Ape's process to make it's most profitable game. The most astonishing fact is that Fastlane: Road to Revenge generates around 50 percent of revenue from ads. This is unusual for free-to-play games which usually rely more on in-app-purchases.

The reality in ads is that advertisers are not buying an impression. What they are buying is install, a user interacting with the ad.
— Nicolas Boulay, head of growth at Space Ape

My two key take-aways from the article are that you should design the game with ads in mind so that you present them at the right time and with the right incentives, and the ads must make sense for your audience. At first Space Ape was afraid to let similar games advertise on Fastlane but of course that's exactly the right target group and those ads will generate clicks, installs, and therefore money.

And finally Alexis Kennedy from developer Weather Factory writes on their blog about how to stay sane while taking in all the community feedback. Recently the indie studio launched Cultist Simulator which to their own surprise ended up at the top of the Steam charts. That meant that it got a bit rough to go through all the reactions.

I’m still overwhelmingly glad that I engaged with feedback as much as I did, before and after launch. The game is much the better for it, I’m a better designer for it, and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to send thoughtful responses. Honestly, I think I’m grateful to people who sent mean responses too, though I’m not going to send them any Christmas cards.
— Alexis Kennedy, Weather Factory

Kennedy goes on to list his recommendations on how to approach community feedback and I think his advice is excellent and has value outside of gaming as well.