Tom Paulsen is an indie developer and owner and CEO of Gamechanger AS in Norway. In this article, Paulsen shares his honest story and advice for other indie developers hoping to make it on the mobile platforms.
Gamechanger AS was established in August 2013, with the first game, Musher, being released in February 2014. The studio consists of Tom Paulsen and business partner Stig Olavsen, although Paulsen is the only person working directly for the small studio, which is located in Alta, north Norway.
After releasing Musher, which was an endless runner for mobile that drew great inspiration from games such as Ski Safari, the small team at Gamechanger immediately started developing their latest game, Alien Bang Bang.
And this is where the story starts, because so far, Alien Bang Bang has only seen a mere 1,400 downloads on Google Play and the iTunes App Store combined.
After initially releasing Alien Bang Bang, the game was downloaded only 300 times during the first day – something that disappointed although didn’t come as a huge surprise for Paulsen.
“I got a little disappointed that it only got downloaded about 300 times at the day of release, but it was not a huge surprise as we heard that hundreds of games/apps get´s released every day, and the possibility to just “drown” amongst all the other competitors is huge.”
But still, some games do make it to the top of the download charts. Even without paying for user acquisition and advertising. But according to Paulsen, this all comes down to promoting and marketing the game months before the release. Something Gamechanger did not do with Alien Bang Bang.
“ I´m also pretty sure that we started the promo/marketing work far too late, “no one” knew about the game 1 week before its launch, mostly family, friends, and their friends.”, Paulsen explains.
The most valuable tool for Gamechanger turned out to be Twitter – A social network that Paulsen only joined 1 week after the release of Alien Bang Bang. As it turned out, Facebook and press releases just weren’t enough.
This will all change for the next project, however. Because as Paulsen now explains, creating buzz and getting early feedback can mean life or death for a small indie studio.
“My advice for other game devs is to start the buzz about your new game as soon as possible, and early feedback from reviewers is gold! As for our next project, we´ll start the promo work as soon as we have proper screenshots to post! And also, Twitter is our new best friend!”
The next game to come out of Gamechanger is Legend of The Aurora, and the game is currently pending funding from The Nordic game Program. The game is a 3rd person action adventure game where the Northern Lights and petroglyphs play a large role – something completely different from both Alien Bang Bang and Musher.
But the studio is also looking to other directions, as Paulsen reveals that they are looking into possibly developing interactive solutions for museums. “We´re also trying to look for opportunities to develop interactive installations at museums for example.”, Paulsen says.
According to Paulsen, the games industry in north Norway is close to non-existing, with only very few studios working dedicated on developing games.
“The game development scene in Finnmark fylke (about the size of Denmark) is close to non- existing. The only other game dev company up here that we know about is “Nordic Pixel” (1 employee I think, and I had a cup of coffee with him last year). And the closest “bigger” game developer companies are located in Tromsø, a 7 hour car ride south of Alta.”, Paulsen explains.
While the industry is still small in the northern parts of Norway, however, the south seems to be doing quite alright, with many studios receiving funding both from the Norwegian film institute and Innovasjon Norge.
The continued financial support of the industry from these institutions is very important according to Paulsen, as he concludes that only very few traditional Norwegian investors spit money into games studios.
“Regarding the rest of Norway (South), it seems like they are doing relatively well at the international markets and we´re happy that Norwegian game devs get funding from “NFI” and “Innovasjon Norge”, which is extremely important as Norwegian investors spitting money into game dev companies are rare.”, Paulsen concludes.
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