Tree Men Games – From Nothing to Succes

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One year ago, three students with little money, busted computers and an incomplete university  degree started their own video game company. Now, one year and two games later, Tree Men Games have grown into a succesful and independent company working full time on updates and sequels.

Tree Men Games have two games on their resume, Picnic Rumble and PAKO, where the former is responsible for most of the companys income. As is quite unusual for a Finnish game studio, PAKO is a premium game

“Most of the revenue is coming from the paid iOS version, and that monetisation is quite easy,” Jussi Pullinen, producer at Tree Men Games explains.

He continues to elaborate on how they had little trouble selling PAKO as a premium title and how their biggest challenge was finding the right price. “Only thing was to lower the price from 1.99 to 0.99 which worked for us way better. I guess that is the only thing – that we should have started from 0.99 from the beginning so probably we would have been on top10 lists bit longer.”.

The game got by with little marketing, and mostly made it on quality and word of mouth. Now the game has been seen on youtube shows like the popular PewDiePie, boosting the sales even further.

 

The company was founded by a couple of friends who met in school:

“We worked together on many school and hobby projects and found out that we have a great team that can make good games and who can probably also handle other stuff like marketing.” Pullinen explain.

tmg_promoPullinen continues to talk about the inception of the company:

“We thought that we should do our own games instead of working for someone else. Our personal interests are more towards indie and paid games and the industry in Finland in quite f2p heavy so that’s one reason too.”

But even though Tree Men Games prefer working with paid games, they have tried working with F2P, though with varied succes.

“With Android free version we have tried few different tactics, like adding reward ads and in game currency so you can unlock new levels and vehicles but that have not made a big difference.”Pullinen says.

He continues to explain how this lack of succes working with F2P might stem from the companys lack of experience.

“We are not that familiar with designing a F2P game and our games have been made as paid games, so we would rather use most of our time updating the game with new content or making a new game instead of using that time for tweaking the monetisation,” Pullinen elaborates.

 

The company is currently working on a sequel for PAKO and further updates to keep the game active and to help the series grown even further. There’s little time for new projects at the moment, Tree Man Games have been working on a shooter for a while, which had to be put on ice for the time being due to time constraints.

Pullinen advices developers to keep working on a variety of different prototypes:

“Make sure you have more than one good prototype in your backpocket. Also have lots of time too as doing a company full-time really takes all the time you have, especially in the beginning,” he says and continues:

“Getting to know other similar companies helps a lot, at least here in Finland people are sharing information and giving you feedback. Show your games and prototypes as much as possible and try to gather lots of feedback so you know if other people than you would really like to play your game and maybe even buy it!” Pullinen says.
Authors
Johnny Josefsen

A Level/Game designer who previously worked on the puzzle game: The Reaper and the hellish racing game: Hell Driver. Enthusiastic about everything from games to litterature, music and movies.

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  • Paul Okselenko

    three students with little money, busted computers and an incomplete university PROMOTED their PREMIUM game and got MONEY from it?!!! This is impossible because Apple doesn’t promote your games, user acquisition to premium games is too expensive and not effective. They probably sold their souls to canadian or finnish devil or something. So please, just answer, HOW, ok?

    • Morgan Treeman

      I guess we got enough attention with our Windows Phone version in advance. We also got the second place at Big Indie Pitch in last years Pocket Gamer event here in Helsinki. All the top three games (AG Drive, PAKO and Mucho Party) were paid premium games and have been featured in the Appstore. We also posted info on the Touch Arcade site and few other places before the release, and sent mails to Apple but its still unknown where they picked us up in the first place.

      • Paul Okselenko

        Many thanks for reply Morgan. So you are trying to tell that you didn’t invest any money into promotion and user acquisition for your game? And did Apple reply to your emails? Afte all, how can you describe your success? Was it luck? Perfect time and combination of circumstances or something else?)) And one more question, Tree men games is a company, as you were selling your games as company, from Pako car, articles say, you made 2mln installs, if they were all premium, you should get around 1,4 mln revenue from it, so the question is, for what period of time did you get it and how much you had after taxes? Because we are from different countries it’s always interesting to know about these things from devs around the world.

        • Morgan Treeman

          Thats correct, we have not used any money for user acquisition so far.

          I guess our success has been a combination of all the things you mentioned, and we knew that there is a really good potential that PAKO will be a hit but still we were amazed how well it went.

          Unfortynately the major part of the installs is from Android free version, where we get some revenue from the ads but major part of our revenue is from the iOS premium version. The time period has been divided pretty evenly for a year length

          • Paul Okselenko

            I see, what plans do you have for future? Few more cool games? Are you thinking of going from developer to publisher any soon? PAKO is nice game btw

          • Morgan Treeman

            Few prototypes, and a sequel for PAKO. I guess we have only time to publish our games so we will stay as developers for now on.

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