Nordic Puzzler Tops US App Stores

We know how to make candy-craving casual games, goatee simulator games, and strategy games built for entire clans. But if you should be in any doubt, Nordic game developers knows a thing or two about Tetris-inspired puzzlers as well! Released on September 15th, 2014, Shades is a mobile puzzler developed by Copenhagen-based UOVO, which has already reached the very top of the US App Store charts in the puzzler category.


The two man army at UOVO consisting of Konrad Bajtyngier and Kevin McLean entered the games industry when they started developing Flash web games for clients such as educational institutions in 2005. Back then, the company had a third team member as well, but he recently left the studio to focus on freelance jobs. By 2007, the studio started working on its most ambitious project till date: A Flash based virtual world for kids called Tinkatolli. The project closed down in January 2014, and since then, the UOVO has ventured into the world of smaller mobile games.

“In January 2014, we finally decided to close it down. Tinkatolli was a lot of fun and learned a hell of a lot, but we kind of came away licking our wounds. One thing we all felt pretty clear about, was that for the foreseeable future, we would stick to much smaller projects.”, Kevin McLean from UOVO explains to Nordic Game Bits.


Just ten days after launching on the App Store, Shades was featured by Apple in the “Best New Games” category. This generated a lot of sales for the game, which costs $0.99, and was one of major reasons why it could reach the top of the puzzler category chart so quickly, Kevin McLean explains.

“On September 25, we were lucky enough to be features by Apple in The Best New Games category. Without a doubt, it was being featured by Apple that lead to our success. Once we got featured, we started to get downloads, which put us on the top charts. Once we got on the top charts we got more exposure, which brought us further up the charts – leading to more exposure.”


Due to previously failed attempts at monetizing mobile games in a successful way, the UOVO team decided that with Shades, they wanted to scrape all the complicated and frustrating in-app purchases and restrictions, and just make the game they would want to buy and play themselves. A strategy that turned out to work even better than expected.

“Of course we wanted to make money with Shades and we wanted it to be a success. But we have had so many failures that we decided to just scrap all the gimmicks with in-app purchases and just make a game that we wanted”, Kevin McLean explains.


Shades is currently being translated into 11 different languages, but in hindsight, this was most likely something that should have been done way earlier. But then again, what use is there of a game that is translated into 11 different languages, if it never gains traction and popularity.

“Now that Shades has seen some success we are getting it translated in to 11 different languages. A lot of people recommend that you do that right from the start, and in hindsight, we probably should have. It’s a tough call, though, because the app business is incredibly difficult. We have some apps that haven’t earned enough to buy a pint, so it’s hard to justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on localization when you have no idea what kind of traction you’re going to get.”



Have you had any experiences with getting featured on the App Stores as well? Let us know in the comments section below!


Sune is not only a gamer and writer who wishes his keyboard-typing-speed would translate directly into Nintendo 64 controller agility, but also the co-founder and CEO of NordicGameBits.

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