Posted by Leo Olebe, Managing Director, Games Partnerships, Google Play
Today we are launching Google Play Coffee breaks, a new series where members of our partnerships team get together with apps and games companies to exchange tips and personal lessons gained from the industry, as well as insights gained from participating in some of our Play programs. All in enough time to fit into your coffee break!
To kick it all off, I enjoyed a virtual coffee with Nimrod Kimhi, Co-founder & CEO, at Jimjum Studios, a small games company from Israel. They participated in the 2021 edition of the Indie Games Festival, making it into the top 10 finalists, and later took part in the Indie Games Accelerator. We felt it was time for us to check back in on the growth they’ve been achieving.
Watch the full Coffee breaks episode and read my reflections below:
Launching their first game, Froglike: The Frog Roguelike, just one year ago in 2021, the team of five friends have already made an impact on the mobile game ecosystem early on in their business journey.
Nim described how their studio is composed of two brothers, two childhood friends, and a musician who they convinced to get onboard their team. Each has a mix of talents and expertise which compliment each other and fit together. And I think this is one of the most important parts of succeeding in this industry. A great team is able to challenge each other and put new ideas on the table, but also come together and agree on those big decisions that are going to move your business forward.
I really enjoyed catching up with Nim during our first Google Play Coffee breaks. What I found most rewarding was to hear directly from Nim about his experience of the Indie Games Accelerator and Festival. It was actually Jimjum’s chief game designer who initially convinced Nim to sign up for the contest. Despite his initial hesitations of how the competition might interrupt their progress with building the game, Nim says now that the learnings they got from the program saved their team three years worth of mistakes.
Lessons learned in the game industry
The first? Test early. Nim couldn’t have said it better - make the MVP of your product and get feedback from the gaming community as soon as possible. This is even more important with games because you do have that abstract and subjective layer of what it means to be ‘fun’. You must go through that constant loop of feedback from players and iterations of your game, even though it can be tempting to just push forward with your artistic vision.
I think this is a really important insight to highlight. From my own experiences here at Google Play and in the mobile gaming industry, one of the most exciting parts about growing a games business is handing your game to the players and discovering ideas that you hadn’t considered yourself. It’s about being flexible, rolling with the punches, and being open to the learning journey rather than rigidly sticking to your original blueprint. Learning from others is what is going to take your game from good to great.
The second? Don’t lose the core heart of your game. Nim described how every team should know and agree on their Northstar when designing the game, and stick to it. It is easy to get distracted by all the analytics and feedback - and also just through the noise that is the mobile industry and the commercial pressures of making a game. But I agree with Nim, it is so important to never lose the heart of what you are building, and your passion behind it, in order to create a truly unique experience for your users.
Success for small Indie studios
After participating in our Indie Games Accelerator, I was interested to hear from Jimjum about the learnings they had gained, and how they were able to use them to build such a solid foundation on Google Play and beyond.
One of the main areas that Nim raised was the need for every game to have a solid marketing strategy. Nim’s key focus is to work on a distribution plan, using channels like online communities to drive awareness of their title. A big part of the strategy is to find key influencers in the field and get them involved with their game. It is also about having a launch phase that allows them to take it step-by-step, rather than one big launch. This meant waiting until they were confident their game was ready, prioritizing certain geographical locations before others, and - of course - testing every step of the way.
As well as a marketing strategy, I’d add that it’s also about being open to the learning journey. Absorb as much knowledge as you can. There are so many others out there who have been down this road before, so learn from their successes and (perhaps more importantly) their mistakes. As you grow, use your unique perspectives and ideas to then share what you know with others and help build that circle of reciprocity.
Finally, in a world of millions of gamers, you can find your audience. It may take longer than you imagine, it may be harder, but they are there.
It was a genuine pleasure to chat to Nim about his experiences. I can’t wait to see Jimjum’s continued growth and new gaming adventures. It is studios like Jimjum that inspire me and my team to keep supporting indies in all ways that we can - whether that’s through programs like the Indie Games Accelerator and the Indie Games Festival (you can sign up now to hear when submissions open for the 2022 editions) or through more resources and tools to help them grow even further.
We are looking forward to continuing to learn from more businesses, and see what you all do next. Stay tuned for the next episode of Coffee Breaks.
Do you have any questions for Jimjum? What are your own tips for other indie studios? Share them in the comments below.