Dawnbreak Studios is a two-man indie game development company from Sweden. Their game Ragdoll Run has received over 2.6 million downloads on Windows Phone and they have recently developed a version of the game for Windows 8 as well. We were curious why Dawnbreak Studios decided to build for Windows platforms and asked co-founders Mikael Litendahl and Sebastian Cederholm some questions about building games, monetization and how they see things in general.
Why did you decide to develop games first for Windows Phone, not Android or iOS?
Mikael: Windows Phone was the new kid on the block when we started to develop games in 2012 and we figured our chances of being discovered instead of drowning would be bigger than on other platforms. It was pretty much a bet of risk versus revenue.
Sebastian: The decision can be tracked to our first game, Papa Joe. Since we both had some experience working with XNA and C# in the past, it was a logical choice at the time.
How long did it take you from coming up with the idea to launching Ragdoll Run?
Sebastian: The idea for Ragdoll Run came a few weeks after Papa Joe was released in the summer of 2012, we launched the game about 4 months later. It’s hard to say how many work hours went into it as we never worked on it full time due to other jobs. But the development process has never really stopped - we did not expect the game to become so popular so we have released a lot of updates for the game with new features and characters. So you could say that the game has been in development more or less until now.
Was it hard porting the game from Windows Phone to Windows 8?
Sebastian: It was not so hard since MonoGame has made a fantastic job with XNA compatibility. We had to rewrite some parts like the local save system from scratch and also rethink completely how to handle different screen resolutions - Windows Phone had one resolution to support, Windows 8 can have a little bit of everything.
Mikael: The easy way would have been to just port the game and be done with it. But since we appreciate quality at Dawnbreak, I remade pretty much all the 3D models and textures in higher resolution, repainted backgrounds and menus. You won't see a single graphical asset in the Windows 8 version that is the same as in the Windows Phone version of the game.
How do you make revenue from Ragdoll Run?
Sebastian: We got two versions of the game, one with ads and one without ads that costs 0.99$. Apart from that we use an in-game currency called Ragdollars which the player can use to buy different upgrades, new characters, and themes for the game. The Ragdollars can be earned by playing the game and additional Ragdollars can be purchased through in-app payments. Ragdollars can be bought either through Fortumo or PayPal.
Why did you decide to use Fortumo for in-app purchasing on Windows Phone and Windows 8?
Sebastian: We chose Fortumo in order to cover a large customer base - not everyone has a credit card even at this age, but everyone who owns a Windows Phone can make a payment through their mobile operator. Players from countries as diverse as Brazil, Italy and Vietnam have bought Ragdollars using Fortumo. In terms of revenue, Fortumo is roughly equal with PayPal while conversion is higher with Fortumo, which is expected due to a bigger coverage of mobile payments.
Mikael: We were also keen on the idea of integrating a solution for payment that the customer would find easy to use and without any hassle.
How long did it take for you to integrate Fortumo and how difficult was it?
Sebastian: If we compare it with PayPal, it was clearly easier to integrate Fortumo in our game.
Mikael: It’s worth to note that the guys and girls at Fortumo have been really helpful in support errands and often answer questions really fast via mail or Skype. That has helped a lot.
Why do you think Ragdoll Run has become so popular?
Mikael: As our slogan goes, Ragdoll Run is easy to pick up but impossible to put down. The slogan may sound cliché to some but what it really means is that Ragdoll Run's success lies in its simplicity. It's really very easy to get started, you don't even need to speak English to understand how to play, but at the same time the game is difficult to master and will really put your reflexes to a test.
On top of this we really believe in the cute theme we chose for the game and the idea was always that this was going to be a game that a child can pick up, instinctively understand, and start having fun with. At the same time we do not want to preclude an older audience so we made sure that the game should bring out competitive feelings in the player to fit many ages.
We are also careful making quality games instead of throwing out garbage just to make money and we believe that is the only way to build a good name for our company.
What are your plans for the future? Are you planning any new games?
Mikael: We are sitting on a couple of awesome ideas and the only thing stopping us right now is time. It's kind of a paradox because to be able to make those awesome games for the gamers, we need to be able to invest even more time into the company, and for that to happen more gamers need to try our games. It's the same paradox every indie developer has to go through until finally breaking through big time.
You can download links to try out games by Dawnbreak Studios on their homepage. Make sure to also keep an eye on their Facebook fan page. If you are interested in increasing revenue with Fortumo mobile payments on Windows Phone and Windows 8, click here to get started.