Neon Play have been delivering success after success. The startup delivers games for iOS that have been cherished by users globally. Paper Glider, a title by the company was recently the 10th billion App downloaded ever and it got further glory to the development team. After a few years and more games in the App Store, the company recently hit 30 million App downloads globally. In this interview with Oli Christie of Neon Play we try to convince the team to spill out their secret formula as well as give some tips to budding developers.
1. How did you conceive the idea for Paper Glider?
It’s easy to get too excited when making games, such as come up with a cool idea but drown it in features or complexity. After our initial success of Flick Football, Golf Putt Pro and Hotshot Pool we knew that simple ideas were the way forward.
It’s quite clear if you play our games that we love the gestures touchscreen devices are capable of. Therefore the design stage of Paper Glider involved us discussing what else we could do with swiping the screen – after all, everyone seemed to love flicking footballs!
We came up with the idea of swiping to throw. We considered a frisbee, but felt that once airborne there is little you can do with a frisbee, other than catch it. A game could only really grow out of something that could be manipulated after throwing.
“What about a paper plane?” said some bright spark. Perfect.
A paper plane can fly far, short, up, down and crash. It also has a something quite beautiful about its oscillating wave flight style. With the addition of a ‘tap for wind’ flight control and beautiful cartoon art style, Paper Glider was born.
2. Do you think Apple’s offerings for developers for developing Apps is good? Are there any changes required?
One of the joys of working with Xcode (Apple’s suite for developing applications) is that they it has been designed with developers in mind. It has plenty of support documentation, emulators and even has sample apps to demonstrate how different features should work.
For example, using the Interface Builder design tool, developers can drag buttons around the screen and insert scrolling lists quickly. In our experience, other platforms do not have user interface builders that are this user friendly.
It’s not all perfect though, the latest version of Xcode has implemented many of the tools into the app itself, causing cramped programing screens and noticeably long loading times, even on fastest of machines.
3. What is your marketing strategy? What marketing techniques do you use to promote your App in this heavily competitive application space?
We’re constantly learning in this industry, especially in the aspect of marketing our apps. Ask any developer and I think they would agree that it has become more and more difficult to get noticed in the App Store in the past year.
Our success to date has been down to many things. One influence is our ability to cross promote between our apps. For example, all 30 million of our downloads that we’ve had have ‘Neon Play ads’ (NADS) in them. These are dynamic banner ads that can instantly switch to promote our latest app, getting us immediate attention in the App Store.
We also think it’s important to create healthy relationships with journalists, bloggers and reviewers to get the word out about our apps. Of course the social networks play a big part too, and so far we’ve collected a social following on Facebook (facebook.com/neonplay) and Twitter (@neonplay) to the tune of 80,000 fans.
We’re currently developing a new marketing platform for our apps, its codename is NIPS…
4. Can you describe your “Eureka” moment while developing an app?
That Eureka moment is so special. It quite often comes at a different stage of development, but recently it was hearing the team wince and cheer whilst playing the prototype for Traffic Panic 3D.
You know it’s a fun and addictive game when players brag about causing a massive collision or shout at their device when they accidentally T-bone a saloon. That’s when you’ve cracked it.
5. How did you come to decide the price that you would be charging users to purchase Paper Glider?
When we first launched Paper Glider the market was very different to what it is now. We released the title as a paid game and then left it for a while. It performed averagely, fair to say it was not quite the initial success that we saw with Flick Football and Golf Putt Pro.
As the market evolved, so did we. We changed the game to free and later added the option for our users to make in-app purchases that unlocked powerful boosts and customisations. This is now known as a freemium game.
6. When your App was made the 10th billion download, what was your initial reaction? Is that a prime reason for the increase in sales?
At the time Paper Glider was announced as Apple’s 10 billionth download it was already a number one free game worldwide. So there wasn’t really an increase in sales as we were already getting 400,000 downloads a day. It did however land Neon Play global press and TV coverage, as well as a place in the history books.
There are now multiple Paper Glider titles for iPhone. The collection currently consists of seven fantastic games that have now had over 12.5 million downloads in total. Hopefully you recognise some of them, games such as Paper Glider Crazy Copter, Paper Glider Bomber and Paper Glider vs. Gnomes.
7. Can you give us a brief look at your startup? How many people have made the 30 million possible?
Neon Play was founded by Oli Christie, who was soon to be joined by technical director Mark Allen. The studio launched in in June 2010 and with a bit of help from five other freelancers, together they created Flick Football. This was an immediate success and allowed the company to grow to employ a full-time artist and another developer.
Form there the game portfolio began to grow, and so did the company. Since then we’ve never looked back and we now have 15 staff including artists, developers, marketing and even a games analyst!
8. Any advice for budding developers?
Make an app, make it as good as you can, launch it free with ads and learn from it.
9. What’s next for Neon Play?
Well, we have many cool projects in the pipeline which vary from first person shooters to jumping characters. However, I can reveal as a genuine global exclusive that we’re working on a super-exciting new version of a Neon Play classic. This new game will be called Paper Glider vs. Friends. We hope you enjoy!