How This Developer Built an iOS Game on a $20 Budget

Mobile gaming is a thriving industry estimated to reach $54 billion by 2015. With a low barrier to entry, independent game developers can see potential for massive gain.

Witnessing the rise of addictive mobile games, it is easy to see why many people have have flirted with the idea of achieving great success from mobile game development. The App Store currently features over 260,000 gaming apps with Forbes estimating the average revenue from an iOS game at $4,000. However for a number of developers the draw to game development is the opportunity a smaller number will achieve; to gain a massive windfall from a top selling app. These opportunities are highlighted by success stories such as that of iOS game Clash of Clans, which, in February 2014, was earning $654,000 per day.

Envato community member and Rolly Candy creator, Baptiste Greve

Like many other budding entrepreneurs, Envato community member Baptiste Greve saw the potential in the market and was driven to learn to develop mobile apps. In his role as a project manager at a web agency in Paris, Baptiste spends his days helping clients turn their idea into a great website, but his own ideas are also front of mind. “I love thinking about my side projects that allow me to learn new skills and to get better and better my field of work.”

Baptiste aimed to create a game where people could have fun and challenge their friends. The result is Rolly Candy. The game description is simple; ‘You control a candy and your goal is to make it jump as high as you can by tapping at the right time to avoid the pink pipes.’ While the game has not reached the heights of some of the top selling apps, for a first attempt in a competitive market, Rolly Candy has enjoyed some inspiring early success. The first night saw 500 downloads and in the first two weeks the game was played in 37 different countries by a total of 6,800 people.

After deciding to develop a game, Baptiste first had to learn the skills required to develop it. He refers to the technical aspects as “the easy part”. However a challenge he faced was not having the design skills required to create a high quality app he was proud to release, or the financial resources to hire a freelance designer. With thousands of games added to the App Store each month, he knew that his game had to stand out from the crowd and that releasing something substandard, even on his shoestring budget, was not an option.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at designing them himself, the visual assets for Rolly Candy were purchased from Envato marketplace GraphicRiver. “The website kind of opened the door to a quality game,” Baptiste says. In GraphicRiver he saw the opportunity to access a professional design for an affordable price. Rather than spending up to $1,000 for custom assets, Baptiste was able to find exactly what he was looking for, for only $20.

As an already active Envato Market community member, using VideoHive for previous projects, Baptiste trusted in the quality and expertise of the Envato authors selling on the sites. He says “When I had the idea of Rolly Candy I thought I would be able to find quality game assets on GraphicRiver, and I was right.” Without GraphicRiver, Baptiste says Rolly Candy may never have become a reality, or have gained the traction it has without the beautiful assets he ended up with.

“The two items I bought from Fredy Sujono and Anya Droba were just great and they fitted perfectly into my concept. I loved the fact that I could use the different characters Anya designed to build different levels into the game. I was amazed that Fredy’s work integrated exactly every single element I needed to build the complete User Interface of Rolly Candy.”

Despite some early success, Baptiste is still working hard on other iOS projects. He is currently working on a secret level in Rolly Candy that will integrate a new character and a different gameplay style. He has also developed Brain'up, a brain training game already gaining traction in Europe. “I love the fact that these iOS apps are so different,” Baptiste says.

While the game development market is in an exciting period of growth, it is not without its downsides. Some of the world’s top game developers have noted that the money and notoriety they receive from a successful game can have negative implications. These include pressure to continue developing games that reach the same levels of success, creative block and feelings of guilt associated with achieving sudden, and sometimes meteoric, “overnight” success. Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen withdrew the hugely successful game that was making him $50,000 a day after growing tired of media attention, criticism of the "addictive" nature of his game and calls of plagiarism. Many independent game developers caution those seeking riches through game development, citing their own experiences of the unexpected complications that can arise along with financial and business success.

For Baptiste’s part, he remains passionate about iOS development and finds working in the fast moving environment exciting. “Mobile offers amazing platforms that offer us a way to touch many customers at the same time. For me, mobile apps really blur the line between physical and digital,” he says. “Mobile is how customers live, they wake up with a device in their hands and they look at their phone more than 150 times a day.”

Baptiste is not alone; the independent app developer community continues to thrive, with increasing numbers of resources being made available to them. In addition to major conferences staged around the world dedicated to independent app developers such as the Game Developers Conference, there are increasing numbers of online resources for those seeking to develop their skills. These include an entire Tuts+ online education platform dedicated to game development, where beginners can learn and hone their skills.

GraphicRiver, where Baptiste found the visual assets for Rolly Candy, offers a number of quality game assets including sprites, tilesets, backgrounds, game kits and user interfaces. Envato recently ran a competition encouraging more authors to contribute to this growing segment. These assets are affordable for independent game developers on a budget, starting at $3, and represents a part of Envato’s continuing quest to help creatives create.

With all signs pointing to the continued growth of the gaming app industry, stories like Baptiste’s are unlikely to be isolated. The industry provides another opportunity for people to learn new skills and make creations that have the ability to drastically alter their lives.

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