Speaking at Evolve 2012, Dlala Studios CEO Anthony James Grand-Scrutton compared launching a game on the App Store today without a huge marketing budget to “throwing a penny into the ocean”. Much better, he told the audience, to target younger markets with less competitions. Dlala itself launched its first game, space-themed physics puzzler Janksy (pictured below), on Windows Phones this year.
“There are now 1,800 apps on Microsoft’s marketplace,” Grand-Scrutton relayed after checking with one of the Microsoft executives sitting at the back of the room. “We got on there when there were about 271 games. Trying to promote an app [on the App Store] is the equivalent of taking a penny and throwing it into the ocean. The Android store is the same – and there’s a lot of shit on there.”
Grand-Scrutton worked at Jagex before setting up Dlala in June this year, and has worked on an extremely tight budget. Working with Microsoft, he said, proved a huge advantage when it came to getting the support the studio needed to complete his game – though, he readily admitted to initial misgivings.
“I expected Microsoft to be arseholes,” he said. “And it’s scary, when you’ve been told that about a big corporation that you’re trying to work with. But I met some of the guys there, had a few meetings, and eventually I discovered: Microsoft aren’t arseholes. Their support has been massive.”
Given Grand-Scrutton’s point that there are significantly fewer apps available in the Windows marketplace, it’s perhaps unsurprising to discover that a company of Microsoft’s size and resources is better able to support the smaller number of mobile developers it’s working with. Even so, Grand-Scrutton points to Microsoft’s BizSpark initiative, which provides “free shit” – specifically, Windows 8 development and Visual Studio licences, along with the QA support of the company’s Team Foundation Service – to companies that meet the revenue threshold and have a website.
It’s certainly a convincing argument, and with Microsoft now aggresively marketing its next generation of phones, along with Surface and , of course, Windows 8, early adopters – and those who get on board now can still resonably be considered as such – may proffer devs a genuine advantage, at least where discovery is concerned. More than that, BizSpark got Grand-Scrutton back on the straight and narrow.
“For the first time in my life,” he admitted, “I had Microsoft licences that I hadn’t illegally acquired.”
Main image courtesy of Dan Griliopoulos