Capy Games’ Nathan Vella shares surprising facts about the state of indie games

Nathan Vella, CEO of Capy Games.

Nathan Vella, president and cofounder of Capy Games, has become a voice for the indies. As a publisher of indie titles, he spoke about the increasing difficulties that indie game studios are having in the app stores and on the web and what they can do about it.

Addressing the Gaming Insiders event in San Francisco last week, Vella said that game developers often focus on a single platform as a favorite target for a game. But he said that it makes a lot more sense for indies to go cross-platform. Porting games is cheap, and it can pay off in a big way with an even spread of revenue across a lot of platforms, he said.

Toronto-based Capy Games’ Sword & Sworcery got 50 percent of its revenues from iOS, 25 percent from Steam, 20 percent from other platforms, and 5 percent from Android. Another Capy Games title, Super Time Force Ultra, had 44 percent of revenue come from Xbox, 37 per cent from Sony, and the rest from Steam. Even the small Android figure played a role in helping the Sword & Sworcery game spread far and wide, Vella said.


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Yacht Club Games also shared data for Shovel Knight and Double Fine Productions showed how it did with Broken Age. Shovel Knight had 32 percent of its audience on Steam, 30 percent on 3DS, 20 percent on Wii U, 14 percent on Sony, and 4 percent on Xbox. Broken Age had 61 percent of revenue from the PC, 16 percent from mobile, 12 percent from the Mac, and 11 percent from the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.

“Shovel Knight broke the impression that indies don’t sell so well on Nintendo, and Broken Age has a surprisingly huge following on Mac,” he said. “All of these games are generating significant amounts of net revenue from a whole bunch of different platforms. If you were to remove a single platform, these developers would be leaving a significant chunk of money behind.”

He added, “All of these games defied the belief there is a right platform or a wrong platform. Porting is really inexpensive, and you don’t have to do it all at once.”

The percentage spread for two indie games on various platforms, by revenue.

Above: The percentage spread for two indie games on various platforms, by revenue.

Image Credit: Nathan Vella

Vella also addressed the notion that famous YouTubers such as Pewdiepie can deliver a big audience for a game. Based on his own research, Vella found something different when it comes to the results of Let’s Play promotional videos.

“For every time I found a great piece online about how a Pewdiepie generated X hundreds of thousands of dollars, there was another developer saying that they actually didn’t have a sales spike,” Vella said.

He did find that it was important to do research on a YouTuber, such as the core audience of the YouTuber, as to whether there was a chance to generate direct sales. Capy Games had one of its games, Super Time Force Ultra, featured by YouTuber Total Biscuit. Not a single extra sale resulted, he said.

“What it means is that it isn’t a universal truth,” he said. “Being covered by the biggest multi-million subscriber YouTube stars will not necessarily generate more revenue.”

But Steam Greenlight, which gives exposure to early-production indie games in front of Steam’s users, did work well.

Nathan Vella, CEO of Capy Games.

Above: Nathan Vella, CEO of Capy Games.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Vella also looked into whether indie games are being devalued through bundle sales and specials on platforms such as Humble Bundle and Steam.

“Our work is being sold for less than it’s worth, and people aren’t paying what they should be paying for our games,” Vella said. “It’s an argument that I’m a little bit uncomfortable with because it does put some blame on the consumer for something that I don’t think they really should be blamed for.”

In the Xbox 360 generation, the Xbox Live Arcade had 700 digital-only games with an average sale price of under $10. On the Sony PlayStation 4, there are 300 games with the average sale price of $15.18.

“That’s a massive increase over the last generation,” he said. “Prices have gone up drastically, but users are totally willing to pay it.”

He noticed that in the last five Humble Bundles, the average age of the game was 442 days old.

“I’d argue that people are making it very clear that they never intended to buy our games in the first place,” he said. “The cool thing is that the Humble Bundle actually allows us, albeit in a small way, to generate revenue off of people that never ever would have bought our games in the first place.”

With Steam, Vella had another view. The average sale price of games on Steam is going down. The percentage of games being launched per year is going up, particularly in sub-$10 games, according to data from Steam Spy. In 2014, 55 percent of Steam games under $10 sold less than 20,000 copies. This year, 90 percent of games under $10 sold less than 20,000 copies.

“This calls into question the impact of devaluation. If your game is being sold for $2.99, and you can’t sell 20,000 copies of it, does that mean that independent games have a value that is lower to consumers? I don’t think so,” Vella said.

He noted that NPD data shows that 50 percent of players wait for a sale before buying a game. The good thing is you can reach players that you would never have reached were it not for a promotion, he said.

As for mobile games, he said that his own research with developers showed that making mobile games is hard for indies.

“Sometimes the opinions we hear on the Internet might actually be right,” he said.










CubeSensors Releases Three New Cube Sensors To Keep You Safe And Dry

ZHVv3PTZ8tXjHfU05DUDw9CscshYNbryZNfQsY4KIPI Original participants in our world-famous(TM) Hardware Battlefield, the folks at CubeSensors are back with three new devices that promise to make our lives a bit better. The original CubeSensors were little boxes containing a few environmental sensors.These let you know how much nasty stuff was in your air – particulate matter and the like – and systems of measuring temperature… Read More

Quad bike tragedy friends ‘celebrating victim’s 16th birthday’

Four young friends who were killed when a sports car collided with the quad bike they were riding had apparently been celebrating the 16th birthday of the youngest victim. The girl, named in reports as Terrie Lynch, died along with her three friends, Ryan Beal and Brandon Brown, both 20, and Alexandra Binns, 18, when their quad bike was hit from behind by a Nissan 350Z on the A6201 between Upton and Hemsworth in West Yorkshire at around 12.30am yesterday.

Boston-based Acquia bags $55M round as its Drupal content management system surges

acquia

Open-source content management system, Drupal, got another boost today when Boston-based Acquia announced it has raised $55 million in venture capital.

“At Acquia, we pride ourselves on guiding today’s leading organizations as they digitalize their business,” Acquia CEO Tom Erickson said in a statement.

The money comes on the heels of $50 million the company raised in May 2014, which was increased just three months later when Amazon tossed in an additional amount of funding.

While the latest investment is a sign of confidence in the company, it’s also worth noting that back in 2012, while raising a round of $30 million, Acquia said it was closing in on an IPO. Those plans have obviously been shelved.

The latest round brings in a new investor, Centerview Capital Technology, plus additional money from previous investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Split Rock Partners.

Acquia was cofounded by Belgium-born Dries Buytaert, who now serves as chief technology officer. Buytaert created Drupal as a free, open-sourced content management system in his dorm room when he was a PhD student in Belgium.

Acquia provides cloud and management services to help companies run their Drupal site. The company said this latest funding would help it expand sales and marketing and develop new products.

Thomas Erickson, Acquia CEO, left, and Dries Buytaert, CTO.

Above: Thomas Erickson, Acquia CEO, left, and Dries Buytaert, CTO.

Image Credit: Acquia









EverQuest creator raises seed round to build Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is an upcoming MMO from Visionary Realms.

Visionary Realms wasn’t successful in its crowdfunding campaign last year to raise money for its next-generation massively multiplayer online game, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. But EverQuest creator Brad McQuaid and his team didn’t give up. And today, they’re announcing they have raised a seed round to fund development of the title.

The new seed funding will help the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company take a big step forward in developing its fantasy role-playing MMO, said McQuaid, chief creative officer at Visionary Realms in an interview with GamesBeat at the Gaming Insiders event last week. Indeed, since Visionary Realms is taking on successful MMOs like World of Warcraft, it’s going to need a fair amount of money to get its project off the ground.

Although the developer failed to hit its target with a Kickstarter campaign in February, 2014, Visionary Realms managed to keep going on tenacity alone. More than $460,000 was pledged in the campaign. With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. Since the company didn’t hit its $800,000 target, it didn’t get any of the pledge money. But it did start its own funding campaign for donations on its Web site, and that kept the game alive. Now, the company has a playable prototype ready, and the new seed funding from a private angel investor will help it grow a lot more.

“It’s more than a prototype, with 10 full playable levels,” said McQuaid. “It’s a significant milestone. We still have a small world, but it’s fun to play in. We’ll make it a bigger world over time.”

Brad McQuaid, Benjamin de la Durantaye, and Chris Rowan of Visionary Realms.

Above: Brad McQuaid, Benjamin de la Durantaye, and Chris Rowan of Visionary Realms.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

The team has 14 employees. Chris Rowan has joined as chief executive, and Benjamin de la Durantaye joined as communications director. Chris Perkins is serving as creative director.

The company isn’t naming the investor yet. It’s rare for an investor to come along and invest in a failed crowdfunding project. But McQuaid said the company was able to show its progress and fun gameplay.


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“This is a dream, a passion,” McQuaid said. “There are easier games to make. We’re stubborn. Nothing is going to stop us.”

Some team members had to leave for jobs elsewhere after the Kickstarter failed. But some, like de la Durantaye, returned.

“Our philosophy is different,” McQuaid said. “Some of the recent MMOs have huge budgets and make a game that is perfect for everyone. Our belief is the future of MMOs is smaller, more targeted games. Over 10 million people play massively multiplayer games. That’s a huge group. There are people with all sorts of tastes and styles of gameplay. We target an audience and make a fantastic game just for them. We don’t need ridiculous budgets.”

He added, “The social, cooperative players have been orphaned. Some people love cooperative play against the A.I.”

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen concept art

Above: Concept art from Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

Image Credit: Visionary Realms

World of Warcraft is losing some of its lock on subscription MMO players. The giant fantasy MMO game from Blizzard Entertainment lost 1.5 million subscribers in the second quarter alone, with its total number of subscribers dropping to 5.6 million.

“I think a lot of them are looking for something new, something challenging and more cooperative,” McQuaid said.

I saw a demo of the world. Pantheon takes place on Terminus, a high fantasy world of powerful deities, valiant heroes, insidious enemies, and fantastic creatures. It focuses on challenging content and social aspects of gameplay, encouraging groups and guilds, forging new relationships, and earning a reputation in the community. It has multiple fantasy races and classes. The world itself has been formed from “shipwrecked” fragments of many different realms and worlds.

Taking a lesson from Dark Souls, Pantheon values great risk versus great reward. The player will always be encouraged to push themselves and embrace exploration, adventure, danger, and the community of players alongside them.

“The game requires tactical awareness of who you are and what you are going up against,” McQuaid said. “If you prevail, it’s because you didn’t just mash a button. You went into it with strategy and forethought.”

McQuaid’s team includes veterans who worked on EverQuest, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Star Wars Galaxies. EverQuest, launched in 1999, had a team of 23 people. It took three years and $8 million to complete.

Pantheon won’t have a budget that big. But it will likely have a long beta test. A pre-alpha test will likely happen this year, with a formal beta testing happening sometime next year. The company will likely need another round of funding to complete the full game.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

Above: More from Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

Image Credit: Visionary Realms









Apple sold more than 13 million new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s units on first weekend

iPhone 6s pink

Apple today announced first-weekend sales of 13 million new its iPhones, easily setting a new record thanks to the availability of the phones in China.

“Sales for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have been phenomenal, blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said in a statement. “Customers’ feedback is incredible and they are loving 3D Touch and Live Photos, and we can’t wait to bring iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to customers in even more countries on October 9.”

The numbers were roughly in line with what many analysts had projected.

More to come.










Announcing Our Investment in Renoviso

A few years ago I replaced all of the decades-old windows in our home with new ones.  The entire process was horrible.  I used home service lead-gen and recommendation-review sites to identify a half-dozen installers to set up initial in-person consultation appointments.  Only half of them even showed up.  For those who did, I was offered a set of confusing options with opaque pricing without any relative understanding of the quality of the service or the product itself.  After finally making a selection, the installation took longer the one-day quoted plan and we were left overnight with gaping hole in our house!  To top it off, there was a dispute about the final cost given the scope of work.  Eventually everything was completed and resolved, but not after an extremely frustrating and delayed process.  In a world of consumer-centric on-demand services, it didn’t seem like it should be this way.

Meanwhile, Eric Horndahl and Brian Waldman had been germinating a startup idea to address this consumer home renovation problem for a while now.  Over a year ago Eric and I were chatting at a NextView-organized entrepreneur event where he shared the concept of what has now become Renoviso.   It immediately clicked with me as a consumer when I detailed the above narrative, and he shared that my experience wasn’t unusual, nor was it exclusive to just window replacements.

Renoviso is a service empowering consumers to complete home renovation projects through a transparent and easy e-commerce model.  The company offers easy online configuration ordering with transparent pricing for premium products, short in-home consultation to confirm measurements and details before commitment, and no-hassle professional installation.  Renoviso has established direct relationships with both product manufacturers and high-quality installers to enable a seamless experience for the end-consumer.

Today Renoviso is announcing their $1.4M Seed round of financing led by NextView Ventures, where I will be joining the Board of Directors.  We’re joined in the round by RRE, BOSS Syndicates, NextGen, and awesome strategic angels like Niraj Shah (CEO of Wayfair) and Fabrice Grinda.

The rationale behind our investment isn’t built upon my one lone VC customer experience.  Rather, the foundation is based on our experience with labor marketplace investments like Paintzen and TaskRabbit, as well as our long-held thesis about high-consideration e-commerce.  I’ve blogged before about the latter:

People are now buying things online which take more than a few (dozen) minutes of reflection.  And not surprisingly, the most salient reasons that these items are given more consideration are that the cost are higher, they often take up more space in a person’s life/house, and they’re experienced over a longer duration.  In many cases, there were already cases of these types of products already being purchased online, but given a new wave of innovation and greater acceptance, I think we’re at an inflection point where an increasing number of high-ticket, larger, enduring goods will be bought on the web.

Selling high-consideration goods online is not just about publishing a web product catalog with features, specs, and reviews.  It’s about helping foster consumers though a rich buying experience… The innovation happening in this space now is centered around the way vendors present, inform, and consummate a sale.

Home renovation is perhaps the ultimate high-consideration purchase, both because it affects an individual’s life so directly and also because the purchase price can be very meaningful.  This means that if a startup can address the category with an effective solution, the rewards can be absolutely massive.  Historically and even recently, the online category has been filled with lead-generation & advertising models, but those only effectively direct consumers to installation providers to experience the same set of problems… Renoviso actually takes care of the whole process for the consumer.

Eric and Brian are the perfect duo to make this company a success.  Both are online marketing gurus with a rich background in multi-category customer acquisition at BuyerZone, TripAdvisor, and Cayan.  As I mentioned, I’ve known Eric for a while now, but in diligencing this investment I conducted a number of background references on both of them and heard superlative phrases like “I don’t think can give higher recommendation to anybody,” “fiercely hard working,” and “so hungry… I’d highly highly bet on him.”  It’s hard to argue with endorsements like those.

Windows are just the beginning for Renoviso.  I am looking forward to the day not too far from now when I personally can use the service to install a new fence or add hardwood floors to our den.  But I am more excited about when there will be thousands of customers joining the existing ones who are ecstatic about a home renovation experience which is stress-free.

The post Announcing Our Investment in Renoviso appeared first on GenuineVC.

Announcing Our Investment in Renoviso

A few years ago I replaced all of the decades-old windows in our home with new ones.  The entire process was horrible.  I used home service lead-gen and recommendation-review sites to identify a half-dozen installers to set up initial in-person consultation appointments.  Only half of them even showed up.  For those who did, I was offered a set of confusing options with opaque pricing without any relative understanding of the quality of the service or the product itself.  After finally making a selection, the installation took longer the one-day quoted plan and we were left overnight with gaping hole in our house!  To top it off, there was a dispute about the final cost given the scope of work.  Eventually everything was completed and resolved, but not after an extremely frustrating and delayed process.  In a world of consumer-centric on-demand services, it didn’t seem like it should be this way.

Meanwhile, Eric Horndahl and Brian Waldman had been germinating a startup idea to address this consumer home renovation problem for a while now.  Over a year ago Eric and I were chatting at a NextView-organized entrepreneur event where he shared the concept of what has now become Renoviso.   It immediately clicked with me as a consumer when I detailed the above narrative, and he shared that my experience wasn’t unusual, nor was it exclusive to just window replacements.

Renoviso is a service empowering consumers to complete home renovation projects through a transparent and easy e-commerce model.  The company offers easy online configuration ordering with transparent pricing for premium products, short in-home consultation to confirm measurements and details before commitment, and no-hassle professional installation.  Renoviso has established direct relationships with both product manufacturers and high-quality installers to enable a seamless experience for the end-consumer.

Today Renoviso is announcing their $1.4M Seed round of financing led by NextView Ventures, where I will be joining the Board of Directors.  We’re joined in the round by RRE, BOSS Syndicates, NextGen, and awesome strategic angels like Niraj Shah (CEO of Wayfair) and Fabrice Grinda.

The rationale behind our investment isn’t built upon my one lone VC customer experience.  Rather, the foundation is based on our experience with labor marketplace investments like Paintzen and TaskRabbit, as well as our long-held thesis about high-consideration e-commerce.  I’ve blogged before about the latter:

People are now buying things online which take more than a few (dozen) minutes of reflection.  And not surprisingly, the most salient reasons that these items are given more consideration are that the cost are higher, they often take up more space in a person’s life/house, and they’re experienced over a longer duration.  In many cases, there were already cases of these types of products already being purchased online, but given a new wave of innovation and greater acceptance, I think we’re at an inflection point where an increasing number of high-ticket, larger, enduring goods will be bought on the web.

Selling high-consideration goods online is not just about publishing a web product catalog with features, specs, and reviews.  It’s about helping foster consumers though a rich buying experience… The innovation happening in this space now is centered around the way vendors present, inform, and consummate a sale.

Home renovation is perhaps the ultimate high-consideration purchase, both because it affects an individual’s life so directly and also because the purchase price can be very meaningful.  This means that if a startup can address the category with an effective solution, the rewards can be absolutely massive.  Historically and even recently, the online category has been filled with lead-generation & advertising models, but those only effectively direct consumers to installation providers to experience the same set of problems… Renoviso actually takes care of the whole process for the consumer.

Eric and Brian are the perfect duo to make this company a success.  Both are online marketing gurus with a rich background in multi-category customer acquisition at BuyerZone, TripAdvisor, and Cayan.  As I mentioned, I’ve known Eric for a while now, but in diligencing this investment I conducted a number of background references on both of them and heard superlative phrases like “I don’t think can give higher recommendation to anybody,” “fiercely hard working,” and “so hungry… I’d highly highly bet on him.”  It’s hard to argue with endorsements like those.

Windows are just the beginning for Renoviso.  I am looking forward to the day not too far from now when I personally can use the service to install a new fence or add hardwood floors to our den.  But I am more excited about when there will be thousands of customers joining the existing ones who are ecstatic about a home renovation experience which is stress-free.

The post Announcing Our Investment in Renoviso appeared first on GenuineVC.

Eventbrite’s ex-engineering head nabs $1.2M for his data-driven employee referral service

Simppler

If you’re looking for new talent to join your company, one of the best places to find them is by asking your employees. Jobvite considers this type of resource “undervalued” and believes that by leveraging your current team, you’ll be able to increase your reach across a much larger network.

Helping companies tap into this area is the reason why Simppler exists and since its launch in 2014, at least 11 companies have signed up for the data-driven employee referral service. Today, investors have paid attention and are putting in $1.2 million for Simppler’s seed round.

Started by Eventbrite’s former head of engineering Vipul Sharma and Shikhar Mishra, Simppler takes on Jobvite and other similar companies through its use of social networks, contacts, and big data. It counts like likes of Auction, MobileIron, Tilt, Reddit, Change.org, and Box among its customers and will be using the new funds to further build out its product and bring on a sales team.

Investing in the company are Greylock Partners, Correlation Ventures, zParks Capital, and several angel investors. None led the round.

screenshotsimppler

Simppler utilizes a recommendation system that’s somewhat similar to the one used by Eventbrite which suggests events you might be interested in. Employees sign up and import their contacts either through their address book, CSV file, or one of the major social networks.

The system will parse through the Internet to build up profiles of the potential candidates and when the time comes to look for a new engineer, designer, product manager, or chief executive, employees can go into the system and say “yes or no” to each one. Each response given will be catalogued and the algorithm becomes smarter to better understand how each referral fits into the big picture.


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The company started while both founders were building out the engineering team at Eventbrite. Sharma tells us that as the company was growing rapidly, they were trying to analyze what was the most efficient way to get candidates: “We realized that we were spending money on various social solutions, but what was working was employee referrals.”

LinkedIn might seem like a logical option to recruit talent, but Sharma explained that it’s “primarily for personal use where people can express their professional experience and where recruiters can see if someone is connected with an employee.” Simppler comes at the hiring problem from the employee’s perspective, not the recruiter or the hiring organization.

“The best hires come from referrals, and we believe we can change how companies think about hiring as the first technology focused squarely on employee referrals.” Vipul writes in a blog post. “Existing employees understand the DNA and demands of their company better than anyone else, so they are in the best position to recommend the right people.”

Simppler claims that its recommendation engine has caused a 10x increase in its customers’ employee referral rates. What’s more, engagement among employees is around 70 percent on average.