This week Coda had the chance to sit down with Mubeen Iqbal, Product Manager at Arcadian Lab, the Pakistani based studio behind Coda’s latest hit game Police Quest. The recent success of the game is particularly exciting, as it is the second hit concept to originate from the Coda Partner Program.
What is a Coda Concept?
With a comprehensive view of all hyper-casual games in the market, Coda’s technology automatically tags games on the app stores and then consolidates and analyzes all market data to detect signals of demand in the market. We use these signals to make predictions and identify concepts that are likely to achieve a CPI below $0.20.
What is the Coda Partner Program?
The Coda Partner Program offers select studios access to game concepts that have a high likelihood of becoming a chart topping hit. Coda concepts are made available directly on the Coda platform, so that partner studios can start prototyping right away. Our Games team also provides best practices and feedback to give developers the best chance of making their game a hit.
Read on to discover more on how Mubeen and his team were able to publish their first hit game with Coda and have it reach #3 in the US iOS charts in less than a week.
Q: Tell us about Arcadian Lab and your experience in hyper-casual games?
We are a mobile games studio based in Lahore, Pakistan with a team of 20 people who work on various aspects of game development. We started in 2018 and were originally working on simulation games but we realised this wasn’t a strong strategy for our studio. The success of this genre is based heavily on ASO and when Google’s algorithm changed, a lot of studios shut down. This was a warning call for us and at that point we asked ourselves, “Okay, what is out there in the market that is working right now?”. Initially we had no idea what hyper-casual even was, but then we started exploring and heading in this direction.
Q: What did your game development process look like when you first started?
Initially when we started developing games we didn't know that you could work directly with publishers [like Coda] for creating games. We would look for inspiration in top charts and see what was trending in the market. Since we are mostly gamers, we like to play games, it helps us a lot in the sense that game development is a creative process where ideas must constantly keep spawning in your mind; our intuition helped us a lot in the idea generation process.
It was quite an eye-opener for us when we realised that publishers are there to help you develop your own games. That is when we got connected with publishers and started developing games in a more systematic and data-driven manner.
Q: As one of the early adopters of the program, what made you want to join?
The high quality of the Coda Platform in comparison to other publishers was something that stood out to us. Coda’s program releases new concepts to developers who don't have access to market intelligence or market insight. These developers might not understand what's going on in the hyper-casual landscape and Coda makes it easy for them to focus on concepts that actually work.
Once we started working directly with Coda, the way they worked with us so closely on the game was a major thing for us. It really made us feel that we have a very close connection with Coda and vice versa.
Q. Can you walk us through the concept of Police Quest?
So in Police Quest, players get the chance to live the life of a police officer by performing every day [police] tasks. We packaged these tasks into a hyper-casual format and tried to include stereotypical concepts, for example policemen and donuts!
Q. Can you share the process behind Police Quest’s launch and how you worked with the Coda team?
This was our second project with Coda. The first prototype we submitted didn’t perform well and wasn't a good start for us. After this first prototype, we sat down with Coda and discussed going in another direction. We agreed upon creating a prototype for a police concept and came back after a week with a prototype that featured six different mini-games.
After creating the first prototype with six games, we uploaded it to the store and started to see some really nice KPIs. The Coda team helped us a lot when it came to the design and UI of the game, and their experience was apparent in the detailed feedback they gave.
After that it all boiled down to retention, which hinged largely on the number of mechanics or mini-games we included. So in the second iteration, we added another six mini-games and then again in the third and fourth iterations. In every iteration we added about six mini-games until we got to a total of 23.
Q. What do you think made Police Quest so successful?
I think it has a lot to do with the user satisfaction that comes from each of the mini-games. When developing these ‘task-based’ games we were really focusing on the satisfaction a user would feel, since people normally enjoy the satisfaction element in games.
Q. What’s next for Arcadian Lab?
Currently we are a team of 20, but we are looking to expand and build out our team. While we’ve had great success in hyper-casual, we are also curious to explore other genres of games in the mid-core genre and perhaps others that would have a longer life cycle.
Q. What would you recommend to developers who are just getting started with hyper-casual games?
I would say that as a first recommendation you should look to identify trending mechanics and what’s popular in the market. Try to avoid being too innovative in the space and rather identify the gaps already present in the market and work to fill them.
The most important point is that if you’re a developer, you should aim to have a publisher working with you. Nowadays, publishers are very accessible and you can reach out to most of them online; they can help you with quite a lot of things.
Most importantly, there is nothing like working with a great team. I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of working alongside a great team. Had we not been working alongside a team that comprises of highly talented and smart people we would have never been able to accomplish the success we have today.
We’ll leave you with Mubeen’s recommendations. As you can see from his experience, one of the key factors of success is to create concepts based on trending mechanics. Coda Concepts are proven to have a better chance at success, and we are starting to see performance improving with each new game that our partners submit.
So, if you’d like to make your development process more efficient and receive hit game ideas every week, have a look at the Coda Partner Program.