With discoverability in the mobile and handheld gaming market becoming harder and harder, we've decided to shine the spotlight on the amazing and interesting indie developers out there.
So welcome to the Indie Spotlight, where each week a developer tells us about their life and work, and the challenges facing indie developers in the modern mobile and handheld market.
PocketGamer.biz: How did you get started as an indie games developer?
Louis Giraud: The studio 8SEC was created in 2015 by myself and another Louis (yes, two Louis'!) after meeting during our last year of school. Louis was studying game design and I was finishing up a degree in gameplay development. We had a lot of ideas for games and wanted to create something people would enjoy, rather than something we designed for ourselves.
We had a lot of ideas for games and wanted to create something people would enjoy, rather than something we designed for ourselves.Louis Giraud
With that in mind, hypercasual was the only way to go as it allowed us to try out every idea we could before letting the players decide which one we should spend more time developing. Today, the studio is made up of 15 employees and we developer games for millions of people.
Can you tell us what the video games industry in France is like? How different (if at all) is it to other countries?
We are very lucky. Schools now offer education in game design, art, programming, marketing, and more, so there's a lot of resources available, which contributes heavily to a very solid ecosystem in France.
There's a lot of talent in the country – especially in the hypercasual space. What's great is that competitors in this space don't see one another as enemies. Instead, we all talk and exchange ideas from time to time. It's a very cool thing to be a part of.
What is a typical day in your life as an indie?
A typical day consists of playing a lot of games, spending time brainstorming and learning how to improve the studio as a whole. We test a lot of things and try to adapt our design to the market and data feedback. We all spend an excessive amount of time on our phone. With the App Store seeing new games top the charts every day, we try to play as much as we can. From this, we brainstorm, try to find new ideas and then try to refine our prototypes.
At 8SEC, we have a Slack channel where everyone can share what they're working on. Most importantly, we take our time to make sure something is fun.
What have been the biggest challenges you've faced so far as an indie?
The biggest challenge has stemmed from learning to put data at the heart of creativity. It's important to find the right people with the right mindset to keep our culture and studio strong. The first couple of years at 8SEC were about understanding how we could merge creativity and data so that we could make the right calls for players.
Sometimes it's hard to let go of a concept or feature we are invested in but the numbers don't lie. Our current challenge is finding the right people to join us on our journey. We have a lot of open positions: game designers, developers, artists and user acquisition managers.
How do you define 'success'?
Success is seeing an original game make it into the top 10 titles on the App Store. It needs to be the perfect blend of originality and creativity to stay in the top 10 for as long as possible. Our unofficial goal is to see people playing our games in the subway or in a waiting room in our everyday lives.
By trusting our team and making sure everyone had what they needed to stay safe and work efficiently, we quickly found our new rhythm.Louis Giraud
What we love the most is making waves in the industry. Trivia.io opened up a new genre of Trivia games and it was flattering to see so many games inspired by it.
What is your opinion of the mobile games market for indies right now?
It's very good with lots of opportunities. It's a great time to be an independent developer in mobile. There are lots of opportunities to work and focus on what you do best.
Publishers are offering more and more resources for studios and are willing to handle most of the monetisation. This then lets developers focus on what they do best: make fun games. Compared to a few years ago, there is a lot of information out there to help make a game better.
Could you tell us about your latest game and why the game felt right for mobile?
Our latest game Trivia.io was released at the end of 2019. We played all kinds of trivia/quiz games but the majority felt more like an app than games. So, we went to the drawing board and decided to create our own quiz game with a lot more emphasis on the games side, with 3D assets, more interactions, mechanics, and more silly things happening on-screen.
This was a challenge because there needs to be a lot of text in Trivia games and that usually does not play well with marketing and user acquisition. However, we managed to make it fun to read and present the questions in an engaging way. It worked out very well in the end with over 20 million people downloading the title and counting.
How is the studio coping under the current Covid-19 pandemic?
8SEC has always been remote-friendly, so we didn't lose too much momentum in that respect. Ownership is key to us, and we already communicate a lot via Slack and Google Hangouts, so making the transition to 100 per cent remote working wasn't too difficult in the end.
By trusting our team and making sure everyone had what they needed to stay safe and work efficiently, we quickly found our new rhythm.
What are your current plans for the future?
For now, we have our eyes set on the hypercasual market but we’re just getting started! We have a lot more in the planning stages that we are looking to take on. There are a couple of cool, deeper game concepts being worked on at the minute but the rest is classified.
As I mentioned earlier, we have a lot of open positions, so if you're reading this and want to know more, make sure to get in touch. There are so many concepts at 8SEC ready to be transformed into amazing games.