Game Design, Game Reviews

icon175x175Today I’ll be taking a look at Dodging Dragons, a 2D arcade flyer game, much like the once (in)famous Flappy Bird.

Available on iTunesDodging Dragons is a game created by the After Insanity game studio, and it’s built exclusively for the Apple iOS platform. It puts you in shoes (or should I say wings) of a baby dragon, endlessly flying its way through air, dodging obstacles and collecting coins and gemstones.

First thing you’ll notice about running Dodging Dragons is that it looks great. For an indie studio, I have to say I was quite impressed with the graphics. Everything from the cloudy background, over the grass-covered floating stones, to our main character, everything was done with serious quality. What I particularly enjoyed was the way the developers created the main character. The dragon has the 90’s-cartoon style, reminding me of the TV shows I used to watch as a kid. It really throws you back.

The music

Lately I have been paying a lot of attention to in-game music and I noticed that the developers have no clue what they’re doing. Either that, or they don’t care about background audio, which could be even worse. The music background plays a huge role in creating the overall atmosphere of the game. Miss that, and your game becomes something else entirely.

In this case, the music is not bad as much as it’s misplaced. It sounds like it’s 8-bit music which would fit perfectly in a game like Hotline Miami. In this case, where you have high quality graphics, high quality audio should also be in place.

The gameplay

dodging1Looking at how the game plays, I see no wrongdoings. The controls are simple, to an extent borrowing from Flappy Bird – the dragon will fly as long as you tap the screen. Stop tapping, and he’ll fall under. However, unlike the flying game we all lost our nerves over, Dodging Dragons takes a somewhat milder approach. First of all, hitting an obstacle does not necessarily mean instant death. You’re free to “land” on it and still continue playing.

Even if you do hit an obstacle, your character will get dizzy and fall over, but there are times when that doesn’t mean game over. The sudden death approach of Flappy Bird has its charm and most certainly a large audience, but this approach is far from wrong. I can say it takes the stress out of the game.

I also like the fact that the developers didn’t simply take already seen mechanics – they’ve added their own flavour to it. So, besides tapping to flap the wings, you can also swipe in different directions to get various boosts. Swapping forward gives you a speed buff, while swiping backwards lets your character glide through air. The latter has proven extremely useful when collecting coins and rubies in a straight line.

Monetising and in-game spending

dodging2Coins and rubies can be spent in what I can only call a digital WalMart. The game’s shop is huge, offering lots and lots of power-ups and different options. What I also noticed is that almost all of those power-ups can be purchased with in-game currency and relies very little on real money.

However, I haven’t seen any in-game ads. This is good for the average player, but bad for the developer, as I have doubts over how much money a game with only one monetisation option can earn. Considering how popular rewarded ads are nowadays, it could prove useful to put in a few of those in exchange for an extra life or a couple of speed boosts.

The verdict

As a player, I have no issues with giving this game a straight 5/5. It uses proven mechanics and adds a new twist to it, making it easy to learn but hard to master. It has great graphics which are a joy to watch, and a solid background music which, if you’re not obsessed like the author, won’t get in the way. The game’s large in-game shop offers various boosts and power-ups to help you break those records and keep playing.

However, as a reviewer, I feel the game could have offered a bit more, especially in terms of monetising. Rewarded video ads, as well as an option to buy more features with real money could have earned the developers a lot of money and fueled the production of more games. Still, it’s a solid game which was a joy to play through.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+

This post is the first of a long line of posts about players’ behavior in mobile games. We’ve been investigating this area for some time now and will share our insights through data reports and blog posts like this one.

Getting your users to pay in your game is never easy. Of course you need to have a great game with good Data Report Icongraphics and great design, but you also need to know how to target your payers when it matters. We’ve been asking ourselves: what if studios could find out at what time of day their users are likely to pay?


To study the spending trends, we sampled data from over 250 games from 17 different genres, spanning 188 countries  over a time period of one year. The sample contains over 1M purchases from ~240K different users.

Prefer the Evenings

People play mobile games at any hour of the day, with their morning coffee, while waiting in line, on the bus, in front of the TV and even while walking down the street (dangerous!), but when are they likely to pull out their wallet?

Looking into data from many different games, most in-app purchases happen between 3pm and midnight, with peaks at 4pm and 8-9pm. The ride back home from work or the after-dinner play time is probably when people play long sessions and reach points where they are willing to pay.

Number of Purchases:HourDistribution Through Countries

Looking more closely at the US and Russia, we found a clear trend with sales rising from 4am onwards and dropping again at late night. While 4am is consistently a low point across countries, in the US sales peak at 8pm and then start dropping, while users from Russia tend to buy more at 9-10 pm.

In other countries the trend is not that prominent. Sales go up during the day, but much more slowly. Interesting to note, in Great Britain the peak hour for in-app purchases is actually 4pm, followed by 5-6pm, with a decrease in sales thereafter.

Number of Purchases:Hour in Different CountriesSlicing the Day into Quarters

To simplify, we divided the day into four quarters. The following plot shows the number of users and the number of corresponding purchases in each quarter. As expected the 3rd (12-6pm) and 4th (6-12pm) quarters are the highest.

Number of Payers:Purchases by Quarter of day

Now, let’s take a look at how users behave with respect to the quarters of the day. We asked ourselves: Do mobile payers always pay in the same quarter or is it distributed over the day?

The results are conclusive. Over half of all users who paid more than once always pay in the same quarter of the day!

Number of quarters a user payed in Percentage of paying users
1 53.7%
2 35.7%
3 9%
4 1.6%

Similar patterns are observed when looking at the day of the week. As to be expected, users play and pay more on the weekends, with Saturday being the peak.

Number of Purchases:Week Day

It is also the case that 81.6% of all paying users and 53% of all payers who paid more than once always pay on the same day.

So…What’s In It  for You?

These results can lead to many conclusions. One of them can be: Offer your users sales and discounts in the days and hours they are likely to pay. How do you do that?

Grow Insights allow you to learn about the specific time your users pay and it’s done in real-time! Since all the information is cross-game, you can get info on a user even on his/her first visit to your game.

For more information about Insights: Grow Insights

The Grow dashboard: Grow Dashboard

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game Design, Game Reviews

mabo_iconIndie games are all about innovation and entertainment, and after a few hours spent with Mabo I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this game has both in abundance.

Available on Google PlayAvailable on iTunesIt has everything an indie mobile game should have – it’s simple, throws you right into action, the levels are short and sweet, it looks decent and most importantly – it’s creative.

Mabo is a puzzle game created by Andrei Ichim for both Android and iOS platforms. It features a randomly generated maze through which you must navigate and complete set tasks.

Creativity at its finest

There are a number of different tasks a player must complete in order to pass a level – that’s either collecting a set amount of stars scattered around the maze, escorting various NPCs (non-player controlled units) through the maze from point A to point B, destroying enemies by using certain power-ups, escaping the maze itself, and lots and lots of other tasks.

Such variety in the game, paired with the fact that the maze is randomly generated, makes the game extremely entertaining and captivating. Even though an average level doesn’t last more than a couple of minutes (sometimes even under a minute), I have managed to catch myself playing the game for hours straight.

The whole maze thing also has a crucial twist – as you might have figured out from the game’s screenshots, the maze is actually spherical in its shape. This is extremely important, as the sphere blocks the view of the entire maze, sometimes forcing you to go blindly, as one should – when entering a maze.

Visuals and music


The sphere opens a completely new dimension to the game

I was quite surprised to see visuals done with decent quality, even though that’s not what the game is all about. It’s a puzzle game, where the emphasis should (and really is) on the mind-boggling, but the developer invested a decent amount of time to create a game that is also pleasing to the eye.

I must, however, point out that, similar to some other games I’ve reviewed recently, this one also features the Apple/Google commercial-style audio and I can’t help myself, but wait for someone to start selling me a smartwatch every time I run the game. I’d seriously consider changing the background music to something less hip, upbeat, solo-ukulele thing.

The upkeep

In terms of monetisation and how the game pays for itself, the developer has decided to go for the classic, proven method of ads and in-game purchases. The game’s progress is locked, meaning you can either play the game to keep unlocking new content, or pay to unlock everything at once. I honestly don’t know why you would want to pay upfront for things you’re going to get for free eventually, but people are different, I guess.

There’s also a way not to lose your progress if you fail mid-level, by buying the respawn ability. This ability is consumable and requires frequent refreshing.

Going nowhere

As a regular guy, a mediocre, casual mobile gamer, there’s not a single thing I can hold against this game. It’s innovative and creative, it’s different and fun. It’s pretty much the perfect mobile game. However, as a reviewer, I have to say it feels as the developer came half-way and then just lost his nerves.

After all the hard work done building a game that plays great, feels great and looks great, he goes and just slaps on the first piece of music he comes across, and then goes for the same-old-same-old monetisation method. It feels he simply didn’t have the nerve to push things through to the end, which is a real shame. This could have been the game other developers look at for inspiration and ideas. Like this, it’s “just” a great game.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Guest Post

About the Author: Addison Cohen is a mobile app developer working with Appsted Ltd. You can contact him if you want to hire an iPhone app developer for the development of the most comprehensive mobile application solutions. He loves sharing latest information on mobile technologies like iOS and Android development processes.

Gone are the days when Android geeks used to feel privileged for having a permission system for all individual apps. Today, iOS has a seamless permission system wherein the app users are able to make a number of decisions. Plus, the iOS permission system is far more practical compared to the permission system incorporated within the Android powered apps. In this post, I’ll be discussing key differences between iOS and Android permissions, thereby helping you understand why iOS permissions are better compared to Android permissions.


ios vs. android

Exposing users to risks

Unlike iOS, Android doesn’t offer users a control over the kind of permissions that the apps could have. That means, if the user doesn’t like a particular app permission, he/she is completely refrained from installing the app and its components. On the other hand, Apple has offered users the convenience of installing the iOS apps and when at a later point in time a certain kind of functionality is required, the user is prompted to give his/her permission.

Comfort level of normal users

If you’re a normal user who is interested in playing mobile games without getting your contacts and location collected by the app, then ditching Android for iOS will help you. With iOS app permissions, you are able to attain a greater control over the game, thereby preventing the security of your personal details from getting compromised in any way.

Management of app permissions

Even though Android (version 4.3) is equipped with a default settings menu that manages app permissions, this menu is usually not visible and not accessible to app users. That means, in order to manage your app permissions (post app installation) you need to invest a great deal of time and effort.

‘Use it or leave it’ VS ‘Use it as you like it’

With Android apps, you can either choose to allow all app permission during the installation process or just opt for not installing the app. iOS users, however, can go ahead with accepting some app permissions, while denying others. That means, you can install an iOS app whether you choose to accept or deny any of the app permissions. All in all, the iOS app permission system renders an in-depth understanding of the scenario of accepting or rejecting a specific app permission.

Reason for a particular app permission

While the Android apps don’t inform you about the reason(s) behind particular permission(s), iOS apps specify the reason(s) behind permissions expected from the user at the time of app installation.

Clarity about all the app permissions

Since Android app installation just informs you about all the permissions, you’re left confused as to what the app is going to do with all the permissions granted by you. On the contrary, iOS apps offer a clear explanation of when and how the permission would be used.

ios vs android app persmissions

Knowing the device elements that the app would be accessing

Though Android has always stayed ahead of iOS in context of user-friendliness; the Android app permissions don’t tell anything about the smartphone elements that would be accessed and used by the app. In contrast to this, iOS app permissions inform the user about the different device elements that would be accessed by the app.


Unlike the Android app permission system, the iOS app permission system will alert the users about the privacy settings the very first time when the app tries accessing a particular element like photos, videos, contacts etc. Therefore, iOS users are well aware about the right time at which they should change the privacy settings for keeping their device safe from spamming attacks and annoying bulk advertisements.

To Conclude

Defenders of Android app permissions need to realize the fact that denying app permissions can easily lead to app crashes. Here’s hoping the Android app permission problems highlighted in the above post will motivate you to shift to iOS which is equipped with a much simpler and intuitive app permission architecture.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game Design, Game Reviews

break_the_stone_iconI have come to the point where simply seeing the Spartonix logo forces a smile on my face because, just as when a kid opens a present on Christmas morning, I know that there’s something awesome hiding behind the wrapping paper, I just can’t wait to see what it is.

Available on Google PlayThis time it’s a game called Break the Stone, a free to play arcade game available for Android.

It definitely won’t create a new genre, nor will it redefine an existing one, but it’s a beautifully drawn game with an easy and entertaining mechanic and really, what more could you ask for in a mobile game? Break the Stone, as the name itself suggests, is a game about breaking stones. It is set in a Chinese martial arts school where you, the young and green padawan, must master the art of breaking stone walls with your feet, fists or head.

The gameplay mechanics are similar to those we have seen in games such as Eskimo Fishing – the game tells you which body part to use (left button for kick, right for punch, both for headbutt), and you have to comply as fast as possible. The entire level lasts only 22 seconds, and it is up to you and your brain to come up with as many proper punches and kicks in that time as you possibly can.

Rewarding your success


Only two people know the arcane Fist of Fury punch technique, and I’ve killed the other guy

The game features a closed loop regarding what you get for playing the game and what you need to play the game in the first place. Let me explain:

In the beginning, destroying a stone takes a couple of hits (I believe it takes four hits to take down a wall, but it seems to vary). Destroying it rewards the player with a coin, and the collected coins can then be spent in the shop on items which help you take down the walls faster.

Faster destroying means more coins, means more upgrades, means more coins… catch my drift? But it’s a good concept, as it allows the player to slowly start spiralling up into higher scores, and we all like a high score, right?

Playing the game is obviously not the only way a person can earn coins in the game – Break the Stone also features the widely popular rewarded video ads feature, which allows the player to earn 50 coins for watching a video ad.

However, I reeeeeaaallyyyy liked an idea which gave the whole rewarded video ads a little twist. After going for a run and achieving a score, the game will offer you to double whatever you earned by watching a video ad. I believe it will drastically increase the number of video ads viewed, as I would definitely watch a video every time I get a high score. I’d love to hear some numbers from the developers on this!

Bring out your wallets

For those lacking patience but having an abundance of cash, there’s a simple way of buying coins for upgrades. The game also features standard pop-up ads, meaning all those three combined give the game solid monetisation options. Every individual element of the game is done with quality – gameplay mechanics are nice, the visuals are good, the audio background accompanies the game quite nicely. It has a lot of power-ups and boosts to keep it interesting, and offers players a number of ways to get their hands on those power-ups.

But only when you look at the game as a whole do you see how all elements form a good product. Now it’s all up to individual taste of gamers around the world – whether they’ll like the game or not is completely up to them. I see no reason why they would not.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Marketing, Open Source, Plugins

SOOMLA IntegrationsA few months ago we launched our integrations section in the SOOMLA Knowledge Base.  So far, we’ve received some significant code sample contributions from the likes of Supersonic, TUNE, GameAnalytics, Fyber, AdColony, Unity Ads and a few more.  Since our knowledge base website is open sourced on Github, we’d like to offer more companies to submit their integration code samples.  This blog post will describe how to set up such a dedicated, branded page for your platform / service.

Getting Started

  • Fork the SOOMLA knowledge base to your Github account and then clone it locally.
  • Get the knowledge base running locally by following the guidelines in the Github repo.  Our knowledge base website uses Docpad, a Node.js based static website generator.  Documents are written with Markdown for ease.
  • Once you’ve got it running, switch to the samples branch and restart the local server by running docpad run again.

Create Your Platform Page

  • Integration pages are all located under src/documents/samples.  You will see that some samples have both a file and a folder with their name.  That’s because they’ve separated their code samples into separate files which is the right way to go.  Let’s use Fyber for example, you can observe the file on Github:
  • Make a copy of in the same folder and replace “fyber” with your platform’s name.
  • Create a sibling folder to the fyber folder with your platform’s name.
  • Note that file name conventions are all lowercase here.
  • Note that the file has the suffix since it goes through Docpad’s pre-processing pipeline in reverse suffix order.  The document is first parsed as an eco template (to allow partial inclusions), then as a Markdown file (for code formatting) and finally lands as an HTML file.
  • Locate the page’s metadata at the top.  An example metadata section looks like this:
layout: "sample"
image: "supersonic_logo"
title: "Supersonic"
text: "Show rewarded video / offer wall to earn coins"
position: 10
relates: ["giftgaming", "fyber", "unity_ads"]
collection: 'samples'
navicon: "nav-icon-supersonic.png"
backlink: ""
theme: 'samples'
  • Change these fields: title, image (keep the _logo suffix), text, and backlink.  Specifically in the text attribute, list the use case of using your platform with SOOMLA

Page Content

A page’s content should include:

  • A descriptive paragraph at the beginning explaining a bit about the platform.  Why is it unique? How does it help developers? What is the relationship with SOOMLA’s open source SDK / data platform?
  • Code samples divided to different technologies in different tabs.  See other pages for the tab implementation.  Make sure to place the code samples in the folder you created in the first steps and include it with code similar like this: <%- @include('./fyber/fyber_example.cs') %>.
  • A “Getting Started” section with several simple steps of how to get up and running quickly.  Include links to downloads, sign up pages, resouces, tutorials etc.
  • All code and explanations should be concise and focused on the use case. There is no need to create elaborate classes with tons of platform specific code. Keep only what’s necessary, and have a look at other samples to see how they do it.

Submitting The Page

  • Submit a pull request on Github to the samples branch on SOOMLA’s repo.
  • Send us 2 key images with a transparent background to
  1. A small 100×100 icon – only the logo without labels
  2. A larger icon that shows both the company icon and label.

That’s it.  If you need any further help you can also reach me personally at  Happy Coding :)

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game Design, Game Reviews

rewordz_iconIf you’re a fan of crossword puzzles and like to play games on your mobile phone, you’re gonna love ReWordz. It’s a simple, straight-to-the-point crossword puzzle with no redundant story lines, no unnecessary visual overload and, most importantly, no Farmville-themed interface.

Available on Google PlayAvailable on iTunesReWordz is a crossword puzzle mobile game built by BountyFly for iOS and Android-powered devices. The premise is simple – you’re presented with a tiled square full of seemingly randomly placed letters, and your goal is to find predefined words hidden in those letters.

The non-linearity

When you first start the game, you’ll be greeted with a beautifully drawn welcome interface. In the centre you will find the “Play” button, which has a “pulsating” animation just in case you can’t spot it right away.

It offers you the Facebook connect feature, which allows you to save your progress and share with your friends. It also shows how much experience, coins and tickets you own.  But I’ll touch on that subject a bit more later on.

The game offers eight categories to choose from, each having an “Easy,” “Medium” and “Hard” difficulty setting. The Easy set up is a 7×7 board with a maximum of 10 words, Medium offers a 9×9 board with up to 14 words, while Hard spawns an 11×11 board, with up to 18 words.

rewordz screenshot

You can even learn a thing or two through this game, like names of famous composers

Every word you find rewards you with coins and every passed level rewards you with experience.

Why is this important? Because coins allow you to buy power-ups to ease your playing, while experience points unlock higher levels, which then unlock new categories.

There are an additional 22 categories to choose from, as you advance in levels. So in total – 30 categories, each offering three modes. This is a large game and only gets bigger.

The power-ups I mentioned earlier are a great way to open up a new dimension in a seemingly unexpandable game and have players stick around for much longer. It actually made me want to try all modes, easy, medium and hard, on virtually every category available.

Rewarding the player

Power-ups are all you could expect from a game like this one. Once you start a new board, a timer kicks in, measuring how long it took you to find all the words.  The final result can then be shared with friends over social media. Power-ups include hiding letters which are not used by any words on the board, highlighting first letters of certain words, freezing time and finally, showing you an entire word.

These power-ups cost coins, which are obtained by finding words.

After all of this, there was one final test the game had to pass – the replay test – and it passed with flying colours.

Each time you restart the game (in any category, on any difficulty), it gives you a somewhat different set of words and a new board. This means that the game offers much more than 90 levels – I’ll go ahead and guess that it can give you almost endless combinations (although I haven’t tried that many).

Closing comments

In pretty much every game I review I find a flaw, and offer some way the developer can improve its product and offer an even better game. However, with ReWordz I am at a loss for words (pun definitely intended).

In its genre, the game is perfect. It’s beautifully made. It’s simple, yet twists and expands the known formula to give the player a lot of replay value. It’s huge, and being non-linear, it can basically offer countless hours of fun.

All of this for free – with a few ads I’ve seen pop up here and there. Totally worth the shot.

October 1 Edit – The game’s creator, Ronen Vaanunu, reached out to Soomla recently to draw our attention towards a fairly large update he has made to the game. The update which, among other things, brings a new mode to the game has enriched an already rich gaming experience.

The added mode is called Challenge and, instead of a preset list of words, you are only presented with a topic, the number of words you must find, and the number of letters each word has.

Additionally, there is no timer, but instead you are given a number of moves. With a total of 200 new levels, with topics ranging from food to astronomy, not only does it give the game countless more hours, but it also makes you learn a thing or two (I, for one, didn’t know there was a colour called Buff).

It is a good update, and definitely a move in the right direction.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Game Design, Game Reviews

gravity_iconI’ve always argued that puzzle games are the ultimate mobile game genre, and with Gravity Beats I have another example to fight my case.

Available on Google PlayGravity Beats is a mobile game built by the indie development team NLab™for Android. It features a space ship, some nice physics, cool graphics and mind-boggling puzzles to keep you interested for hours at a time.

The redundant story

Recently I came across an article by the one and only Maddox, who argues that a lot of game developers tend to squeeze in stories where, really, there should not be a story. Only after reading it have I come to realize that he might have a point, and unfortunately, Gravity Beats is a good example.

The game’s story revolves around a triangle (who is, in fact a rocket ship), calling himself Player, while other triangles, including the triangle king himself, call him the Prophet, and are looking at him to save their dying planet from whatever it is that’s killing it.

He can do so by collecting data discs from all the different levels of the game. In this particular case, the story does nothing to improve the gameplay experience and I get the feeling the game would be better off without a story. Just work your way through the puzzles and win the game, simple.

Gameplay and mechanics

Pointless stories aside, the game itself plays out quite nicely. The Player, Prophet, Triangle, Rocket Ship, however you want to call it, has a thruster at the back which propels it through what’s obviously a vacuum, and in order to obtain the needed discs, the player must navigate through an obstacle course and carefully land on the designated pod.

The game utilizes real mechanics and real physics, making every level unique and challenging. The goal of every level is the same – to obtain the disc and transport it to a designated location, but in order to do that, players must navigate through various obstacles such as narrow corridors, lasers and locked passages which need keys.

gravity beats screenshot

The game is looking sharp

Some levels are so big the game had to implement a Scouter mode, which allows players to scout around the map without the triangle moving, so that they can plan their moves ahead.

The interface is also solid – the game features two joysticks on the bottom left and right sides of the screen, with the right stick used as navigation, while the left one is used for landing. All in all a simple, solid solution.

I have to point out the game’s difficulty – I have come across a lot of games which simply didn’t cut it for me – they were too easy to complete and posed little to no challenge whatsoever. That is not my type of entertainment. Gravity Beats offers a lot of maps which are not too difficult, but still challenging enough to make the game entertaining. I have found myself crashing and having to repeat a mission over and over again, but at no point did I feel bored or unentertained by it. Well done!


Visuals are also quite good, which isn’t really that hard to achieve when you’re making a game in outer space. Just add a few passing stars in the distance, a bunch of straight lines and a lot of glow, and you’re good to go. Still, the game was a joy to watch and to play.

Gravity Beats is a free-to-play game, but does have an in-game purchase option. The game shop offers ad removal, all levels unlocked, as well as a few boosts for your ship. Although it does not offer an in-game currency, it does have its way of rewarding players for sticking with the game.

Even if you decide not to spend your money on the game, you can still get almost everything the shop offers by simply playing the game and achieving good results.

In conclusion, Gravity Beats is one of those games that will stick around on my mobile device for a bit longer. It looks good, feels good and plays good. It has a solid audio background, and puzzles which are not too difficult but still challenging and entertaining.

It offers those eager to get ahead a way of buying boosts, while those who like to take their time will be rewarded for sticking around longer.  Just get rid of the pointless story and you have a great product.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Resource, Startup Tips

What is an Accelerator?

Imagine, you wake up one morning with a killer idea for a new company. You know it would be amazing and super valuable for the industry. However, you have no idea where to begin. All you know is that starting a company can’t be easy. It takes time, money, innovation, and a whole lot of creativity. Startup AcceleratorsSo you begin researching and poking your head around the internet, checking Reddit, Quora, Google, and find a lot of people mentioning accelerator programs. You come across big name companies such as Airbnb, Twitch, and Parse all started in an accelerator. You realize that this is the way to go and begin finding the accelerator that’s right for you.

Seed accelerators, also known as startup accelerators, are fixed-term programs to help entrepreneurs kick start their company. These programs usually offer mentorships, educational seminars, and other benefits. While many might think accelerators are just for startups, that isn’t true. Game studios can easily benefit from the mentorship and entrepreneurial tips accelerators offer. At the end of the day a gaming studio is a business, selling a product – the game. We can clearly see this shift in the mobile gaming industry as more and more game studios become GaaS, Games as a Service. Game Studios are now continuously deploying updated versions of their games and employing analytics to measure and optimize the product’s usage. Accelerators can help studios learn and maintain these practices which will help grow their studio in the long run. Developing the game might be the fun, exciting part, but for the game to be successful it needs to be marketed which means having a strong understanding of the industry.

There are hundreds of accelerators worldwide, all offering varying programs to help startups get their feet off the ground. There are, of course, the more well-known accelerators such as Y-Combinator and TechStars, which are extremely competitive, but can offer a huge network of alumni. These larger accelerators are always looking at ways to diversify their portfolios, so just remember it never hurts to apply.

Startup Accelerators: The Big Guys

Founded: 2005Airbnb_Logo
Located: Mountain View, CA
Batches per year: 2 (Summer + Winter)
• Invests $120K in return for 7% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate and live in the Bay Area, CA for the duration of the program
Notable Startups: Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit

techstars logoTechStars
Founded: 2006
Located: Boulder, CO
Batches per year: 2 (Winter + Spring)
• Invests $100K in return for 6% common stock
• 3-month program – must relocate and live on site for the duration of the program (have programs in a variety of locations)
Notable Startups: Contently, Localytics, and Kinvey

Founders Institute
Founded: 2009
Located: San Francisco, CA
Batches per year: 4 (Fall + Winter + Spring + Summer)founder-institute
Shared Liquidity Pool
• 4-month, part-time program
Notable Startups: Udemy, Appota, and PetHub

500 Startups
Founded: 2010
Located: Mountain View, CA
Batches per year: 4 (Fall + Winter + Spring + Summer)
• Invests $125k in return for 5% equity
• 4-month program
Notable startups: Tamatem (mobile apps & games), PicCollage, and Punchd (acquired by Google)

DreamIt VenturesDreamIt-logo
Founded: 2007
Located: Philadelphia, PA
Batches per year: 3 (Winter + Spring + Fall)
• Custom seed investments when required
• 3-month program – relocation is not required
Notable startups: Meerkat, SeatGeek, and BioBots

Microsoft Ventures – Accelerators
Founded: N/A
Located: Redmond, WA (have offices all over the world)
Batches per year: 2
• No funding and does not take equity, provides all software, tools, and cloud access needed.
• 4-month program – prefer to be on site
Notable startups: Ranku, Mobli, and RunMobile

Founded: 2010
Located: San Francisco, CA
Batches per year: 2 (Fall + Spring)Postmates-Logo
• 10-week program
Notable startups: Postmates, Mopub, and Adku

LaunchPad LA
Founded: 2009
Located: Santa Monica, CA
• Invests $25-$100k in return for 6% equity
• 4-month program – must relocate to LA for the duration of the program
Notable startups: GameSalad (formerly Gendai Games), Melon, and Flipgloss (acquired by Fordes)

Founded: 2008
Located: Pittsburgh, PA
• Invests $25K in return for 5% equity
• 5-month program – must relocate during the program
Notable startups: ModCloth, Mobile Technologies (acquired by Facebook), and ShowClix

The Brandery
Founded: 2010
Located: Cincinnati, OH
• Invests $50K in return for 6% equity
• 4-month program – must relocate to Cincinnati for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Cintric, HireWheel, and Off Track Planet

Founded: 2009masschallenge_logo
Located: Boston, MA (have offices in US, Israel, and UK)
• Uses a competition framework to shape their accelerator therefore they do not take any equity and companies are eligible to win $2 million.
• 4-month program – must relocate to the city of the accelerator for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Gameblyr, Anfiro, and Grapevine

Founded: 2012
Located: Santa Monica, CA
• Invests $21K in return for 6-8% equity
• 3-12 month program – must relocate to LA for duration of program
Notable startups: Surf Air, Twenty20, and Retention Science

Blue Startups
Founded: 2012blue startups
Located: Honolulu, HI
• Invests up to $50K in return for 6% equity
• 4-month program – must relocate to Honolulu for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Pharmly, Wicked Loot (game development company), and Comprendio

Founded: 2011
Located: Venice, CA
• Invests $50K-$200K in return for 5% equity
• 4-8 month program
Notable startups: Gear Frontier, Alphadraft, and Repost NetworkThe Amplify community

Founded: 2010
Located: Salt Lake City, UT
• Invests $20K in return for 6% equity
• 3-month program
Notable startups: 7 Generation Games, Flying Software Labs, and Parakeet

Capital Innovators
Founded: April 2011
Located: St. Louis, MO
Batches per year: 2 (Fall + Spring)
• Invests $50K in return for 5-10% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate to St. Louis for the duration of the program

Tech Wildcatters
Founded: 2009
Located: Dallas, TX
• Invests $25K in return for 8% equity
• 3-month program
Notable startups: Yoolod, Game Time Giving, and Jackpot Rising

They Might be Little, but They’re Mighty

While the larger accelerators, of course, have the big names and at times larger budgets, the smaller accelerators are just as successful. There are also many smaller accelerators that are geared only for gaming studios.

Game Studio Accelerators

YetiZen (only accepts Game Studios, Game Platforms, Game Publishers, and Game Tools)
Founded: 2010yetizen
Located: San Francisco, CA
• 3-11% equity
• 3-month program
Notable startups: Grantoo, Frenzoo, and YesGnome

Founded: 2012
Located: Malaysia
• Invests approximately $17K in return for 9% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program

Core Labs (part of GSVlabs)core labs
Founded: 2015
Located: Redwood City, CA
• 10% revenue share
• 6-month program – prefer studios to relocate, but do not require it
Notable startups: Spread Shot Studios, Dream Harvest, and Aze Games

Global Top Round Accelerator
Founded: N/A
Located: Foster City, CA
• Invests $35K in return for either 7% net revenue share OR 3.5% equity
• 6-month program
Notable startups: Headup Games, 1506 Studios, and KBJGames

Founded: 2015
Located: Stockholm, Sweden
• 2-month program – must relocate to the cabin in the woods

Game Dojos
Founded: N/Agame-dojos logo
Located: San Francisco, CA
• 3-month program – not required to relocate
Notable startups: Little Think Tank, Plain Vanilla Games, and Focused Apps LLC

Execution Labs
Founded: 2012
Located: Montreal, CanadaXL_Logo_rendered_positive
Batches per year: 2 (Winter + Summer)
• Maximum investment of $50K with a max. return of 14% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable games: PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist, WinterForts: Exiled Kingdom, Shattered Planet, and Big Action Mega Fight!

Accelerators for All (Including Game Studios)

Founded: N/A
Located: Cleveland, OH or Detroit, MI
Batches per year: 2 (Winter + Fall)
• Invests $25K in return for 8% equity
• 3-month program – must live for the duration of the program in either Cleveland or Detroit
Notable startups: Deck of Dice Gaming, Greenlancer, and Passage

RevUp by Betaspring
Founded: 2009
Located: Providence, RI
Batches per year: 2 (Spring + Fall)
• Invests $75K, takes no equity, but return the investment as a percentage of revenue over a 36-month period.
• 3-month program – do not need to relocate
Notable startups: Mavrck, Modelo, and Splitwise

Founded: 2010
Located: Shanghai
• Invests $30K with the option to invest up to a predetermined amount in the company
• 3-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable startups: FancyCellar, Shophop, and

Founded: 2011
Located: Montreal, QC
Batches per year: 2 (Fall + Spring)
• Invests $50K in return for 6% equity
• 3-month program – not required to relocate
Notable startups: Spot, DoBundle, and Playerizeworking picture

Nxtp Labs
Founded: 2011
Located: Buenos Aires
• Invests $25K in return for 2-10% equity
• 3.5-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable startups: TinyBytes Games, Moblabs, and Populy Games

Founded: 2013
Located: Paris, France
Batches per year: 2 (Fall + Spring)
• Invests $5K and 0% equity (but access up to $100K of government funding)
• 4-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Pistache, defab, and

Founded: 2013
Located: College Station, TX
• Invests $50K in return for 10% equity
• 3-month program – should try and be on site for the majority of the program
Notable startups: askU, Fanout, and Gazoo

Lightning Lab
Founded: 2012
Located: New Zealand
Logistics:lightning lab logo
• Invests $18K in return for 8% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Future Insight, Tomato, and Promoki

Founded: 2012
Located: Seoul, South Korea
• Invests $25K in return for 6% equity
• 3-month program – must relocate for the duration of the program
Notable startups: Dropbeat, DoubleMe, and Rap Wanted

For More Game Studio Accelerators

There are still hundreds of accelerators that weren’t mentioned, but are also viable options. If you’re interested in finding more here are a few other resources to help you find the perfect accelerator for your studio:
Global Accelerator Network

It is important to evaluate what you’re looking for and hoping to achieve before applying to accelerator programs.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+
Open Source

Sometimes people ask us what SOOMLA is all about. We offer different products from an open-source framework to cutting edge data services and we wanted to make sure you get what we do. So let me go ahead and lay out SOOMLA’s products and explain them to you.Dafi's Post

SOOMLA – An Open Source Framework

Let’s start with the basics, SOOMLA offers 3 open source modules that help create rich, engaging and monetizable games: Store, LevelUp and Profile. The framework is modular, so you can choose which modules you do or do not want to integrate.

Soomla Store
is a smart and fast way to add in-app purchase to your game and basically create your entire virtual economy. Store is based on a flexible economy model that suits almost every F2P game out

When you use Store, you don’t only get easy to use APIs to add in app purchase services like Google Play, App Store or Amazon Store, but you also get:

  • All your users’ balances stored on the device
  • A Smart event system that will notify you about whatever happens with the economy
  • Receipt verification with a flick of a switch

The second module within the framework is the game design module we like to call SOOMLA LevelUp.  With this module you can incentivise your players to progress, unlock new content and earn virtual goods / currency.

LevelUp helps you manage the user’s state within your game:levelup

  • You can manage the user’s Score, Level Completion state and other valuable parameters.
  • You can listen to the smart event system provided by SOOMLA in order to display the right screens inside the game.
  • LevelUp allows you to create your game’s gate system which will control how your users play your game. Just select the right gate for you, associate it with a level and your game will magically ‘understand’ if the level is playable or not.

And of course, just like with SOOMLA Store’s balances, everything is kept encrypted on the device in SOOMLA’s on-device key-value database technology.

SOOMLA Profile offers easy implementation handling the user’s social engagement using one API for all social networks, allowing users to easily Like, Share and tweet anything you choose in your game.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 14.10.53

profilePlayers love to get rewarded for performing social interactions within your game, with Profile it’s easy to do so. Since the module is part of the SOOMLA framework (it can be connected to Store & LevelUp), you can easily perform actions like giving a reward to users who tweet their score.

GROW – Free Backend and Smart Data Platform

The second family of products that SOOMLA offers is an awesome set of data and game enrichment services:

GROW is a new and innovative data network. You can use Grow to gain valuable insights about your users  and enrich your in-game experience through an amazing set of backend services that complements the client side open-source framework into a perfect solution every F2P game needs.  In the end, GROW provides you with tools to increase monetization and engagement of VIP users and easily drive your in-game experience to a next level.

GROW includes the following products:

insights Insights brings you powerful information about your users in real-time. This information ranges from the user’s purchasing habits to his/her social behaviour in the same game genre or in all other genres. You can use these insights to take actions on your users during gameplay, when it really matters. Some of the actions you can take are:

  • Create special prices/discounted bundles for paying users in your genre
  • Adapt the game difficulty for specific users
  • Display ads for non-payers only
  • Create push campaigns
  • Identify the time of the day the player is likely to purchase and send him/her offers accordingly

 whales If you use SOOMLA Store and join Grow, you’ll receive a weekly Whales Report to your inbox. This report identifies the paying players in your game from the Grow data network and tells you how many payers from other games you’ve managed to convert and how much money you left on the table.

A couple of very interesting metrics you can find in the report are:

  • The number of new players in your game that played other games in the Grow network and have paid – these are the players you surely want to convert.
  • The number of players in the Grow network that paid only in your game – if the number is high and increasing from week to week it means you’re doing something right 😀

analytics The Analytics Dashboard provides you with useful information  about your games. You can investigate its performance, analyze revenue, retention and a lot more.

Unlike other Analytics Dashboards, Grow’s Analytics Dashboard is built from our long experience with games and after investigating what mobile game studios really need. And it’s FREE like all other Grow products…so why are you still here? 😉

backend Grow’s Backend services include some amazing tools that almost automatically wrap your game with a layer of richness that makes it amazingly engageable:

  • Social Leaderboards let your players compete with their friends.
  • Gifting lets your players help their friends by sending them coins, lives and upgrades.
  • Sync lets your players pick up where they left off regardless of the device they’re using.
  • Economy Management lets you save your users’ in-game balances of soft purchases and currencies and then restore them on fresh installs to keep players engaged.
  • Fraud Protection lets you secure your in-app purchases by marking and blocking fraud suspects, receipt validation and identifying abnormal purchase behavior. This feature takes the receipt validation from the SOOMLA Store module and adds a sophisticated layer for advanced verification.


Now that you know all about SOOMLA’s products, it’s time to go get ‘em. The value is truly amazing and it’s all done with LOVE for you. Join the Grow network and be a part of the biggest thing in mobile gaming.

We’re continuing to work on adding more features to help you get the most from your games.

If you have any cool ideas, special requests or any comment don’t hesitate to contact me at, my inbox is always open.

If you want, you can even contact the entire SOOMLA community with any question you have about the open source framework or about Grow.

Show us you care Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+



SOOMLA - An In-app Purchase Store and Virtual Goods Economy Solution for Mobile Game Developers of Free to Play Games