Plugins

Marketing, Open Source, Plugins

How we got 8500 apps to install our SDK. Tips for marketing your SDK.

As of last week, the number of live apps using the SOOMLA open source framework is 8,500. While the framework was not a commercial success and is no longer the main focus of SOOMLA it is still a big achievement and often people ask us – how did you do it. It is very common to hear these days terms like SDK Fatigue and here stories about how no-one likes to install new SDKs. SOOMLA’s framework miraculously made it’s way to a huge number of apps including apps by very big publishers: Disney, SEGA, Gumi, Kabam, Ketchapp, Playlab and Scopely. Here are some of the secrets behind it’s success.

Tip 1 – If you want to be in the rocket, get in before the launch

Many mobile games follow the pattern of a rocket. There is a ton of work done before the launch but once it’s launched it’s very hard to make changes and bring in new passengers. A company that just launched an app has so many things they need to do and everything is critical that your SDK will never get enough priority to get included.

Following the footsteps of giants like Unity and Cocos2d-x, SOOMLA realized that for the SDK to reach massive distribution it needs to be included in the first build. The way to do that is to solve a problem that saves the developers development time.

Tip 2 – Open source and app development shops

Another thing that worked to our advantage with the SOOMLA framework is that developers like open source but even more – app development shops likes open source. There is a surprising amount of apps that gets outsourced to 3rd party development shops. No one tracks how many exactly but there are pretty significant app publishers that outsource as a philosophy. Other publishers do it from time to time. For app development shops there are many advantages to using open source projects. It’s free and it saves them time and development effort which are the two most precious things in an outsourced software project. Once our framework made it’s way to the hearts of the app development shops it started getting included as a default in all the apps that were made by that shop.

Tip 3 – The Unity Asset Store + 13 Tips in one free eBook

In August-2014 we uploaded the framework as a plugin to the Unity. Since the plugins were downloaded close to 20,000 times and the number of apps that use the framework grew 2.5 times. Successfully publishing a plugin in the Unity Asset Store is an art on it’s own – if you are serious about it – download this free eBook – The Unity Asset Store COMPLETE Publisher’s Manual

free ebook - the unity asset store complete publisher's manual

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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: https://github.com/soomla/knowledge-base/blob/samples/src/documents/samples/fyber.html.md.eco.
  • Make a copy of fyber.html.md.eco 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 .html.md.eco 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: "http://www.supersonic.com/"
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 marketing@soom.la:
  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 gur@soom.la.  Happy Coding 🙂

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Plugins, Tips and Advice, Unity, Video

(1200x600) Top 10 Unity Video PluginsUsers like videos. It’s no coincidence that video game has the word video in it. From video ads to video sharing – videos are essential to user retention. They keep users entertained, engaged, and interested. Videos will improve your game’s fun-factor and bring in more loyal users. Let’s take a look at 10 Unity Video Plugins that can make this happen.

Kamcord

 

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android
Video Recording

Kamcord allows users to record game play and share it on social media. Their website displays featured videos that come from games using Kamcord. In July 2013, Trial Xtreme, a game using Kamcord had 139 million recordings and 122,000 videos shared on social media. Notable games with Kamcord include My Talking Tom and Clash of Clans.

Everyplay

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity Cocos2dx iOS Android 
Video Recording

Unity acquired Everyplay from Applifier in 2014. Much like Kamcord, Everyplay allows users to record game play and share on social media. Users enjoy sharing these videos with friends in order to encourage them to begin playing the game. The possibility for extra exposure on social media means developers can receive more free organic installs. More installs means more revenue for developers. Notable games using Everyplay include Bad Piggies, Pixel Gun 3D, and Geometry Dash. Everyplay also intends to launch an online community with discussions, videos, and video discovery this fall.
prime31

Price Supported Platforms Category
$75
Unity iOS 
Texture

Prime 31 offers a video plugin called LiveTexture. This integration allows developers to use videos as textures for different objects in games. The video can be pre-defined or come directly from the user’s camera. The possibility for camera usage means developers can create augmented reality style game plays using LiveTexture.

Easy Movie Texture

Price Supported Platforms Category
$45
Unity iOS Android 
Texture

Easy Movie Texture is a more affordable solution to do what LiveTexture can do. It does not explicitly include a live camera texture, but it does support .mp4 playback on Android. Developers can select the time a video will start playing, customize the dimension of the video and set it as a texture for objects in a game. This tool is useful for developers that want to create cross platform games that utilize dynamic textures. The use for this plugin can range from placing a TV in a game to having a video texture simulate a changing sky. Developers can find creative ways to use this plugin to create engaging games.

UChromaKey

Price Supported Platforms Category
$25
Unity iOS Android 
Video Effects

UChromaKey Allows for the possibility of a green screen effect. It features fullscreen effects and the ability to add chromakey to materials that are lit or unlit. It also includes camera source handling. It is a good addition to a game that may want to incorporate a type of augmented reality or a fun Photo Booth option. The opportunities with chromakey in mobile games are not completely explored and could potentially allow for some interesting and engaging user experiences.

Video Glitches

Price Supported Platforms Category
$10
Unity iOS Android 
Video Effects

Sometimes a normal video is not enough. Developers might want to add creative effects to videos in games. Video Glitches is not the usual video plugin that simply allows for video playback or video ads. This plugin allows videos and scenes in games to look purposely messed up. It reminds me of this video when the pc bot tries to wake up again in the end. This plugin can be used to simulate messed up video transmissions or display a view from the perspective of a broken camera. The possible uses for this plugin are up to the developer – ideal for a Sci-Fi or Horror game.

Youtube Player

Price Supported Platforms Category
$25
Unity iOS Android windows
Video Streaming

This plugin allows users to view YouTube videos within a game. It will return an .mp4 video that can be displayed wherever the developer chooses in the app. It allows video searching functionality. Users can search for videos, channels, and set category filters. This is useful if you want to incorporate funny videos and extra interesting content into your game.

AdColony

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android air
Video Ads

AdColony prides themself on their .13 second load time for ads. They serve video ads that can be integrated in games to reward users. Video ads served with AdColony have the highest retention rate on Android. Many developers have a strong incentive to advertise with video ads. Users that come to a game from a video ad are 13% more likely to be retained and twice as likely to make a purchase when compared to other users. Video ads have the potential to make developers millions of dollars. Crossy Road made 1 million dollars in only 45 days in video ads. They have since made a total of over 10 million dollars.

Vungle

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity Cocos2dx iOS Android aircorona
Video Ads

Vungle serves personalized video ads to different users. According to their website, no two users should be exposed to the same ads. Vungle focuses on creative ad serving with a specialty around rewarded ads. Rewarded ads are a good opportunity to keep users engaged in a game while rewarding them with resources to continue playing. Integrating Vungle in your game will give you an opportunity to monetize by giving other companies exposure. Moreover, they can also help you obtain users if you choose to advertise with them. Ads in mobile games for other mobile games are more likely to be clicked than ads for other products.

Applovin

Price Supported Platforms Category
Free
Unity iOS Android amazon
Video Ads

A data report by AppsFlyer in May 2015, found that AppLovin has the highest performance in 30 day user retention on iOS. Applovin’s high quality video advertisements encourage users to stay for longer periods of time. They pay developers only 15 days after each month. Moreover, AppLovin provides developers a dashboard that shows information on ad delivery in real time. This will in turn, allow developers to efficiently deliver ads.

The term “video” in relation to mobile games is vague. However, videos are an integral part of mobile and platform games. Developers should include videos in their game whether they are in the form of ads, live camera recordings, or funny YouTube cat videos. Videos improve user engagement and provide interesting and memorable user experiences. Not to mention they will contribute to a game’s “stickiness” factor as they retain and obtain users.

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Plugins, Resource, Tips and Advice

Some of you may have heard that there is a new way to make money from game development. It is called game templates and many developers already use it as an alternative way or in addition to publishing their games on the app store. The problems game developers face today on the different app stores is that with over 1 million apps in each one of these stores it is becoming really hard to get discovered. This is especially true when big publishers are pouring money into user acquisition and paid marketing campaigns. Some developers are partnering with publishers hoping that they can get some of that budget into their games but the reality is that most publishers prefer to push a small number of games so they either focus on their homegrown games or simply wait to see what games monetize better and push them forward while giving the developers only a small cut of the success.

Well, the good news is that like I mentioned before some developers have figured out a better way, which is stripping down your game’s design and keeping only the core, hence, the game’s “template”.  You can then sell the game template to other developers who will re-skin and re-publish it under a different title.  In fact, if you’ve made a really good game you can sell the source code for up to $500 and get dozens of orders per month from different individuals and companies who are looking to just focus on the marketing and distribution of the game. To get started, here is a list of the top 4 places to sell your game template.

Chupa Mobile – Buy and Sell Game Templates

ChupaMobile Logochupamobile.com is a marketplace for templates. It features 4 categories – iOS, Android, Unity and Coronoa although the last one is not as buzzing as the others. The website comes with an easy way to take care of the billing. The fee for their service is a 30% cut of your earnings. Very similar to the app-store’s cut.

Code Canyon – General Plugin Marketplace

CodeCanyon Logocodecanyon.net is a much broader website selling anything from jquery plugins to wordpress extensions and one of the categories is mobile which includes app templates. The quality here is lower, the games are usually more simple and they are priced accordingly. Another thing to note about Code Canyon is that they are very agressive on the share they take. From $100 you will only be making $36 if you are not exclusive with them and $60 if you are exclusive with them.

Apptopia – Data Driven Marketplace

Apptopia Logomarketplace.apptopia.com brings much more data into their store. Buyers can see the past performance of the game before they make a decision to buy the code. The site offers purchasing templates as well as games which are more exclusive nature.

Unity Asset Store – Community Asset Marketplace

Unity 3D Logoassetstore.unity3d.com is both a website as well as an integral part of the Unity game engine. There are many categories in the asset store but one of them is complete game projects. Due to huge size of the ecosystem around this leading game engine, you should consider posting your game template there as well. The guys from Unity offer a pretty fair deal and take only a 30% cut. Another advantage is that buyers are willing to pay more knowing that they can publish in multiple platforms and that customizations are easier.

Sell AND Buy Game Templates

The monetization strategy of building game templates leans on the simple fact that the genres of casual mobile games have consolidated to a narrow number.  Everywhere you look you’ll find Match-3, endless runners, platformers, single tap games and gyro-based racing over and over again.  So as a developer, you might consider not only selling your game template, but also for your next game – buying one.  This is a quick, cost effective method to bootstrap your next title.  You will of course be left with the duty of designing a new skin, backgrounds, characters, props etc. but you’ll save months of development dollars for the cost of several hundred.

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Game Design, Open Source, Plugins

Those of you who remember SOOMLA from it’s very beginning probably remember the our previous product, the storefront editor, which we’ve decided to phase out in favor of the new GROW Dashboard.  The idea was that you could build a full-fledged storefront UI to be embedded into your game, with graphic assets, behavior and user interaction all baked in on top of our in-app purchase SDK.Storefront icon pack

Leaving the storefront editor, we were left with loads of images, icons and fonts in our hands.  All those assets that were once used in the storefront templates were now just lying around.  Since SOOMLA is all about building communities and giving back value to indie game developers, we’ve decided to contribute these graphical assets as free packages on the Unity Assets Store.

The packages are available for your free use:

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Announcement, Open Source, Plugins, Tech Resources

new vungle plugin allows unity developers to add video ads to their games and monetize betterPlugins are coming! The first one is Vungle. The great Video Ads monetization service for mobile apps is now available to SOOMLA developers. With the new soomla-vungle plugin you can easily use Vungle to show ads on Android, iOS and Unity3D.

Give rewards for watching videos

The most important feature in this plugin is the ability to give rewards for watching a Vungle video. Rewards are a new concept we recently presented after watching many games and figuring out how rewards are given to users. There’s even a VirtualItemReward that you can use to give your users a curtain amount of a curtain VirtualItem when he finished watching a video. You can also decide not to use rewards and just use Vungle to present a video at any given time.

Easy to use and (of course) free !

To use the new plugin, just go to the new Github repo at: http://github.com/soomla/soomla-vungle and click on the folder of your selected platform. Follow the Getting Started carefully and you’re golden!
Don’t hasitate to asking anything involving this plugin in SOOMLA’s new answers website at: http://answers.soom.la. You can also just use it to say how much you enjoyed using this new plugin 🙂

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Unity_Logo (1)I’m not sure if you guys see what’s going on with the SOOMLA opensource framework but you should know it keeps expanding every moment. We’re adding features and fixing bugs like crazy but the new feature (or major improvement if you like) that I’ll tell you about in this post is one of our most important ones so far.

Improving your game development environment

Community members keep asking us why unity3d-store isn’t available in the editor. This was one of the most wanted improvements for the Unity3d flavor of SOOMLA Store and now it’s here. We knew how important it is to you and we always felt like the SOOMLA library is not complete without it. I’ll explain why …

Working in the editor is beneficial in so many ways. You can now test your games with the SOOMLA Store economy mechanisms as if you were running your game on a device. All balances and other information will be saved in a local storage on your computer and will be available to you through multiple testing of your game.

Your game with SOOMLA everywhere!

Easily testing your game is not the only benefit of working with SOOMLA in the editor. If you want to publish your game to the web or as a desktop game and you don’t need in-app purchases then you can now do that with the amazing features that SOOMLA is offering you. Everything from economy management to level design (unity3d-levelup) can now be used in the editor and built to multiple platforms.

Another option that this major change provides is the option for more billing services to be integrated with SOOMLA Store. Anyone from the community who want to add a billing service for desktop or web games is encouraged to do that. If you feel like contributing today you just start doing it or contact us for assistance at support@soom.la. If you don’t feel like it today, that’s fine, you can do it tomorrow 🙂

Cocos2dx users, don’t feel left behind. We’re getting the work-in-editor spirit to you soon. You will also be able to build and test your games on a desktop emulator and release with SOOMLA inside to multiple environments.

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We are happy to announce the brand new Profile module, now available to the SOOMLA community.

The Profile Module

SOOMLA is always looking for new ways to help game developers make their games better. One of the key elements in modern game development is social network visibility, game developers want their games to interact with social network, this way the players become the evangelists of the game, and the game gets noticed, which leads to more players.

The Profile module helps game developers connect their game to the social web. With Profile integrated into your game, you can easily authenticate players using various social networks, allow the game to post on players’ feeds, get information about their friends, and much more!

Player Motivation

What is the player’s motivation to grant your game access to their social network? one word… Rewards!

Players love to get rewarded for preforming social interactions within your game, with Profile it’s easy to do so. The module allows the developer to attach a reward to almost every social interaction within it, when players preform it they get rewarded. Since Profile is a part of the SOOMLA framework, it’s easy to attach a reward which is bound to your Store virtual economy, meaning the player can get virtual item rewards for his/hers social interactions.

Get It Now!

As with all SOOMLA modules we try and cover as many platforms as possible, the Profile module is currently available for iOS (ios-profile), Android (android-profile), Cocos2d-x (cocos2dx-profile), and Unity3d (unity3d-profile).
Much like our other modules, this module is open-source, so there’s no reason for not getting it right now, and if you wish you can even contribute to the project.

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Store-Windows-Phone-04Good news for the SOOMLA developer community: Windows Phone is supported by SOOMLA Store.

Windows Phone need is now satisfied

We’ve been hearing a lot of developers asking for Windows Phone integration as part of their attempt to release games to more app stores and we just couldn’t stay indifferent to all the requests. We were looking for ways to get Windows Phone support to the community and it was with a lot of luck that we found Guillaume and Fabrice and the rest of the guys from Shinypix, a great indie studio from France, who were already doing it and agreed to polish it and release it to the SOOMLA community. We LOVE contributors! Thank you guys.

wp-store is actually a pretty big thing for us. We wanted to support Microsoft’s great mobile platform for a long time now and we’re very happy it’s here now. It won’t take long until we get it connected to Unity and Cocos2dx (as we do with all native platforms we support).

Same conventions through all Store modules

When you’ll look into the code of wp-store, you’ll see that the features are identical to all SOOMLA Store modules. It includes all the main classes you already know like StoreInventory and StoreInfo as well as the the storage and connections to IAP. We will soon also add detailed docs and articles about wp-store into the new knowledgebase at http://know.soom.la.

Contribution is key for success

We encourage everyone from the SOOMLA community to contribute. Contribution is the key for the success of any open-source community and at the end, you’ll be the ones benefiting from that. It can be more platforms, solving technical issues and answering others on forums. Whatever you can do to get the community forward will bring you respect and will drive technology forward.

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Nokia-Store-IAPThe making of a new billing plugin

It’s not everyday that a developer gets a chance to contribute on a big FLOSS project like Soomla but thanks to my current employer Studio V2, I was able to help this great project gain a new billing plugin for the Nokia X platform.
Our first project that implemented in app purchases used Soomla, mostly because it’s cross-platform, free as in free beer and easy to use. But when we were asked if we could port our apps to Nokia X, the Free and Open Source aspect of the Soomla project was a big advantage.

With any commercial API that would have been a chore to ask the developers for a new billing option, but since Soomla is entirely Open Source I decided that maybe I could do that by myself, both on company time and on my free time. With the help of the Soomla core developers and the great documentation they provided, it wasn’t too difficult to get a Nokia Store billing plugin developed! Anyone interested in creating a new billing plugin for Soomla should check out the Google Play billing plugin, it’s a great starting point!

Introducing the Nokia Store billing plugin

The Nokia X device family is still young, but it offers a new market place for your games and apps. Since the in-app API differs from the one used by Google Play, a new billing plugin was required to get it to play nice with Soomla.
With the help of this new billing plugin, you can compile your existing games using Soomla to support a brand new market place with little to no modifications to the codebase !
If you’re interested, I invite you to check out the Nokia Store billing plugin for Soomla right here.
If like me you’re interested in using it in Unity3D, then this fork of Soomla for Unity3D integrates the billing plugin directly into the Unity3D version of Soomla so it can be used right away !
While I did my best to test the plugin, it’s is very recent, bugs may still be present, so if you find any, don’t hesitate to create a ticket on the plugin’s repository or drop me a email.

Working with the Soomla team

If you’ve ever skimmed thought the repositories of the Soomla projects you may have noticed that every project’s README.md includes a line or two about how they have “deep respect for contributors”. I didn’t really know what it actually meant until I actually got involved and saw first hand how true it was. The core developers and contributors are both incredibly helpful and 100% invested in the project!
As a final note I’d like to thank everyone at Studio V2 for allowing this, and Refael Dakar for his help and support along with all the people involved in the Soomla project !

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