Interview with the lord of the "Fuzzies": exclusive

The Fluffies game for iPhone appeared almost 2 years ago. It was made in Rostov-on-Don by a small development team called Argonyt. Cute fluffy animals, although they did not have time to conquer the whole world yet, achieved good results: they reached the second place in Top Paid in Russia and Germany, entered the Top ten FREE in 8 more countries, and also took first place in the subcategories Family and KIDs in almost 20 countries.

Mikhail Orlov, Head of Argonyt’s iPhone business, answered our questions.

Who invented the fuzzies? Is this your own project?

We made the fuzzies ourselves. As soon as iPhones began to appear in Russia, we immediately thought about the game and the characters for it. They came up with brainstorming, as well as most of their ideas. The task was to make the toy as casual as possible. We decided to take some kind of warm, cozy, big-eyed image, causing emotion and a desire to participate in the fate of the character, interact with him. We walked through the images that are now in popular culture, and we got fuzzies.


How was the app monetized?

The game was originally paid, at $0.99. We haven’t tried Freemium yet, but I’ll tell you a secret that we are working very hard on it now. We plan to introduce a store with at least a couple of items soon – let’s see how they will be sold. If it is good, then we will completely switch to freemium. There is a feeling that it is more profitable.

The Fuzzies have been in different tops – which is the most profitable?

Unfortunately, Russia feeds us. Unfortunately, because America can feed much tastier. Germany loves us – probably thanks to German localization. Interestingly, we were loved there, even when localization was lame. Although they wrote, they say, “guys, correct your language, otherwise it’s very funny to read.”

In most of the tops, the game took off when we made it free.

The number of downloads from the Russian and German tops – is there much more in Germany?

I wouldn’t say. There is a difference, but not much.

How much money did you earn on it in total? (if it’s not a terrible trade secret)

The development has not paid off to the end yet. We expected much more.

What did you do for promotion?

When the game got closer, we realized that everyone did not rush to swing us joyfully right away, millions did not fall on us, and we started fussing. We contacted the editor of a well-known Russian website about iPhone games. Then we even forgot about it, and then we saw that a review came out on us – it gave a good exhaust.

The main tool is, of course, switching from paid to free and back. When the game became free, we could get up to 50 thousand downloads per day.

The ad purchase was rejected immediately after I read the reviews. People write that if you don’t have a huge budget, then it’s better not to even go there. If you have enough money to advertise in 2-3 blogs, it won’t do any good anyway, just waste the money. 

The reviews remain. It’s also not easy here: they ignore it very much, they often say directly that the review of the game is only for money – or buy advertising, then there will be a review.

We bought blog mailing services from one Russian–language service (about 700 pieces). But the total profit was almost none. The editor of a German magazine only noticed us – after that, expansion into Germany began.

That is, in fact, it turns out that the game sold itself?

Basically, yes. Well, we release updates, of course – not as often as we would like.

Has much changed now, compared to the original version?

It will change almost completely soon. Now we are redesigning the interface – we do it as much as possible without text, icons.  Adding a store. Well, graphically, the game has changed a lot in 2 years: the fuzzies have become 4 times more fluffy, special effects have improved, etc. =) In general, there are still plans for this game.

You have a rating of players, and it is located on the site. Did it work? How many players actually visit the site after the game?

There are about 70 pages, there are about 20 players on each page, i.e. about 1500 in total. Not very thick, of course, considering that the total number of downloads of the game is about 800 thousand (across all countries). On the other hand, these are the people who have definitely completely passed the game.

You also develop flash games, casual downloadable games, and online games – what are the specifics of iOS development?

A slightly different audience, slightly different requirements. For example, the game session is much shorter. Many people play on an iPhone to kill time – in the subway, for example. Or to relax – a person went out for a smoke at work, he wants to distract himself – he launches a toy. It will take 1-2 levels – and again “to the machine”.

This must be taken into account. Therefore, we build the gameplay so that you can be distracted from the game, so that it does not interfere with progress and pleasure. But at the same time, you need to come up with some tools to catch the player. Roughly speaking, we have 2 minutes to make the player feel so good that he wants to come back to us. And at the same time it is necessary to give something short…

Plus visual limitations, screen size, control elements – well, everything in that spirit.

How quickly did they make “Fuzzies”?

In six months.

Your future plans – are you planning to develop a mobile direction?

Uniquely. Flash somehow no longer causes such pleasure.  Plus, it’s very nice to work with Apple, I like the market.

Are you going to make a port on Android?

Android is very worried about the strange market, which is very inconvenient – there is little pleasant and somehow it’s hard to believe that you can sell games through it. Plus a slightly different audience.

What’s the difference?

They say that designers have an iPhone, programmers have Anroid. =)

And they also say that iPhone users are smarter than Android users =)

Well, my colleague has Android, and I always tell everyone that he is smarter than me. =)

What about Windows Phone 7?

I’m not considering it seriously. I think Apple and Google will take over the world and divide it in half. I trust my intuition – it’s better to focus on iOS than to spray efforts.

What advice would you give to other developers for mobile platforms?

I can advise you a lot of things! Of course, I can advise you to sit and come up with an original idea, but it is very difficult to do this. I’d rather say that, first of all, we need to do everything as quickly as possible. And secondly, do not be afraid to clone. Only if you have already taken up cloning, then the new product should be better than the original!

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