Demons, Wizards, and The New Barriers To Entry For The Gaming Industry

    Gaming is probably the major industry buzzword in the region right now. Money, interest and talent is poured into it and as a result, we have more and more gaming companies such as Boomlagoon, Fingersoft (Hill Climb Racing) in addition to the two giants – Rovio and Supercell.

    On the other hand, the process is almost natural. Before 2007, before iOS and Android to become a game studio/developer would mean that you had to give up pretty much everything and try to raise millions in order to realease just one title. 

The industry giants spent millions on developing games sometimes even hundreds of millions. The cost of developing World Of Warcraft, the most financially successful MMORPG, for instance was in the region of $70 million, and that game was released in 2004.

    But the introduction of mobile gaming changed all that, it has become accessible to everybody. Now developers, many of them, are a little geeky and love to play some games now and again. But, they are developers, aren’t they? So, they have ideas about their own games, yet until recently it was just too risky and costly to even try.

    The introduction of iOS, Android and other mobile platforms allowed all of those people who had gaming ideas to give it a go and try it out without much of a risk.

    As an example, we spoke to Denis Kostroman of Kostroman Games about their brand new game – Demons Vs. Wizards and how the gaming industry has changed over the years. 

Kostroman shared a similar viewpoint: “as it happens, I always wanted to make computer games, but until now it was not possible as you had to run a huge development company and spend a lot on production. Mobile platforms as iOS changed that. Portable gaming became popular and more accessible so I dug out some of those ideas and Demons vs Wizards was one of them.”

    Of course, making a game still requires a lot of resources and differentiated talent. For instance there is development and then there is design. This shed some light onto some ways of how people and companies found ways of working together in order to make games.

    In this case, Kostroman’s design agency – teamed up with a software development company – Wisercat Software. The result of this co-operation was Demons vs. Wizards. An easy 5-10 minutes, 2 player fantasy card game. Which can serve as a great introduction into the world of fantasy and also as a nice time killer during short breaks or trips. It is also a favorite amongst kids, for instance we play it at the office now and again. They have received positive reviews and started gaining traction in the Apple store from launch.

    The main concept behind Demons vs. Wizards was born when Kostroman and friends attended Magic The Gathering championship (real-life fantasy card game) and needed to kill time in the 5-10 min breaks between games. This inspired an idea for a lighter game for everybody to enjoy. Once it was launched, the game received largely positive reviews with Apple giving them a 4+. It is also very self-explanatory with no complicated rules and you can start playing intuitively right away.

    On the monetization side, things are also much easier than they used to be. If you are lucky, the game can spike in the charts and be picked up in a matter of days without any concious marketing effort. As Kostroman notes, they had “no funding, no investors, no promotion or advertisements whatsoever” and the game started to generate small revenue anyways. This simply was not possible before 2007.

    One thing that did crop up in the recent years though is the wide spread of accelerators and we asked Kostroman as to why they did not decide to go that route and this was the reply: 

“Well, we discussed that possibility, but i think, present accelerators while being a great help for the beginners, people who just formed their startups or companies, are not yet that good for, as in our case, companies that have been on a market for some time.”

    Which we have been hearing a lot of recently. People are starting to realize that since there are simply so many accelerators out there, it is just not possible that all of them will have great mentors, connections and links to later stage financing. While the funding money is simply not something worth accepting all on its own.

    So I guess that the moral of the story is that if you really want to make games, you can. However whether we should all drop whatever we are doing and start making games just because there were two big success stories in the region, is an open ended question.

    If you became interested in Demons. vs. Wizards, here is a video of their gameplay:

    Kostroman games are currently looking for an angel-investor, publisher or a financial partner to improve on this game and to bring bigger projects to life.