Home Technology Apps Level Up: Indie Game Developers Level up at the Google Play IGA

Level Up: Indie Game Developers Level up at the Google Play IGA

For years, Google has been keen on helping people and organizations reach their full potential and succeed the same way they did. Paying it forward, Google has created various programs for businesses and start ups. Through these dedicated programs, Google gives participants the skills and tools to develop, and allow them to find their place in the fast-emerging digital economy. IGA is a huge stride towards the expansion of these efforts.

Indie Game Accelerator

The mobile gaming industry is now a USD 50 billion market, which accounts to almost half of the worldwide gaming revenue. With easy access to capable smartphones and increased internet speeds, there will be more active mobile game players, which translates to more opportunities for mobile game developers.

The numbers are clear: there has never been a better time to be an Android game developer in the region. There’s a vibrant ecosystem with over 300 million gamers and growing by leaps and bounds, as well as a talented pool of untapped potential in the indie game creators. These developers possess fresh ideas and a drive to innovate, that when given just the tiniest boost, they will be able to realize their potential.

With the IGA, Google Play intends to help these fledgeling developers in every possible way. Google Play called for entries in June of 2018 and received an overwhelming amount of applications. After thorough deliberation, Google was able to put together a solid cohort of 30 talented independent game developers.

The first batch of IGA graduates from SEA, Pakistant, and India

The bootcamp

The developers were flown to Singapore for an all-expense intense two- and five-day bootcamps. As Philippine representatives Allen Tan, CEO and game developer at Monstronauts, and Howard Go, co-founder and game developer at MochiBits put it, IGA was unlike anything they expected. Coming into the program, they thought they would just have to sit through a couple of talks on how to better their games, and they were proven wrong in the most pleasant way.

Google curated the IGA curriculum to help indie developers create quality games that would represent them on the global stage and have them started on the road to business sustainability. To achieve this, IGA wasn’t just a standard workshop of listening to talks and a couple of breakout sessions, it was an immersive and engaging experience for everyone involved.

The program was built on five different steps: build, grow, earn, test, and lead. Since Google was dealing with game developers, a huge bulk of the program was dedicated to building their apps. Google enlisted mentors who are experts in the business, including some independent game developers who have created an empire out of their unique creations: Fruit Ninja, Farmville, Dhoom 3, and more. These developers are giving back by teaching the group everything they need to know from how to make games render smoothly, to aspects that make UI design more pleasant, to make games run smoothly across devices, and other development details to bring up the quality and playability of their games. Howard and Allen shared how they would sit down, one on one, with different mentors everyday throughout the bootcamp. They would watch as the mentor plays their game and would be given laser feedback right after. Mentors would evaluate them, point out strong and weak points that otherwise they wouldn’t know.

Games weren’t all the program was about. The developers were also taught how to develop and grow their businesses through sessions with Google personnel and indie game developers who found success. Google wants to empower the indie developers, helping them to create hit after hit, monetize their games better, and help them become better leaders by honing their management skills and dynamics with their own teams.

The IGA concluded with a two-day leadership workshop, re-evaluation, and graduation ceremony where they were each awarded Google Pixels and USD 20,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform and Firebase credits along with training and support. The developers will also have access to exclusive gaming events throughout 2019 including Unity “Unite” and Google I/O. More than the perks and learnings, IGA has created lifelong relationships that would help drive the gaming industry and bring more quality games for mobile device users worldwide to enjoy. Howard and Allen shared that they also plan to impart the knowledge they gained in the program to Filipino indie game developers.

Vineet Tanwar, Business Development Manager, Google Play facilitating the SEA, India, and Pakistan indie game developers’ Q&A with the media.

Championing indie games

IGA isn’t Google’s first showing of support for the indie game community. Within the Play Store, they have an Indie Corner on which they put the spotlight on amazing, carefully selected indie games. This boosts their games’ discoverability, connecting them to users across the globe faster.

Google is set to scale up IGA, now including indie developers outside emerging markets for its second iteration. Look forward to our March issue where you’ll see more of the 30 developers’ works.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2019 Issue.

Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos