Story of Vertigo – 1/3

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Most of the people love unfolded, media-made or polished stories. Those stories are written as if all the difficulties have been overcome at once, or our hero easily gets the better of all administrative, bureaucratic or environmental issues. But, it was not quite that-easy with the works I did with my brother Murat. In our story, we have failures as many as our successes, and wrongs as many as rights. I am going to tell you a road story with irresolvable difficulties, wrong decisions and lots of failures.Explaining all of these in 3-4 different parts would be a wise decision for you to be able to follow up easier. Writing and thus assessing the past enable me to see myself better as well as relay information and experience to the readers. At least, I expect and want it to be like that.

What did we do in the past? Plus, how and why did we do all of these? I am going to share all of these with you as well as our methods of work and ways to learn that we use now.

I can say that both Murat’s and my passion for computer games were the causes for establishing Vertigo. Though varying slightly between us, we both are people emphasizing being rational at high levels. In this sense, we had sensible reasons as well as our passion. I must admit that we used to do financially higher profit works before Vertigo. Then why did we leave these mobile app developing and B2B businesses and start developing a game?

What we learned first was the importance of user behaviors. Mobile apps were mostly short term apps, then we developed long term ones but they did not satisfy the expectation. No small company application is assessed the same way as a big and famous company application. In this sense, developing applications other than games started to become works that require high amount of investments and risks.Moreover, we had already published many small low-cost games and gained hundred of thousands users, even much before starting to invest into game developing business. Basic issue there was that these users were not providing enough feedback or revenue. Despite we were developing products for many years, we had yet started to deal with conceptual terms like ‘retention’, ‘dau’, etc. – here you can consider our progress :). We were very good in drawing attention of the users and, again, we were “terrible” in keeping them inside and understanding & analyzing their problems as well as providing a solution for them. To be honest with you, even now – after 5 years – we have many deficits regarding these.

Secondly, we learned that there is multiple fold difference between the ‘virality’ we could possibly gain with the application and with the game. Though, this difference looks getting smaller, still there is a huge viral capacity in game business. Our first serious investment was buying out Google Play rights of Ottomania. Then we run an advertising campaign with a famous vine celebrity who was famous back then. Our analysis was 100% accurate. There was a 5-6 times more expansion capacity. The game became a hit in Turkey. Immediately afterwards, we initiated a new test, we took steps in the direction to get the game put over to the top. We used every method that we can and consequently achieved a seriously good ranking. Well, eventually Ottomania did not provide the ’virality’ we expected, you know what; I think nature culture who are inquisitive did not even care about the game 🙂

Thirdly, what we learned was that localization does not mean ‘just adding language options’ to the game. Ottomania was very good, and a native English speaker could easily play the game without finding something odd. The significant achievement there was; not only a native English or American could play this game, but also wanted to play this game. Localization was that every culture could find a local taste in that game. Or the most optimal option without implementing localization was to be able to present a global product to the market.

When we combine these experiences, we reached those conclusions:

  • We should make a game (the opposite is already impossible as the market and our hearts tell us the same).
  • With user-tests and analytic evaluation, we must make the game a user-friendly one and set-up an always working loop of ‘getting the feedback and updating’ accordingly.
  • Localization must be handled with all details or a global approach must be settled.

Until now, we used to manage the company from our houses or at famous coffee-store chains 🙂 Because our employees (from time to time reached to 10 people) were all-abroad and we could easily handle our business from home.

If we want to make a game, we had to follow up immediate changes in place, always collect feedback and ensure full team cohesion. In short, we had to establish a team who are fully harmonized with each other and a suitable office for them to work. After that, the phase which we had the most difficulty started; opening an office in Istanbul, setting up a team and managing them. I will also share the details about these very soon.

Ali Sayın

Co-Founder of Vertigo Games