During the recent Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki event, which took place virtually this year, we met Yuliya from indie game studio Rarepixels. They’ve published Planes Control and 2 Minutes in Space as mobile titles already and have more in the works, while also managing the remote work facility SPACE Coworking on the island of Tenerife – a place where game designers and other creative industries work side by side. Time for an introduction.
Who’s behind Rarepixels, and what’s your background in game development?
We are a 2 person team, Antonio and Yuliya. Antonio is a physicist, I’m an economist. As you can see we don’t have any background in game development but share a common passion for gaming. The idea of developing games was born as an experiment in our free-of-work time and turned later to our profession once our games showed very positive growth. I suppose it’s a classical story of (almost) any indie game development studio with the difference that ours has not only a technical but also a business background 😉
What made you go with the mobile domain for game development?
The motive was obvious: mobile game development requires fewer resources (including human and financial resources). Timelines are shorter. It’s easier to react to the market trends and tastes of customers/gamers. Both video and mobile gaming markets are very competitive ones and (according to our opinion) it’s easier to enter the mobile gaming market.
What have been your biggest learnings so far?
We can tell you about tons of our mid-size learnings in the areas of mobile development, audience and technology but the biggest learning was probably the following: in the gaming market there is no such thing as an accidental success but there are one million ways to experience accidental failures and get frustrated. On a daily basis. According to statistics, as of the second quarter of 2020, there are approx. 2.2 billion global mobile gamers. It’s an enormous market. At the same time, approximately 365K mobile gaming apps in PlayStore and 260K in App Store are fighting for these gamers. And this is not just a fight of quality. It’s a fight of marketing budget, short or long term business decisions, correct priorities, the right contacts, a connection with gamers or open doors to journalists, the agreement or ignorance of publishing houses, PR, marketing and influencer agencies. It’s social listening, outsourcing vs in-house coding, adapting to changes of the market, analysis of competitors and law regulations. All the decisions that should be made by teams in big companies are made by one or two people in indie teams. This is the way you get frustrated and excited at the same time. You have to do your best and never give up. We see plenty of average games being played around the world and plenty of high quality games being neglected in the PlayStore and AppStores. There are all these questions of correct decisions in plenty of different areas, not just a good product and accidental success. Once you accept it, you are fine. I think the indie segment is a place where the most unique ideas are getting born. They are not appearing from the calculated risks or deadlines, but from the pure desire to create.
Besides game development, you also run a coworking space on the island of Tenerife. Does this allow you to cross-pollinate ideas and experiences?
Definitely. Our coworking is a great way for us to use synergy effects and to cross-pollinate ideas and experiences not only with other game developers but also with remote workers from other industries. All the information we’re told is always treated as confidential but it still helps us to get interesting insights into the life of other companies. At the same time we always share interesting insights from our side and even planned a couple of new projects together with some of our clients! Coworkings are an amazing way to grow and to help others grow!
Has the covid pandemic affected SPACE in any way?
Absolutely. We are experiencing a strong decline in coworking business due to COVID-restrictions in Spain but at the same time we’re seeing an impressive increase in gaming business due to an increase of free time for gamers (quarantine time, etc). It’s a very difficult time for everybody but we believe that the COVID pandemic will make us stronger.
What can we expect next from the studio?
We are currently working on 2 new games and 2 new projects dedicated to gamers and game developers. Hopefully 50% of them will be announced this year.