Homa Games - Hyper Casual Publisher - Olivier Le Bas

Publisher Spotlight: Olivier Le Bas, Co-Founder of Homa Games



You develop, Homa publish.

“Homa Games is an independent mobile game studio specializing in the publishing, user acquisition and monetization of mobile games. Serving both IOS and Android users, our existing games have been top ranked in their categories and have also appeared in ‘featured apps’ categories.”

I was very lucky and honoured to be able to sit down with Olivier Le Bas, co-founder of Homa games and chat about all things mobile game publishing and what goes into creating hit hyper casual mobile games.

Founded in late 2017 by Olivier along with co-founders Daniel Nathan and JuanJose Mostazo, Homa games have fast become one of the Top Mobile Games Publishers. Working out of their offices in Paris, what is now regarded a Mecca for Hyper Casual Games Publishers, they’ve released 18 Hit titles and amassed millions of downloads.

We asked Academy members to provide the questions they wanted answers to the most and after merging them all , ended up with around 20 or so.

Whilst I didn’t quite get to ask them all specifically, although we covered a ton of them and many others, Olivier was overly generous with his time and the whole session lasted around an hour and a half!

What’s more, and perhaps for those who really want to get into the specifics, listed below are the questions and answers to ensure we didn’t skip anything.

Be sure to head over and thank Olivier for taking the time a join us and being so candid and transparent and being a driving force for good in the industry.

Questions From Developers Gathered from the RisingHigh Academy

Do you do CTR testing? What are your KPI goals when testing? What kind of deals do devs get when their game meets the KPIs?

Yes, we created a product called FMV. It includes fast market validation, CTR testing, and many other components that further evaluate an app’s potential. We believe that the ratio of clicks to impressions on Facebook isn’t the only way to judge the potential of a new app. Our more detailed measures give you greater visibility into how well your app is performing.

Goals depend on where the app has been tested but, if we are explicitly talking about a Facebook testing campaign on iOS, we’ll consider a CTR at 4% interesting, while a CTR higher than 7% is a must go. Again, this is one of the several KPIs we test to evaluate an app’s potential. There are many others, such as session time, CPI, retention, and so on.

We believe that CTR is likely to be a good metric of what we call a “toy”, which is a game mechanic in Hyper-Casual.

Our deals vary depending on the partnership and the studio’s needs. In most cases, we are helping studios cover their development costs. Our expertise is structured around different services such as Game Design, UA & Monetization, Creative knowledge, Advanced Technology, and Market Trends.

We’re always looking for diamonds in the rough but, like any jewel dealer, we pay more for diamonds that only need to be cut. We’re continually and thoroughly exploring diamond mines; as you can imagine, this can become quite expensive. Therefore, we need a high return on investment to make it work.

How do you see the current state of the market with hypercasual suffering from non-game games that are mostly not profitable but take a good part of the marketing space?

We are very optimistic about the hyper casual market and its sub-genre, including ultracasual games. The Hyper Casual market is as unbelievable as encouraging; it provides ways to innovate and bring new experiences to our users. Hyper-Casual has disrupted two things:

    1. Content creation: from 6 months prototyping to 1 week
    2. Strong UA/Monetization: from LTV to IPM.

How do you see the current state of the industry with 2 heavy monopolies, Applovin with Lion Studios & IronSource with SuperSonic Studios?

How do you think to compete within this situation as a smaller company without the market advantages they have and with the small margins Hyper Casual games have in general?

We see every app content provider in this industry, whether they are TikTok, Applovin, or Google, as a competitor. Applovin & IronSource are part of them and we believe that our internal technologies on cross networks buying & monetizing is definitely one of the most innovative in the market (Last year, Mopub stated that our company, along with Tenjin, were the first ones to have impression level data.

It should be remembered that we are in an industry where creativity is key and no company, large or small, has a monopoly on creativity. I don’t know if you remember the launch of Flappy Bird, which took the app stores by storm, but it was a one-person show from a garage in Vietnam.

Are you a company that is interested in growth or profitability? If both, how do you manage the conflict of interest between developers (who are in for profitability) and your own company goals?

Homa has been well known in the industry to only focus on profitability. We have an excellent understanding of the volume/chart impact on our games and how much extra revenue and profit we can generate depending on the different thresholds of installs we are getting. We are following this methodology.

Without mentioning the game or the developers (out of privacy and NDA contracts) but can you name a clear number of what developers have earned with your published titles (best case and worst case)? I ask this because there are so many developers who never saw any money even thou​gh they had the number one titles in the charts with apparently successful games.

We can’t mention clear numbers as they are confidential, but I can tell you that our goal is to make sure that every developer working with us is earning a minimum of 6 digits per title. We have a long term strategy, we want our developers to make money more than just hitting top charts.

Can you tell us about a negative story of game publishing? A game that had the KPIs but didn’t scale well for example?

I ask this because I would like to know about how your company handles failures and disappointments which happen more often than the successes.

We work in an industry that builds on the idea of making quick money and the dream of getting rich, nonetheless, the reality is for 99% the exact opposite?

The most important factor is the transparency we have with our partners. We do believe that as long as everything, including the expectations, are clearly stated right from the beginning, we are limiting future problems. We always take failures as learnings. We do have a writing and post mortem culture. We don’t make any mistakes twice.

Regarding disappointments, we are in an industry that doesn’t tolerate many of them. Either the developer and ourselves make a bad prototype or a bad launch, or we are learning to make the next hit. From our experience, the best developers are the ones who are never “disappointed” because they learn every time, and they know the learning process is tough. At Homa, we act with the same professionalism.

What’s the hit to testing prototype ratio (to set realistic expectations )?

Our target is a minimum of 8%. This number is considered huge in the industry, but when you have the right team working with our tech products and resources, this number is achievable.

Do you accept games built with Buildbox 3 for release?

Yes, Buildbox has shown some great progress with their new version.

Do you have a general process to improve D7 retention?

We are extremely focused on reading data along the whole user journey and D7 is definitely one of the most challenging thresholds. Our different analytics tool alongside our data analyst and game designer are putting a strong focus on taking the right actions in order to optimize the user journey as well as the revenue generated per user.

Why should I publish my Game with you and not someone else?

Technology & having a data-driven approach makes the relationship with our developers extremely healthy and transparent on the decision we take.

Care & knowledge is demonstrated by sharing information throughout the squad and the developer with a disruptive approach with IPs & super casual games.

I​f the game doesn’t meet the metrics, how long before we can pitch the game to someone else or self publish?

The developer can take back his game straightaway.

Do you provide help for game development? Do you provide art or other asset assistance for your developers?

We provide a bank of assets, art/UX direction, SDKs integration with our tool Homa Belly, publishing the game on our hidden accounts, etc.

Do you have technical(programming) support for your developers with Q&A?

Yes, our internal team based in our HQ take care of you.

What is the revenue split with developers? Is this negotiable?

We are quite flexible because it’s all about the risk/reward ratio & the work we put in. We are doing up to 50% profit sharing without a cap. It will vary if we fund the developer, work on the game from the ideation, make the iterations, add a potential IP to it. We always want to make a fair deal, we are here for the long run, and we want to publish multiple hits per year with each studio that we work closely with.

How do you report Ad Revenue? Do developers have access even in a read-only form to ad providers?

Yes, it’s included in our contract. Our partners should have access to the ad revenue & spend data.

What are the methods of communication and what can be expected in terms of response time?

Care & knowledge sharing is what we consider the most critical component of success between a publishing manager & a studio. All our squads have a limited number of studios they take care of to provide the best quality of service (maximum eight studios). It lets us work and reply to our partner, like colleagues, under a few hours. At the same time, we are providing several tools to make our partner autonomous via our HomaLab dashboard, our HomaBelly product, and detailed documentation.

Connect and get your Game Published with Homa Games

Publish with Homa Games


Thank Olivier personally over on Linkedin:

Connect on Linkedin

Send Him an Email:

olb@homagames.com

See their Games:

Homa Games on the Apple Appstore

Homa Games on Google Play

Visit The Website:

Homa games

And of course, if you’re looking to sign your game with one of the biggest mobile publishers of Hyper Casual games on the planet, head on over using the link below and be sure to tell him you came from the Academy and you’ll jump to the front of the queue, ahh yeah 🙂

Marcus Dobler Interview

Academy Spotlight – Interview with Solo Indie Developer Marcus Dobler

We were thrilled when Indie Game Developer and Academy Member Marcus agreed to answer some questions about his life and journey as an indie game developer.

Marcus has achieved so much including Apple App Store “Game of the Day” for his game AstroBlast along with multiple Apple Home Pages Features in “New Games We Love”.

Marcus Dobler - Indie Game Developer

You can see all of Marcus’s games over on his website Here.

Games Made With Passion Marcus Dobler

Aside with recently being awarded multiple Apple features, you own 7 night clubs and you are successful businessman in the gastronomic industry. So what first drew you to this crazy world of game development?

I started programming on the Commodore 64 in my childhood. As I grew older my interests shifted and I began working as a DJ and opened my first club with two partners. Now I am partner of 7 clubs with capacity up to 2.000 people per club.

As you can imagine running clubs is a loud and hard business. Therefore I was looking for a hobby to bring balance to my life. Then I remembered my favourite childhood activity, coding and making games so I tried it out and it was a success.

I know you’re a fantastic coder, your games are all highly polished and of great quality, which software engine is your preferred tool for all your game creation?

Thank you very much!

I use different software tools when I’m developing my games.

I create all my 2D designs by working with Photoshop and Illustrator and recently I’ve started using Affinity Designer more frequently too.

For my 3D designs I use Cinema 4D. This is an awesome app that had made its debut on the Commodore Amiga and I have been working with this ever since it first came out!

When working on promotion videos, I use Apple Motion.

My SDK is Xcode and the code is written in Swift, Apples’ latest programming language. Swift is perfectly structured and fairly easy to learn. SpriteKit and SceneKit are used as frameworks which are both developed by Apple.

Since I don’t consider publishing my games on any other platform but Apple / iOS, I choose their native developing tools to make the best games possible. It always goes down well with the Apple Team also.

iOS Game Icons - Made With Passion - Marcus Dobler

Do you start off creating your titles with a strong vision in your head of the direction you want to take your game, or a particular type of player you’re aiming for. Or do you experiment with concepts and prototypes until a game comes together?

Developing a game is always a process. I usually have a very basic concept and then work it into a fun and enjoyable product. When I first started out creating games, I was satisfied as long as myself and my friends had fun playing.

However recently I have been developing games geared toward the Hyper Casual Player. I have made this change by looking at trends and evolving as a developer.

What’s your goto place for research and inspiration when coming up with the next unique game idea. Do you play a lot of games yourself that maybe spark new concepts, are there non-gaming inspirations such as architecture, films or music?

My greatest source of inspiration is my library of around ten thousand retro games!

Whenever I have the chance, I play these for inspiration and relaxation. I also enjoy watching Retro youTube channels like “Game Sack“ or “Sega Lord X“.

However, as most of these retro games require too much investment for the Hyper Casual Player and mass market, I can use parts of these classic games in my new creations.

The world of mobile gaming is forever evolving and a lot of focus in the market place at the moment is in the hyper casual style and aimed at a young audience. Do trends like this influence you to build specifically for what the market wants, or do you focus on making games that you love to build?

For me, commercial success is confirmation of a good performance, usually in terms of downloads and reviews. In order to achieve this success, I try to keep a keen eye on the market and stay up to date with current trends. Research is critical here.

To know all these trends the Academy is my main source especially the weekly Live App Store trend analysis sessions. So in summary, yes, I try to follow the hyper casual style in most of the games I’m building right now!

The trends right now tend to lean towards 3D and include levelling systems. With all that said though, I still try to create something unique and if my heart leads me on a particular route, I always trust my gut instinct I’d still build it anyways.

Once you have a game idea in your head, what’s your next process? Do you draw / sketch out rough plans and concepts the old school way, maybe put together a mood-board or palette ideas? Or do you jump straight into your software and mock up ideas on the fly?

Firstly, I’ll open Photoshop or Cinema 4D and create some simple characters. These are usually simple forms in the appropriate sizes so I have assets to work with. I’ll then start to code the prototype and bring the general idea to life. The details of the design are part of the development process and I’ll look to continually work on these as the project progresses.

Dream Bubblez™

Featured by Apple in “New Games We Love” & “Daily Brain Training.”

Download From The Apple App Store


Dream Bubblez Game iOS - Apple Featured

As developers, there is always that moment when you struggle or have doubts with whether an idea is any good. You build the prototype and are still unsure, at what point do you reach out for feedback on your game, or do you wait until your idea is rock solid and you’re happy with it before showing anyone?

I like to always finish things! Of course there are ups and downs during the creation process, but even at my lowest points, I will always complete every project.

Usually I only show nearly completed games to family and friends. This way I manage to stick with my original concept and not have my ideas watered down by critics during my creative process.

This doesn’t mean I do not appreciate constructive criticism, nothing could be further from the truth, however, for me, it’s crucial to choose the right point in time during my creative process to receive exterior ideas.

An exception to this are the Academy’s TestDrives, the videos and comments help me to refine my product even at an early stage.

Good game design is all about keeping the players attention and ultimately returning to play your game time and time again. It’s about designing an interactive world for players with rules to follow to achieve the end goal. What’s your process when you start your game design ideas for keeping players attention and game progression?

I once read an interview with Sergio Miyamoto, legendary game designer at Nintendo, in which he said the most important thing about a game is having fun playing!

This is just like the way children like to jump and run, just for the sheer joy of it, because it’s fun.

I think that’s what brings players back day after day is if they enjoy the activity and they simply love to play. I always try to achieve that!

Also, giving my players simple, small goals coupled with some enjoyable tasks. I build in “unlockables” or “level Ups” where possible along with usually including “High Score leaderboards” in my games.

________________________

The majority of your games are in the meditation/ brain training and puzzle genre, do you play these types of games yourself, or do you purely enjoy the creation of this type of gameplay?

Tetris is definitely my favourite games. I actually consider it the be the best video game ever invented, so yes, I play my fair share of puzzle games.

As already mentioned, I don’t really have a strict plan when developing my games, but often they’ll have some kind of puzzle element to them. As the designs and details evolve during the development process, it’s a pretty organic process and so my games naturally evolve too!

The market for puzzle games is a tough one.

Generally speaking, due to the natural complexity of puzzle games, it’s a difficult balancing act to reach the Hyper Casual Player with them. Right now I am focusing on creating simpler games for the Hyper-Casual market that can potentially reach a wider mass market along with broadening my creation skillset and giving me a personal challenge.

AstroBlast™

Featured by Apple in “New Games We Love” & “Game of the Day” in Japan.

Download From The Apple App Store



AstroBlast - Game of The Day in Japan

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a novice developer just starting out in the world of game design? Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started in games?

I think the most important thing for a novice developer is to gain experience.

My best advice would be to start out with small projects and aim to actually finish them!

The biggest mistake you can make in my opinion is to do too much and not finish anything.

When I started out, I simply began programming and I didn’t know anything about recent trends and the situation on the market. I would have saved a lot of money spent on senseless marketing actions if I would have known earlier about the Academy.

I really wished I had been a member of the Academy back then when I first started out!

Lastly, we’ve been honoured that you’re a huge part of the Academy family and it’s been a pleasure to watch you grow. What’s your favourite part of the Academy and what would you say to any game developer thinking about joining?

The TestDrives are its best feature. Kevin & Jilly actually play your game whilst recording the whole session on video. They give you invaluable tips on how to improve it and it’s massively insightful and helpful to get their perspective.

This is so helpful to me and has supported me in refining every single one of my games.

It doesn’t matter if you are new in game development or if you are already successful in the market, the Academy is most definitely the place to be.

They provide you with an endless supply of resources including videos, tutorials and a ton of fantastic community posts!

You can also find ideas for your next games as well as they help you to get a publishing contract. They also advise you on how to get your games featured by Apple.

The Academy has helped me in every stage of my creational process and it will help you as well! I highly recommend you to join.

A Huge Academy Thanks 🙂
We’d like to thank Marcus for being so generous with his time and sharing his thoughts and experience with us, he’s seriously a class act!
It’s been an absolute pleasure to share a small part of his game development journey so far and it’s super exciting for us to see him reach the much deserved success on the App Store, especially as we get a glimpse of what he’s working on.
As we’re sure you’re aware, game dev can be a tough gig so it’s always heartwarming to see a fellow indie dev reach their ultimate goals through incredible hard work and wonderful talent.
We can’t wait to see what Marcus creates next and we wish him continued success in all his endeavours.