The thing about game development that isn’t mentioned as often as it should be is that many developers, especially in the indie sector, are highly skilled… at development. They know how to add God Rays in a game, how to use Unity and Unreal Engine, and even how to program in their sleep. But they don’t necessarily know how to handle business problems, like outreach expansion and stagnating sales.
This is a major issue for solo developers as well as small indie teams, since game development is more than just a creative hobby or career path. It’s a business. Whenever you create digital goods to sell, you’re running a business! And that means game developers have two options: either try to solve the business issues on their own, or find professionals who specialize in entrepreneurship.
And that’s the trick to properly running a business, isn’t it? Doing what you know, and knowing what to outsource. Sometimes, it’s best to let a professional handle something that you and your team might not have done correctly, or at least as efficiently as someone who does it day after day. After all, not everyone can fix their plumbing. And that’s OK. There is no shame in knowing your limitations, and handing a to-do list to someone who can do it is exactly how it should be.
The following seven companies are known as leaders in the gaming industry in terms of providing business solutions for large and small developers alike. Whether you’re having issues tracking metrics, integrating cloud services, or managing affiliates, there is something for you on this list.
Based in Munich, Germany, HoneyTracks is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) for data analysis. It is available for any free-to-play games regardless of platform, even browser games. Developers looking to optimize their monetization strategies or increase profits would be wise to look into HoneyTracks.
Offering four different service packages, ranging from free to in-depth data mining, the company has something to meet all developer needs. For instance, their HoneyTracks Business package allows you to create and share your own reports with over 90 metrics. It can help to improve game balance and monetization, allows you to add however many users you want, and send email reports to everyone. With all platforms in mind, including mobile, web, social, client and console, there is also cross platform tracking and cohort analytics, which provide an in-depth look at user behavior.
Beyond just a window into your player base, however, HoneyTracks also provides affiliate access. Developers can create accounts for affiliates and other marketing partners, so that key metrics and revenue per campaign are simple to measure. Not only does this simplify something that most developers struggle with, it also leaves little room for misunderstandings and errors.
“To build great games, you need to understand player behavior.”
Industry recognized, GameAnalytics boasts a powerful and free analytics tool that provides rich insights into player behavior. Game developers large and small have improved their retention and monetization with the company’s aid. With rich, pre-populated dashboards and customization options, developers can track whatever data is important to them, context included.
Thanks to the SDK that is easily installable on every major platform, getting started takes all of 10 minutes or less. Signing up is completely free, something that the company takes great pride in and doesn’t see changing in the future.
What makes GameAnalytics so nice is that it’s easily integrated. Connect it with tools you already use, like AppsFlyer or Adjust, receive custom reports that you can share with your team based on your specifications, set benchmarks to track goal progress, check up on in-game economy, and then set predefined dashboards to your liking so everything you need is easily accessible without having to go digging for it. See how many times players have died, how far they’ve gotten, and what levels are taking them the longest.
The beautiful thing about all of this is that what seems like straightforward metrics upon first glance is actually more of the beginning of an informed plan of action. For instance, keeping tabs on which levels are causing players to rage quit can come in handy. Suddenly, you can study the elements that make those particular levels difficult, and tweak as necessary. This can have a huge impact on player experience, and lead to informed decisions on your next creative project.
Known as one of the global leaders in the gaming industry, Xsolla provides PC, console and mobile video game developers and publishers with premium user acquisition and monetization tools, payment processing, industry standard-setting fraud prevention, micro-transaction and billing services, and 24/7 customer support. Due to their impressive list of services, the company is popularly used by clients such as Twitch, Ubisoft, and Crytek to name a few.
Founded in 2006, and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Xsolla has only been around for a little over a decade, and yet, has taken the industry by storm. This is largely in part because of their extensive list of services, and incredible ability to be a one-stop shop for all things business solutions. For instance, not only do they cater to the developers behind the games, but to the publishers who work with them, providing publishing suite tools, game distribution tools, user acquisition solutions, analytic tracking, and marketing and promotion tools.
Xsolla can help with E-commerce, game launching and deployment, as well as affiliate and influencer marketing. They make it possible for developers to sell virtual goods from a carefully designed in-game store, and even offer services like PayStation, or the Mobile PayStation for mobile games, which allows developers and publishers to deliver in-game items to players. While the integration of third-party game keys is perfectly acceptable, Xsolla also offers the flexibility to distribute the games and DLC directly from official websites, all thanks to a service they call Pay2Play.
4) Digital River
This global leader in digital commerce is well-known as an industry staple. Digital River works with clients such as Microsoft, WildTangent, Logitech, and Adobe to make E-commerce as simple and easy as possible for customers. With over 20 years of experience in services like global outreach, revenue-driving marketing aid, comprehensive cloud commerce, and payment solutions, it’s no wonder most have heard about Digital River.
While gaming is certainly the cornerstone of the company, Digital River also works with branded manufacturing, software and services. If you’re selling a game, an app, or even techy services, Digital River can lend a hand.
For gaming, the company helps with accepting payments, establishing billing systems, monetization models, merchandising, promotion, plug-and-play integrations, etc. Developers decide what they want the customer experience to be, and Digital River customizes the online store, in-app commerce integration and the payment option settings to get the most revenue potential, without sacrificing player experience.
The best part about Digital River is that they make it easy to accept global payments, while being local. Their storefront design services focus on getting the right billing systems the first time, so your customers aren’t facing change after change until you decide on what you want. In other words, you list your needs and wants, and Digital River makes it happen. There is no extensive experimentation to see what works.
If you’re looking to increase digital goods sales by about 40 percent and accelerate time to market by about 20 percent, Avangate is the company to partner up with. Known for their excellent integrated recurring revenue management and their ability to help customers leverage new distribution channels, the company has proven their capabilities in making your business far easier to handle.
With Avangate, you can manage your all your customers (acquire, activate, upgrade, up-sell, renew and retain), recover lost revenue from abandoned carts and declined payments or chargebacks and refunds, as well as optimize your acquisition strategies to increase conversions. If you’re launching an MMO or another game that requires a subscription, you can manage all of that too, and even gain insight into customer and subscription details, stats and history.
But obviously, that’s not enough. As a developer running a business, there are always other needs to focus on, like marketing. Avangate also has a grip on this, providing automated channel solutions that make it easy to partner with global resellers and affiliates to increase sales. You can check up on analytics, use self-service controls to add new partners and affiliates, and more.
Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, GarageGames are the makers of the Torque game development technology, which allows professional cross-platform capabilities, and has been since 2000. As the developers of games like Marble Blast Ultra (Xbox Live Arcade best-seller), they know what developers need, because they are also developers.
But their scope goes far beyond just working with developers. GarageGames is partnered with NASA, Houdini 3D Animation Tools, Nintendo, and Facebook, to name a few.
Their services follow three major categories: business (technology integration into training, advertizing, and visualization), entertainment (how to engage with the players), and education (integration of game technology into classrooms). In other words, if you’re a developer looking to teach a course on development, or you’re looking to train new hires at your studio, GarageGames has a service to help you. And if you’re just trying to connect with your audience more, in ways that traditional advertising just can’t do, they can lend a hand as well.
7) Microsoft Azure
The integrated cloud service provider, Microsoft Azure, has quickly taken both the IT and the creative tech sector by storm in the last few years. Used by professionals to build, deploy and manage applications, Azure makes it possible to distribute games pretty much hassle-free, all while using the tools and applications of your choice. The company supports a large selection of operating systems, programming languages, frameworks, databases, and devices, which means regardless of what platform you’re launching on, Azure has you covered.
A whopping 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft Azure now, with a surprising following of both IT and development professionals following suit. With its extensive global outreach and ability to detect and mitigate threats, it provides the perfect sidekick to ensure your game is safely launched.
But that’s not all the company does. To add to the already impressive list of services, Azure also specializes in E-commerce, digital marketing, enterprise resource planning (ERP to fuel business growth), metric tracking and more.
With the digital direction that games are taking, cloud gaming is a whole new beast to tackle. Good thing you don’t have to do it alone. Microsoft Azure can help you with your game, just like they helped out with The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, Age of Ascent, and Hitman.
Alone But Together
Whether you’re a solo game developer, or a part of a small indie team, the troubles are the same: doing it all alone. It can feel daunting taking everything on: the development, the marketing, the launching, the patches, etc. Even with a small team, there is only so much everyone can do.
And just like you’re a professional at making the games, there are other professionals out there that know how to do things like marketing and cloud service integration. Being a great developer and entrepreneur means knowing what to outsource. If you or your team can’t do something comfortably and effectively, there is no shame in hiring professionals who can.
Companies like these work with a variety of industries, meeting all kinds of needs and wants on any average day. Their business is making other people’s business that much more efficient. That means they can tackle problems you don’t know how to solve, as well as problems you may not have even thought about! Like a well-oiled machine, when your problems are tackled head-on, they can lead to some pretty ingenious solutions that streamline everything. Suddenly, your business runs smoothly and harmoniously. What’s not to love?
It is our hope that these seven companies can offer solutions to your specific needs, but if not, remember these are just seven out of the countless companies out there that specialize in meeting your business needs. List out your needs, do your research, and start down the path to success!
If you enjoyed this article, go ahead and retweet it! We love hearing from you here at Black Shell Media, so don’t be a stranger.