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How Game Hive keeps on buzzing – and experiences real success

, July 12, 2016

Game Hive has been pioneering the new era of mobile gaming since 2008. Starting with just two co-founders, Game Hive has now grown into a thriving, rapidly growing free-to-play game leader with 100+ million downloads on iOS and Android. Their success started with Beat the Boss, and most recently Tap Titans. But as downloads continued to pour in, they found it difficult to keep up with the success and stay true to their vision.

“All we ever really wanted to do was to make great games the way we dreamed about them when we were kids,” says co-founder and Head of BD & Operations, Mark Wang.

Although they grew rapidly in terms of game popularity, Game Hive still believed a small team was the best way to work. They felt that this was the only way to keep the long meetings and bureaucracy to a minimum, and the creativity alive.

A move to Unity in 2010 helped them maintain a focus on high quality game design, programming and art. Plus, the integrated Unity Ads enabled them to monetize without alienating players or detracting from the game experience.



The result has been that their time-to-market has decreased exponentially, and their video ads have resulted in increased player engagement and lifetime value. As Wang put it, “Hands down the best ad format is rewarded video because it’s unintrusive and extends the player’s lifetime value (LTV).”

Read the full case study

11 replies on “How Game Hive keeps on buzzing – and experiences real success”

There’s a lot of promoting going into doing adds in Unity. Ads articles, speeches on conferences…. ads talks everywhere. $_$ I get the feeling someone is sitting on a mountain of money and preaching some more to get these people even richer. What about some real business, VR video support, decent terrain system, integrated node based shader editor. That’s some stuff I’m looking towards, that’s stuff going to make some real changes. This ads… alright, but what about the other things?

I’m completely aware of the roadmap and keeping an eye on it since it has been announced on Unite Europe 2015. Also I asked the Q&A team what happened with terrain system, progress and the new video texture system and if Unity will ever have a node based shader editor.

I got told, someone was working on the terrain system, but left the company, so no further progress. But they asked me what could improve it to keep working with it. None of the few answers I gave were actually realized within a year. This was just about being able to paint textures and heightmap from one to another terrain seamlessly. Something I’m struggling with since I use Unity back in 2013. I understand a single person doesn’t make a difference on this, but why ask if this will get thrown into the void anyway?

The video texture is a feature that doesn’t even work on any other platform else then desktop, without launching an external video player. There is no unity native video integration, not even for VR, while hunderds of apps for VR serve 360 video content. They admitted this was a feature to be developed asap, because unity felt it was a really demanded thing. However 1 year later I see nothing about this feature nor any update on the video texture.

The nodebased shader editor is where the community is creaming about for years. However someone else took the guts to create his own shader editor for purchase in the assetstore However it lacks some real hardcore performance compared to native unity features. Also on the Unite 2015 everyone was quite about answering this question if unity will ever have it’s own nodebased shader editor. Hire that guy from this asset and get it integrated.

So up to date, I see nothing about those issues…. not a single word. Terrain system dates back from technology done before the year 2000. The video texture is completely useless for mobile and VR. And the nodebased shader editor, I gave up on this.

I understand you all are working hard on updates. But what makes me sad is that I see more and more topics about ads, money, features of which I think aren’t the core of a game engine but 2nd choices.
When will someone ever see that other features people need and are present in other engines without issues are a good addition to Unity?

So yes I keep on eye on the roadmap to ever see anything of it appear on the list. The video texture was in the same list as the terrain system is now, however it has been vaporized some months ago and isn’t there anymore. I like to create things with Unity, but I’m getting tired of how things are going sometimes.
However it was good to see someone act on the whole subscription part after the community gave a voice. But when is someone seeing these issues I talked about? Check the topic ever created ( if it still exists ) to ask about a new terrain system, how much people wrote complete books in there?

Thank you and sorry if the text is somewhat harsh, I had to type this, it frustrates every time I think about it. While I love seeing all the work done on quality improvements and bugs fixing.

LOL, yeah, I hear you David. I think ultimately a company will prioritize the things that make them the most money. And Ads obviously makes Unity more money and they want to showcase that success. It’s probably just a reality of business and what they decide to prioritize. I’m sure lots of people boil with similar frustration at their desired features not being higher on the roadmap or being forgotten entirely. It’s a good feeling to remember if we ever make our own successful companies some day – support loyal customers properly and don’t blow them off.

Unity’s pretty cool at the things they do well. And you only really start seeing shortcomings as you try using it seriously for a commercial product. Then, yeah, it doesn’t have that, and that, and that. And that other thing doesn’t look quite right the way Unity does it either. And I guess that’s another reality of trying to make real games – either working within limitations or investing in the third party stuff that can make your game stand out. Though there are plenty of examples of features Unity does have, but aren’t quite good enough (simple examples: blurry text mesh and aliased UI mask). At this point, I much prefer that so many good 3rd party tools exist as solutions. I mean, would you really want another mostly implemented stock feature that you’d have to replace anyway because it just doesn’t have that polish you really need to make it presentable? And, of course, good thing ads are so easy to just turn on and use. It makes us more money, and makes Unity more money – we should be happier…

Well, I thought about using ads in a mobile game. Then I changed my mind because I wasn’t so comfortable with my friends’ kids getting exposed to a bunch of ads in a game I made. I don’t remember ever seeing anything questionable in Unity ads – but it just didn’t sit that well with me at the time. And my game wasn’t really getting any traction on either Play Store or App Store either, which happens a lot. It turns out you have to actually learn how to get a game advertised to get downloads – who knew? And before all that ad money comes rolling in, people have to want to keep your game installed and play it for more than 5 mins. So, it should probably actually be good, have progression and be full of fun features, too.

Anyway, mobile wasn’t working so well for me. Then I also thought I could promote my mobile game on Steam. After all Unity can deploy to so many platforms. Just build a game for the least common denominator and you’re good, right? The Greenlight voters sure told me what they think of mobile ports – they really don’t like those. I was lucky and found a way to get greenlit, but that experience made me change my approach pretty dramatically. Even with the negative feedback, I got more traction on Steam in a month than I ever did on any mobile store. Now, I’m changing my game and monetizing strategy to a traditional purchase model that will be better received on Steam – no Unity Ads there. It looks like my mobile deployment is also going out the window entirely. And, I think I now have more respect for both my users and the game I want to make. I wouldn’t really want it to be full of ads. I want to create a fun and interesting experience that can hopefully stand the test of time and be considered someone’s indie classic someday. I don’t know if Ad heavy games can really end up like that. But, I could be wrong.

I guess I can be happy that there are great success stories that can be featured on Unity’s front page. Though, to all the hopeful and inexperienced indie devs who read the article and start getting bug eyes about ad integration, yeah, it’s not your silver bullet. Make a good game and gain experience with the market you’re trying to publish to and figure out what works for different markets. With persistence, someday you and I will both be able to make more than $0.00 off our games.

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