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Looking Back, Looking Ahead (iOS, Wii U)

Posted by Paul on March 20, 2014

Last year was highly educational for us. Dahku put out three games for iPhone and iPad over the course of 2013, all of them on the small side (for the sake of a non-existent budget and keeping development times down), and all of them designed with the iOS market in mind—something we knew very little about at the start.

We grew up on Nintendo consoles, in the golden days when "playing Nintendo" was synonymous with "playing video games". Of course it's a different world out there for consoles these days, the kind of different you might feel when visiting a foreign country. Mobile on the other hand, is like visiting another planet.

But we learned as we went, or at least made every effort to. Our first release was completely ignored—our own fault entirely. Our second release, Chubbins, caught a few eyes before fading into obscurity. With our third game, Soon Shine, we felt confident that we had a strong gameplay concept perfectly suited to the market, and that we were doing everything right to promote it accordingly... And it flopped. Big time.

We discussed Soon Shine's potential shortcomings with other iOS developers and received some very useful insights, both about what we might have done differently with the game itself, but also about the market in general. The more we heard, the more hopeless the whole pursuit seemed. The market has been saturated with Free-2-Play games that employ various annoying and/or underhanded tactics to get players to make In-App Purchases. People spend loads of money on said IAP, and yet the price barrier between free games and $0.99 games scares away so many people. Even if you cave and adopt this business model, it's simply getting harder and harder for the little guys to compete because it's so hard to stand out from the overwhelming crowd.

As easy as it is to blame everything on the state of the market, it's become pretty clear that despite our best efforts to cater to the market, we simply didn't belong. We enjoy making "real" games for "real" gamers. Not that there aren't real gamers hanging around the iOS world, but iPhones and iPads aren't gaming machines by definition, and the vast majority of their gaming audience seems to consist of people who just want to crush candy and toss angry avians when they have a minute or two to spare. It simply isn't our scene.

2013 looked set to end on a very gloomy note, with Dahku ready to close up shop on game creation after a full year's efforts to profit failed to even cover expenses. Then, in a very unexpected turn of events we heard about the possibility of developing for Nintendo's Wii U console. In the past we'd looked into creating games for the Wii, but the requirements (such as having a secured office space) were far beyond us. We found that with Wii U however, Nintendo has opened things up to create an indie-friendly development environment. And thus as one door closed, another opened.

Dahku Creations was officially accepted into the developer program on January 10th this year, and we have been excitedly tackling the hurdles involved in developing for this new platform. At the moment we don't have the financial means to start a new project so we've chosen to port Chubbins, the most "successful" of our unsuccessful iOS titles. In what little coverage the game did garner, Chubbins was generally deemed "too hard". While we've taken steps to ease up on the difficulty somewhat, we sincerely hope that a more hardcore market--gamers playing on a machine made for gaming--will enjoy and rise to the challenge that Chubbins presents.

We love Chubbins, and we love Nintendo! We're very excited to see how well the two mix, and if future Wii U development is an avenue we can continue to explore.