How game jams and publishing partners forge a path for indie developers’ growth

As we draw closer to the kick-off of Ketchapp, Gamejam and Fyber’s Hyper New Year competition we caught up with Christian Calderon, Gamejam’s Co-founder and CEO to talk game jams, indie developers, and their working relationships with the right publishers.


Gamejam is both a game developer and publisher. The company also brought us the popular game jam competition platform – and has since been setting the standard of the game jams we know and love. Game jams have fostered the spirit of showcasing unseen talent, unique content, new games – providing a stage for creativity we don’t always get to see. Plus, you get to learn and network with developers across the world. 


Whether you compete in game jams or work in a studio, when it’s time to publish your game to the world – which route should you take? 


Navigating the complexities of growing your game into a long-term, profitable business is a massive challenge even for experienced developers, not to mention ones who are new to self-publishing.


Developers constantly need to adapt their UA approach and monetization strategies in order to keep up with a dynamic, highly-competitive landscape. Established, large-scale publishers hire dedicated teams of data scientists to drive successful UA strategies by measuring, optimizing, and modeling key metrics. Truth is, you could have the core fundamentals of your hyper-casual game down to a T, but scaling your business in a saturated market is an entirely different game.


Self-publishing is a recipe of reward, creativity, and complexity


As a hyper-casual game veteran, Calderon shares his passion for the indie self-publishing experience in the market today. Despite the challenges, he believes that “the real dream for many indies is to self-publish and have freedom of their own decisions, but partnering with experienced publishers is a crucial, almost mandatory, step for most indies who later grow to be successful in their own right”. Running your own studio and having a say in everything from the business to the creative sides is highly rewarding. But, with competition in hyper casual being fiercer than ever, succeeding without substantial paid user acquisition efforts and an optimized monetization strategy is becoming increasingly rare. Calderon, who understands what it takes to remain competitive in this space, says “you have to learn how to pay attention to the data and not rely purely on instincts and game design, or you will get lapped.


Publishers can help take your game to the next levels


Depending on your resources and experience with developing mobile games – the advantage of partnering with a publisher means leveraging substantial benefits while offloading many obstacles. 


Calderon highlights that the increased access to knowledge, data, and analytics help in adopting the right best practices for your game. Partnering with established publishers allows hyper-casual developers to gain access to advanced technology and training opportunities in areas such as user acquisition, localization, and monetization can help boost your game in the right places, in front of the right audiences.    


“A good way of knowing whether you’ve found a good publishing partner is asking about the process of working together – what formal training opportunities will you be afforded, what tools and infrastructure are provided, and how close is the ongoing collaboration between developer and publisher going to be”, says Calderon. 


Selecting the right publisher for your game is key


In order to grow your game into a successful business, developers need to partner with the right publisher that would spend time training and sharing knowledge. Having worked with countless indie developers throughout his career, Calderon emphasizes how important transparent collaboration is, “ensuring you work with partners you can trust is something every developer should keep in mind”, he adds. Publishers are there to provide the necessary tools for the developer to understand which KPIs to improve and what measures would help drive each of them. This requires in-depth expertise and investment – time that developers would prefer to spend on pushing their creative boundaries in developing games.


Self-publishing doesn’t have to be the journey, it can be the destination


Once an indie developer has acquired this valuable knowledge, he or she still faces the challenge of running UA campaigns at scale. No one said the path to self-publishing would be easy – but entering game jams is a great stepping stone and opportunity to get noticed. It’s at these industry events, connecting hyper-casual enthusiasts from around the world, where you could “find a strong publishing partner who will help you grow your own publishing skills (and eventually mature into self-publishing), while allowing developers to continue doing what they love – bringing great games to our screens”, said Calderon.


Fyber is excited to be partnering with the Ketchapp and Gamejam teams for this Hyper New Year competition! 


Check out the winning games here

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