March 4th, 2013

No longer under thumb: Selfpubd Thumb Arcade strives to make indie game developers’ products more prominent


No longer under thumb: Selfpubd Thumb Arcade strives to make indie game developers’ products more prominent

One of the benefits of greater access to technology is that practically anyone can build anything. One of the downsides of greater access to technology is that practically anyone can build anything.

While it can be difficult in any industry, it’s especially prevalent in the world of games, where massive corporations spend millions of dollars to remain top of mind. And top of the charts.

So how do indie game developers get around this vexing issue? A new service from Selfpubd called Thumb Arcade—by indie gamers, for indie gamers—is hoping to help.

I took a few moments to chat with founder Andy Rosic about the project and its potential.

Why are you building this company in Portland?

Only Portland could be home to a company that truly supports “INDIE” game companies. Portland is, after all, the home of the open source movement. It’s a place where ideas and talent and beers are shared as freely as the Willamette Week. And, it is the home to the counter-culture, industry rattling startup Selfpubd. Selfpubd redefines publishing for mobile games.

If this particular startup had been a San Francisco or New York or any other city but Portland startup, it just wouldn’t have worked. This town embodies the very essence of what it means to be indie—to be unrestrained, full of art, expressive, undefined and, well, weird. Those are the game studios who make the games we all want to play; want to share; want to talk about.

And those are the studios that Selfpubd serves best. Their platform of tools are like a central hub for building and managing a game business. It’s like a Saleseforce.com but for game companies. The game business tools include user acquisition, customer support, analytics, promotion, discovery and monetization options. Also coming are tools for customer engagement, testing, more analytics, regionalization and beyond.

Where did you find the inspiration for this project?

Selfpubd is founded by folks who have been in mobile for years, and most importantly built a mobile game studio to 2.5 million users. But it’s their pain and struggle that led to Selfpubd, and through that shared experience they have an inherent trust factor with their fellow game studios. That trust has earned them member signups of nearly 200 game studios, including beloved game makers like Portland’s Night & Day Studios, Subatomic Studios, and Big Duck Games. And so Selfpubd’s most recent release, its “indie marketplace” called Thumb Arcade, with its promise to increase discovery for mobile games, further proves its ability to listen to and understand the pains of game creators.

What are the terms?

In a Portland-only mentality, Selfpubd let’s members keep 100% of their IP rights (intellectual property), keep and build their brand and even encourages them to develop and build direct relationship with their customers. Oh, and they take an entire 0% of sales from each member who puts their games on Thumb Arcade. While grade school math may be a sore subject here in the US, it would seem that Selfpubd is the only real, 100% indie solution out there, and that Portland is the only town that could make it happen.

Seems like there are a lot of competitors in the market. What makes Selfpubd and Thumb Arcade unique?

The big players all want to try and appeal to the Indie gaming market. Japanese game publisher GREE recently tried it with a “Gree loves Indies” campaign. Within weeks it was shuttered as a failure, and the webpage now leads to a 404 error on their site. Chillingo’s (publishing arm of EA) new indie venture with Samsung—the so called 100% Indie concept—is expected to launch March 4th. This latest attempt offers developers 100% (hence the name) of the app sales profits for a whopping three whole months.

Of course, that’s on the less-trafficked Samsung store, and for modified Android apps only. The major issue is that the big boys simply lack street cred, or trust. Independent (indie) developers and studios are not easily deceived nor lured in with marketing promotions and especially are weary of harsh and restrictive contracts.

Sounds perfect for the indie crew. Where can folks get more info?

If you’re a game maker, join Selfpubd and get your games on Thumb Arcade right away. If you’re just looking for great games for your iOS or Android device, then visit Thumb Arcade on mobile or online.

You can also read write-ups by Gamezebo and Pocketgamer.

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