GamesBeat

Pocket Gems evolves from a successful developer into a mobile game publisher

Pocket Gems

Mobile publishing is hot right now. Over the last few years, a few big iOS and Android developers spent a lot of time and energy building up the infrastructure for their games. These resources are going to waste, however, if the developers can’t make enough games fast enough.

That’s one of the reasons that Tap Zoo developer Pocket Gems turned to mobile publishing in December. The company used its expertise to help Chasing Yello developer Dreamfab launch the game on Android. Since then, Pocket Gems also worked with Twyngo to launch physics puzzler Amazing Ants on iOS.

The results of those excursions into helping other studios launch their games is only positive, according to Pocket Gems business director Jameel Khalfan.

Amazing Ants was the top app on iPad in 35 countries, and players downloaded it over 2.2 million times in two weeks. Similarly, gamers downloaded Chasing Yello over 2.3 million times in two weeks.

Khalfan explained his company’s philosophy in an interview with GamesBeat.

“Our goal is to publish games from a small group of developers,” Khalfan told GamesBeat. “We don’t want to throw a thousand apps into the app store. We focus on quality over quantity. That’s really important for us.”

Pocket Gems has only released two games as a publisher so far, but it clearly wants to expand that part of its business. Khalfan said that it is already working with another round of developers on a few unannounced games.

Khalfan thinks the key to attracting new developers is to reveal the positive results Pocket Gems has already produced and to offer fair terms to partners.

“Every game is different and deserves a flexible approach,” Khalfan said. “We don’t like a one-size-fits-all strategy. We prefer to figure out what we can do for each game. If a developer is strong in one area and weak in another, we only help in the area they need help in and leave them alone in the area that they don’t need any assistance.”

The publisher also assures its publishing partners that it won’t make any demands. It lets the developer make the final decision for their games.

“We’ll give [developers] all of the guidance, all of the advice, and honest feedback,” he said. “We’ll tell them what we think they should do, but it’s the developer’s choice to implement that. We don’t want to do anything to their game that they are not comfortable with.”

Pocket Gems developed a strong platform and development pipeline for its own games. Khalfan feels that it offers some of the best tools to help smaller studios make the best games.

The publisher provides rigorous testing to ensure games work well on as many devices as possible. That’s especially important on Android with its many low-powered handsets. Pocket Gems also makes use of the many people already playing its games to help its published titles acquire new players.

Pocket Gems also offers its analytics system to its partners to help developers figure out what is working and what is driving players away.

“We built our own analytics system in-house,” said Khalfan. “We hadn’t shared it with anyone until recently.”

This tool helps Pocket Gems’ developers design their iterations.

Pocket Gems’s evolution into a publisher is a natural result of its success on mobile. It faces a lot of competition for developers from massive competitors like Zynga, but Pocket Gems is a bit more open in who it works with than Zynga is. Some studios are likely to respond well to Pocket Gems’ promise to let the developer make the final decision regarding its game.

“It has been a fantastic experience form the beginning, and we’re looking forward to a long relationship,” Dreamfab creative director Christian Dickert said in a statement.

Twyngo and Dreamfab have both found the results they were looking for. Pocket Gems is hoping it can convince an army of developers just like them.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.