Eric Johnson

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JoyBits Says Bucking iOS-Android Game Duopoly Helped Doodle God Series

Art from JoyBits' Doodle God 2, slated for release in summer 2014.

Art from JoyBits’ Doodle God 2, slated for release in summer 2014.

It hasn’t (yet) reached the scale of mobile-first sensations like Angry Birds or Temple Run, but JoyBits, the creator of the puzzle games in the Doodle God series, said keeping a loose focus on platforms has served it well.

Today, JoyBits is announcing that its series has crossed “100 million downloads worldwide,” but that number means something slightly different than it does for app franchises like Infinity Blade, with close to 50 million app downloads; Temple Run, with at least 340 million; and Angry Birds, with well over a billion. For starters, JoyBits’ announced milestone includes 20 million iOS downloads, 10 million Google Play downloads, and 1.5 million Windows 8 downloads.

But how did they get to 100 million? By including 60 million online play sessions on Flash gaming sites like Kongregate, in addition to nearly 10 other, smaller platforms than those listed above. So the “real” number of unique people who have downloaded Doodle God, Doodle Farm and Doodle Devil is much lower than the ceremonial “downloads” stat, but these sorts of press release-y milestone numbers are often wobbly anyway.

The more interesting thing about JoyBits’ announcement is the fact that they are still proudly touting Doodle God’s availability in so many places, not just iOS and Android. The M.O. for nearly every mobile developer I’ve spoken to this year is to sink resources into Apple’s and Google’s users first, and “wait and see” if someone else can make a big splash on, for example, Windows Phone 8, before diving in.

CEO Paul Baldwin said that even if going to those smaller platforms doesn’t pay off within each walled garden, his goal is to spread the Doodle God brand broadly because of the porous nature of user acquisition. If someone doesn’t buy a second Nook, for example — yes, Doodle God is on the Nook — having downloaded the game there still makes him more likely to download one of the Doodle Gods on his iPhone later on, Baldwin said.

Indeed, JoyBits said that 95 percent of the Doodle God series’ 100 million (or whatever) players have come to the games “organically.” That is, they’ve downloaded the games thanks to word of mouth, brand pre-awareness or cross-promotion within the apps, rather than from outside marketing and advertising campaigns.

With that bit of anticipatory strategy tucked away, there’s no getting around the de facto reality of Baldwin’s business as it stands today. He noted two fairly conventional trends: 1) Those flash game plays have dropped off and been replaced by mobile as the Doodle God franchise’s big growth area; 2) in-app purchases on mobile are now eclipsing paid downloads as JoyBits’ main source of revenue.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Doodle God 2 (slated for next summer, four years after the original game’s iOS debut) is being built to be “F2P from the ground up,” according to Baldwin. He expects to see JoyBits’ current $2 million/year revenue increase by three to five times in 2014 on the back of this shift.

Being omnipresent hasn’t made JoyBits immune to the omnipotent F2P gaming dollar. If consumers’ habits upended the game’s commerce design, then the Gods must be sane, after all.

If you really like lots of numbers, JoyBits’ huge “kitchen sink” infographic about the 100 million threshold is available here.

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