From Heroes of 71 To I Peel Good (Alpha Potato)
Midnight, 14th December 2015. A very stressful night. We just figured out that there is a bug in the game where all the enemies had become invisible but were still shooting at the player. We had to launch the game in 24 hours and still had no clue about the source of the bug. I made a few calls to Apratim and Arif. Apratim picked up.
“Bhai, We worked for like 17 hours straight today. What now?”
“That invisible bug that was occurring rarely a few days ago- looks like it has become permanent. All the enemies are invisible now.”
“Hmmm. Ok. I will try to come early in the morning and fix it. Please let me have good sleep now”.
I hung up anxiously. I tried to go through the codes but could not figure out anything. Finally, I fell asleep on my chair.
We had been working on this game for almost three months. We were a game development studio from Bangladesh, and our team normally made games on contracts for international clients. Although it did help pay our bills to some extent, the money we made was nothing fancy. We gave up our contract works so that we could focus on making this game on liberation war. Now, there was this game-breaking bug we do not have any clue about, was about to ruin our launch.
Well, by some luck and awesomeness of Arif and Apratim, we solved the bug and were able to launch the game on time.
It was a massive hit. There were 100 thousand downloads on the first day. The concurrent user number on our analytics dashboard was not falling below 1000 at any point in time that day. We were feeling ecstatic. Yes, it was not making any money for us. But we had finally made something that made us noticeable countrywide.
After Heroes of 71, we raised a couple hundred thousand dollars to build the next big thing, Mukti Camp, a strategy game. Heroes of 71 brought in a lot of users, but we did not make much money. We were finally onto making something that would make us money and set our company to profitability. We worked for more than a year on this game. We merged with another company as well, so that we could build a stronger team to make this game happen. Well, we did build a very strong team and probably a good game, too. Like Heroes of 71, Mukticamp did really well for its early adopters and our avid fans. We hit 100 thousand downloads in three days of launching. However, this game did not become not as viral as Heroes of 71.
We tried to monetize the game through phone balance and bkash, but the revenue was not satisfactory. Our investors set a target that we had to make our revenue more than our cost per install. We worked for a few months but unfortunately could not improve the numbers. The walls around us started closing in. We were out of funds. We tried to raise more funds but failed miserably. We had to lay off almost our entire team. The CEO had to go. Only a few (8-9) people were left. Mukti Camp was a massive failure. The game we thought would set us up on profitability ended up almost killing our company. For legal issues and disputes with shareholders and investors, all of us had to leave our previous company and set up a new one. We formed a new company named Alpha Potato.
We decided to shift our focus from the Bangladeshi market to the international market. I was always under the impression that the international market is too difficult for us to penetrate. But luckily one of our investors brought in connection with a renowned hyper-casual publisher, “Lion Studios”. We started working with them.
It was a rough start. When you work with mobile publishers, you basically make games and ask them to test it on the market. If it makes retention and user acquisition metrics, they would publish your game. But our initial games were not even getting selected for tests, let alone for us to see whether our games were making the metrics or not. However, somehow we persevered, and after a couple of months, Lion Studios became really impressed with the quality of our work and speed.
Around August, the publisher asked whether we could make a realistic simulation of peeling. It sounded dumb as a game and appeared to be insanely difficult from a technical point of view. But we made an attempt anyway. Somehow our attempts were proving to be successful from a technical perspective, and we started feeling that we were closing in on a fun and satisfying game experience. A few weeks later, the game went for a test. The market test on the prototype went remarkably well and the publisher sent papers to sign deal on this game. We, the “Alpha Potato” were finally able to sign a deal with our publisher.
During the review phase of the game, we were making more content and improving the game. The numbers were improving dramatically, and at one point our publisher said- “If the user acquisition cost is any cheaper, it would basically be free installs. The numbers are so good, it might be the game of your lifetime”. We were overjoyed. It looked like we were getting to taste success after years.
September 12, 2019. I Peel Good got launched globally. It skyrocketed to the top of the US chart and stayed there as the overall number one app for over a week. Since then, it has been in the top chart of many other countries worldwide. This is an insane achievement for a game company that is entirely founded and operated in Bangladesh. It is a great feeling to see a Bangladeshi game ruling the top charts of the world. I believe Alpha Potato will keep making games that will keep ruling the top charts.