July - Agar.ioSat, Aug 15, 2015
If you haven’t played agar.io, go do that now. Two months ago I played this game and thought it might work great on iOS. I checked the app store, and there were three clones, and none had multiplayer, the defining feature of the game.
So I set out to build it myself.
…but halfway through the month, agar.io released their own app. It’s not that good, but it is popular. Both the iPhone and the iPad present a distinct challenge in translating the experience that works well when you can see a good portion of a large battlefield. When you shrink the view, it feels like you get eaten without any warning, and it’s just not very rewarding.
Agar runs on ads, which makes the experience less good than it could be. My plan was to allow for user-created images and charge for skin contact packs. Animal Crossing’s t-shirt design was the model I was looking to copy.
Because of the necessary server cost, there needed to be some way to keep revenue flowing to support the user base. Ads are one way to achieve this, but it doesn’t feel good.
There are times when you should double down on investment, and times when you need to quit. Games are fun, but so few become widely profitable that it seems like a worse lottery ticket than even employee equity.
So what’s next?
Good things. I won’t work on any projects I don’t believe in, since time is scarce and I don’t quite like putting hundreds of hours into building metaphorical sand castles. Only the builder cares about them, they’re extremely temporary, and if you leave the sand castle for even a little while, the tide washes it away.
Without a crystal clear vision of what to build next, I think I’ll take some time and see if I can help others make their visions into reality. I’m not giving up on games, but I need to be realistic on what I can do on my own. As an individual, there’s just too much to do. There is value in teams, and I may build one.