A Q&A session with indie game developer Spry Fox

The pursuit of innovation and delivering happiness to gamers

Kacey Fahey
Aug 30, 2017 · 6 min read

Spry Fox is an indie developer that’s been making mobile games since 2010. The small but mighty team quit their former jobs and set out on a mission to build games that invoke happiness, while challenging and connecting their users with playful characters and a variety of gameplay styles. With a company motto of “making happiness,” the team is made up of 17 people spread across the globe. What they all have in common is their passion to build communities and pursue truly unique and creative games their users have come to love.

Along the way, Spry Fox has made a name for themselves in the indie developer community. Building a successful business with free-to-play (F2P) games is a challenge for many. To hear their story and gain insights to share with other indie devs, we sat down with David Edery, Co-founder and CEO and Daniel Cook (Danc), Chief Creative Officer at Spry Fox.

What’s it like being an indie developer on Android and Google Play?

How have Android & Google Play helped grow your business?

Most of your games are free-to-play. How do you choose a business model and any tips you can share for making it work?

Many of those players end up treating our games as their hobby. Our game is often the only one on their phone. That’s a huge responsibility!

Sometime people think of F2P just as a means of making money, but that’s a really bad attitude. F2P works best when you treat players with generosity and kindness. What value to the player does that IAP really provide? We always ask “are we adding happiness to the world”? If the answer is no, then we stop and try to do better.

As an indie dev with limited resources, how do you approach marketing and gaining users?

How do you view innovation and developing for new platforms?

We’re working on just-for-fun games that healthy, supportive communities can form around. We’re working on educational games that will be both fun, and hopefully also enlightening to players. We’re even working on games that might help researchers tap into the collective brainpower of millions of players to help advance the cause of science.

Regarding platform innovation, we tend to be more excited about new game platforms than most game developers because we feel that these are the places where highly original video games have the greatest chance of thriving. Large existing platforms tend to favor huge teams working on games in established genres that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. While wildly innovative games certainly succeed on those platforms, they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. But new platforms — like Daydream — are a place where customer expectations haven’t become rigid yet and investment in projects have not yet priced out the wonderful experiments that excite us so much.

Can you tell us more about your new VR game being built for Daydream?

We’ve always been excited to see what can be done with new platforms. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that many games are built entirely around the interface you find on a specific platform. For example, many mobile games are focused on tapping and swiping because that’s the core interaction that is possible on a touch screen. So when approaching a new platform, we always ask ”what can the player do?” The Daydream controller and headset are an entirely new form of control that very naturally leads to new ways of playing. There’s motion, there’s pointing, and you can look around in this immersive 3D space. What will be fun? We create lots of little interaction toys to find out. You have to turn yourself into a child playing with something new and shiny.

We failed a lot. That’s the challenge, but one we enjoy. There’s something magical for an invention-focused company to be grappling with a field that’s not yet fully defined. Maybe we’ll get to invent the future.

Beartopia trailer

What do you love most about what you do with Spry Fox and what are you most excited about in the future of mobile gaming?

Danc: I’m excited about bringing people together and helping make their lives a little richer. Mobile is a very social platform and I’m really interested in games that connect people instead of ones that isolate them.

What do you think?

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