Kazakh entrepreneur sells two businesses to craft worldwide mobile games: the journey of iDosGames
Aidos Ryskeldynov, a Kazakh entrepreneur, initially possessed a taxi fleet and a series of vending coffee machines. Eventually, he divested from these prosperous ventures and funneled all the proceeds into his game development venture, iDosGames. The assortment of mobile games under iDosGames shares a cohesive ecosystem, complete with tokens and an expansive NFT marketplace. In the year 2022 alone, the firm generated $450 thousand from the sale of its cryptocurrency. Discover the current trajectory of the company in Aidos’ interview with Digital Business.
“100 Startup Stories of Kazakhstan” is the joint project of Digital Business and Astana Hub. The project showcases the inspiring journeys of Kazakhstani entrepreneurs and Astana Hub participants from various countries who are revolutionizing the tech industry with their innovative products and services. We believe that one of them will eventually rise to the status of a Unicorn company, thereby elevating Kazakhstan’s reputation in the global IT market. Through this endeavor, we hope to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship within readers and encourage them to establish their own daring and creative startups.
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“Advertising revenue generated per user in the United States is tenfold compared to that in Central Asia”
— Aidos, what activities were you involved in prior to iDosGames?
— Starting from 2012, I ventured into conventional businesses, exploring different opportunities. My final endeavors prior to iDosGames encompassed managing a taxi fleet and establishing a chain of vending coffee machines.
The concept of establishing a mobile game development studio emerged in 2015. From that point onward, I embarked on a gradual journey of delving into the industry, assessing the required initial investments for the project. There were two instances – in 2015 and 2017 – when I had to postpone the launch due to a lack of sufficient capital. The pivotal moment arrived in 2019 when I divested from my existing businesses and wholeheartedly directed my focus towards iDosGames.
—I struggled to comprehend your motivation. You had two successful businesses generating profits, while game development represented an entirely novel niche…
—I possessed a technical background, engaging in the development of websites for various internet shops across the projects I was involved in. My scope encompassed everything but design, providing me with skills in web programming. However, this expertise resided in a distinct realm entirely separate from mobile game development.
My motivation is straightforward: my passion for computer games has been ingrained since childhood. I can vividly recall playing Dendy at the age of three. This dream persisted for a long time. My perspective, however, shifted when I calculated the initial investments and realized that the responsibility of financing this idea rested solely on me.
— You initiated your journey with mobile game development on the blockchain. Was this relevant for Kazakhstan in 2019?
— Taking a global perspective, the initial wave of crypto enthusiasm emerged during 2016-17. During that period, I personally engaged in purchasing various tokens and experienced losses due to scams. However, my conviction in the immense potential of blockchain technology remained steadfast, recognizing its applicability across diverse domains.
Around that time frame, the concept of my own project began to take shape: iDosGames could develop products in Kazakhstan, tailored for international markets. These markets were primarily focused on Europe and North America, where the advertising revenue per user stood at ten times the amount seen in Central Asia. Consequently, our mobile games were strategically aimed at audiences from the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and Brazil. From the outset, our games lacked localization and did not even support Russian.
— How does the system involving in-game tokens remain sustainable? The global landscape appears to host countless tokens promising earning potential, yet a significant portion of these offerings turns out to be a scam.
—I concur. This is precisely why iDosGames initially prioritized gameplay over monetary gains. It’s evident that many blockchain games gain traction by promoting earning opportunities. While this might lead to a surge in interest and rapid earnings, such trends are often short-lived as users swiftly shift to new applications.
Our approach diverges from this trend. We refrain from emphasizing crypto tools to users. Instead, each of our games focuses on delivering captivating and engaging gameplay. If users find the experience enjoyable, they naturally engage in profile development and upgrades, which include the acquisition of goods and NFT-based skins. The concept of tokens only enters the picture when a user intends to transfer in-game currency to their wallet. At that point, we provide clear instructions on creating a wallet and executing proper transfers. In essence, all of iDosGames’ projects seamlessly blend classic gaming with blockchain elements.
“With our platform, we have the capability to create games within a span of two days”
— One of your initial projects, the ShootGun shooter, debuted on PlayMarket in 2021. Did the development of mobile games prove to be so challenging that it necessitated a two-year timeframe?
— Certainly not. However, there’s a crucial aspect that remains relatively unknown: iDosGames is more than just a game development studio. Right from its inception, we’ve been dedicated to crafting an SDK platform (software development kit). This platform can be likened to a toolkit for creating mobile games, effectively condensing the timeline from conceptualization to launch down to just one week.
Put simply, our endeavors encompass not only crafting our own games, but also formulating a product tailored for other developers. This product automates and streamlines processes, significantly curtailing the production timeline. Our work on this SDK platform is ongoing, with a targeted completion and release by the end of 2023.
— Could you please provide additional details about what an SDK entails?
— An SDK comprises a collection of solutions primarily utilized in game development. For instance, it encompasses an invitation system enabling developers to initiate referral programs and invite friends and acquaintances as users. Additionally, it incorporates a sophisticated shop for transparent transactions involving in-game items, along with a marketplace and various other components. A pivotal aspect for us is the inclusion of a wallet necessary for launching projects on the blockchain.
In essence, the SDK functions as a toolkit encompassing a range of processes frequently employed in mobile game development, all of which significantly impact factors like Retention Rate and LTV.
— Does the complexity of this platform necessitate several years of development?
— Indeed, in the initial year of iDosGames, we primarily delved into the intricacies of mobile development and acquired further insights. Subsequently, we introduced new games that enabled us to refine key components for the SDK. This process isn’t straightforward: it commences with product creation, followed by an array of AB tests aimed at gauging the impact of different tools on essential metrics. Numerous instances arose where our hypotheses had adverse effects on metrics such as LTV.
This multifaceted journey is precisely why the entire endeavor spanned multiple years.
— From my understanding, are you currently able to initiate game launches within a span of one to two weeks?
— Exactly. Occasionally, even quicker. A case in point: during spring 2023, Only Up gained immense popularity as a game. Leveraging our SDK, we managed to craft similar solutions within just two days. Subsequently, we witnessed a substantial influx of organic downloads, amounting to several thousand daily, on both PlayMarket and Apple Store.
— Have I comprehended correctly: your approach involves adopting popular concepts and replicating them? This notion arises because ShootGun, as you mentioned earlier, bears a striking resemblance to PUBG…
— iDosGames centers its focus on benchmarks, emulating successful strategies and enhancing them with our innovations. There’s no inherent issue with this approach.
Interestingly, the perception often leans towards the gamedev market being overly competitive – as though there are tens of thousands of developers vying for each user. However, what tends to go unnoticed is that mobile games cater to a staggering 4 billion users across the globe. Taking PUBG as an example, this particular app contends with fewer than 10 substantial competitors. In essence, our actions are not unethical; we are simply in pursuit of our specific audience.
“In the year 2022, iDosGames generated $450 thousand through token sales”
— What is the size of the iDosGames team?
— Currently, the iDosGames team consists of 7 members, including developers, designers, and product managers. During the peak period, we had a team of 10 individuals.
— During the development of the SDK, what was the primary source of your earnings?
— Our initial games, ShootGun and our rendition of 2048, contributed funds that partially offset our expenses.
Our income from products is categorized as follows:
1. Advertising. Anyone who has downloaded at least one application onto their phone is familiar with the prevalence of ads.
2. In-game transactions. Our games incorporate a store where players can purchase items to expedite character upgrades and enhance their in-game progress. These items can be acquired using either fiat currency or our proprietary cryptocurrency.
3. Subscriptions. Subscriptions are utilized to eliminate ads or accelerate the acquisition of in-game resources.
Currently, we can almost entirely cover our expenses. In 2022, we garnered $450 thousand solely from token sales. Looking ahead, we anticipate further revenue streams from the SDK platform. As we charge developers using our tools for other games, this will constitute an additional income source.
—Please provide insights into the audience metrics for the games created by your studio.
— More than 250,000 registered users, with a daily MAU of 47,000 individuals. The three leading countries where our games have gained the most popularity are the USA, Brazil, and the Philippines.
“Our goal for the remainder of the year is to publicly release the SDK”
— What can we anticipate from your company over the next year to year and a half?
— Our objective is to finalize the SDK platform. Over the company’s span of 3-4 years, our focus has subtly shifted in this direction. Initially, we perceived the SDK as a tool for other studios or developers. However, our current vision is to enable anyone to create mobile games, irrespective of their familiarity with programming languages. In an ideal scenario, users should be able to provide detailed textual descriptions and receive a finished game in return.
Our plans for the end of 2023 encompass the public release of the SDK and our entry into the B2B market of game development. We aim to facilitate a scenario where numerous games utilize our tokens and cryptocurrency.
Our aspiration is to establish strong collaboration with other global gaming development and technology companies. Given the vastness of the market, there’s ample room for each entity to find its niche.
— Any other plans?
—Presently, iDosGames is actively coordinating game development workshops within universities. We have successfully executed such initiatives at institutions like Kazakhstan State University, NARXOZ University, and IITU. Our aim is to promote and popularize this field within Kazakhstan.
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