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TapKat at 'freemium' stage - Creator eyes big figures for Jamaican-made app

Published:Saturday | August 30, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Stephen Williamson

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

Stephen Williamson seems as intent on business as he is on creativity with his new game, TapKat Fiesta.

It is the first game app by Williamson to be published on Google Play Store, but despite its novice status, the developer also believes that based on reactions so far the new game is en route to success. "There are many great successes that came from small studios that produce content for the mobile market," he said, supporting his point with the financial successes of the game apps Angry Birds and Flappy Bird.

The 24-year-old easily points out the dollar figure on some popular games. "Angry Birds is currently worth an estimated US$9 billion, while Flappy Bird's developer, Dong Nguyen, was earning up to US$50,000 daily," he said.

However, it will take a while - if ever - before TapKat can achieve those numbers, in Jamaican currency at that. So Williamson is taking a methodical approach to marketing an app that took him three months to create.

When quizzed about TapKat's earnings thus far, Williamson explained that the game currently operates on a "freemium model". This means that the game is free for download and will not cost users anything unless they want an upgrade on certain features, otherwise known as in-app purchasing.

The team also earns from in-app advertisement, which works by serving an ad on each play of the game. What may seem like a gamble to some is viewed as growth for Williamson and his team. "It's far from a gamble. As we market the game we see a steady increase in growth. It would have been more of a gamble if we made a game, placed it in the app store then just hoped people would download it," he said.

He admitted, however, that a brilliant game will not prove the only ingredient necessary for success in what he describes as a highly competitive market. "The very thing that makes the market attractive is what creates the risk associated with competing in a space where consumers have many options," he explained.

"Here is where careful strategy, proper execution of your business model and focus is required. If a developer approaches the market with the notion that a good game (product) is all that is required to do well, their game will end up in a pool of apps with little to no downloads, hence little to no revenue."

Released earlier this month through Island Interactive (Trading as Pandosoft), TapKat Fiesta is an arcade-style shooter game. The main game character, a cat agent, flies around in a helicopter firing healing balls to cure mutated birds - while dodging bird bombs - in a bid to defeat Rattimus and his alien team.

Since its release, the game has reportedly been getting rave reviews from its online users who believe that with its addictive qualities, the app could become the next biggest online gaming phenomenon.

Previously, Stephenson turned Tilsa Wright's novel Star Boy into an animated series.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com