Game Development Reference
How Tiger Style Budgets and Produces Their Games
Smith estimates the budget of Spider to be about $15,000. That's a number that includes the purchase of all
equipment, licenses, and legal support. It also includes $10,000 in royalty advances paid to the team. That sum,
however, doesn't include any salaries or benefits. For example, during its eight months of development, Smith
lived off of his own money.
“We're all essentially unpaid contractors during a project; then we all collect lifetime royalties when the
game is released,” says Smith. On top of that fact, consider that Tiger Style is a distributed company without an
office; the company employees work over the Internet, and the company doesn't have investors. That's about as
low of an overhead as companies can get.
Waking Mars operated under the same model. It was a two-year development cycle that was supported by
the income of Spider, according to Smith. They paid out $38,000 in advance royalties and about another $5,000
in other expenses.
NOTE According to Smith, he and co-owner Kalina lived off the income from Spider during the two-year
development of Waking Mars. While they were developing Spider, they lived off their savings. Now they're
living off of Spider plus Waking Mars' income to develop their next projects.
“The rest of the team is more like a film production company,” says Smith. “They are contractors who work
with us when we have projects for them to work on and find other income the rest of the time. We provide roy-
alty advances to those who need it during production.”
How Tiger Style Increases Sales: Quality Design and
“There's no substitute to making a high-quality game that people play willingly, enjoy, become impressed by,
and tell their friends about,” says Smith. “Since we've earned a reputation for doing that, we get plenty of at-
tention from the press when we release our games, and that definitely helps us.” Some press sources, like Ya-
hoo!, Wired, and Touch Arcade, can even cause a noticeable bump in Tiger Style's sales graph. However, on
iOS, nothing beats support from Apple, especially getting featured with an App Store banner. Waking Mars was
blessed with a “Game of the Week” banner for both iPhone and iPad, and that helped with sales tremendously.
Spider had a similar story. In both cases, they worked hard to make a game that was native to the platform,
made good use of the hardware, was beautiful, original, and compelling, and showed that iOS was a great home
for high-quality content. They believe that impacts Apple's decision making about whether to feature them.
Premium Downloads versus In-App Payments—The Pros
Meaning they were sold as relatively high-priced paid downloads.
Both Spider and Waking Mars were developed with a “traditional boxed-goods mentality,” as Smith describes
it. However, he acknowledges this revenue model is being replaced on the iOS by the free-to-play, games-as-a-
service model. For him, this approach will make sense for future games his studio develops.