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How an Indie Mobile Game Built a Legacy

Recently, IP collaborations in games have gone from a little-known marketing tactic to a widespread, powerful strategy for growth. One need only look at Fortnite’s constant stream of collaborations to see just how successful they can be. In gaming, these may take the form of limited-time IP and brand collaborations, or crossovers with other games. While the upside for such events can be huge, allowing games to tap into massive fanbases with overlapping demographics, the real challenge and skill is in matching the right game with the right IP. 

Retro pixel art game Idle Slayer was going from strength to strength since Pablo Leban left his stable job to follow his dream of making games. His creativity and community-building skills all came into play, and in less than a year, Idle Slayer hit the magical million downloads on Google Play. Strategic efforts in UA and organic marketing followed, with Yodo1 helping the game reach the next level of scale, quadrupling its player base in a matter of months (read about it in the previous part of this series). The game was a true hit, and soon the potential of an IP collaboration became an exciting—and realistic—prospect.

Idle Slayer x Shovel Knight

Idle Slayer’s journey took an exciting turn with its crossover with Shovel Knight, an iconic 2D side-scrolling platform game from Yacht Club Games with an 8-bit graphics style that, side-by-side, seems a match made in heaven. The classic game has collaborated with major IPs and brands, including Fall Guys, Super Smash Bros., Arby’s, and more.

Pablo eventually met up with Yodo1 IP Licensing Manager Ismael Jorge while they were both attending GDC (Game Dev Connect) in San Francisco. Among other things, they talked through what an IP crossover might look like for Idle Slayer–something that Pablo had been considering for some time. He wanted to work with Shovel Knight for its synergies in aesthetic and audience appeal, but it also resonated with him on a personal level, making it a top-tier choice for collaboration. 

If his many game dev talents weren’t enough, Pablo is also a thoughtful businessman who considers every move of his game’s growth trajectory with extreme care, and he had quite a few questions.

In-Game Collaboration

“Even though he is a solo developer, he doesn’t have the mindset of one. He can execute, rather than come up with a list of nice-to-have things that will never get done. When he commits to something, he will deliver,” says Ismael.

Pablo made up his mind. It was indeed time for the next phase of Idle Slayer’s growth, and in Yodo1, he believed he had the right partner for the job.

“My aim was to bring Shovel Knight features into Idle Slayer, including its characters and ways to play. In this collaboration, you’ll see characters you recognize, as well as a boss fight and elements from Shovel Knight’s universe,” says Pablo about the collab.

Was Yodo1’s IP licensing team able to get Shovel Knight on board for the collab? You bet!

The iconic character would appear in Idle Slayer via a unique mechanic, which came about through back-and-forth brainstorming between Pablo and Ismael. The idea was to trigger the special event with a glitched special random box, instantly bringing a new level of magic and excitement into the game. Announced on the official Idle Slayer Twitter account on October 14th, 2023, and running for a limited time from November 1st to December 1st, 2023, the collaboration was highly anticipated.

Players were offered six new quest segments, a fresh boss fight, and a special collaboration skin, available for purchase with Jewels of Soul exclusively during the event. Players embarked on a quest where they encountered the Shovel Knight in a new story set in the Idle Slayer universe, complete with classic Shovel Knight elements and, as mentioned earlier, a challenging boss fight.

Pablo adds, “In this collaboration, I focused on including many references to Shovel Knight for fans to enjoy. I put special attention on the boss fight, as it’s a standout feature in the Shovel Knight series.”

Mobile Games IP Collaborations

The collaboration proved to be a massive success, resulting in a staggering 650% spike in revenue following its launch, holding strong at a 70% increase by day ten. On top of this, Idle Slayer saw a nearly 100% increase in ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) by day ten, indicating not just more players, but more engaged players. Pablo worked closely with Yodo1’s IP licensing team to bring it to fruition, from the planning stage to asset creation, story elements, contract negotiation, promotional materials, and more. Situations like these are where Yodo1 can really leverage its secret sauce as a large mobile games publisher to make sure IPs and games are a good fit. Integrating an IP into a game successfully requires a skilled and experienced hand.

And if you’re wondering whether this is the end of Idle Slayer’s IP-crossover ventures, just keep your eyes peeled on the horizon for something Titan-sized lumbering toward you.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Despite working alone, Pablo has showcased a remarkable capacity in executing both creative and technical aspects of game development, including original art and coding, driven by a deep love for gaming, an engaged community, and a passion for making the best game possible. When you boil it down, this is the secret to success. But key partnerships, if done well, can propel great games like Idle Slayer to new levels of growth and scale, leveraging know-how, resources, and fellow game lovers.

Idle Slayer’s story isn’t over yet—not by a long shot. The journey continues, and we are delighted to be a part of it.