If you love mobile games, there’s a fair probability that you have played, or at least heard of, Rodeo Stampede, a ground-breaking running simulation game that has captured the imagination of 300 million daily active users at its peak. What makes this game even more remarkable is the longevity of its success. Game developers have long understood that shooting stars in this industry have a habit of fading fast. Typically, a popular casual game may be sustainable for just one year.
Bucking the trend, two young and talented Australian developers teamed up with the Game Publishing team at Yodo1 to turn a fun prototype into a lasting game franchise. Success, founded on a solid partnership that continues to grow stronger after five incredible years.
Rodeo Stampede was not the first attempt by Dylan Bevis and Tim Kalder to realize commercial success in the gaming industry under the Featherweight brand. The team’s first effort, Enterchained, is a gladiatorial hack-and-slash launched back in 2014. The game helped Dylan and Tim make a name for themselves within the Australian developer community. However, their early attempts in self-publishing fell short of providing the financial freedom they sought to continue doing what they love–creating great games.
Together with independent artist Dan Graf, Featherweight renewed their efforts with a unique concept for a new game. The core mechanics of Rodeo Stampede were fast and fun, testing a player’s ability to run, jump, and remain on certain animals while avoiding obstacles to collect rewards. Eye-catching graphics combined with easy to learn controls made it popular with men and women across all age groups. For these reasons, the game was sure to attract many new players, but it was Rodeo Stampede’s deep meta-game that caught the attention of Yodo1.
In gaming terms, the meta-game is an aspect of the game that transcends core game rules. Think of it like this: if playing and beating the opposition is core to a football game, buying and selling players to build a winning team might be considered the meta-game. In Rodeo Stampede, the meta-game is to construct and manage your own zoo from the animals captured and rewards collected.
The idea of combining a zoo management meta-game with an endless runner core game loop was a novel concept when Featherweight and Yodo1 met in late December 2015. Understanding the long-term potential of the game, the company flew Dylan, Tim and Dan from Australia to their studio to work with their development teams. After several weeks of mutual collaboration, Yodo1 proposed an ambitious strategy to launch the game globally.
“Up to now, Featherweight had a great idea and an excellent prototype, but not quite enough content for an official launch,” explained Henry Fong, Yodo1’s Co-founder & CEO. “We worked on a 6-month pre-launch effort to flesh out the game, and combined with market research with plenty of A/B testing to get the game ready to go big in 30 different countries worldwide.”
Yodo1 helped Featherweight generate more content, access new markets and optimize game monetization. The same benefits the publisher offers to all talented indie developers with an excellent game. Having Yodo1 as their partner to focus on the game’s commercial success gave Dylan and Tim the freedom to do what they do best: work on great game mechanics and innovative content.
Taking the time to get things right paid off in spades. After six months of planning and preparation, the game had enough content for a solid launch and was in an excellent position to market on the world’s two biggest app platforms, Google and Apple, which heavily featured the game. On top of this, Yodo1 were able to fine-tune a delicate balance between ads and in-app purchases using their Managed Ad Services (MAS) SDK to mediate ad networks efficiently, a process that the company continues to optimize.
Despite meticulous planning and preparation, launch week was not without its challenges. The biggest was when it was discovered that Rodeo Stampede would be a week apart from one of the biggest game launches of all time, the launch of Pokemon Go.
Rather than trying to compete head to head for media attention with such a massive franchise, Yodo1 needed to devise a creative marketing strategy to break through the noise. The company decided that if the game was to be successful on a global scale, they would need to enlist the help of the world’s top gaming influencers.
The resulting campaign generated millions of daily views in the local language of thirty heavy-hitting influencers such as Saudi Gamer (Saudi Arabia), ThinkNoodles (USA) and Ddotty (South Korea). To support these efforts, organized events like one on TikTok encouraged players to create and upload gameplay videos, which resulted in over 6,000 gamer generated videos and 120 million views. A promotional video was also made showing all the top influencers playing Rodeo Stampede from around the world.
The strategic decision to focus influencer marketing and promotion locally while launching globally could not have gone better. Rodeo Stampede was an instant hit and the number one download in 27 countries. This culminated in the honor of being awarded ‘Game of the Year’ for both the IOS App and Google Play Stores in 2016.
Providing indie developers with the knowledge and tools to monetize globally is Yodo1’s core area of expertise, especially in difficult but massive markets like China, where the game attracted one million users a day on launch. Across all platforms, it reached 300 million downloads at its peak.
This was all possible due to the strong relationship which has evolved between two committed partners. “The two companies have developed what you might call a holistic working relationship, where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. That’s what a good partnership is all about,” comments Featherweight Co-founder, Dylan Bevis. “If one partner has other urgent priorities, the other steps in to keep things moving in the right direction. At the same time, by taking care of the commercial aspects of the business, Yodo1 allowed Featherweight the time and freedom to create and innovate.”
Most casual to mid-core games like Rodeo Stampede typically have their best year in launch year, then slowly fade. But the partnership between Featherweight and Yodo1 has been so successful that the game had its best year in its 5th year (2020), experiencing three increases in LifeTime Value (LTV) along the way. Confidence that Rodeo Stampede has yet still more success to come has inspired the continued partnership between these two pioneering game companies going into 2021 and beyond. Ultimately, a partnership that started well has continued well and is going from strength to strength year on year.
Moving ahead into the sixth year of collaboration, having a trusted partner has worked well for both parties. The success of Rodeo Stampede has allowed Featherweight to grow and become a bigger studio and invest more time and resources in another major game development project. In the meantime, Yodo1 continues to pick up the slack and keep the success of Rodeo Stampede going with new and exciting maps, content and monetization enhancements due for release.
The continued success of Rodeo Stampede has provided Dylan and Tim with considerable freedom. It has allowed them to take the time to travel and work from anywhere. It has also provided the means to scale a successful business and reinvest time and resources into bigger and bolder game projects like their recently launched game Botworld Adventure. The best is yet to come!
If you are an indie developer with a promising game and need a trusted and experienced partner to take it to the next level, get in touch with our publishing team at https://home.yodo1.com/contact-us.
Get the latest game growth tips. Register for the Yodo1 newsletter.