Working as a chemical engineer in Texas, Anthony Tirone picked up coding and game development as a hobby. "I made a basic zoo game," he says, "with terrible art that I did on my own – but it was actually fairly successful." Soon afterward, an industry developer reached out looking to partner. "He played my game and offered to help me build it out," Anthony recalls. "So he hired an artist, paid for some improvements, and we re-released it. It was an even bigger hit."
Tech Tree Games
Anthony's advice for other developers
Why ad revenue?
Two years later in 2019, Anthony gathered his learnings and developed a second game called Idle Planet Miner. "I put a lot of time and effort into it," he says. "And it ended up being another hit - so I thought maybe I can keep doing this. Five months later, I decided to pursue game development full time, and I've made seven new games since then."
Now Anthony is living out his dreams as the proud owner and founder of Tech Tree Games. "It's been this giant shift in my life - I now get to make games for a living," he says. "And it's all because of the amazing suite of tools and reach that comes with tech platforms; you can do a few things by yourself and boom – it's available all over the world."
To find his top game audience, Anthony starts with Google Play. "Google has been my best partner throughout building this business," he explains. "I can do a bit of marketing on Google Play, bring in a few people, and it just snowballs - the ease of access to new players on Google is unparalleled, especially if you're a small indie developer like me."
With a large and engaged base of players, Anthony has built revenue streams through in-app purchases and digital ads. "The key," he says, "is that ads actually feed into keeping people around longer on the app and ultimately towards the purchasing funnel." And to keep a high quality user experience, Anthony uses mostly rewarded video ads. "Rewarded video ads have been a great way to respect user experience - I'm able to reward people with a premium paid feature in exchange for watching an ad. It's a really direct value proposition."
Anthony chose to partner with Google AdMob to help serve ads in his apps and has seen results in two critical areas: CPMs and ad quality. "My games have really high value customers, so I can set high goals for AdMob eCPMs to hit and it achieves them," he shares. "I've worked with other ad networks and I've been disappointed with their poor ad quality and bad user experience. But AdMob has really stood out as a network whose ad formats are really respectful of user experience and high quality advertisers."
Focusing on user experience has paid off; Anthony's games have a dedicated player base that come back to play regularly. "My newest game, ‘The Tower,' has a Discord community of over 17,000 members," he says. "They're super active and talk to each other, create feature wishlists and upvote ideas, and they're always finding new and creative ways to break my games. It's an awesome community."
Although building a business is hard - "a lot of things have to go right" - for Anthony it's been totally worth it. "Being able to create this community and suite of successful games has really been all I've ever dreamed of, and the fact that I can sustain this as a career and do this as a living is pretty incredible."