Most indies don't follow this particular model, instead going where the biggest audiences are. But Spry Fox's model (which, as an aside, also mirrors my own company, Necrosoft), relies on building from small audiences. "Go to places where there's high platform support. If they're launching a new service, and they have the ability to promote us, we'll go there." If the large audience eventually comes, you're already well positioned. Triple Town came out when there weren't a lot of free-to-play games, not a lot of competition, so they got featured nine times on the Android store, and several more on iOS. "When you have a platform, it goes through a lifecycle," says Cook. At the beginning the platform owners are desperate to grow. So there are two phases to any business opportunity. "There's this investment phase where they're developers' best friends," he says. "They tell you, 'I'll give you money, I'll give you promotion, and I'll give you access.'" "However, as soon as there's a decent number of game companies in that marketplace, it switches over, and it turns into an extraction mode," he says. "Then they start to say, 'Oh, game developers are a dime a dozen, we can just get money out of them.' So we try to get in and get out before there's too much trouble." Though Road Not Taken was not a massive success financially, releasing the game early on PlayStation Plus ensured the game wasn't a failure. This "new platform model" is not without risk, of course - if you succeed, you'll succeed slowly, but if you fail, you'll fail fast. Gamasutra and GDC China are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech.
"The game industry evolves so incredibly quickly that if you keep doing the same thing over and over you're going to get eaten alive."
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The 'new-platform' model - an alternate path for indies
Spry Fox's entire model is built upon investing in new marketplaces, and Road Not Taken would be the first big console push for the company. That meant the game would be a big departure for the company, in multiple ways.