Mini game R&D team survival guide: survive or disband, this is a question!

Note: The content of this article is adapted from a real story. If there is any similarity, it is a coincidence!

Little games are not easy to make.

When the author met a long-lost friend in an industry conference, he told me.

Since I met Old Xu, he has been engaged in work related to small games, or publishing, or business in the R&D team, but this is the first time I have heard him say such discouraging words.

This also made me suddenly realize that the small game craze that once swarmed into the game seems to have really come to an end.


The company that Lao Xu currently works for is an h5 mini-game R&D team. The team and the boss have a total of five people, two programs, one planning, and one business-that’s Lao Xu himself.

He jumped to this company in 18 years. At that time, a large number of game boxes appeared on the market. Game boxes like the game community gave birth to more and more mini games and pushed them to a period of rapid development.

Afterwards, the game box gradually faded from the market due to various reasons, but the h5 mini-game did not disappear with the game box. Instead, it shifted its position and shifted the competition platform to several more standardized channels. Also in 2018, WeChat mini games and OV mini games have been officially launched. Old Xu was watching the rapid development of h5 and couldn’t help but want to get a share of the market.

In the beginning, they did make a little money. When the small game investment is small, the construction period is short, and the efficiency is highest, they can launch two products in an average month. Feeling novel users swarmed into all major platforms, “Any product can quickly harvest a lot of traffic.” That’s what Old Xu told me at the time.

The good times didn’t last long, and the small game market after the skyrocketing period suddenly became cramped. Players were educated in the unpleasant gaming experience, and were no longer willing to invest time and energy to identify high-quality products on the platform, so platform users A lot of losses, the era of “just making small games can make money” is over.

Soon after, I heard that Lao Xu and his company gave up WeChat, switched to mobile QQ, and started a more difficult medium to heavy product.

“The amount of purchase is too expensive!” Old Xu told me: “Although the support and share of WeChat are good, the amount of games on WeChat is about no amount. A user is several yuan, and the investment in the amount of purchase is more than R&D. The cost is high, it is impossible to do it!”

WeChat Mini Game List

In fact, not only WeChat, but every platform is not doing well.

When they switched to QQ, they also increased their investment in two heavy games in order to adapt to the preferences of platform users, and because of the good quality of the products, they successfully passed the new tour exam and received a down payment of more than 200,000.

But even after a good start, the comfortable life of Old Xu and his group only passed two months, and then they found that the funds began to become tight again. The main reason was that the hands were small and the settlement was small. slow.

The settlement cycle of N+2 and N+3 can easily consume the cash reserves of the old Xu and his team, and the development cycle of a new heavy product is too long. After removing the channel and distribution share, it is used as a research and development They think it is a bit difficult to keep the team running based on the revenue of the products that are launched.

“Oh, the mobile QQ market is small, and most of the users are sucked away by the top manufacturers. Even if a small team like ours passes the exam, it can usually get tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of down payments. A product that can win more than one million is already a top-notch product, and 2 million is even harder to think of.”

Mobile QQ game list

In fact, Old Xu has not been able to get his salary on time for two months. “The atmosphere in the company is tense now, and the boss is also following two procedures, for fear of losing talents even worse.” Old Xu smiled bitterly: “But I and the planner came out to do it alone. Now I can only grit my teeth and support him. .”

“Didn’t you set up another game recently?” I remembered the news I learned from other people a few days ago.

“Yeah.” Old Xu pondered, he didn’t seem to be very satisfied with this new project: “It’s a bit ashamed to say that, in fact, this new product is not our original.”

Old Xu said it euphemistically, but the meaning of the expression was very clear. Under the pressure of the current situation of the team’s existence, they had no choice but to choose a shortcut that they had not considered before-plagiarism.

I remembered the glowing eyes of Lao Xu when he told me about his game dreams a few years ago, and I couldn’t help but feel sore.

The two were silent for a long time, and Old Xu muttered: “The market is very realistic, and in fact, this phenomenon is really common. On several platforms, you can even easily find dozens of re-enacted versions of The Great Sage’s Reincarnation. “And “Blinking Light”, and in these games, even if only the art passes the level, and then find a reliable release, you can easily run millions of dollars.”

Old Xu’s voice was getting lower and lower, as if he was telling me, it was more like persuading himself. I can’t joke or criticize, after all, they just want to keep the team alive.


In this cruel market, it is really not easy to survive.

The small game development team that can barely survive like the old Xu team is already relatively lucky, because there are more enthusiastic developers who have not waited for their products to become profitable or even go online, they were forced to close down or It’s a career change.

For example, a Zeng boss I have always admired, from the establishment of the team at the beginning of 2019 to the announcement of the team’s dissolution at the end of 2019, it took less than a year.

This boss Zeng once worked in a traditional industry. Because of the big fire in the small game market, he accumulated enough savings in his hand, so he decided to enter the small game development market.

From the beginning of the formation of the team, Boss Zeng has aimed at relatively mild casual games. His reason is simple: he likes to play, and his family likes to play, so he thinks casual games have the ability to join parent-child interaction or open the pan The potential of the user market.

The first game came out soon. Boss Zeng was confident and invested a lot of money to promote the purchase, but the product flow has been unsatisfactory. After stopping the purchase, the users dropped sharply. Boss Zeng finally had no choice but to give up this product. .

In fact, whether it is the art design of this game or the choice of the theme, it can be seen that it is carefully, but the core gameplay is not very good, there are too many similar products on the market, and there is no differentiation, and the light at the time With the proliferation of casual games, the market has shown a trend of chaos, so this result is not unexpected.

However, Boss Zeng became more and more courageous, and soon established two projects, one of the same performance, the other did not even find a suitable release cooperation, so he has been wronged in Boss Zeng’s folder, only in our When I went to visit, I was dragged out to play.

In this way, the team’s income has not improved for more than half a year. Boss Zeng’s folder has piled up five or six products that failed to go online.

During this process, Boss Zeng still insisted on only making originals. This is the reason why I have always admired him so much, but I think this is probably also the reason why it is difficult for them to make quick profits.

In August 19, they suddenly thought of a way of customization. According to the market judgment at the time, if they can find a large manufacturer in need to cooperate, it is estimated that a product can get up to four to five million yuan, and at least two to three million yuan, which can at least help the team persist for a while.

However, because their team was immersed in development for more than half a year after its establishment, and lack of network support, after another three months, Boss Zeng, who had not been able to find a partner, had all exhausted his reserve funds and was forced to announce the dissolution of the team. .


It should be emphasized that the author did not write this article to incite industry anxiety.

And I also know very well that in addition to the “big families” commonly known in the industry, there are still people who have made money through small games, but compared to the large number of teams that are silently disappearing, there are really few.

Base’s boss Jiang and his team in Shenzhen are an example of a better current situation among the entrepreneurial teams doing small games.

Their team members have a good back tone. Not only have they accumulated rich development technology and market experience in the game field, but most importantly, they also made a fairly good investment. The team’s survival situation is better Most small and medium R&D teams are better.

And in fact, the survival of Boss Jiang’s team does not all depend on the monetization benefits of the mini game.

They have started to make some customized products since the beginning of their business, and in the self-developed products, they will use Cocos or Laya engine to do it from the beginning, then Apk package and directly change it into a small game version.

Because the cost of mini games is low and the cost of trial and error is small, they use mini games as a transitional method. Once a mini game gets a prepaid or deposit, they can use this money to focus on improving the mobile game product, so that the team is under pressure It will also decrease a lot.

This also means that the mini game is not the main target they are aiming at, but more like a springboard. It can not only help the team “recover blood” as soon as possible when the team is short of funds, but also help them test products at the lowest cost during the mobile game development process, and even win the funds for the next step of research and development and optimization.

Even so, when the latest operating rules of the small game platform stated that the game monetization specifications should be rectified, I still received a complaint from Boss Jiang-“It is really not easy to make small games.”

New monetization specifications for WeChat games


From the above examples, it is not difficult to see that the small game market has entered the shuffle stage after the big carnival.

Faced with the continuous emergence of a large number of new game players, they have already had aesthetic fatigue for products that lack uniqueness, and have put forward higher standards of quality requirements for small games.

In order to retain players, channels have to pay attention to the standardized management of the platform, improve the quality of the game through various means, and enhance the game experience of the players.

In order to reduce the potential risks of cooperation, the issuer had to tighten the belt and reduce the prepayment or deposit expenditure when taking the product.

The changes in the above three aspects have undoubtedly put tremendous pressure on the survival of small and medium-sized R&D teams.

Big waves of gold rush, I believe that in this stage of shuffling, there will still be many small game development teams that cannot withstand pressure from many aspects and are forced to disband or change the team’s business, but in the long run, they can withstand the test of the market and survive. The R&D team is about to usher in a long-term bonus period for the standardized development of small games.

So how can we survive? The answer to this difficult problem needs to be verified by all colleagues through actions, and everyone is welcome to share your views and insights with the game teahouse.

Source: Game Tea House


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