It’s a premium title where you play a different mini game every 10 seconds.
Pia Aguilos, Lead Content Writer, and I chat with Alva Majo, the lead behind Majorariatto. We talked about his influences, the struggles of being an indie game developer and why Majorariatto doesn't release freemium games.
Q: I've been looking through your previous work and I found that Majotori was the very first game you released under Majorariatto. Was this the first game you ever made? How long have you been developing games? And what made you want to start developing games?
I actually started making pureya because I was dissatisfied with mobile games.
Yes, Majotori was the first game I made. I had been trying to make a naively ambitious game before, but it got nowhere, so I focused on making a small and manageable game with Majotori.
I'd always wanted to end up making games since I started playing them as a kid, but it wasn't until the tools to make them got popular and easy enough to use that I could start developing them for reals.
Q: What I personally find most amazing about your games is that they're always somewhere in the spectrum of fun and frustrating. This is most true in your game Golfing Over it with Alva Majo, inspired by another frustratingly fun game Getting Over it with Bennet Foddy. Can you tell us more about your influences and how they shape who you are as an artist and game designer? Who are your biggest influences for developing games?
With the exception of Golfing Over it with Alva Majo, because it's the point of the game, I don't really try to make my games frustrating at all. With Majotori, I tried to make losing less frustrating by making the story move forward regardless, often with comically dark outcomes. However, some players feel like the game is unfairly punishing them if the characters don't get a happy ending, and get frustrated anyway
...thinking deeply about what your trying to make and not wasting the player's time
Although it doesn't really reflect that much because my games so far are pretty small and different in comparison, my biggest influences are the simplicity of Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus), the general design philosophy of Jonathan Blow (Braid, The Witness) of thinking deeply about what your trying to make and not wasting the player's time, and the great gameplay of Nintendo games in general.
Q: I don't know if our readers would agree with me because tastes are so subjective, but for me, the mobile games that I enjoy the most are those that are quick, simple to learn, and great to play in short bursts. I've had the chance to play pureya, your latest title, and it ticked all of those boxes. What is the story behind pureya? How did you come up with the idea of switching up the game every 10 seconds? Were there any changes to the concept since you began development in 2016?
I actually started making pureya because I was dissatisfied with mobile games. Simple games are usually too simple, so they get boring fast, while more complex ones are not that suited to play as a mobile game. I tried to address these problems by making a game that's simple and quick to play while changing constantly so it remains fun.
...try to use modern platform's recommendations algorithms to your benefit.
The idea of switching minigames was directly inspired by Wario Ware, a game with tons of silly microgames that play one after the other. I thought I would make something similar but focusing more on the quality rather than the quantity of the minigames.
The general idea for pureya has remained the same since the first concept. However, the progression system through the pachinko has gone through dozens of wild changes and iterations until I found something that worked and was simple enough.
Q: In your experience, what are the challenges you face from game development to marketing?
Getting noticed is the biggest obstacle for indie games nowadays. Unless you make a game that's so visually stunning that instantly catches people's (and publisher's) attention, it's really hard to make people care about it or give it a chance, even if you release it for free. Everyone's got too many other games to play.
Q: There's so much competition in the realm of mobile games and yet you managed to stand out. What kind of advice would you give to developers who want to emulate your success?
Since I was getting nowhere with my indie marketing tactics, I decided to start a youtube channel and try to become a personality myself by making fun videos sharing my knowledge and experiences making games. I got lucky and it went surprisingly well. Three years later I'm almost at 300,000 subscribers.
I try to stay away from any monetization methods other than "premium", because...it's the least intrusive one.
So, the actual reason for pureya's success is that I could promote it heavily to a dedicated audience in my youtube channel. Otherwise it's likely that it would have gone largely unnoticed in a sea of endless releases.
So I guess my advice would be to try to use modern platform's recommendations algorithms to your benefit. It could be youtube, it could be tiktok, or any other platform that actually helps you grow a fan base. It won't happen overnight, so be sure to keep cultivating it and studying what helps you grow and what doesn't.
Q: Mobile games are known for loot-boxes, in-app purchases or ads, but you opted to just have a paid game rather than the usual route. Could you tell us more about why you chose this as the way to monetize your game?
I care deeply about the games I make, and I see them as art. I would rather make less money than betraying my values or adding something I think detrimental to the game, so as long as I can afford it, I try to stay away from any monetization methods other than "premium", because, even though it is a barrier to entry, it's the least intrusive one. After that initial payment, I don't need the game to keep trying to trick you into spending more money or opening it everyday to maintain retention and all that.
Q: Now that pureya is out, what's next for Majorariatto? Are you taking the time to rest to incubate new ideas, or is another game in the works?
I'm mostly resting at the moment, but also getting things ready for our next developments. There are various games I want to make, but I think the next one will be a very small game about cute dogs that I hope will be an interesting short experience. Can't spoil any more than that at the moment!