Wow! It’s 2017 already! With everyone looking back on 2016, I figured that now is a good time as any to do the same for us. Although SNAPPZILLA isn’t even a year old, we’ve gotten a lot accomplished and broken a few barriers in the short time we’ve been around. We’ve also made a lot of friends along the way. I wanted to put together a little something showing how far we’ve come and where we’re going in the future. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee…….wait, what the hell am I thinking. Pop the damn champagne! This is “SNAPPZILLA: A Retrospective”.
Just a quick story on how we got started……
James and I actually met awhile back in a popular gaming forum. I think I was critiquing his new game, MAYHEM! at the time. I had just started a YouTube Channel and had only had few dozen followers, but did a gameplay video on it. We chatted a little and that was about it. Months later, I decided to put the YouTube Channel on hold and try out writing reviews and just slapping them up on Tumblr and tweeting them out. That’s when James and I crossed paths again. James was talking about how he used to run an iOS review site called, AppZilla that ended up fizzling out, but had another domain (snappzilla) that he never did anything with. That’s pretty much how the idea of SNAPPZILLA started. Long story, short, we wanted SNAPPZILLA to be different than all the rest. We wanted it to be the review site that we always wanted. A website that focuses on the lesser known games and almost has a comradery vibe to it. Like a family. Henceforth (I’m not sure if I used that word the right way), SNAPPZILLA was born.
We worked for a good 6 months in secret with James under the hood and me frantically writing. We wanted Snappzilla to look more like a full fledged review site, rather than just another blog, so we wanted to come out swinging on April 14, 2016 with around 10 reviews already complete and an intro to the site. The response was amazing! I honestly didn’t expect the attention that we got right off the bat. I’m still overwhelmed.
We started off with just regular game reviews and “SNAPP Reviews”. SNAPP Reviews were more of a quickfire review pretty much telling the reader whether to get the game or not while we were still playing the game. (They are also good for small arcade-y games too.) But we still wanted to stray away from “just another blog site”, plus I like to ramble on from time to time, so we created Coffee & Swiping shortly after we went live.
Coffee & Swiping started out as pretty much a “cut and dry” weekly news piece. I basically just talked about the big news stories of the week and that’s about it. About a month or so in, I changed the format up a little and made it more bloggy. (Yea, I know. We try and stray away from the whole blog name and here I go doing this.) I wanted to have a place where I felt like I was just sitting there bullshitting with a friend about games over coffee. It’s definitely one of my favorite things to write and to this day, C&S is our highest viewed weekly piece.
Let’s see. Next came the SNAPP Roundup. This kind of happened by accident. Originally, I would just tweet out from @hashtagNOEN when games would release on the App Store. I still kind of do, but I decided one day to put them all in a list and call it “the roundup”. The first week was HORRIBLE! I had to copy/paste the link of each game on a word doc and then copy/paste it on the site. Plus, it looked horrible. We got lucky and had a reader give us a link to a really cool plug-in that we still use today. The SNAPP Roundup hasn’t changed much since then except for me doing my usual chatting about the release week prior to the list, but It’s still one of the most time consuming weekly pieces we do to this day.
I think the Indieview came next. This is another one of my favorite things to do. This was originally created by James from when he ran AppZilla and migrated over here. Our first Indieview was from James with indie developer, Juha Pennanen and we’ve done a bunch since then. It was actually started off as a bi-weekly piece, but over the past few months, we’ve been kind of slacking and it fell to a monthly piece. I’d like to get it going to weekly or at least bi-weekly again. It’s something a lot of sites don’t do and it shows that there are actually faces behind the games we all play.
Following that, we brought out “What We’re Playing” as a weekly piece on Saturdays. This is one of those things that worked, but didn’t work. Yea, it was cool showing people what we were playing, but after tweets, reviews, mentions in Coffee & Swiping and even Noen’s Nuggets in the roundup, people already knew what we were playing by the weekend. Who knows. Maybe it’ll make a comeback. Never say never.
Somewhere in there, we introduced the “SNAPPlogo” and it was an instant hit. It was a way for indie developers to get attention to their game without spending a dime. Almost like having a sponsored page. Plus, it gave us cool new logos to put on the top of the site. It was a win/win idea and just an all around fun thing to do.
We stayed pretty steady after that and tried to focus on what we had already and doing quality reviews instead of adding new pieces. We did start branching out a little by adding an Instagram Account and Facebook Page. I try to keep up on all of our social media, but it honestly gets tough! I usually go in this order, Twitter>Instagram>Facebook>Tumblr. One thing that we added that I haven’t put too much time into was our YouTube Channel. It’s there and has a few videos, but that’s about it. YouTube is at the top of our list for 2017 though!
One last thing before I get to the present was the addition of “The Great Laszlo”. I think it was James that met up with Laszlo first. We noticed that he was a fan of the site and retweeted some of our stuff. Once we saw some of his artwork, we became fans of him! Anyway, it started off as just him doing sketches for C&S for a month as like a trial run and the rest is pretty much history. Laszlo has become a great addition to Coffee & Swiping every week. We always look forward to seeing what he comes up with because we have no say in anything. What he sends us, is what we get. So, it’s like a surprise for us every week too. He’s also become a great friend during all of this. We all chat and joke around with each other over Twitter. I couldn’t imagine SNAPPZILLA in 2017 without him. (Hopefully once we start making money, we can start paying him!)
That brings us to today. SNAPPZILLA has become *almost* a popular name in the indie mobile game industry. (Hey, i said “almost”.) Our readership has steadily increased month over month since we went live in April with our biggest readership being in the U.S. with the U.K. And Netherlands really close behind. We wouldn’t be where we are at now without all of your support.
The road has been fun, but it’s also been an uphill struggle for us. First off, we are writing about games that aren’t popular or not even heard of, so that pretty much throws out search engines. It’s kind of hard to search for games you’ve never heard of. Plus, we don’t write about big named games, so that’s a lot of “clicks” that we miss out on. Not to mention ad-blockers. We didn’t even break a $20.00 profit last year. Actually, with the cost of everything, we were WAY in the red at the end of 2016. You figure, James works a regular job, plus game dev, and then works on the site during his spare time and as for me, SNAPPZILLA is my full-time job. So, toward the end of 2016, we had to put up a donation link to kind of help us with costs.
The future of SNAPPZILLA……
SNAPPZILLA isn’t going anywhere. We plan on doing what we do best and that’s finding overlooked games on the App Store and giving attention to under appreciated games and developers. We have quite a few ideas we’ve been kicking around for 2017. First things first, I want to focus a little more on our YouTube Channel and maybe going back to commentating gameplay videos. I’ve also been thinking about doing a weekly podcast. I like to talk a lot and sometimes writing just isn’t enough. This angelic voice needs to be heard! We are going to be in an upcoming game this year with 5 other indie websites called, UNLONELY. We’ve also talked about stickers and possibly t-shirts this year depending on the demand, so we have a ton of stuff coming up this year. We’re going hard into the new year! 2017 is going to be the “YEAR OF SNAPP”!
Thank you to everyone out there that reads/supports us and thank you to the game developers out there that keep making games for us to play and write about.
Keep it stiff!