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Skich starts with discovery for mobile games, moves on to third-party app store Skich starts with discovery for mobile games, moves on to third-party app store
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Skich started out as a discovery and recommendation app for mobile games and it has traction for that. But with new regulations in effect for the app stores, it’s now creating its own alternative app store.

The app is made for the age of swiping left or right, and it lets you express your interest in games. You can sort, collect, launch and delete games as you wish.

Skich can make recommendations for the best game of the week for you, and it tries to figure out what the best ones are.

Skich has attracted around 100,000 users, growing organically by about 25% month-to-month. The team also launched its web-based product and it is growing the audience organically too.

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The small team has always prioritized product metrics over audience growth because they understood that distributing Skich as a store would differ from the typical distribution of a mobile app, and the company needs to focus on creating the best product first.

“We have an easier time getting people to allow us to use their data about themselves,” said Sergey Budkovski, CEO of Skich, in an interview with GamesBeat at the Game Developers Conference.

The notion of doing an alternative app store is intriguing, as the European Union’s Digital Markets Act has opened the gates of the gatekeepers, allowing developers to set up their own app stores without repercussions in the European market.

“Our goal is to change the mobile gaming the same way Spotify changed the music industry,” said Budkovsky.

The EU recently fined Apple $1.9 billion as part of an antitrust investigation of Apple’s practices in the music industry, which allegedly harmed Spotify.

“As you know, the antitrust law is starting to work,” Budkovski said. “The new European Union Digital Markets Act actually started on my birthday, March 7. We’ve been building this product like for a few years where are we preparing for this. Changes have come to the market. Before, we were like window shopping for mobile games, where we were directing users to the Apple Store or Google Play.”

The Skich Store will open by the end of 2024. There will be plenty of competition soon. Epic Games has said it is launching its store on iOS and Android this year, and Microsoft is expected to do the same.

“The good thing is the market is huge,” Budkovski said. “We don’t have Call of Duty. We don’t have Fortnite. It’s not our goal to push the audience that is attracted to our store to our games. Our discoverability is going to be more interesting for the developer.”

Swiping

Skich wants to understand your gaming persona.

But now, the company is building its own third-party store, where it can function like a kind of Tinder for mobile games. Swipe left or swipe right, depending on whether you want the game or not.

“You can put it on your wish list with a swipe left. If you don’t like it, swipe right,” he said.

Skich has a “show playtime” feature that shows you how many hours you’ve played a game. You can see which ones you play the most and delete the ones you don’t play. With 400,000 games available and 30,000 available for personal selection, Skich has one negative. A lot of games aren’t available, as there are half a million games on Google Play and more than a million on the iOS store. But Budkovski said that in a matter of months all of the games will be available for personal selection.

By looking at player recommendations, you can see what like-minded people play, giving you a new way to discover games beyond what others push at you. As you follow your friends, you can see what they add to their lists over time. And you can see who is playing what in real time.

In the app, you can see screenshots of the game you’re considering, and see opinions of other gamers or streams about the game. And you can download it directly.

The company has focused on the core demographics of hardcore gamers.

Signing on

Skich is a game discovery engine.

I downloaded the app, created a name and chose an avatar image. Then I started swiping. I immediately saw some strategy, sci-fi and military games that I liked and wishlisted them. I downloaded one. So it was pretty good off the bat at making recommendations based on my stated preferences.

It really wanted me to turn on notifications and so it hit me with five requests to turn them on in the first few minutes. It also asked me to invite friends, take a survey and rate it. Sure, I might want to do those things. But in the first five minutes of using the app? Hmmm.

Still, the swiping was pretty addictive and the app got me engaged in deciding whether I liked certain games or not. I look forward to the time when it knows me better and makes better recommendations.

The company has the gamer’s play list, much like Spotify knows your taste in music. Skich can then study game developer profiles whose games would be a good match for you. If you own one game from a given game studio, chances are you’ll like another game from that studio.

Under the “most interesting” feature, you can see the activity of your friends and what they’re playing. If you wishlist a game, do a review, or play it, your preferences become clear and Skich’s recommendations can be better.

On Android, Skich can see the instant games that you play. When you download games, it’s easy to find them on Skich. By contrast, you can lose track of where to find games on your smartphone’s screens. There are about 24 genres in place.

“It’s a really convenient manager to find all of your installed games,” he said. “You can find interesting games, discuss games with your friends and start to play together.”

Skich’s best metric is that 70% of all Skich users have downloaded at least one recommended game. On top of that, Skich mobile gamers download five times more than they did before.

“We prepare them to find great mobile games on iOS and Android,” he said.

Origins

Skich started as a pet project in 2020 for Budkovski. His team started working on it full time in April 2022. To date, the company raised $1 million from GEM Capital. The team has seven people, and they do weekly releases of new content. Later this year, the company plans to raise a new round.

“We are waiting for this opportunity for us to become a store,” Budkovski said. “We are the best product on the market that can match gamers and games. And we have the better solution for game developers, because we have the better solution for for games.”

Now the company’s focus will be to comply with EU laws, rather than comply with some of the policies that are being rapidly revised by the platform companies.

“I think the United States is going to change too and the whole market will be open and it’s going to change,” he said. “The growth of the music industry depends on Spotify. Spotify helps the artists to build that interesting music and define their audience without producers. We can find the really nice game mechanics. You can find an audience on Skich.”



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