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A Year in Review: SLAB 2023

As the curtain falls on 2023, it’s time to reflect on the whirlwind of growth, challenges, and evolution that has defined this year! In the midst of navigating the complexities of the gaming market, the emerging prominence of AI, SLAB remained steadfast in its commitment to game developers when it comes to discoverability, by enhancing its services and crafting innovative solutions to meet the game developer’s evolving needs in game publishing.

In the face of ongoing challenges, SLAB embraced change as an opportunity for improvement. This blog post serves as a glimpse into the transformative journey of SLAB throughout 2023 – a year marked by resilience, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in its offerings to the gaming industry.

Join us as we unravel the story of SLAB in 2023, celebrating milestones, addressing challenges, and shedding light on the exciting advancements that have positioned SLAB at the forefront of game publishing.

Sitting down with Founders Sebastian and Anant for some Q&As, let’s explore the key developments that have defined SLAB’s journey and learn about the exciting innovations that lay the foundation for an even more promising future.

Looking Back: 2022 vs 2023

Q: Comparing 2022 and 2023, what were the highs and lows of SLAB?

Anant: Let’s start with the lows. I think, on our own development and also our own ambitions, was having to reset our own mind and expectations based on, I think the high of at least a chunk of 2022. I would say quickly we were able to hit the validation of, yes, there was definitely a market for what we had to offer, and how quickly we were able to prove what is technologically possible… to then having a 2023 where unfortunately we couldn’t really capitalize on the momentum of 2022.

Sebastian: I think we had a great 2022, where we got a lot of traction very quickly, a little too quickly. In 2022, we had a lot of sign-ups and a lot of users come onboard. But that’s a nice problem to have right? But then not being able to actually accommodate the hundreds of game developers who wanted in on SLAB, we had no idea the extent of the demand, and the overwhelm it had on the backend. There was a lot of traction, and then just having a platform that wasn’t technically able to deliver on the promise we gave, and not being able to build it out due to funding limitations was definitely a learning lesson. Definitely, the funds needed for that kind of demand had to make us rethink and scale back a bit, go back to the drawing board.

Anant: But we can say this clarity is also a high, that I think what has helped us crystallize better our business model, helping our business sense going forward, and in some ways realizing to work within our resources, finding the proper scope in what we’re doing, which we found is essentially publishing. I think it leads well into what we want to achieve in 2024, having a more clear purpose on how we’re going to build our products over time.

What was New in 2023

Q: What new features and quality-of-life updates were launched during the year? How well were these changes received in the market?

Sebastian: What we did at the beginning of the year definitely was just upkeep, managing the platform and working closely with clients on making sure their accounts and games were set up properly. We had some feedback on login issues, and we were definitely working overtime to make it easier to find out where the issues and challenges were. What we have learned over the last months was that we definitely needed a rework on the capacity of the platform, which led us to developing SLAB 2.0.

The stability of the platform has changed dramatically from its first iteration. There were some changes to how data was handled in 2023 [the new Data Privacy laws] which made the App store access more difficult and added to the issues. But I and the team have been working hard on implementing the ASO features, getting on the Apple App Store again, making sure that we follow everything necessary to push applications and get our platform working as intended. SLAB is still constantly updating and worked on, and the pace has been slow for the rework, but it’s at least on the track towards being at the stage where we want it to be, and I think these are a few things that certainly got better in comparison to last year.

Anant: We definitely had conversations with a lot of game developers, as well as investors if we had game publishing capabilities, and with the pivotal shift on not just focusing on ASO but game publishing, we definitely got traction and it resonated with our audience and markets.

Sebastian: We also worked on a new UI interface which was definitely a good quality-of-life improvement, with more visible showcasing of how our platform features work, from keywords and screenshots, reports. We wanted to show what happens behind the scenes especially when it came to localization and branding, like how the game would look on the storefront.

Q: How has the customer base grown throughout the year? Were there any shifts in the target market?

Anant: Compared to 2022 where we had a free signup offering to our platforms and took on essentially, everyone, we have decided to work with a very subset select group of game developers and game studios and people within the games ecosystem to really fine-tune our products to hope to launch in 2024 for the wider market. We definitely still have our sights set on helping game developers get their game discovered, it’s more on making sure we do it right by the clients by being strategic about it. We want to work with a few selected people to really figure out how we can automate some of the key processes in what we are trying to do, and that it doesn’t change too drastically.

Sebastian: We still have a good track in the past with customer acquisition, the market is still there, and despite us putting SLAB operations on hold for awhile in developing SLAB 2.0, we still got messages coming in asking to be part of SLAB. I think a lot more game creators are drawn to innovative solutions without having to spend so much on publishing. So the market is still good and we still have a decent customer base with us helping publish games and developing our own games as well.

Conversations about AI

Q: How has the competitive landscape of AI gaming publishing evolved over the past year? What makes SLAB stand out still with the rise of AI use?

Sebastian: I guess there are two things to separate. So first AI in general has been used in the gaming industry for years in game development, but we’re talking about generative AI, which has given industries, not just gaming, a huge uplift in regards to content creation and also to marketing and polishing of messages out there. 

AI is tremendously helpful, helping us find improvements in processes without adding too much. Most of the tools out there are designed actually to deliver exactly on that right, for thoughts to be easy to access audience for this kind of solutions, I think that’s good. But in particular what we’re trying to solve and what we are trying to change is not getting close to any of this. What we are trying to do is use artificial intelligence to automate the whole publishing process on mobile. It’s not just one single function or one single tool that adds value. Our main mission hasn’t changed: we want to make publishing feasible for 90% of the industry and not just for the top 10%.

I mean it has an implication for everything right? Having better content, and having this opportunity is amazing for game developers. But also increases the challenge. For the bottom 90% because there’s more content to compete with. It’s the name of the game now to distinguish yourself from the other generated content. It’s harder to break out through the noise and get traction. Still, for every single game studio out there being aware of the target audience and serving specifically and being able to find the specific target audience… What they want becomes even more crucial for succeeding in getting your game published out there.

Anant: On a high level and then breaking it down, I would say that AI has been critical for us as the channels of content distribution will increase even in games. We are uniquely poised to actually take advantage of really capitalizing on the different channels, and this is where sort of, I don’t think any publisher as of right now as far as we know are doing this. We have talked to people who really know the game sector in and out and as of right now, I have yet to hear anyone who has said, “yeah, they’re doing the same thing.” So SLAB stands out in that regard, we’re the first to see the potential of AI in the overall game publishing process.

Final Thoughts

Q: What can we look forward to in SLAB this 2024?

Anant: We’re definitely keeping our eyes on the market, especially with local games that are still stuck with the local game publisher processes to get their games out. We want opportunities in different markets to get an ease in game publishing. We are trying to figure out South East Asia and their games, and eventually Eastern Europe. I mean, there are so many markets that in and of itself is a huge amount of challenge. Thousands of games are coming out every week, and the way game publishing is done we want to give game developers to get their foot into the door and actually flourish without worrying about the publishing processes.

Sebastian: What we will hope to see is a lot of sophistication around user acquisition. But more so funnel improvements to game life cycles. We want to help make sure that games have retention power, which can get variable. Ultimately we hope through SLAB, we can help games monetize effectively. This is going to involve a couple of experiments and case studies with a variety of games and studios, which is exciting for us and interesting as well to see and see different flavors of different target audiences, and getting what they need out of a game. We get to find out what they, the players, want, and if it’s worth paying for (outside of Free-to-Plays and Fremium model type games). Working out the purchasing power and acquiring the right players and gamers for the games published by us… which also is our goal for looking into developing gaming communities as well for the games.

Anant: We’re also looking forward to more events, meeting like-minded individuals in the gaming space. Seb has recently gone to SLUSH 2023, and we’ve been networking with various game developers, publishers and investors on taking AI game publishing more seriously, strike while the iron is hot. We also want to get back to educational content collaborations out there, especially in conversations about AI and game publishing. Perhaps more workshops, seminars. But for now, we definitely wanna get more games published and use what we’ve learned this year to continuously improve our products and features.

Thanks for checking out this blog! We’d love to hear from you your thoughts, and if you have any feedback related to slab, email us at marketing@slab.rocks. We hope this retrospective offered a glimpse into the heart of SLAB and the commitment that propels us forward.

Mars Zarate

Mars Zarate

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