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How Nukebox Studios is building on Food Truck Chef to become the Indian Supercell

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November 17th, 2017

By Matt Suckley, Features Editor

Nukebox Studios has been one of the Indian games industry’s biggest successes in 2017.

Food Truck Chef was its breakout hit, scooping up three million downloads in 10 days and generating revenues of $500,000 in 45 days.

This was enough for the organisers of India’s Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2017 to invite Amit Hardi to be its keynote speaker – making him the first Indian to do so in the history of the event.

Hardi’s talk presented an even rosier picture for Food Truck Chef, which was downloaded 4.7 million times in 100 days and has recorded revenues of more than $1.3 million.

But as with so many so-called overnight success stories, Food Truck Chef was the culmination of much hard work behind the scenes.

A long road

Nukebox Studios was formally established three years ago as a game development division of Bangalore-based IT services company TechTree.

Hardi and his team had already worked on close to 200 games in a work-for-hire capacity, mostly on feature phones, before finally deciding to “stop the noise” and focus entirely on its own IP.

From the off, Nukebox’s outlook was global.

“India as a market never appealed to us, because the numbers weren’t there,” Amit Hardi tells PocketGamer.biz at NGDC 2017. “The dynamics of this market were completely different, and the signs were not there.

“People say that, in terms of engagement numbers, it’s very similar to what we are seeing in China. But I believe that these are two different markets that we’re comparing, and it’s going to take a longer life cycle to see the monetisation trickle in.”

With this decided, hitting upon the style of game in which to specialise was Nukebox’s next dilemma. The initial plan was what Hardi calls “the portfolio approach – very Ketchapp-style, hyper-casual games,” with the aim being to “cross-promote and build.”

However, the studio quickly realised that such an approach relies on one hero game spearheading the rest. Nukebox began to soft-launch these casual games, but the numbers were poor and nearly all of them were canned.

Last chance

14 games got left on the cutting room floor on the path to soft-launching Food Truck Chef, but its early numbers were a lot more encouraging. Players burned through the content quickly, day one retention was at 55%, and some early monetisation began to happen.

“If this had failed, we would have perhaps had to shut up shop,” admits Hardi.

The 14 games that preceded it hammered home the importance of market research, and Food Truck Chef benefited from the coupling of familiar cooking gameplay with a timely yet relatively untapped food truck theme.

But through the failures and the successes, the one constant has been Nukebox’s rigorous process.

Food Truck Chef‘s onboarding has been through at least four iterations, resulting in a 98% FTUE conversion rate. There have also been 10-15 different app icon designs. In short, the Nukebox approach is one in which player data is king.

“It’s a very important factor,” asserts Hardi. “It’s a big funnel from the people visiting the store to those finishing the last level of your game. If your funnel is very narrow at the very beginning, there are no surprises at the end of it.”

Aiming high

This is the framework that Nukebox feels can propel its 33-person team to become a world-leading mobile game developer, with Supercell setting the benchmark.

“They are the example that it can be repeatable,” says Hardi. “And that as long as you’re connected to the process and the way you build games, you can produce hit after hit.”

Understandably, Nukebox’s current focus is to continue optimising Food Truck Chef for continued success.

The studio is continuing to experiment with in-game events, which powered the game to higher revenues on Halloween week than on the week it was featured on the App Store, and has plans to reinvest more profits into user acquisition – the current revenues have been achieved with less than $400,000 spend.

“We can easily see this game sustaining for three to four years, if not more, and the entire baseline is that we continue to iterate,” Hardi enthuses. But Nukebox has more up its sleeve.

“We’re fully invested in this one title, but the idea is to be a portfolio company,” he goes on. “Our vision and goal is to become one of the biggest game studios in the world, coming out of India. We can’t be a one-trick pony.”

Positive growth

To this end, Nukebox is hoping to grow its workforce 30-40% within six to eight months.

Some have questioned the studio’s ambitions to achieve its lofty goals from India, where the pool of games industry professionals is considerably smaller, but Hardi remains confident.

“We believe that the talent definitely is there, it’s just perhaps the right people in the wrong places,” he says. “If they’re aligned with the right process, we can definitely replicate success.

“We’re creating opportunities for people even without the [game development] background, and that’s the only way we can grow because we are the process guys. We built a process that can make people independent, so if we nurture and bring in people who can execute, I think we’re there.”

The success of Food Truck Chef has gone a long way to convincing Nukebox employees that its rigorous standards – and not to mention the heartache of working on a game that’s canned – is worthwhile.

Hardi reports that “the entire mindset of the studio now is completely different. They are so excited, and it’s validation for all of us after the persistence and hard work we’ve put in.”

The hope is that they can keep riding this wave of positivity until Nukebox is dining at the very top table of mobile game development.

Sourcehttp://www.pocketgamer.biz/interview/67013/nukebox-on-becoming-the-indian-supercell/

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Amit Hardi: The first ever Indian keynote speaker at NGDC-2017

Develop-Online

November 5th, 2017

India has grown to be the third biggest country for games – NASSCOM.

Games such as Food Truck Chef from Nukebox Studios in Bangalore, which made $1.3m in revenue globally in less than 100 days with 4.7 million downloads, and Gametion’s Ludo King with its 10 million daily active users has shown that audiences for Indian developed games are growing.

For the first time ever, the conference also has an Indian Keynote speaker with Nukebox Studios CEO Amit Hardi who looked back at how the studio had to make many games in order to improve quality, saying “you have to make ten OK games to make one amazing game.”

Sourcehttp://www.develop-online.net/news/india-has-grown-to-be-the-third-biggest-country-for-games-nasscom/0237263

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Nukebox Studios CEO Amit Hardi to keynote NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2017

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September 26th, 2017

By Ric Cowley, News Editor

NASSCOM Gaming Forum has announced the first wave of speakers for its upcoming NASSCOM Game Developer Conference at Hyderabad International Convention Centre on November 8th to 10th.

Nukebox Studios’ CEO Amit Hardi will be keynoting the event, with a talk on the development process behind its game Food Truck Chef. The title scored $500,000 in revenue in its first 45 days of releaseback in August 2017.

Owlchemy Labs’ Alex Schwarz, EA’s Lauren Freeman, and Keyword Studios’ Mathieu Lachance will also be speaking at the conference. Facebook’s Ravi Belwal, King’s Lawrence Valleti, and Yoozoo’s Yuli Zhao round off the list of announced speakers.

Talks on talks

“We are excited to announce the first wave of speakers for NGDC 2017 – Amit Hardi’s Nukebox has earned success the hard way, his keynote talk on Food Truck Chef will provide our delegates with lessons learned and best practices they developed along the way that has lead to success,” said Rajesh Rao, Chairman of the NASSCOM Gaming Forum.

“With an incredible initial line-up, we look forward to releasing our full speaker schedule over the coming weeks.”

NASSCOM Game Developer Conference will also host a brand new Unite India conference alongside its main conference program. Unite India will also run at Hyderabad International Convention Centre on November 8th and 9th.

Sourcehttp://www.pocketgamer.biz/asia/news/66684/amit-hardi-to-keynote-nasscom-2017/

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Food Truck Chef, Take on the World of Travelling Eateries

app-advice

September 6th, 2017

By Jeff Byrnes

When it comes to food trucks, they come in all shapes and sizes. Some serve delicious, gourmet fare, while others just dish out the most delicious burgers. Then again, some are absolute flops and serve hideously over- or under-cooked food. Which kind will you run? It’s not as easy as it sounds to run a successful food truck, so put on your apron and let’s get cracking.

 

In Food Truck Chef, your goal is to build up your fleet of eateries on wheels. You start off with a pasta truck, and move your way up by buying new vehicles.

You need to prepare and serve dishes quickly, because your customers will run out of patience. At the same time, you’ll have to be mindful not to waste food.

As quickly as possible, get yourself some hotplates. These let you stage your dishes, giving you an edge when it comes to serving those impatient customers.

You’ll also need to upgrade your espresso machine when you can, because that slow brew can sometimes really slow you down.

“Travel the world and cook delicious food in your trusty food truck

 

The more you cook quickly and keep your customers happy, the better your fleet will end up. As you earn coins, gems, and levels, the world opens up.

You might start off with a pasta truck, but you work your way up through the food truck world. You can serve BBQ, desserts, burgers, pizza, and more.

There’s even a Food Truck Challenge every so often, so you can see how you fare against other players of the game. The rewards are remarkable if you can become the top food truck chef in the challenge.

 

Whether you want to just pass some time or see how well you might do operating your own food truck, this is a cute game. Of course, learning how to cook those yummy dishes is all on you if you decide to take things on the road for real.

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India’s Nukebox Studios cooked up a mobile hit with Food Truck Chef

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September 1st, 2017

By Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer

It took 18 months to cook, but Nukebox‘s Food Truck Chef mobile game has come out well done. The game generated more than 3 million downloads in its first 10 days, and the Indian developer said it is on track to make $500,000 revenue in its first 45 days.

Food Truck Chef is available on Android and iOS, and it has been the No. 1 casual game in the U.S. and more than 100 countries, said Amit Hardi, the CEO of Bangalore-based Nukebox Studios, in an email to GamesBeat. That’s a rare hit for an Indian game company, and it shows that country is climbing the food chain in the $109 billion global game business.

Nukebox started as a studio about three years ago. It churned through as many as 15 ideas for games, and it trashed them. But once it came upon the food truck concept, it went to work on it for 18 months. The work is paying off. It has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on the app stores, with tens of thousands of ratings on Google Play and iOS. People have downloaded Food Truck Chef about once every 5 seconds since its release on iOS on July 25 and Android on August 17. All told, it now has more than 4 million downloads. Hardi believes the company could break even on the game within a couple of weeks.

Above: Food Truck Chef is like Cooking Dash, on mobile.

It’s not hard to see why it’s popular, as food trucks have had huge growth in recent years, and cooking games have been a solid genre in mobile games.You run a food truck and grow your food truck empire. It has a progression system, starting with the Pasta Truck. It’s a time management game along the lines of the Cooking Dash and Diner Dash series. The game has live operations, meaning it will be updated with new locations, features, and special events. I played the game, and I felt like I needed some more caffeine to keep up with it.

“With every game, we evolved the process and started focusing on an economy system that can scale and put out a game that players would enjoy for years to come,” Hardi said. “While it was not easy to let go of those other games, it made rational sense to focus on one major title that would bring in the desired numbers.”

Nukebox Studios hasn’t raised any outside money, and it has 33 employees. Other Indian game companies that have done well are Moonfrog Labs, which launched S.S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Game earlier this year; and Rajesh Rao, who sold his Dhruva Interactive game company to Starbreeze for $11 million.
Sourcehttps://venturebeat.com/2017/09/01/indias-nukebox-studios-cooked-up-a-mobile-hit-with-food-truck-chef/

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Indian developer Nukebox Studios generates $500k revenue in 45 days from new game Food Truck Chef

Pocket Gamer.biz Logo

August 31st, 2017

By Craig Chapple, Editor

Indian developer Nukebox Studios’ recently released mobile game Food Truck Chef has generated $500,000 in 45 days.
Sharing the news on Facebook, Dhruva Interactive CEO Rajesh Rao said the Bangalore-based team had secured three million downloads in 10 days for the title.

Big hit

Food Truck Chef tasks players with cooking and serving up meals, travelling across the world as they expand their food truck empire.

Sourcehttp://www.pocketgamer.biz/asia/news/66516/indian-developer-nukebox-studios-generates-500k-revenue-in-45-days-from-food-truck-chef/

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Food Truck Chef™ gets featured on the App Store and Google Play store globally

Nukebox Studios just released its first major title Food Truck Chef™, the first ever food truck themed cooking game.

Food Truck Chef™ was featured on the App Store and Google Play store globally. It topped the overall ‘Games’ category in several countries and reached 6th spot in US. It has been the No.1 Casual Game in the US and in over a 100+ other countries. On the App Store, Food Truck Chef™ has hit top 10 in ‘Games’, ‘Arcade’ and ‘Casual’ categories in 8 countries.

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Walk The Talk with Amit Hardi at INK 2016

Amit Hardi, the Chief Gaming Officer of Nukebox Studios was a speaker at INK Live 2016 to speak about the passion and science behind making games. On the sidelines of the INK conference, Amit was interviewed by the GIM crew who wanted to tell the world about the life of a Chief Gaming Officer.

Here’s that interview, “A glimpse into the world of a Chief Gaming Officer”, shot at the Goa Institute of Management.

gamification

Gamification 101

Everybody plays games. You do too. Now that’s quite an assumption to make, but allow me to state that people who don’t even play games, do too.

A game is any activity performed within defined rules for the purpose of gaining rewards. While that definition is quite simple, you’d notice that it is very broad too. At your job you perform work within clearly defined rules and earn rewards. So is work play? I’m gonna go ahead and state that it is.

What else is play?  Any activity with defined goals where you invest your effort to succeed can be a game, if so designed. At work, you could be motivated by performance targets which unlock a reward. This sounds suspiciously like the ‘achievements’ you see in video games. At school, you may be motivated by the promise of advancement to a higher class for clearing a test. Does this sound like a video-game that lets you play in the next location only if you can clear a boss-fight? Yes it does.

Alright. I’m just going to say this outright. Everything you see or do in life is a game. Life itself is a complex game with many smaller subsystems you interact with on a daily basis.

Gamification is a new term for the process of applying game design principles in the real world to promote motivation and engagement from the actors involved. If you look close and hard, you’d see that pretty much everything is already structured like a game. It’s just the buzz-word that’s new. The concept has been around for centuries. We’ve been gamifying our lives since we’ve been around.

Let’s see how gamification can be applied with real world examples..

  • Increase employee productivity and morale
  • Improve customer retention and engagement levels
  • Get your team to work more efficiently
  • Make your students collaborate better

That sounds like alchemy already. Let’s look at some examples…

Sue wants to retain her customers at her cafe

She sets up a new gamification system at her cafe. It’s a simple rewards system that grants rewards to loyal customers. Every fifth visit to the cafe, the coffee is on the house. At the tenth visit, there’s free cookies too. Every five visits, the rewards keep getting bigger and better.

Now her customers are on a progression system that increments the rewards based on frequency. Because of the exponentially improving rewards, the customers are now committed and are on a quest to achieve the freebees. They feel recognised for their loyalty and eventually have bragging rights for being at a higher level.

Now the most important part is that the customer has chosen to be committed to Sue’s cafe vs visiting four other cafes in the vicinity that serve similar stuff.

Alex wants his customer support crew to handle and close issues faster

Here’s Alex’s new gamification system. He starts measuring the time spent per issue across his team and sets up a dynamic leaderboard that is very visible. He also offers a generous bonus to the top three people on that leaderboard every week.

Now everybody in the team is competing to be the most efficient. The results are always visible and whenever somebody makes a breakthrough that increases their efficiency, everybody else adopts it to stay competitive. Now the team’s motivation is focused on the right metric, and week over week there is improvement throughout the team.

Jack would like to get his employees into shape

Jack decides to use the central motivator behind social games for his venture – social obligations and peer pressure. He splits his staff into workout groups and gets them gym memberships. Every team that hits the gym earns points. If a team member fails to hit the gym, his whole team loses points. This way everybody in a team is looking out for everybody else and making sure nobody drops out.

Every month, the leading team gets bragging rights and a night out at a spot of their choice (hopefully a salad bar). The points reset every month so that every team can start over from scratch and nobody gets left behind.

E-learning company wants its students to collaborate more

Learning is better when it is social. Instead of building a system that lets students talk with each other, share learning material and help each other with homework, the company decided to do something drastically different.

Students already have existing social channels through which they collaborate. Instead of driving them to a new inhouse system that is supposedly better, they gamified the existing system. Now the students can thank each other for help by sending Karma Points to each other. So Alice keeps getting Karma Points in her account nearly everyday because she likes helping others. She’s not alone either. She’s joined by a big group of ‘angels’ who love helping other people study better.

If you motivate people to do something good, they’ll find ways to do it, no matter what.

Gamification is a very strong tool that can improve motivation, engagement, retention and eventually revenue. It is up to you to decide what your objectives are. A capable and experienced gamification designer can come up with a simple yet effective plan to help you achieve that objective.

Let’s get people playing. Your team will be on the winning side.