Behind The App: Josh Presseisen, Crescent Moon Founder
Many developers dream of striking it big with one breakthrough app that turns them into millionaires virtually overnight. Unfortunately, those kinds of success stories happen rarely, especially with the mobile space having matured and stabilized over the years. The smart developers craft their business strategy around gradual, steady growth.
That’s exactly what Crescent Moon Games has been doing for the past six years. In 2007, when the company’s founder Josh Presseisen was working a full-time job as an art director for a visualization studio, he got it in his head to make a video game for Mac in his free time. The game was Ravensword, an open-world RPG that was remarkably ambitious for a first-time game developer.
Soon after he started Crescent Moon and began working on the game, Apple opened the iPhone to third-party developers. The App Store seemed like a promising new market for games, and Presseisen though Ravensword might be a good fit. So the company switched gears and shifted their focus to making the game work on touchscreen devices.
At the time of its release, Ravensword was a remarkable game. In a market that was full of smaller, more casual titles, Ravensword was a serious action RPG set in a world you could explore at your leisure. It was closer to a big-budget console game than to most of other titles available on iOS. Critics loved it, and fans looking for a game to sink their teeth into appreciated it as well.
The success of Ravensword got the attention of other indie developers. Soon Crescent Moon’s inbox started filling up with messages from developers wanting help on their own RPGs. Presseisen, an active member of the development community, was happy to offer his expertise, which led him to expand his business into the publishing side of the business.
Crescent Moon kept developing games, but Presseisen told me in an email interview, “Now most of Crescent Moon’s business is publishing, probably 95%.” Crescent Moon has developed five games–including a sequel to Ravensword–but they’ve published over 50 titles on iOS.
This year the company has started getting serious about Android, and has published about a dozen games on the Google Play store so far this year. I asked Presseisen about the differences between making apps for Android and iOS. He says there are fewer differences than he had expected. For instance, iOS games can be successful at a number of different price points, but Android tends to be a little more cut and dry. “It seems like high end AAA type games can sell at a high price on Android,” he says, “but everything else seems like $0.99 or bust. Free games seem to do really well on Android and I’m experimenting a little more on that front.”
As for which platform makes the most money, he says he was surprised by how even it is. “In some ways its easier to get free downloads on Android, while iOS seems a little better at paid downloads.” But in general, he was “pleasantly shocked” at the money coming in from Google when he started Crescent Moon down that avenue.
So where does Crescent Moon go from here? Presseisen says they’re looking to expand to other platforms. “We’re publishing Ravensword on Steam, for instance, and possibly some other titles. We’ve done some Mac publishing as well, which has gone alright, for a secondary platform.”
And when I asked how many games are on his plate at the moment, he gave a simple, curt answer. “A lot.”