Thursday, November 28, 2013

Android indie developer interview: Matey Nenov

In this week's interview I'm proud to introduce to you Matey Nenov, who's achieved quite a lot in his year-and-a-half long Android career, producing 11 apps and making up to $500 a month in revenue. On his blog, he reveals all his income stats as well as thoughts on the app development business. Today, he's going to share some of his experience with us.

Bartek: Tell us something about yourself. Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do in life?

Matey: I'm Matey, I'm 35 and I live in Stuttgart, Germany with my wife and my daughter. I'm originally from Bulgaria and came here 15 years ago. I studied computer science and physics here and now I work for a big car manufacturing company. I used to work as a software developer, but now I just oversee other developers.

Bartek: When did your Android adventure start and how? Why did you decide to do it?

Matey: My Android adventure started last year. I had an Android phone, I wanted for a long time to create something for it and finally I got the time to do it. My first app was Tetricorn, a game I developed as a Java Applet and then ported to Android. It felt pretty good to finish the app and publish it to the Play Store, so I decided to do more apps.

Bartek: How did you learn how to create apps?

Matey: As an experienced Java developer, it was pretty easy to start with the Android SDK. At the beginning I used almost only the main android developer page:

Bartek: What libraries/frameworks do you use? Why did you choose them?

Matey: I made my first projects with the standard Android SDK, no extra libraries or frameworks. Then I switched to LibGDX. LibGDX is very powerful and gives you the freedom to do whatever you like. The biggest advantage is that the LibGDX apps can be run and debugged directly on the PC, no emulator or mobile device needed.
I started to create my new game with Unity 3D. My first impressions are very positive and also the ability to publish to different platforms is a big plus. I will comment further on this topic on my blog, when my new game is finished.

Bartek: Where do you take app/game ideas from? How do you know if they have a chance to be successful?

Matey: It is very different. Sometimes I just have a great idea, sometimes I just see an app and I come up with an idea how to create a similar app but with some upgrades. And sometimes I just make a remake of a game I liked as a kid.
I have absolutely no idea if a game or an app will be successful. If I knew it, I would make only successful apps ;). Although with time and apps I create I can see some tendencies.

Bartek: Where do you get resources from (graphics, sounds, music)?

Matey: I create most of the graphics by myself.
Sounds are one of my big weaknesses. I download most of the sounds from but mostly I am not really happy with the result.
Until now I never used music in my games.

Bartek: What other programming tools do you use?

Matey: I use git.

Bartek: How long does it take you to make a single app?

Matey: From a couple of days to a couple of months. I don't have much time for my private projects, so I try to make only small projects that I can finish in a foreseeable time.

Bartek: How much are you making on your apps?

Matey: I have a very detailed monthly report on my blog ( [around $300/month]

Bartek: How do you monetize your apps? What ad networks do you use if any? Do you have any advice on it for others?

Matey: I like to experiment to see what works and what doesn't work. I don't have any prejudices about what is good and what a developer shouldn't use. If something is working, it's good, period. As I said I use all kinds of ads:
Banner ads - I use AdMob, MobFox and Millenial Media.
AdMob worked fine in the past, now the income is very low. They have a very good fill rate, so I am still using them for ads when MobFox can't serve.
MobFox on the other hand is pretty stable, so this is my primary banner ad provider.
Millenial Media was good only for one month, now this is worse than AdMob, so I am keeping them for only two of my apps and only when no other ad network can serve an ad.
Push notification and icon ads. The major app stores banned this type of ads, so I don't use them anymore, although they were very lucrative. For live wallpapers this was the only option to make some money! Here I used two networks: AirPush and Leadbolt. Both of them were good, so I can't decide which was better.
Interstitial ads - after the push and icon ads were banned I switched all of my apps to this ad type. The only thing that I regret is that I didn't do this earlier. This type of ads are very lucrative, with some apps they are much better than the push ads! I am using here also AirPush and Leadbolt. For now there is no favorite, although I think Leadbolt is a little bit better.
I have also paid versions of my apps, but the sells revenue is not comparable with the ads revenue.

Bartek: Can you reveal the CPMs you're getting?

Matey: First of all I think that the CPMs from the different ad networks, ad types and apps must be enjoyed with care. Ad type, position and refresh rate have the biggest impact on the CTR. For example you can achieve very good results with high refresh rates for a banner ad on some networks with a good fill rate but have very bad CTR (due to the high refresh rate). Furthermore the CTR can change from one day to another, depending on the ad campaigns that are available...
With all this said here are the numbers from the last 30 days (or the number ranges, because it is very different for different apps):
AdMob: from 0.10€ to 0.59€
MobFox: from $0.11 to $1.14
Airpush: from $0.06 to $1.76
Leadbolt: from $0.04 to $3.39
As you can see the ranges are very wide and can change very often.

Bartek: Which ones of your apps were the biggest success and which ones were below expectations? Why?

Matey: My biggest success is the Fart Revolver app and I don't know why. The biggest disappointment is actually my first app Tetricorn. This is not my worst performing app, but I had too high expectations for it. I thing Tetricorn is too complex and most of the people don't get it.

Bartek: Do you use any marketing techniques or ASO to promote your apps?

Matey: Not really, all I do is optimize the app title and description.

Bartek: What are your favorite Android games/apps?

Matey: My apps of course ;)

Bartek: What Android devices do you own?

Matey: Samsung Galaxy S2c, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S4.
Unity can build for IOS, so I bought recently a Mac Mini and an iPad Air (with the money I earned with my android apps ;))

Bartek: What Android blogs/sites do you read regularly?

Matey: Your blog :). When I have problem with something I just search the net, so there is no specific site I use.

Bartek: What are your plans for the future? What do you want to create/achieve?

Matey: I will concentrate on making better 3D games. Maybe in the future I will hire some people to help me do some ambitious projects.

Bartek: What advice would you give to other developers (something that you wish you had known before yourself)?

Matey: Don't give up, don't stop trying. As Einstein once said: “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer”. If something isn't working - change it and keep trying...

Bartek: Where can people find you on the Internet?

Matey: blog:
Play Store:

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