A new startup called Skich wants to help mobile users find games that better match their interests. To do this, he created a game recommendation app that carefully toes the line so as not to clash with Apple’s App Store rule that prohibits other apps from acting as App Stores themselves. .
Instead, Skich simply lets you “match” games you might like using a card-like interface, similar to a dating app like Tinder. Here, a left swipe indicates you’re skipping the game, and a right swipe adds the game to your “Want” list – a collection of games you want to try. You can also swipe up to find out more about the game in question.
In your “Want” list, tap the link on the game to redirect users directly to the App Store or Google Play – depending on your platform – to download the title you want to experience.
There is no financial incentive to like or install individual games in Skich, so it is not a paid user acquisition channel in that sense. Users are not promised in-game rewards, virtual currency, or anything else. It’s just a recommendation. On first launch, users simply tap on the game categories they enjoy the most – like Board, Adventure, Cards, Casino, Education, Strategy, Word, running, sport, casual, puzzle and others. Using this initial input, Skich will customize their game stream for the end user. And if you see a game you’ve tried before, you can tap the “Played” button, then optionally respond with an emoji and review in detail how much you enjoyed (or disliked) the game experience.
The company says it started by collecting some of the most popular games from app stores and then showing them to users as recommendations. Users can also suggest the games they want to see in the app. Skich wants to work more closely with developers in the future, but that’s not part of his current model.
Where the product becomes more interesting is in its potential social mechanism – something that could work if the app is able to scale to reach more users than it has today. . In Skich’s “Activity” section, you can see what games your friends and other influencers using the app have played and read their ratings and reviews. (This part simulates an App Store to some extent, as it might siphon off user rating and review activity to a third-party destination… Apple might not like that!)
Social recommendations remain an area that today’s app stores don’t address. While you can read reviews from various strangers, there’s no way to see if a particular title is popular among your own group of friends or influencers whose opinions you respect.
This means that mobile gamers have to browse the web to write gaming articles or rely on the top rankings and editorial collections of app stores and curating various games. But the app store incentives that games are featured for don’t necessarily align with a player’s interests. For example, the App Store may wish to promote games that take advantage of its latest App Store technologies or features, such as in-app events.
Meanwhile, for game developers to find users, they still turn to online, social and in-game ads to get their game noticed. Skich, potentially, would give them another avenue – friend suggestions . The challenge, of course, is to scale Skich and help users build that trusted network of friend-to-friend recommendations.
But the concept itself is interesting because it digs a hole in today’s app stores: an inability to discover apps through personal recommendations, not just editorial picks.
Skich co-founder and CEO Sergey Budkovski, a native of Belarus, was formerly head of business development at Minsk-based design and development company 69pixels before founding the startup. Now based in Poland, the four-person team reports that Skich has gone through its App Store MVP phase and has raised pre-seed funds. In testing with over 6,000 users, Skich saw a 21.5% retention rate globally after its first week, and 30% of testers would follow other app users; Another 29% would rate the games. More importantly, 55% of MVP testers found a game to try and went to the App Store to download it.
The startup believes the potential for its game search experience is huge – there are around 3 billion mobile gamers worldwide and hundreds of games are launched daily. But it will have to compete with the many ways users are discovering games today, including through increasingly popular social games like TikTok.
The company also remains silent on its monetization plans.
“We have a few ideas, but it’s probably too early to share them so far,” Budkovski says. “The main focus at the moment is to develop a good product for gamers and game developers. Gamers want new games, new games need gamers.
He stressed, however, that the app would not sell user data and had no plans to do so. But until we know more about how this app will stay afloat financially, we’ll withhold judgment on its potential for success. In the meantime, it’s a fun way to find new things to play and we’ll leave it at that.
Skich closed last week with a $400,000 pre-seed funding from Gem Capital, which today has an existing gaming portfolio, which was part of the call. Ilya Lesun, co-founder of Vochi who joined Pinterest, also advises the company.
With the new funds, Skich aims to have 10 employees by the end of the year. The app is available on iOS and Android.