Which Source Code Should I Pick For My First Reskin


Cate wrote in to my asking some very valid questions about choosing reskins, and I was typing away with the answer in email, then realised that these questions are probably asked by many people starting out, so I figured it was a good idea to post the questions and answers here, for the benefit of all readers of this blog.

So here we go….

I am looking at my first source code to purchase and am seeing a bit of code offered in Unity3D. Is this a good option to start with or should I keep it simple & stay with IOS? I would like to do apps for Android as well as IOS I have always been an Android user.

Great question!

I actually like Unity3D myself, but the thing to remember is if the game is 3D, its going to be expensive to reskin. 3D work takes a lot more time and a different, more advanced skill set for the artist, and even the reskinning process is more complex.  This translates into a higher cost, sometimes much higher.

For that reason, generally, I would not recommend 3D games in Unity3D, at least initially. For the record Unity3D can do 2D games just fine, so that might be an option for you.

Where possible, I would recommend you focus on iOS but if there is an inexpensive option for Android as well (more and more games are offering these) consider adding Android to the mix.  What I am finding is Android is becoming more and more relevant since I wrote my book!

Similarly, If purchasing Unity 3D code, would you recommend getting game skinned for both platforms at once of only doing IOS & then going back for Android? How does this add to the cost? I.e.  it cheaper in the long run to go all at once etc?

Firstly, make sure the source code does actually support both platforms. Just because the source code is developed in Unity3D is no guarantee that it will work on Android. It could certainly be made to, but this could be at an extra cost. The best way to know for sure is to ask to see the version running in both the Apple app store and Google Play for Android.  Only then, do you know for sure.

Unfortunately many source code sellers, due to ignorance, or dishonesty, will happily tell you an iOS or Android version of a game in Unity 3D (and other languages for that matter like Cocos2dX) will work with “no problems” on the other platform, but the reality can be a lot different, or at the very least cost you more to implement.

I have seen source code from BlueCloud Solutions, Apptopia, and other sites making these claims, but when you actually check the source code, there is no support for the other environment, or its left as an exercise to the buyer to implement.  What is very common is that you are told its “simple” or “easy” to do, and in some cases you are pointed to a blog post showing how easy it is.

Please don’t believe that.  As a programmer with 30 years experience, I am here to tell you first hand, its not a trivial exercise to implement it on another platform.  Ask yourself this.  If it was “trivial” and “easy”, why didn’t the source code seller actually do this for you ?   hint: Because its not easy or simple!

Yes, it can most certainly be done, and speaking from experience I have done it myself, but its not something I would recommend a non-programmer attempt due to its complexity, so you would need to factor in additional costs to outsource this to a third party, or be prepared to spend a significant amount of time learning how to do it.

Keep in mind its not just uploading the game.   Many games have global leaderboards for example, and the code for iOS, does not work on Android.  Ad networks have Android and iOS versions of their frameworks, and you have to ensure that the right one is used.  In app purchases, analytics, screen resolutions, and the like are just a few things that may need manipulating!

Even the size of the file to upload to the Apple app store or Google play is a factor.  For example if your game exceeds 50Mb in size, it becomes more complex to get it working on Google play (Android store).

Keep in mind that many source code sellers are themselves not programmers, so they often have to base what they tell you on what their programmer tells them. Its normal in this industry for source code sellers to contract someone to write a game, and then no longer have contact with that programmer any more, and hiring another programmer to do updates, etc.

Basically, buyer beware, if you have any doubts, move onto the next source code option 🙂

Having reskinned over 300 games for myself and other clients over the past 12 months or so, I have also had the opportunity to see a lot of this source code, so I am speaking from experience here!

A well designed game in Unity3D, Cocos2dx, or Corona SDK (the 3 most popular development environments for cross platform games) that from day 1 was designed for cross platform support, and was tested in both platforms will work well and is then fairly straight forward to upload to both iOS and Android.

I am looking at outsourcing the whole process as have no real skills in app or programming yet. (I am learning more every day). In your opinion is it still a profitable venture to go this path?

Another great question!

Outsourcing is indeed a viable option.  You can most certainly choose to do this yourself, use services like my company to do it for you, or hire outsourcers on websites such as eLance, freelancer, odesk, etc.

The bottom line is yes, it can be profitable, but like any business, there are risks and rewards, and no guarantees that you are going to make a profit.  You can most certainly do things to increase the chances of succeeding, and learning as much as possible about the industry and looking carefully at costs is a great place to start.

Outsourcing is a great option if you are not a technical person and/or do not want to be, or do not have the time to do it yourself.  At first glance you would say outsourcing is more expensive than doing it yourself, but thats generally only true if you are not attaching a value to your time.

I see this as a common thing people do actually.

Lets say you figure out its going to cost $200 to get an outsourcer to do something that you could learn to do yourself.   Do you really  “save” the $200 by doing it yourself?

Possibly, but lets actually look at the real costs.

Lets assume that in order to “learn” how to do what the outsourcer does for you, its going to take 25 hours.  Now, thats not unrealistic a time, depending on the task, because a lot of this stuff is very technical.  Most information is freely available online, but you have to find it, read/digest it, and then actually do it.

So maybe the 25 hours is the initial amount of time you need to learn it, and after you have learned it, you figure you can do it in 10 hours, each time that particular process needs to be done.

What is your time worth?

This is a big question, and the main reason I ask people to consider this, is to ask yourself.  What else could I be doing in that 25 hours of learning the process, and then 10 hours each game that I need to spend on this particular process, versus paying $200 to get it outsourced.

Other questions to ask yourself.  Can I really do it to the level of professionalism of someone who does this full time?   What happens if I get out of my league and hit a brick wall anyway, and have to pay someone to do it.  What happens if I run out of time, and I end up being my own biggest bottleneck to getting things done?

But the big question is, what else could I be doing with my time, to greatly improve the chances of success?  e.g.  Could I be spending that time on the big picture of my business?  e.g. Working on your business, and not in the business?

I see this no different as me wanting to fix my own car.  Now, I am hopeless at doing that, so I could spend a ton of time learning how to do it myself, or I can just take it to a mechanic I trust and get it fixed.  For me, its a no brainer, I don’t want to learn that stuff,  I don’t enjoy doing it, so I am willing to pay someone else to do it, so my time is freed up for other things.

Sort of a long rant, but think its really important to consider this when considering outsourcing costs.

Would you be able to tell me a ball park or estimate cost I could expect to pay to outsource the entire process for a good quality job? (I understand this would have variables)

My quick answer is, “it depends”.

There are many variables in a game project to consider, all  of which have a factor in the price.

Here are a few off the top of my head.

How many graphics are there in the game?

How many sound/music effects?

How many ad networks are in the source?

Is the game to be uploaded to both the Apple apple store and Google play (android), or just one platform?

What about icons, and screenshots?

Who will be choosing the theme, coming up with a title, choosing keywords, and writing a description for the app store.

If uploading to both platforms, will the description be changed for both app stores? (Google play does not use keywords the same way as Apple does – one example).

These are just some of the variables involved, there are more.  Really the only true way to get a ball park is to have an answer for all of the above, and to then also supply the files (or at least a link to the game in the relevant app store) so we or the outsourcer you choose can figure out the complexity of the project.

For that reason, its not really possible to give you a price.  Going back to the mechanic analogy, if you ring up a mechanic and ask “how much to fix my car”.  You are not going to get an accurate quotation in most cases until the mechanic knows what the problem is, and most likely has taken a look for him/herself.

Regarding purchasing source code, is there any places you recommend purchasing from or avoiding? Also, do you know much about (company name removed)? Are the source codes they offer any good? The seem to have a fair bit of info about their codes online or is this just all marketing hype/crap for them to take your money?

First and foremost, keep in mind that source code sellers want you to buy their source code.  They are “marketers” and in most cases their business model is making money from that source code by selling it, as opposed to making money with it in the app store.

Now I certainly wont say all source code sellers do this, but in order to “inflate” their sales figures, some and possibly many will actually use paid advertising so that they run at a loss, to make it look like they have made a lot of money with a particular source code.

For example, lets say they say the game has done “insanely well” (their words) and has had 500,000 downloads, and made $25,000 in profits.

Looks good so far, but if they paid $30,000 for advertising to achieve these figures, suddenly its a whole different ball game.

Its likely that someone looking to make money with their app in the app store, would not spend $30,000 to “make” $25,000 (losing them $5,000), but a source code seller?  Absolutely they would.  Because they are making a profit from the source code by selling it to you!

Also, in todays digital age, its very very easy (did I say easy) to fake screenshots, anduse tools like Photoshop to make the sales figures/profits look better than they really are.

Now, I am not accusing anyone of this specifically, but I am very confident this happens, a lot!  So keep this in mind. If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Personally, I would recommend that you focus more on the actual game itself, and how it makes you feel as a player, rather than focusing exclusively on how much money its going to make you.

All else aside, there is no guarantee that your reskin is going to perform as good as the original source code unfortunately.

Hopefully I have not scared you away from the process.  There very much are honest people in this industry, and there are genuine opportunities.  Just make sure you take the time to learn about the market and don’t jump into the first source code “deal” you see!

About the Author Tim Buchalka

Tim and his team completed over 500 reskins for himself or clients, and is an expert in the field.He has written 3 complete games, and has two complete video courses on Udemy that are about reskinning (as well as an Android development course with over 16,000 students!). You can find out more about Tim’s video courses here. He has also written a 110 page ebook about reskins that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed with reskins which is available on this website. You can get a complimentary copy of this ebook as well as discounts to his video courses by visiting this link. To contact Tim, visit this sites contact page.

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