AppLovin’s tvOS Contest winner: A sensation in Japan!

by Tatsuo Sakamoto on Jun 3, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, something very cool happened here in Japan: A blog called App Marketing Labo ran a funny, poignant post on Takashi Iyoda, the Japanese indie game dev who won AppLovin’s tvOS contest in April. It captures how he’s struggled for years to make it building games, and how finally — finally! — it looks like his luck is changing.

There is an old Japanese saying, “A samurai has to pretend he has eaten well when he has no food,” meaning that a man with pride endures poverty by living honestly and strongly. Iyoda-san has developed and launched 20 mobile games in the past six years and earned no more than $8,000 total. His greatest hit was downloaded 50,000 times and earned $6,000, but his other titles had almost no success. As he doggedly pursued his dream of building a hit mobile app, he limited his personal spending to just $1,000 a month. Over the past six years, he invested $100,000 of his savings into developing games, with next to no return. Still, he devoted everything he had to continuing.

I’d like to translate a little bit of the blog post on Iyoda-san (which is also worth reading, even in clunky translation, with Google translate in Chrome) because it’s simultaneously so droll and so inspiring.

It was such a surprise when he received an email from AppLovin informing him that he was a finalist in the tvOS App Contest. He couldn’t decide whether or not to fly to San Francisco because he would lose another couple of thousand of dollars unless he won 3rd place or higher. But finally he decided to give it a shot, and lo and behold, he won first place and $25,000 in cash.

But it wasn’t just about the money…the win meant many more things to him:

  1. It was his first “winning moment” in his life as he had never won any prize in his life in the past
  2. His 80-year-old parents, who never appreciated what he was doing, finally showed some understanding that he is doing something meaningful: He had become a “world champion of whatever in San Fran something.
  3. He now has hope (hope!) that his new title Dungeon Tiles will grab people’s attention and be played by many people around the world, so he can finally make his living as an app developer.

Here are translations of two of the graphics from the blog post:


A humble life on $1,000 per month

Left image: I’m single. I cook for myself. Chicken, vegetables, and rice ($1.50)

Right image: The Katsuya loop: Eat at Katsuya [a fast food chain], get a coupon for $1.00 off, go to Katsuya again…



Revenues per app in the past

Miew Gacha: $6,000

Sword and Dragon: $500

A few hundred dollars from other apps

Iyoda-san built a terrific tvOS game with Dungeon Tiles, and at AppLovin, we are proud to have supported him. We will keep a close eye on how his story unfolds, and we hope you do, too.

Tatsuo Sakamoto is AppLovin’s director of sales in Japan.