Mobile App Dev for Gaming Startup
- Mobile App Development
- $50,000 to $199,999
- July 2020 - Sep. 2021
- Willing to Refer
"Their unwillingness to financially compensate for their mistakes and shortcomings forced us to incur legal aid fees."
- Sopot, Poland
- 1-10 Employees
- Online Review
A gaming startup hired B-MIND Software House for mobile app development services. They were tasked with the development of a mobile game app where the gaming and fashion world meet.
B-MIND Software House was not able to complete the project, resulting in financial and reputation losses for the end client. The team wasn't able to secure the app's API which has led to leaked data from the platform's servers. The client wasn't happy with the result of their collaboration at all.
The client submitted this review online.
Please describe your company and your position there.
I'm the CEO of gaming start-up from Poland. Our business revolves around combining gaming with real life prizes, mostly connected to the streetwear fashion industry.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
For what projects/services did your company hire B-MIND Software House?
We had the idea to develop an application that would merge the gaming and fashion world into one. The concept involved simple arcade games that would be facilitated by users to win real life prizes. We have no in-house developers on our team and had no previous experience with creating such projects and therefore we have choosen to outsource the development process to an outside company.
How did you select this vendor and what were the deciding factors?
We have collected offers from multiple software houses, including B-Mind, in order to assess how costly the project would be. The deciding factors were the offer, in terms of estimated costs and the track record of the company. We have choosen B-Mind on the basis fo their previously good track record with companies like Amica and Blinkee. We have entered a preliminary agreement to assess the costs more accurately, paying around $3000 to develop a "beta" layout of the application. In the end we decided to enter into agreement with the company, as they have
Describe the project in detail and walk through the stages of the project.
The first stage of the project was the creation of a prototype, which would serve as a blue print of the final application. This stage was initiated in July 2020. We have paid 12 000 zloty (around $3000) for that stage of the project. The aim of this was to produce a more accurate estimation of the final costs of the project, as we have choosen to proceeed with "Fixed Budget" option of billing for the project, which meant that we would pay a fixed price for certain functionalities that the company pledged to develop. This stage produced a prototype which included a business model revolving on the idea that a user would pay for each game with virtual currency that would be bought "in-app". There were no issues during this stage.
After this stage, we have signed a legal agrrement that stated that the product should be delivered no later than the 30th of June 2021 and proceeded to workshops that aimed at developing how the final product will look like. The workshops were conducted with the help of a front-end develop (Łukasz M.), mr Marcin G., the project manager ms Dagmara N. and from our side Marcin G. - the CEO of Win Me App.
During the workshops we have developed a detailed sketch of the final outlook of the product and have went through various options of monetization, finally settling on two types of rivalries: paid (by means of in-app currency) and free-to-play (by means of watching ads). After this stage we have provided B-Mind with graphic materials needed to develop the product, including final models of screens, buttons and gameplay features like obstacles and avatars for the in-app game. This stage went quite smoothly, even though we have changed certain variables mid-process, mainly connected to the monetization and business related aspects of the game.
After this stage, B-Mind proceeded to develop the final product. At this stage the first problems actually started to unravel, with the team not being experienced with the process of implementing features like in-app ad systems like AdMob to the app. We have also lost a lot of time and resources on trying to implement outside providers of payments, finally concluding that only "in-app" payments, facilitated by Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store were accepted by these vendors. If we have proceeded with outside providers, the app would have been blocked from the stores of those vendors. The team had no previous experince in implementing such payment systems, which resulted in tima and resources being wasted on preparing the enviroment for such payment options to be implemented, only to be dropped completely after the realization of our side (Win Me App) that such practices would result in the app being not accepted in the stores.
This had caused a major delay in ther development process, as the whole thing resurfaced already two weeks after the contractual deadline. Furthermore the team was not familiar (nor was obviously the client) with the process of connecting and implementing systems such as Google AdMob, which resulted in further delays. Furthermore, some work was devoted to implementing a means of giving discounts for players, that would work as normal discounts (10,20,30 percent). Later on, B-Mind has informed the client that because of Google's and Apples's policy, the whole system would not be operational, as these providers implement strict rules as to the prices of the products offered in the apps, making the whole system useless.
The testing of the application was far from satisfying, as the burden of responsibility to find a group of testers was shifted to the client. The testing was facilitated by means of testing version of the app being launched on Firebase. The tests were short, the testing group made out of client's friends and acquitances resulted in some major and minor bugs being fixed, however going further, the test group was not engaged in the testing process.
On the 30th of June 2021, the project manager changed from ms Dagmara N. to mr Przemysław J.. Furthermore, the UI/UX developer - mr Łukasz M., left B-Mind, but stayed on the project as means of part-time support. B-Mind has stted that his role would be to support a newly introduced developer, however in reality, he was still working on the project, just not as a full-time developer, but a part-time one, further delaying the development process, as his capacity was limited.
Asked about the introduction of a new developer, B-Mind has provided an explaination that introducting a new memeber of the team would further delay the process. Even though the time of departure of Mr Łukasz was known to B-Mind beforhand, maiing them capable of introducng a new developer in time, such that he would take over Mr Łukasz's responsibility, the company failed to do so. This proved to be a major issue, as all of the clients remarks about the delay of the project were at first countered with the argument that Mr Łukasz is not working full-time with the company. The client has repeatedly requested a new member to be introduced, however Mr Łukasz stayed as the main developer till the end of the project.
The client raised the question of the delay and after negotiations, both parties settled on a 20% discount for developement hours charged for July and that the final stages of the project and all work needed for completion would be free of charge (conducted in August and September).
The app was finally ready to sale on the 6th of September. We have conducted a launch and we have in the very first 30 minutes encountered massive issues with the product. The communication of the app and servers were virtually unprotected, giving access to our API to everyone with even minor programming skills. We have been alerted to it by a user that was able to dowload the whole user base from our servers, inluding potentially sensitive data like emails, anmes and surnames of our users. Firthermore, even though we ahve established that we are only allowing users with the two latest versions of Android and IOS systems to dowload the app, B-Mind has not restricted that access for the android platform, making it possible for people with very old phones and systems to slow down the gameplay and get an incredibly unfair advantage over other users.
Win Me has proposed a two-track solution to the problem - firstly, limiting the access for older android phones and furthermore and secondly changing the scoring system in the game from a time-based to a frame-based system. B-Mind has rejected the second idea of changing the scoring system, even though Win Me has insisted that it's the only way of really fixing the issue. After negotiations, Win Me has acdepted that B-Mind will onyl restrict the older phones. After a re-launch of the application a week later, it has become clear that the fix has not worked and people on new phones can still cheat by means of slowing down their phones. Only then did B-Mind accept the need for changing the scoring system and started working on it. The implementation of this changed was prolonging and finally lasted two weeks, making the product not fully and correctly working for three weeks after the launch.
This had serious impact on the momentum of the application and the reception of the users, who were strongly dissatisfied and demotivated by people being able to cheat. It arguably costed Win Me the loss of the novelty factor and initially strong and positive momentum (in the first days, the app was ranked number 1 in games on App Store Poland). After that, it was concluded that a further security function should be implemented, such as that players with slower phones would be detected and their scores flagged. This version was finally uploaded on the 4th of October, over a month after the initial launch.
The above mentioned delays, lack of security and issues mixed with the unwillingness of B-Mind to implement solutions proposed by the client has resulted in such a loss of momentum for the application and dramatic loss of engagement of the users that a decision was made for the app to be taken down for further development. Win Me has asked B-Mind to send the source code so Win-Me can continue developing the product with another partner, but was met initially with a rejection, even though contractually B-Mind was obliged to send the code, as all payments had been made.
Only the threat of legal action has resulted in B-Mind providing Win Me with the source code. In light of the above mentioned, Win Me has asked B-Mind for financial compensation for the errors on their side that resulted in this situation, but was met with a rejection and the negotiations were discontinued. For the time being the dispute will be continued by legal means.
How many resources from the vendor's team worked with you, and what were their positions?
Marcin G. - new technologies developer, left after eraly stages of the project
Two project managers:
- Dagmara N. - from the start till the 30th of June 2021
- Przemysław J. - from 30th of June 2021 till the end of the project
Two back end developers
- One UX/UI developer - Łukasz M., from the start fo the project till 30th of June full-time, after that date part-time
- Krzysztof C. - CEO of B-Mind - facilitatingg a supportive role
- Marcin C. - COO of B-Mind - facilitating a supportive role
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
The company has produced an incomplete, not properly functioning product, which resulted in both financial and reputational losses for the client. Furthermore, B-Mind has exposed Win Me to potential legal consequences, by not properly securing the API of the application, facilitating a leak of data from Win Me's servers.
The delay can be partially blamed on the fact that B-Mind was unable or unwilling to introduce a new member to the team that would take over the responsibilites of the departing UX/UI developer. Furthermore, the lack of experience with that kind fo products (games) caused further delays. Absence of throughout Q&A process on B-Mind's side with the simultaneous bet on a testing group provided by the client, which was unexperienced, may have arguably led to critical bugs not being uncovered in the testing process.
Their unwillingness to financially compensate for their mistakes and shortcomings forced us to incur legal aid fees.
Service & Deliverables
"The critical mistakes done by the company exposed us to business costs and potential legal liability."
On time / deadlines
"The project was delayed by 3 months, furthermore the company has not fulfilled contractual obligation with respect to delivery date."
Value / within estimates
"For the quality of the work executed the costs were high"
Willing to Refer0.5
"Highly unlikely, due to the inability to execute prijects connected to game development.