Garawell Games is a seven-person app development studio based in Istanbul. Bridge Race is the first game they launched with a publisher, and it skyrocketed to the top of the charts. According to data.ai, Bridge Race was the most downloaded hypercasual game worldwide in 2021 and 2022.
At the time, Nebih Başaran, CEO and founder at Garawell, discussed his experience partnering with Supersonic after failing to launch the game with another publisher, and shared what it was like to get published, reach the top of the charts, and win the Silver Medal (and a big cash prize) as part of the Supersonic Superstars competition.
After graduating university with a computer engineering degree, Başaran’s career began as a business analyst at Coca-Cola in Istanbul. While there, he networked with other entrepreneurs and eventually left Coca-Cola to found a startup company in the travel and board game industries.
During university, Başaran was interested in developing games and always loved playing computer games. Wanting to get back to game development, he followed his passion and founded Garawell Games in 2019. From the start, the studio focused on building hypercasual games because Başaran saw the potential to reach millions of users in an exciting, always-changing market – especially with a unique idea and fast execution.
The idea for Bridge Race traces back to a different game the team kicked off with another publisher. In its earliest iteration, the game used a collecting and filling mechanic combined with a last-man-standing concept. Garawell designed a mini-golf environment with no characters, and users collected and placed golf balls into holes to create bridges.
Next, developers created another iteration with non-player characters (NPCs) and ragdolls, but they couldn’t get retention above the original publisher’s threshold of 40–42%, no matter how many times it was tested. After months of trying new versions and game tweaks, the team stopped working on the game and thought it would never launch.
After failing to launch any game with its previous publisher, Garawell started researching other mobile game publishers – that’s when the team came across Supersonic. They then showed Supersonic the studio’s portfolio of 50–60 titles that were built but never launched, and a partnership was born.
"I’ve always believed it’s best to work with a single publisher so that we can focus all of our energy and resources into that partnership. With Supersonic, I recognized we had the same goal so it was an easy choice to pick them as our only publishing partner." – Başaran
With Supersonic as its new publisher, the goal was clear: build a hit game.
Once the publisher was decided, Garawell began re-testing all of its old games to determine which had marketability potential, based on CPI. That’s when the early version of Bridge Race – the mini-golf concept – came back into the picture. That iteration’s CPI during testing was low enough to get the attention of the publishing team.
Next, developers iterated off of the original idea by using a stacking mechanic, which was clearly trending in other hit games. This unlocked great in-game metrics like retention and playtime, but CPI was high. So, the team continued to tweak the game and iterate on creatives, together with Supersonic, to reduce CPI while maintaining retention and playtime.
"Supersonic is the most vibrant and exciting publisher in the market at the moment. They proved that in their full commitment and transparency." – Başaran