After I left Next Games, I wanted to take some time off. Part of what I did was reading lots of books. I spent at least four hours of reading every day. Books are so fascinating to me. I believe that there’s so much locked knowledge in books that everyone should be consuming books, to improve themselves in life and work.
During my time off, I got the idea to write a book about my experiences in being a games company founder. I founded Ironstar Helsinki in 2005, was at Supercell for 2011 and 2012, and then Next Games in 2013. Both of my own companies had lots of ups and downs, for all sorts of reasons. I wanted to create a book that would talk about the ways you could approach game development without the downs.
Another motivation for me to create the book was because I didn’t see any useful manuals for how one should approach company building in the games industry. I have all the knowledge from being at three gaming startups in the past fifteen years, two which I founded or co-founded, so why not have that come out as a book.
The Long Term Game
Here’s a breakdown of the parts in the book and why they are valuable topics to justify a part of their own.
I. The mindset of a game entrepreneur — Why some people become entrepreneurs? Where does the realization come from usually? In this part of the book, I talk about how an aspiring entrepreneur should prepare when starting a games company.
II. The game — The founding team starts with the first game that they’ll build. It’s the cornerstone of what the company is, and people will recognize the company from looking at the game. What is the quality bar? What is the rationale of picking the first game to be built? Why will your team be able to pull this off?
III. The team — As an outsider, the best indicator for future success is the founding team. Companies build products, and those products can fail. The question is how the founders tackle challenges, how they hack their way to creating value for gamers.
IV. Leading — Loads of games companies set up shop without figuring out their mission, what the company is going after. I also wanted to highlight how leading is about communication and listening — being a facilitator. Make the team care about the mission.
V. Funding — In 2018, games companies worldwide raised a total of $5.7 billion from investors. The investment sizes ranged from a few thousand from angel investors to a hundred million dollar rounds from venture capitalists. What does this mean for your games company, and what can you learn from how others have fundraised?
VI. Validation — To understand the commercial potential of a game in the early stages of developing, it has always been tricky. When you have a games company, your team could be working on countless amounts of different kinds of games. The problem is in understanding which of the game ideas they should pursue. How will your team justify the investment of time and money into a game?
VII. Trials and Tribulations — There are hundreds of reasons why a game company can start to experience the troubles that often lead to failure. I go into detail on what are the most obvious risks to understand. Usually, it goes down to running out of money, but what are the reasons that companies come to this realization?
Why did I want to talk about these topics? I believe all of these parts are the building blocks for approaching a new games company. The last one, Trials and Tribulations, is part of each entrepreneur’s career. Failure is inevitable, but you can always prepare for it.
Great resources that I look up to
I wanted to put together a list of books that I’ve loved reading in recent years. These are ones that I often go back to for advice on company building. Once you’ve finished “Long Term Game,” I highly suggest that you don’t stop there, but continue your journey into learning from these great people. I’ll also explain why this person matters.
- Why? CM is one of the best people to listen to when it comes to making a better decision.
- All I Want To Know Is Where I Die So I’ll Never Go There
- Poor Charlie’s Almanak
- Why? Watch this video, and you will know why. Last 5min, really worth it.
- Start With Why
- Infinite Game
- Why? He is an entrepreneur and investor and the founder of a16z, one of the best VC firms in Silicon Valley. He’s gone to hell and come back during the early 2000s and shares the experiences in his books
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things
- What You Do Is Who You Are
- Why? He has analyzed big companies, the ones that manage to stay as great companies and the ones that were great but then lost it. The theories in his books can easily be applied to any entrepreneur’s work.
- Good To Great
- Great By Choice
Other books that deserve to be mentioned