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Sent on March 5th 2021.

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Hi there!

It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Helsinki! This week we closed the third investment with my syndicate. Things are really picking up, and lots of great gaming studios are being funded.

Another thing that I’m excited about is a webinar that I’m doing with the founders of GeekLab. That one is happening on March 24th. We’ll be covering how mobile game developers can test their game before they write a piece of code. Register for this free webinar by going here.

Now, onto the news.

🎙 Hakan Ulvan, Bigger Games

This week on the EGD podcast, I had a chat with Hakan Ulvan, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bigger Games from Istanbul, Turkey. Hakan and his co-founders left Peak Games a few years ago to start working on their own game studio. In this episode, we talk about their approach to making games, how the Turkish gaming ecosystem has evolved over the years, and what will happen next.

My main takeaways from this episode:

1. You have to have patience

“I always felt that I need to go step by step and I even used the same step-by-step approach on Bigger Games. Our ambitions are really high, but if we’d like to go to this place, we need to take our steps, one by one, and we need to explore the first area, and then the second area, and then the third area.”

2. Is casual puzzle on mobile crowded? On the contrary.

Hakan mentioned that when Peak started working on Toy Blast, people already said that Candy Crush had saturated the market. But Toy Blast became successful anyways.

When they were starting Toon Blast, everybody said that Toon Blast and Toy Blast would cannibalize each other. But that didn’t happen—Toon Blast became even more successful than Toy Blast.

“You can see that these Gardenscapes, casual games with a meta, are doing well in the market.” And now we have the merge genre coming into the casual puzzle genre. People who were underestimating the casual puzzle genre are still underestimating the genre.

3. What has inspired game developers in Turkey to start gaming studios?

“Whoever you went to and asked in Turkey that is it possible to create a global success from Turkey, everybody would have said that it will be very, very difficult. But now, after Peak’s success, everybody has seen that this is possible. You can create a global success from Turkey.”

4. What was happening before the Zynga deal, and what has happened after the Zynga deal for the gaming ecosystem in Turkey?

“The Zynga deals accelerated [the ecosystem]. Investors and VCs started to see Turkey. Saying that there might be great companies there.”

“At the same time, it seemed like all these talented people in Turkey started to see that there’s actually this gaming industry, and it’s possible to create something great there. Lots of talented people are working in management consultancy or banking or whatever. And they also have seen that there might be great opportunities, there might be great career paths in gaming.”

“People’s families, loved ones, or whatever, have some ethics on your career choices in Turkey. And even people who are not in gaming, they started to see that there might be something there.”

Listen to the full episode by going here.

🔮 Innovation in mobile game ads

This week I hosted a webinar with Erik Bryant from Opera Event and Steven Chard from Luna Labs. Both companies are at the forefront of innovative mobile game ads, and I wanted to explore several topics on how game developers can utilize game creatives to win players over.

Some highlights from the webinar:

Steven Chard: “We are able to switch out different variations with playable ads. And actually, that allows studios to make a better decision quite quickly on the variations regarding performance.”

Erik Bryant: “Higher the IPM, the lower the CPI. We don’t really focus too much on CTR. We want people to download the game, have a good experience, and end up being spenders in the game, and creating some good reviews.”

Watch the recording from the webinar by going here.

🏡 Games industry work from home

I recently had a poll on LinkedIn. I asked, “Games industry people: after the pandemic, do you want to go back to an office?”

Out of 300 votes, people voted

  • 16% said “Fully back to office”
  • 23% said “Never back to office”
  • 61% said “Would like some days in office”

Some of the interesting comments inside the poll where:

“I really miss the energy and vibe of being together working on the same thing, making silly jokes, or getting serious in a room with a whiteboard fixing whatever. I can imagine that working occasionally at home will be good. But going to the office gave a really nice cadence to my life.”

“Face to face is required, especially for leadership. You can’t know how someone is feeling without being in the room with them. Three days per week on-site, two WFH is a good mix IMO unless you have a tough deadline.”

How I see work from home in the future

Many talented people will want to choose jobs where they’ll have flexibility regarding location. Our industry was already accommodating remote work, and COVID kicked off an extreme experiment where every company went remote. After the pandemic, we’re going to continue with a more normal experiment of work from home. The people who did well in the extreme experiment are going to thrive in the normal.

During the pandemic, I’ve been involved with a dozen or so gaming studios. I’ve witnessed introverted CEOs thriving, whereas extroverted CEOs are having more problems. When people were still at the office, the charismatic leaders had an advantage as they could mesmerize people with their presence. Now, you can be an introvert and get things rolling quite well through a well-ironed communications process.

The people who now lean into the new norm that work from home will be lasting will do the best—not just waiting for this to be over.

Lots of tools and methods are out there. Best practices are being shared. People are upgrading their home offices. I asked on Twitter about home office upgrades, and 60% of voters said they’d spent over $100 on their office. 25% spend more than $500.

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges with work from home is that leaders didn’t adapt enough to their staff’s work-from-home needs. Asking for help from seniors is tough over Slack and Zoom. Getting to know “ways of working” in the company, seeing how others operate, seeing how teams operate is removed and placed in the messaging apps.

Seniors and leaders need to talk to people, talk about working from home, how it’s going. Hear people out. Build new systems that have been proven to work at companies like Basecamp, Atlassian, Zapier, GitLab, which are big companies that have never had an office. Please don’t complain that they’re not gaming companies. They are building software with innovation and creativity in remote and work from home environments. And so are we from now on.

Related work-from-home content on Elite Game Developers:

📃 Articles worth reading

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Metaverse — “In Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the metaverse is run by the fictional Global Multimedia Protocol Group, an entity controlled by the real-life Association for Computing Machinery. In Ready Player One, the OASIS virtual reality is owned by a corporation called Innovative Online Industries — and the plot largely revolves around its control. Although social networks seem to follow winner-take-all economics, it seems that virtual spaces have far too much variety and experiences to follow the same path.”

NFTs and CBGBs: how’s that for a clickbait title — “I remember first hearing about the concept of Schelling Points a couple of years ago when suddenly a critical mass of my annoyingly smart friends started all dropping this new word in conversations. I’ve since come to admit that it’s a really useful idea, and it’s especially helpful in understanding one of my perennially favorite topics: why bubbles are so good for innovation.”

100 (Short) Rules for a Better Life — “Here are 100 rules that have helped me live better based on my own experience, the advice I’ve been given and the things I’ve studied. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully, some of these will help you in your own pursuit of living a good life.”

Love & Pies is the Best-in-Class Recipe for Free-to-Play Storytelling — “Mobile f2p games are built to fit into players’ daily lives by being accessible and long-lasting. With Love & Pies, Trailmix is on a quest to combine that with great storytelling. Scripted drama that engages an audience motivated strongly by story.”

💬 Quote I’ve Been Thinking About

“You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thing on which you have decided.” — George S. Patton

👀 Something cool

As we all ​working from home now, here’s a cool website that has collected list of pretty much all the affordable prefab houses, backyard offices, etc.

It’s pretty amazing what work from home could look like. Check it out at www.epicmonday.com.


Sponsored by ironSource’s LevelUp Academy

Serious about game growth? Us too. That’s why we built LevelUp Academy, ironSource’s new online portal for game developers, packed with on-demand video classes all about user acquisition and monetization.

Whether you’re looking to grow your first game or already experienced in the field, you’ll find the insights you need to turn your creations into a successful business.

Click here to start your first class.

Sponsored by Gameye

Developers that are looking for an easy game server auto-scaling solution should definitely check out Gameye.

Gameye is a platform independent solution. Game sessions are spread out over multiple providers to achieve the best possible coverage in every region of the world.

Gameye is your one-stop-shop for all your server orchestration needs. They create and provide their own API for this.

Take advantage of automated capacity management and always have resources to run game sessions. Scale when you need it, in locations close to your players.

Check out www.gameye.com

​​

Sponsored by Opera Event

​Looking for some great new authentic video creative? Try something totally new with Influencer Generated Content (IGC) by Opera Event. Influencers or actors will make specific creative content for your games and Opera Event will deliver you high-quality video ads that highlight the best parts of your game.

Note! You get a free video with the purchase of 4 or more videos. Remember to say that Elite Game Developers sent you!

Go to www.getigc.com to see some examples and get more information.​​


That’s all I have for you this week. Until next week!

Joakim