BInside Germany’s fastest-growing game developer
rothers Dr Kai Wawrzinek and Dr Christian Wawrzinek started out, like many Edge readers, playing 8bit computer games and experimenting with creating their own. It wasn’t until much later, however, that they turned game development into a career, founding Goodgame Studios in 2009. As relatively late starters in the world of commercial game production, perhaps they felt like they needed to make up for lost time, because Goodgame has since enjoyed a rate of growth that makes traditional videogame companies look like dinosaurs. But then Goodgame doesn’t exist in the same world as traditional videogame companies: it started out making browser-powered games, and has more recently broadened its focus to create mobile titles too. At the heart of it all is a proven free-to-play approach that ensures the company access to as broad an audience as possible.
And the company’s reach is phenomenal. At the time of writing, its most popular title, Goodgame Empire, has over 56m registered players, while second-placed title Goodgame Big Farm has over 26m. Across its portfolio, over 190m people have signed up to play, from over 200 countries, with bespoke versions created for 27 languages.
Supporting such an enormous playerbase is a big task, which is one of the reasons why Goodgame now employs over 800 staff. But other elements play crucial roles, too: the company devotes enormous resources to the tech that delivers its games, and then still more to the process of analysing the relationships its players have with its titles, in order to improve them. Throughout it all there is an attention to detail that makes Goodgame’s work stand out in a marketplace that wasn’t built on extreme levels of polish.
Across its portfolio, over 190m people have signed up to play, from over 200 countries
Growing at such a pace hasn’t been without issues. “We went through a very interesting learning period when we were at around 100 staff,” CTO Stefan Klemm explains. “We said, ‘OK, let’s make a lot of games at the same time,’ and we had a lot of success, but we discovered that we couldn’t put all of the love and all of the details into that many games, so we decided that we really had to focus on fewer games, and really concentrate on the details.”
That was two years ago. Now, the challenge is to translate success in browser games to the mobile market. “We’ve been at the cutting edge of the browser market,” Klemm says, “but we’ve only just entered the mobile market – [Android/iOS game] Empire: Four Kingdoms was launched just over a year ago. But mobile is the fastest-growing market, so we’re very interested in it. And we’re also experimenting with 3D graphics for new console titles in the future. It’s an exciting time.”
Empire, the company’s most popular title, is a strong illustration of Goodgames’ attention to artistic detail
GoodgameGangster began life as a Mafia-themed title, but a broadening of focus and a visual overhaul ensured a wider audience. Today, it has nearly 23m registered players