Goodgame Stu­dios


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

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