Elite Game Developers Podcast
By Joakim Achren
Elite Game Developers PodcastJun 01, 2023
Pitch Feedback from Joakim — Pavel Afanasiev, Northern Lights Entertainment
This time, Pavel Afanasiev from Northern Lights Entertainment pitches his games company to me, and I share feedback. Pavel decided not to do slides, so it's a different format with pros and cons.
This is a repost from a few years back and it's definitely one of my favorite episodes of all time. Kristian Segerstrale is the CEO Super Evil Megacorp, a games company based out of San Francisco. Kristian is a legend in gaming. He started his first games company Macrospace twenty years ago, which IPOed as Glu Mobile a few year later. Later he sold his second company Playfish to EA in 2009. We talk about being an entrepreneur in gaming, and how Kristian’s beliefs have evolved over the years, in what it takes to succeed in gaming.
Pitch Feedback from Joakim — Melissa McBride, Sophia Technologies
This is a new episode series where a founder pitches their company to Joakim, and then Joakim shares feedback on the pitch.
The first one is with Melissa McBride from Sophia Technologies. They are using gaming and play to revolutionize education and build a digital campus where every child has access to game-based learning technology powered by VR and AI technologies.
Samer Abbas — Gaming in Saudi Arabia
Samer Abbas is a games professional focused on Arabic-speaking countries. His experience spans market research, game publishing, and game developer support. Samer helps global game companies grow their business in Arabic markets. He has been called "a vital figure in the Arabic games industry" and recognized in the 100 Game Changers list by GI.Biz for his work uplifting the regional game developer community. Samer is the GameFounders acceleration program director in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In this episode, we talk about the games industry in the middle east, especially in Saudi Arabia, how things have been developing, and what the future looks like for the region.
Teams and Team Building In Gaming
This is a repost of an older episode I recorded some time ago on building a team in gaming. I started my first company alone as a solo founder, which was the biggest mistake I had ever made. In this episode, I talk about why you should always focus on team building when considering a startup.
Here is the original description of this episode: In April 2020, I did a webinar on the topic of Teams and team building in gaming. I went through how you'd start off building a founding team, and I cover the example of myself putting together my founding team back in 2012. Then I'll talk about the dream team in gaming, what that means, and how new founders should think about hiring to build the best team that builds the best games.
Arseny Lebedev — Life of a gaming studio CEO
With 15 years in the games industry, Arseny Lebedev is the co-founder and CEO at Original Games (makers of Merge Inn) where he focuses on product and strategy. In this episode, we discuss building games, managing stress, and why some people are geared toward entrepreneurship.
First chapter of my audiobook "Long Term Game: How to Build a Video Games Company"
My book, "Long Term Game: How to Build a Video Games Company," came out in March 2020. It was also released as an audiobook version, which you can find on Audible and other major online audiobook stores. I want to share with you the first chapter of the book. I hope you enjoy this read from Keith O’Brien. Get the book from here. Note that this episode is a repost from 2020.
EGD Podcast Highlights From 2022
Here are the Elite Game Developers podcast highlights from 2022. This year, 36 podcast episodes went live, and I spoke to founders and investors from all over the globe, who all are working to build great gaming companies. Now, I want to end this year with my favorite highlights.
The transcript is available here.
Cyril Barrow — Interoperability of assets between games
Cyril Barrow is the co-founder and COO of Village Studio, a new kind of games company that is building cross-game avatars that act as portable avatars dressed in NFT wearables with unique attributes that can be utilized across multiple games.
Cyril has been in the games industry for a long time. He has had leadership roles at companies like Digital Chocolate, Rovio, and EA, most recently leading the EA Helsinki studio. In this episode, we talk about Cyril's lessons learned from working in leadership, building studios, and what he sees as the true potential of interoperability of assets between games.
Kelly Wallick — 1Up Venture's Community of Founders
Kelly Wallick has worked in the tech and video game industry for over ten years. She’s the founder of the Indie MEGABOOTH and is now a Partner at 1Up Ventures. She has also been the longest-sitting Chair of the Independent Games Festival and the first woman to hold the title. In addition, Kelly is proud to serve on the GLAAD Media Award Advisory Board. Kelly is a passionate believer in the strength and impact of community and implementing long-term change to support creative, unique, and diverse voices.
in our discussion, we talk about investing in gaming, and then we talk about 1Up's founder community and how that community is adding value to the founders.
Maor Sadra — Measuring your marketing and entrepreneurship lessons
Today I'm talking with Maor Sadra, the co-founder and CEO of INCRMNTAL, which is a company that evolves digital marketing from measuring traffic to measuring value.
In this episode, we talk about how Maor's company changes the daily life of online marketers, including UA professionals in gaming. Then we cover Maor's background, how he approaches entrepreneurship and what lessons he's picked up along the way.
Tom Hammond — On entrepreneurship and doing a startup
Tom Hammond is the co-founder and CEO of Userwise, a company that is shaping up live-ops in gaming, and they call themselves the world’s first player experience management platform trusted by teams to power their Liveops all-in-one place. Tom is an entrepreneur who shares a lot about his founder's journey on social media and also on his podcast, Mastering Retention.
In this episode with Tom, we talk about bootstrapping a company versus the venture-backed path. How small game studios, with not a lot of cash or experience, can still break out. And what Tom thinks is the reason that developers don't build games with live ops from day one
Jenny Xu — Fitness games and entrepreneurship
This week on the podcast, I'm talking with Jenny Xu, the co-founder and CEO of Talofa Games, a fitness games company based out of California.
Jenny is a first-time founder with an impressive background from working on games as a teenager, getting millions of downloads, then spending time at Google, EA, and N3TWORK, and then starting her own venture-backed gaming startup.
In this discussion, we talk about Jenny's journey, how she got into gaming, learning to work in teams and manage teams, and what she's learned from being a CEO.
Touko Tahkokallio — On game creation and founding a new studio
In today's episode, I'm interviewing a friend of mine, my ex-colleague Touko Tahkokallio, who was the designer on games like Hay Day, and Boom Beach and led the Brawl Stars team at Supercell. And he's now doing his own studio in Helsinki with a group of experienced game developers.
In this discussion with Touko, we talk about his learnings from creating both board games and video games and how he sees teams or pairs of excellent individuals working together to create these games.
David Amor — Two decades of gaming entrepreneurship
David Amor is the co-founder and CEO of Playmint, a new kind of games company building games for web3. David has had a long career in gaming, from EA in the early nineties to having started several gaming startups, including Delinquent, which got sold to MAG Interactive some years ago.
In this discussion with David, we talk about the lessons he’s learned from his previous gaming startups, what are the commonalities of successful gaming founders and why David decided to start a new games company, doing Web3.
Benjamin Carcich and Aaron Smith — Building Better Leaders
After visiting the Building Better Games podcast, I invited the podcast hosts, Aaron Smith, and Ben Carcich, to my podcast. The guys run a leadership consultancy called Valarin, and both Aaron and Ben have an extensive experience from management positions at companies like Riot Games. Besides leadership, we talk about a lot of topics that relate to company building, like product vision, holding off from starting game projects too quickly without proper planning, and what has been the thing that has enabled so many ex-Riot people to start great gaming companies.
Jon Radoff — On entrepreneurship and the metaverse
In this podcast episode, I'm speaking with Jon Radoff, the founder and CEO of Beamable, a company that enables game developers to launch live service games. Jon has been in gaming for ages and has founded several startups in the gaming space.
In this discussion, we talk about what Jon learned about company building from his previous company Disruptor Beam, what he thinks is happening with all the buzzwords in gaming, like the metaverse, and where that is leading the industry.
To share one quote from Jon, it would be this one: "The thing the game industry will teach you is humility. And if you don't have humility, when you start building games, you will eventually have humility because it's only a matter of time. Before you find out that your, your brilliant idea, your beautiful idea, just doesn't resonate with a large enough audience to become commercially viable because you look at the intersection points of success in this industry."
And there's so much more. Here's my discussion with Jon Radoff.
Sophie Vo — How to share feedback
I invited Sophie Vo to my podcast. Sophie has an extensive background in gaming, and she's most recently been managing the Voodoo Berlin studio. You might have also been listening to her podcast Rise & Play, where she talks with guests about leadership in gaming.
With Sophie, we talk about the topics of giving feedback and receiving feedback. I’ve seen a lot of startups where the co-founders don’t really talk about issues, and then it comes to the point where someone needs to leave. I believe we can all better communicate our expectations and issues and share feedback with the people we work with.
Ask Me Anything #9 — Investing questions
This is the ninth Ask Me Anything episode, where I answer questions on how I look at investing. I had a session with a team from one VC firm and they were asking me questions. And then I also picked up another interesting question about angel investing.
If you have questions you'd like me to ask, you can go here to submit them.
As I mention in the episode, I'm gonna take a break for July and August on the podcast, and we'll be back in early September with new episodes.
Halli Bjornsson — Industry life cycles in gaming
In this week's podcast episode, I'm talking with Halli Thor Bjornsson, who is the CEO of Lockwood Publishing, a games company based out of England.
In this discussion with Halli, we talk about the industry life cycles in gaming, how console and PC transitioning to mobile is very similar to now as many folks are moving to web3, and we spend some time talking about our experiences as entrepreneurs.
Ads in mobile games
This recording is from a panel I did last week with Jan Pollack from Wooga, Ross Brockman from Google, and Christian Facey from Audiomob, where we talked about ads in mobile games and how things have been changing in the recent years.
Topics that we cover include the privacy changes on mobile, what kind of future trends the panelists are seeing get materialized, and how game developers should optimally approach ad monetization.
Asbjoern Malte Soendergaard — Games company builder story
In this week's podcast episode, I'm talking with Asbjoern Malte Soendergaard, the founder and CEO of Tactile Games, who are based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and are the makers of the hit game Lily's Garden.
In this discussion, we talk about how company culture has developed at Tactile over the years, how new projects get started, and what kind of a role does celebrating success and failure play at Tactile.
Andres Constantinidis — Building a remote-first game studio
In this podcast episode, I talk with Andres Constantinidis, the co-founder and CEO of TinyBytes, a remote-first mobile games studio. Andres has built his game studio as a remote company all the way from the founding days, which happened almost ten years ago.
In this discussion, we talk about creating quality games with a remote team, but still keeping up a high velocity, how to make product decisions on continuing a game that is still unsure of its success, and what Andres would do differently if he'd go back to the early days of his company.
Derek Lau — Building Guild of Guardians
In the latest podcast episode, I have Derek Lau (LinkedIn, Twitter) from Immutable, talking about his journey into web3 gaming and how they are building the blockchain game Guild of Guardians at his company Immutable.
Guild of Guardians is a mobile RPG where players can turn their gaming passion into assets. Once launched, the game is a multiplayer fantasy action RPG game, where players build their dream team of ‘Guardians’ and compete in a guild to earn rewards.
In this discussion, we talk about Derek’s beliefs in crypto, why blockchain makes sense for the future of gaming, and what game developers could do to attract the masses into web3 gaming.
Alexander Bergendahl — A repeat founder story
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Alexander Bergendahl, who is the co-founder and CEO of LootLocker, a games backend solutions company from Stockholm, Sweden.
Alexander is a repeat founder, who's been doing games companies for a while now. With Alexander, we talk about his founder journey, learnings from doing his companies, and how Alexander is still learning to be a better founder.
Neil McFarland and Matthew Ryan — Pivoting from F2P to Web3
In today's episode, I'm talking with Neil McFarland and Matthew Ryan from First Light Games, a game studio based in London, UK. The founders started the company a few years ago, to work on free-to-play games for mobile, but last year, decided to pivot to web3 gaming.
In this episode, we talk about the funding models that the founders have used in web3, what the challenges our in getting the tokenomics right, and how to build a core team in web3 gaming.
Adam Jaffe — What it takes to succeed in gaming
In this podcast episode, I have Adam Jaffe on the show. Adam is the founder and CEO of Mega Studio, a gaming outfit based out of Barcelona, Spain.
Adam has a broad scope of knowledge from the gaming space, having worked at companies like Playtika, Moon Active, Jam City, and Social Point, before founding Mega Studio.
In this discussion, we talk about advising startups, how to build games that make money, and what unconventional solutions should game developers apply to create success in gaming.
Nick Kneuper and Nat Eliason — Building Crypto Raiders
In this podcast episode, I talk with Nick Kneuper and Nat Eliason who are building Crypto Raiders, which I believe is one of the best web3 games out there. Both Nick and Nat haven't been in crypto for that long, but as long-time entrepreneurs, they've channeled their skills in creating products to take on blockchain gaming.
In this episode, we talk about how Crypto Raiders got started, how they've grown the player base, how they manage their cryptocurrency treasury and how they see things developing for web3 gaming in the near future.
Are Mack Growen — Helping founders build
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Are Mack Growen, a General Partner at London Venture Partners, a VC firm focused on investing in founders in the game sector at the seed stage.
In this discussion, we talk about Are's extensive background in gaming, his journey to VC, what kind of learnings he is sharing, and how Are approaches risks, luck, and other challenges in gaming.
Mika Tammenkoski — Building Metacore
In this week's episode, I'm talking with Mika Tammenkoski, who is the co-founder and CEO of Metacore Games, the company that is well known for their hit game Merge Mansion.
In this discussion with Mika, we talk about his long journey in gaming, what he has picked up on leadership and startups from all the projects he's been involved with, and what Mika thinks about building teams, pivoting, and increasing the likelihood of finding a hit game
Alex Arias and Andreas Risberg — Game Devs Going Web3
Andrew Sheppard — From operator to investor
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Andrew Sheppard, who is the Managing Director at Transcend Fund, a venture capital firm investing in the future of games and digital entertainment.
In this discussion with Andrew, we talk about his move from being an operator in gaming to becoming an investor, what has been hard about being an investor, and what Andrew thinks will changes and stay the same as new platforms emerge.
Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng — Audio Ads in Games
In the latest podcast episode, I have Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng from Audiomob, talking about their journey of building their company, which enables audio ads for mobile games.
In this discussion, we talk about Wilfrid's and Christian's journey to team up and make audio ads happen, how they are learning to be company builders and what challenges they've faced in starting and fundraising for a company during the pandemic.
Hugo Obi — Gaming in Africa
In this week's podcast episode, I'm talking with Hugo Obi, who is the founder and CEO of Maliyo Games, a mobile games studio based out of Lagos, Nigeria.
In this discussion, we talk about the gaming ecosystem in Africa, how are things developing on the consumer side and the development side. We also talk about Hugo's founder journey in gaming and what Hugo sees as the next steps in growing the games industry in Africa.
Alexander Krug and Andre Krug — Success in instant games
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Alexander Krug and Andre Krug, the co-founders of SOFTGAMES, an instant games company from Berlin, Germany. In this episode, we talk about the founder's journey from a small startup to having 100 people in your company, what instant games look like in 2022 and where the founders see their company going next.
Eitan Reisel — Future of games investing
In this podcast episode, I'm chatting with Eitan Reisel, Managing Partner of VGames, an early-stage gaming VC from Israel. Eitan and his team have been operating for a few years now with two funds raised. They've already have been investing in dozens of gaming companies worldwide. In this discussion, we talk about Eitan's approach to helping founders, how he makes investment decisions, and what the future looks like for both mobile and crypto gaming.
Piers Kicks — Investing in blockchain games
In this podcast episode, I'm talking Piers Kicks, an Investor at Delphi Digital and at BITKRAFT Ventures, investing into crypto gaming. In this discussion, we talk about how the gaming community is embracing blockchain, what are the differences between gaming teams and crypto teams making these games, and how Piers evaluates investments in blockchain gaming.
Salone Sehgal — Investing in Indian games companies
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Salone Sehgal, who is a General Partner at Lumikai Fund, which is a seed-stage gaming fund focusing on the Indian market. I had Salone on my show in 2020, but since so much has been happening in the games industry, I wanted to bring her back to the show.
We talk about what has been happening in India during the pandemic, what has been funneling the growth of startups in the region, and what Salone has learned from helping founders build companies.
Ismet Goksen — Investing in Turkish gaming ecosystem
In this discussion, we talk about the Turkish gaming ecosystem, why things are going so well for the companies there, what the future looks like and what Ismet has learned about investing in gaming.
Carolin Krenzer — Building games with stellar execution
In this podcast episode, I’m talking to Carolin Krenzer, who is the co-founder and CEO of TrailMix, a mobile games studio well known for their hit merge game Love & Pies. Caro has an extensive background in free-to-play and mobile, and she has been doing her startup now since 2017.
We talk about so many things, like what Caro learned from working at Playfish and building the London studio for King, then on hiring, team building, and how execution on your core gameplay matters so much when you are building games in established game genres.
Ask Me Anything #8
This is the eighth Ask Me Anything episode, where I answer people’s questions related to game studios, fundraising, and all other entrepreneurship-related stuff. I will be recording another episode quite soon, so please submit your questions by filling out this form. Questions that I answer include: Can you have two lead investors if two VCs are interested in you? How much is too much for Seed round? And how a hyper-casual studio should approach blockchain gaming.
Jere Partanen and Erik Gloersen — Investing in early-stage gaming
In this episode, I talk with Jere Partanen and Erik Gloersen from Sisu Game Ventures, an early-stage gaming venture fund. Both Jere and Erik are newcomers to venture capital investing, although both have a background from working with gaming startups. In this discussion, we talk about the competitiveness of early-stage games investing, how a fund like Sisu can win deals and how the partners at Sisu are helping the founders they've invested in.
Corentin Selz — 10,000 game experiments
In this episode, I'm talking with Corentin Selz, Publishing Manager at Voodoo. Corentin has overseen the publishing activities at Voodoo for the last few years and has worked with over a hundred external studios to develop hyper-casual games. In this discussion, we talk about the optimal way to test hyper-casual games, about the characteristics of teams that can repeat their success, and how the rapid development and testing procedures could be brought outside of hyper-casual games.
Alon Grinshpoon — Building for the metaverse
I'm talking with Alon Grinshpoon, who is the founder and CEO of Echo, a cloud platform for 3D, AR, and VR assets. After realizing that the metaverse and other platforms were going to become huge, Alon and his brother started the company a few years ago, and now they've just raised a VC round for the top gaming investors. In this discussion with Alon, we talk about his founder journey, how they validated the 3D platform as a business idea, how Alon approaches founder/investor fit and how first-time founders should approach problems with their companies.
2021 podcast highlights
2021 was a big year for the Elite Game Developers podcast, with 53 new episodes going live. I wanted to share my own highlights from the show from the past year and created this highlights episode. Enjoy!
Ask Me Anything #7
In this week’s podcast, I’m doing my seventh Ask Me Anything episode, where I answer listener questions. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please submit them by filling out this form.
These are the questions that I cover in this episode:How can an inexperienced shooter team raise funding? I want to build a web3 game. What should I do first? Are there angel investors dedicated to gaming? How should I create late-game coin sinks? Have you thought about doing another games company ever again?
Oskar Burman — Doing your own thing
In this podcast episode, I talking with Oskar Burman, who is the co-founder and CEO of Fast Travel Games, a VR game studio based out of Stockholm, Sweden. Oskar has a long career in gaming, all the way from the 90s, and recently he as the managing director of Rovio’s Stockholm studio, makers of Angry Birds 2. In this discussion, we talk about Oskar’s learnings from building studios, what he would do differently, and how people in gaming can manage expectations to improve their work.
Tatiana Kondratyeva — Building a game studio from scratch
In this podcast episode, I'm talking with Tatiana Kondratyeva, the co-founder and CEO of Play Pack, a mobile game studio based out of Berlin. Tatiana has an interesting career in gaming, recently being Executive Producer at Etermax, and before that having product and producer roles at Wooga and Game Insight. In this discussion with Tatiana, we talk about how to get past the fears of starting a company, how to succeed in the competitive mobile games industry, and what have been takeaways from being a founder for almost a year now.
Ville Heijari — Opportunities In Mobile
In this week's podcast episode, I'm talking with Ville Heijari, the founder of Original Games, a new mobile games studio with people in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and San Francisco. Ville has been in mobile games ever since his early days at Rovio when Angry Birds had just been launched. During the last dozen years, he's accumulated learnings from all sorts of places and has now teamed up with a great team of game developers. In this discussion, we talk about all the learnings from the places Ville has been at and how Original Games is approaching the merge genre with their first game, Merge Inn. And we cover so much more.
Ask Me Anything #6
In today's episode on doing yet another Ask Me Anything session, this is the sixth one I've done this year. And in this one, we're going to be talking about questions that the listeners have been sending to this questionnaire that I posted, if you want to send out your own questions by going to elitegamedevelopers.com/askmeanything that's all written together. And then once you submit the questions, I'm going to be going through them in a future episode, I promise.
Henri Lindgren — Building a hyper casual studio
In this week's podcast episode, I'm talking with Henri Lindgren, who is the CEO of Lightneer, a Helsinki based hyper casual developer. The company Lightneer has gone through lots of changes. The company was founded in 2015 to build and publish educational games, raised a bunch of VC money, but then had to pivot away from educational games. Now the company has done a turnaround and is a thriving hyper casual studio. In this discussion with Henri, we talk about pivots, how the company culture changed through the years of change, and what does hyper casual look like in 2021.
Matej Lancaric — User acquisition for mobile games
Today I'm talking with Matej Lancaric, who is a user acquisition specialist and he runs his own UA consultancy which you can find by going to lancaric.me. In this discussion, we talk about Matej's perspective on user acquisition for mobile games, how developers are becoming better at building games for UA in mind and what the future holds for game studios embracing user acquisition.
Arnd Benninghoff — Better M&A in gaming
I'm talking with Arnd Benninghoff, who is the Executive Vice President of eSports and Games at MTG. MTG is a Swedish-founded strategic acquirer and operator, who've built a portfolio of games businesses which have been acquired through this Swedish family model-approach. In this episode, we talk with Arnd about the way that you can effectively bring world class game studios together and build something big as a group.
Elad Levy — Custom analytics for games - Part 2
This is the second episode with Elad Levy, who is the founder and CEO of Dive, who are a new kind of game analytics provider. In the first episode that came out earlier this week, we talked with Elad about embracing data in gaming. Now we'll focus on being data informed and how game studios should get started with analytics.
Joe Schaeppi and Bastian Bergmann — Understanding your players
In this episode, I'm talking with Joe Schaeppi and Bastian Bergmann, the founders of 12traits, a company that helps you discover and analyze your audience. I've been following the development of 12traits since my Next Games days, and the service is incredibly valuable for service-based games. In this discussion, we discuss identifying your actual audience, excluding groups that won't stick to your game, and how games can grow when you better understand your players.
Guillaume Verlinden — Growing games and teams
Guillaume Verlinden is the Managing Director of Kolibri Games, a game studio well known for its tycoon games like Idle Miner Tycoon. Guillaume started his career in management consulting and moved to game some eight years ago when he joined Social Point. He quickly grasped what gaming was about and started improving older live games, growing many plateaued games like Monster Legends and Dragon City. In this episode, we talk about Guillaume's experiences of leading game teams, how a greenlight process should work, and why growing teams and games can be challenging.
Ask Me Anything #5
This is my fifth Ask Me Anything podcast episode, where I answer people’s questions related to game studios, fundraising, and all other entrepreneurship-related stuff. I will be recording another episode quite soon, so please submit your questions by filling out this form.
Ilya Eremeev — From 3D Artist to Gaming VC
Today I'm talking with Ilya Eremeev, who is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at The Games Fund. Ilya has a really interesting story about how he started as a 3D artist in gaming and has gone through a career path in gaming that has lead him to now run an early-stage VC fund. In this episode, we also talk about VC funding for the gaming ecosystem in Eastern Europe, how the region is developing, and what Ilya has seen as drivers for success.
Alli Ottarsson — From operator to VC
In this episode, I'm talking with Alli Ottarsson, who is a Principal at gaming investments firm Makers Fund. Alli has had a long career in gaming, working at CCP on EVE Online, then at Riot Games on League of Legends. Recently he started doing angel investing and then eventually joined Makers Fund to become a VC. In the discussion, we talk about the game development lessons that Alli has learned and how he is now applying those lessons to investing.
Elad Levy — Custom analytics for games
In this episode I'm talking with Elad Levy, who is the founder and CEO of Dive, who are a new kind of game analytics provider. As many of you know, I've previously worked at Supercell as Director of Analytics in 2011 and 2012, before I went on to found Next Games in 2013. I've worked with data in gaming for over ten years, and I was thrilled to have this discussion with Elad. His company Dive is operating in free-to-play gaming, especially with mobile developers, and they are now also providing analytics for Roblox games. In this first episode with Elad, we talk about how game studios are embracing and how studios are building data into their decision-making.
Logan Dwight — Tabletop RPGs Go Online
In this episode, I have Logan Dwight on the podcast. Logan is the co-founder and CEO of Role, a tabletop role-playing company that is taking tabletop RPGs online. In this discussion with Logan, we talk about his founding journey to build Role, how tabletop RPGs are transitioning online, through the rise of online platforms, and his experiences from building Role as a startup, building the team, fundraising, and many other topics.
Ask Me Anything #4
Welcome back everybody for another set of Ask Me Anything questions. This is the fourth AMA episode, where I answer people's questions related to game studios, fundraising, and all other entrepreneurship-related stuff.
Before we go to the first question, I'd like to share the URL where you can submit your questions. To do that, you can go to this URL and I'll get your question answered in one of my upcoming episodes.
Games industry numbers for H1 of 2021
I recently did a webinar with Anton Gorodetsky from InvestGame and Micha Katz from Aream & Co and we talked about the numbers from H1 of 2021 for the games industry. The industry saw explosive growth in terms of volume and size of M&As, private investments, and IPOs.
EGD 099: Martin Macmillan, Pollen VC
Martin Macmillan is the founder and CEO of Pollen VC, a financing company that provides flexible credit facilities for mobile game developers who are doing user acquisition. With Martin, we talk about the evolution of UA funding in mobile games, how debt financing is becoming the norm for marketing and we hear Martin's views on the boom of the games industry and how that is affecting everything.
EGD 098: Klaas Kersting, Phoenix Games
I'm talking with Klaas Kersting, who is the Founder and CEO of Phoenix Games, a new kind of European gaming conglomerate, with six games studios under its belt. In this discussion with Klaas, we talk about luck and taking advantage of lucky moments, how the mobile games industry has evolved, what characterizes teams that can go from broke to hugely profitable, and what well-done mergers and acquisitions look like in gaming.
EGD 097: KooPee Hiltunen, Neogames
I've known KooPee Hiltunen for close to twenty years now, ever since I started building games companies. KooPee is The Guy in the Finnish games industry, he knows everybody and has knowledge of everything when it comes to the Finnish games industry. He represents Neogames, which is a non-profit association, whose mission is to coordinate and support the growth and development of the Finnish game industry and its ecosystem. In this discussion with KooPee, we talk about a recent 2020 report on the Finnish games industry, how we got to this impressive size, and what things look like for the Finnish games industry?
EGD 096: Ask Me Anything #3
This week I published my third Ask Me Anything podcast episode, where I answer people's questions related to game studios, fundraising, and all other entrepreneurship-related stuff. I will be recording another episode quite soon, so please submit your questions by filling out this form.
EGD 095: Cordel Robbin-Coker, Carry1st
Cordel Robbin-Coker is the co-founder and CEO of Carry1st, a mobile games publisher that is focusing on the content of Africa. Africa is the last frontier for basically anything. Mobile gaming is no exception. For a continent that is home to more than 1 billion millennials and Gen Zers, mobile gaming has never really picked up, despite the continent witnessing rapid economic growth and smartphone adoption. Carry1st is changing that with it's new approach for distribution and payments, custom made for Africa. In this episode, we talk about mobile gaming in Africa and about Cordel's entrepreneur journey.
EGD 094: Jon Hook, Boombit
Today I'm talking with Jon Hook, who is an angel investor and VP of Publishing at Boombit. With Jon, we talk about the current state of mobile gaming, what is happening to hyper-casual and how Jon looks at angel investing in gaming.
EGD 093: Tomi Kaukinen, License to Fail
Tomi Kaukinen is a fellow Finnish entrepreneur, public speaker, and founder of Licence to Fail. After countless years of start-up life, founding several companies, Tomi hit the wall hard and burnt out. Now, through Licence to Fail, he speaks and writes publicly about entrepreneur life, motivation, and coping with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In this podcast episode, we talk about Tomi's experiences with startups and burnout, and how entrepreneurs can avoid burnout and leave a healthy life. Burnout should be on every entrepreneur's mind. What should you do about it, how to make big changes. It's a complicated topic, but I hope you'll get a lot out of this discussion.
EGD 092: Ben Cousens, Lakestar
In this episode, I'm talking with Ben Cousens who is an investor at Lakestar Ventures. He follows the worlds of gaming and crypto very closely and has backed a number of very exciting companies working at the intersection of gaming and crypto. In this episode, we talk about how Ben got excited about crypto, why gaming is a natural place for Bitcoin, how Ben got involved with ZEBEDEE, and what the future looks like.
EGD 091: Ask Me Anything #2
This week I published my second Ask Me Anything podcast episode, where I answer people's questions related to game studios, fundraising, and all other entrepreneurs related stuff. I will be recording another episode quite soon, so please submit your questions by filling out this form.
EGD 090: Jernej Cesen, Outfit7
Jernej Cesen is GM and SVP of Distribution & BI at Outfit7, the makers of Talking Tom. With Jernej, we talk about being knowledgeable about your market, how you understand the players and the opportunities, and what it's like to operate with a big gaming IP like Talking Tom.
EGD 089: Andrew Green on startup lessons learned
Today I'm talking with Andrew Green, who is the SVP of Operations and Growth at Stillfront Group. Andrew has been in gaming for twenty years, has founded two companies, and has worked for other gaming companies including Take-Two, EA, and TinyCo. He then did a two-year stint at Andreessen Horowitz, before then joining Stillfront. We'll now talk with Andrew about his journey in gaming and startups and what lessons he's learned.
EGD 088: Eric Goldberg, Crossover Technologies
Today I'm talking with Eric Goldberg, who is an investor and an entrepreneur in gaming, and he has been in the industry for close to 35 years now. Eric runs an investment company called Crossover Technologies. And he's now a co-founder with Raph Koster in Playable Worlds. In this episode, we're going to be talking about Eric's background, his knowledge of gaming funding, but also about some of these billion dollar game companies, how they've been growing in the recent years, and what has been changing there to allow these companies to come up.
EGD 087: Karoliina Korppoo, 10th Muse
Today I'm talking with Karoliina Korppoo, the founder and CEO of 10th Muse, a Helsinki-based startup working on an interactive romance reading and self-publishing platform. Karoliina started the company as a solo founder, building the vision, team, and the company. Her background is in PC gaming, where she worked as a lead designer on games like Cities: Skylines and Cities in Motion. In this podcast episode, we talk about Karoliina's journey into startups, where the idea for 10th Muse came from, and how the creator economy is shaping gaming.
EGD Special: Valuations for early-stage startups
I've got Ethan Levy back on the podcast and he wanted to ask me about startup valuations, what's all the terminology around the topic, how to prepare for a fundraise with a valuation in mind, and how investors and founders can think about the right valuation for a startup.
EGD 086: Salla Niemela, Futureplay
Today I’m talking with Salla Niemelä, who is responsible for Employee Experience at FuturePlay, a mobile game studio in Helsinki. With Salla, we talk about how game studios approach the employee and employer relationship, throughout the full lifecycle of the employment, from hiring, to working and developing the relationship and finally to an exit.
EGD Special: Ask Me Anything #1
In today's episode, I'm going to be addressing some Ask Me Anything questions that I've been asking for on the Elite Game Developers newsletter. I sent out a survey form, where I asked subscribers of the newsletter to send out questions related to gaming studios, how to build successful businesses, and all things related. So let's get going with this first episode.
EGD 085: Anat Shperling, Toya
Today I'm talking with Anat Shperling, the co-founder and CEO of Toya, a Roblox game studio based out of Israel. Anat and her team started building games for UGC platforms in 2016, first on Minecraft, before moving fully over to Roblox. Anat's company Toya is a female-led studio developing digital games and media to empower a growing female user base.
EGD Special: The Merge Genre On Mobile
I recently did a webinar with Collin Foss, the Co-Founder and CPO of Skunkworks, a Helsinki-based mobile games startup and makers of the wildly popular MergeFriends. With Collin, we talked about how the casual merge category has recently been blowing up with more and more developers moving over, and what makes these games differentiate from each other.
EGD 084: Celia Hodent, Game UX
In this episode, I talk with Celia Hodent, game user experience expert and former Director of UX at Epic Games. We talk about adapting the game UX mindset, breaking down how players learn and retain information, and how players are motivated to return to the games that they are playing. Celia on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/celiahodent/
EGD Special: Tower of Want
I recently invited Ethan Levy from N3twork back on the show, to talk about an interesting concept called the "Tower of Want". The concept of "Tower of Want" is something that Ethan created some six years ago, to help free-to-play game designers to create long-term goals, through understanding the short-term and long-term loops and player motivations that would drive a successful free-to-play game.
EGD 083: Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, Gameye
In this episode, Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, from game scaling solution company Gameye. Both Seb and Elmer are long time entrepreneurs and in this episode, we chat about their experiences on learning so many things the hard way, building Gameye now together and what the future could look like for their game server startup.
EGD 083: Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, Gameye
In this episode, Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, from game scaling solution company Gameye. Both Seb and Elmer are long time entrepreneurs and in this episode, we chat about their experiences on learning so many things the hard way, building Gameye now together and what the future could look like for their game server startup.
EGD Special: Innovation in mobile game ads
I recently a webinar with Erik Bryant from Opera Event and Steven Chard from Luna Labs on mobile game ad creatives. 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.
EGD 082: Susana Meza Graham, ALDEON
In this episode, I have a chat with Susana Meza Graham, Co-Founder of ALDEON, an investment company from Stockholm, Sweden, focusing on games and tech start-ups in their early stages.
Susana started he career in gaming when she joined Paradox Interactive and later taking on the roles of Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
For the last two years, Susana has been focusing on investing, and in this episode, we talk about culture, bravery, trust and how the Nordics have built an amazing gaming ecosystem.
EGD Special: Angel investors and founder/idea fit with Ethan Levy, Executive Producer at N3twork
In this special episode I’m joined by Ethan Levy, Executive Producer at N3twork, a San Francisco-based games company, behind the hit game Legendary: Game of Heroes. We talk about the topic of Founder/Idea Fit and how founders should think about themselves being a good fit for the idea or concept that they are pursuing.
EGD 081: Hakan Ulvan, Bigger Games
In this episode, I have 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.
EGD Special: Game making with Javier Barnes (part 2)
This is part 2 of my discussion with Javier Barnes, Product Manager at Tilting Point. Javier has an extensive career in gaming, having worked at Gameloft, Social Point, and others. With Javier, we decided to make this episode a discussion around the topic of game design in 2021, as it's of big interest for both of us. We talk about playtesting, player motivations, user-oriented design, the model of small teams, and more.
EGD Special: Game making with Javier Barnes (part 1)
Today I'm talking with Javier Barnes, Product Manager at Tilting Point. Javier has an extensive career in gaming, having worked at Gameloft, Social Point, and others. With Javier, we decided to make this episode a more of a discussion, around the topic of game design in 2021, as it's of big interest for both of us. We talk about playtesting, player motivations, user-oriented design, the model of small teams, and more.
EGD 080: Phil Sanderson, Griffin Gaming Partners
In this episode, I talking with Phil Sanderson, the Managing Partner at Griffin Gaming Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on investing across the broad gaming ecosystem. They announced a fund of $235 million that they will invest in game companies and related technologies around the world. I've known Phil for years, since he invested in my previous company Next Games.
We talk about venture, how gaming has evolved and how Phil sees the recent boom and M&A activities affecting things going forward.
EGD Special: How to create a game studio pitch deck
On January 28th, I did a webinar on the topic of how to create a game studio pitch deck. In this webinar, I shared all that I know about what pitch decks should communicate. Watch the recording and grab the presentation.
EGD Special: 2020 in Review with InvestGame
This is a recording from a webinar that I did with Anton Gorodetsky and Sergei Evdokimov from InvestGame.net and we reviewed gaming’s investment, M&A, and IPO landscape from 2020 and shared our predictions on what will happen in gaming during 2021.
EGD 079: Anton Gauffin, Huuuge Games
In this episode, I have a chat with Anton Gauffin, the founder and CEO of Huuuge Games. Anton has been an entrepreneur in gaming for two decades now and has seen pretty much everything, all the ups, and downs. In recent news, Huuuge Games announced that they will soon go public in an initial public offering on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. In this episode, we talk about leadership, company mission, and vision and Anton has grown to lead a 600 employee company.
EGD 078: Herdjie Zhou, Lucky Kat Games
In this episode, I'm talking with Herdjie Zhou, the Co-Founder and CEO of Lucky Kat Games, a hyper-casual gaming studio from the Netherlands. Herdjie started Lucky Kat with his brother in 2015 and they've gone through an amazing journey at building a gaming studio, totally bootstrapped. In this episode, we talk about company building, rapid game development, and how to make tough decision.
EGD Special: Lessons About Cap Tables
In this episode, I'm talking about the company cap table. What it means to manage a cap table when you're starting off with just the founders. And when you start growing and building a company, bringing on more employees, bringing on investors, who are incentivized with equity in the company. So we're going to cover a lot of topics regarding how you can manage and model your cap table.
EGD 077: Shanti Bergel, Transcend Fund
In this episode, I'm talking with Shanti Bergel, Managing Director at Transcend Fund. Transcend is an early stage venture capital firm focused on games and digital entertainment. Shanti has a long career in gaming and has been working in free-to-play for almost twenty years. We talk about Shanti's approach to investing and how he evaluates companies for an investment.
EGD Special: Podcast highlights from 2020
In this episode, I'm looking back to all the episodes from 2020 and the highlights from all of my favorite episodes. If you don't listen to any other episodes from 2020, I definitely suggest you choose from these! They cover everything from company building, fundraising, product and so much more.
EGD 076: Uri Marchand, Overwolf
Today I'm talking with Uri Marchand, the Co-Founder and CEO of Overwolf, from Tel Aviv, Israel. Uri and his team started building tools for creators to build apps around games like League of Legends back in the early 2010s. Through the years, Uri and his team have built a company that truly enables gaming creators to create, grow and monetize their content.
EGD Special: How to raise from angel investors
Loads of new gaming studios first spend time courting with VCs, when they should actually start from the ground floor. In this podcast episode, I talk about raising funding from angel investors and how you can build your own list of angel investor leads.
EGD 075: Lars Jörnow, EQT Ventures
Today I'm talking with Lars Jörnow, partner at EQT Ventures. Half VC, half start-up. EQT Ventures is a multi-stage VC with €1.2bn across two funds to help fuel European tech start-ups to become global winners. Lars started his career in gaming at King over ten years and eventually transitioned into VC in 2015. Since then, he's invested in companies like Small Giant Games, Popcore, Traplight and Reworks. We'll now hear more Lars himself.
EGD Special: Early-Stage Success in Mobile Gaming
In November of 2020, I did a webinar called “Early-Stage Success in Mobile Gaming,” where I talked to Skunkworks Games Co-Founder and CEO James Cramer. This webinar is a real case study in how Skunkworks raised its angel rounds and how they built the pathway to success in mobile games while raising very little.
EGD 074: Vladimir Funtikov, Creative Mobile
Today I'm talking with Vladimir Funtikov, the Co-Founder and CEO of Creative Mobile, from Tallinn, Estonia. Vlad and his team were one of the earliest mobile teams to strike it big on Android back in the day. The team started scaling things up quickly and through their rollercoaster ride, Vlad has learned a lot about company building. We'll now hear more from Vlad himself.
EGD Special: Tales From Playtesting
In October of 2020, I did a webinar on playtesting mobile games with Elie Mouraud from PlaytestCloud. We talked about how you can learn more about your game by focusing on the player's experience, from early on in the development, all the way to soft launching, and going live.
EGD 073: Sean Kauppinen, Hiber World
Today I'm talking with Sean Kauppinen from Hiber World. We talk about Sean's experience in gaming from three decades, how he's seen startups grow and what mistakes have come along the way. We also talk about Hiber and what the company is doing in the gaming user generated content space.