Interview

How to get a job at fast-growing mobile publisher Spil Games

How to get a job at fast-growing mobile publisher Spil Games

2016 has been the year in which Dutch publisher Spil Games has really begun to assert itself in the mobile space.

Historically, the Hilversum-based firm was best known for its browser games - a sector in which it still works.

But in February 2015 Tung Nguyen-Khac was recruited as CEO to reboot the company with a mobile-first strategy.

And having originally targeted 100 million downloads across its portfolio by the end of 2016, it exceeded expectations by hitting that goal in August.

A new target of 150 million was duly set, but the firm is now predicting that 175 million by December is a more realistic estimate.

It has no plans to slow down in 2017 either, signing the mobile and web game rights to the upcoming sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets for a tie-in strategy game.

Furthermore, the company is currently hiring. As such, PocketGamer.biz reached out to the company's CEO Tung-Nguyen-Khac to learn more about what he looks for in candidates, company culture and how to make it in the industry.

PocketGamer.biz: Could you give us some background on Spil Games and what you do/are currently working on?

Tung Nguyen-Khac: Spil Games is a games publisher and producer. We reach huge audiences across the web and mobile.

In the space of a year, we have ramped up our mobile business to over 100 million installs and we’re well on our way to hitting our 175 million target before December 2016.

We’ve ramped up our mobile business to over 100 million installs and we’re well on our way to 175 million before December 2016.
Tung Nguyen-Khac

This growth is mainly organic and through cross-promotion. Hollywood and iconic IPs are central to our games strategy.

We have a long-term partnership with Nolan Bushnell, the Atari founder and godfather of video games, to develop new mobile IPs and we are reinvigorating the famous Creatures brand.

Luc Besson, a director renowned for picking out future stars, will launch his sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets in Summer 2017. Spil Games has been selected to create the exclusive game for the movie.

What specific areas/disciplines are you currently hiring in?

We are currently hiring for jobs in our advertising, infrastructure and engineering, marketing and product management teams.

What do you look for in candidates?

In three words: passion, commitment and determination.

All our people love what they’re doing, they are committed to the company’s goals and determined to deliver results.

If you talk about your field with a sparkle in your eye and fire inside you, you’re our type of person.

Spil Games' Director of Licensing Jan-Michel Saaksmeier at Tokyo Game Show

Although we’re a relatively small company, we have 27 nationalities working for us. We think this gives us a truly global outlook and a multicultural buzz.

It also gives us a tremendous advantage when building our global audience. We’re excited to add our 28th and 29th nationalities soon.

Why do you think Spil/Hilversum is a good place to work? How will you be trying to encourage a strong company culture?

Holland is an amazing hub for digital and tech companies. It’s right at the heart of Europe and offers a great quality of life and strong international environment. People just love it here.

Although Spil has been going a few years, we really have a startup vibe.
Tung Nguyen-Khac

Spil Games reflects that coolness and, although we have been going a few years, we really have a startup vibe.

There is a flat management structure so that people get a lot of independence and the responsibility to do the job in the way they think is best. We are all encouraged to take risks and learn from our approaches.

The mobile gaming business throws up new challenges all the time, so we need people who can think on their feet and adapt. It can be often challenging but it can also be thrilling and we have a strong team spirit.

Everyone gets a training budget to grow within their job - if you want to develop your technical, management or human skills, all you have to do is ask.

Although we have so many people with different nationalities working here, there is a real family feel.

We have an excellent new restaurant for our company canteen and games area where people get together.

We do company trips and barbeques. It’s a lot of fun, but it also stimulates creativity across Spil Games, giving people a chance to discuss ideas and understand the bigger picture.

At the same time we have this family, startup feeling, as well as a huge global reach with a gaming audience in the hundreds of millions, working in all the major markets around the world.

Be open, be humble and focus on making things happen.
Tung Nguyen-Khac

This gives people the kind of opportunities they would expect from much bigger companies.

What advice would you have for someone trying to get into the games industry?

A lot of passion for the products, commitment to work intensively and determination to constantly deliver results is a good starting basis.

Be open, be humble and focus on making things happen, even if they’re new to you. Not only in the gaming industry, but any other digital industry.

For a full list of vacancies available at Spil Games, you can visit its jobs page.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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