Alternative distribution for mobile games has been around for as long as mobile games and alternative mobile game app store Flexion has been around almost as long.
Starting out in the days of Java, its innovative wrapper technology was embedded into by OEMs into their phones to provide an app store loaded with try-before-you-buy games from the likes of EA Mobile.
That approach developed as smartphones and free-to-play gaming came to fore, with Flexion pushing to become the number two Android-based gaming store; a position it can certainly now lay claim to.
The London-based outfit has just raised $10 million to scale up its platform, which enables developers to publish in 10 Android stores including the Amazon Appstore and Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store.
More significantly, Flexion labels this “pre-IPO funding” with CEO Jens Lauritzson confirming the company plans to IPO on the Nasdaq First North exchange in Stockholm during 2018.
“Becoming a public company is important since we want to cement our position as the first mover,” he explains.
“Listing early before market expectations and valuations get high will allow our shareholders to capitalise on the increase in value when we grow, while giving them a clear exit opportunity.”
Listing will also enable Flexion to raise more capital, which will be important if it plans to become active in the M&A space. It doesn’t currently plan to raise more money via its IPO, however.
Yet, while the Nordic market is hot for mobile game IPOs at present with the likes of Next Games, Nitro Games and Mag Interactive all listing in 2017, the experience of being publicly-owned hasn’t worked out so well for headline act Rovio.
Lauritzson agrees setting the right expectations is key.
“In Rovio's case they did not deliver on their promises in the IPO and therefore the market had to adjust the valuation,” he says.
Listing early will allow our shareholders to capitalize on the increase in value when we grow.Jen Lauritzson
“We are not raising capital in our IPO and therefore reduce the risk since we let the market do the valuation when we list. This is what all of our shareholders want and we believe this will be good for them.”
Something to consider
As for Android game developers, Lauritzson argues the new funding, coupled with the app stores Flexion plugs into, makes the platform something they should be seriously considering.
As well as Amazon and Samsung, the app stores Flexion supports include One Store, 9apps, Yandex and KDDI, which provides the company with strong distribution in both the fast-growing Southeast Asian and Middle East markets, and high value markets such as Japan.
Indeed, Lauritzson says for its top games, Flexion can already add hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional revenues. Midcore experiences such as RPGs and strategy games work best.
“Our focus is on games that do not require millions and millions of users to monetise. We match high ARPU with well monetising titles and we manage to secure regular promotions that these developers would most likely not get in Google Play,” he explains.
And there’s more
The process of getting an Android game onto the Flexion platform is fairly simple too and will become more so when its new self-serve onboarding is live.
“We have worked hard to minimise the need for any changes to existing Google Play games,” Lauritzson says.
“This includes support for simultaneous updates across all channels, obb-file hosting support, item-gifting and lots of other under-the-hood services. If the game uses server side validation of purchases and social logins, the developer needs to add our signature. No client side changes are required.”
And with the promise of additional support for more app stores to come - “Many new and exciting ones are in the pipeline for next year" - it looks like Flexion is well placed to finally fulfil its potential.