Storm8 CEO Perry Tam on how the social mobile outfit is playing the long game
3 years on, its first game remains top grossing
In the fast-moving social mobile gaming industry, change is the only certainty.
Founded in 2009, US start up Storm8 has demonstrated remarkable stability, however.
It's not taken any VC investment - despite rumours it was going to - and hasn't yet been snapped up by acquisitive companies.
Indeed, it could be argued that the 175 person-strong developer, which boasts 400 million downloads, 200 million players and 10 million DAUs - is now too valuable a target for all but the deepest pockets.
We caught up with CEO Perry Tam to get his views on the success of Storm8 - which also publishes games under the labels TeamLava (casual social), Shark Party (casino) and FireMocha (hardcore).
Pocket Gamer: Given you've been around since the start of the mobile social scene, how does the current environment compare to previous years?
Perry Tam: The mobile social gaming space has evolved since we founded Storm8 in 2009, when we were one of the first companies to develop social games for the mobile platform.
Over the years, games have become higher quality, resulting in production value to go up. This is the reason why we now have much bigger teams and longer development cycles to ensure consistent high quality in all our games.
The smartphone user base today has also increased dramatically, which is why we're continuously getting into different gaming genres and developing different types of games to cater to a wider audience.
And needless to say, competition has grown considerably since 2009, with hundreds of thousands of games now available in the various app stores.
Storm8 has spread itself across casual, hardcore and social/arcade/casino on iOS and Android/Amazon, so in which parts of that matrix are you currently seeing the most growth?
Growth has been spread across many genres through the years, which is why we see such a big value in our network of games.
We surpassed 400 million downloads in November 2012 and this was driven partly by our continued expansion into different genres, including social arcade and social casino.
In recent months, both these genres have seen pretty dramatic growth, especially as we expanded our portfolio of games in each of these two categories.
Lots of your competitors seem to be focusing on just one type of gamer or genre. Why do you think Storm8 has been so successful despite covering all types of games, albeit through different labels?
From the beginning, Storm8 has taken on a network approach - that is building a network of high quality games that our network of users love.
We attribute much of our success to the wide variety of games that we've launched through the years, not despite of it. Covering different types of games to attract a wider audience has been a key part of our strategy and is what sets us apart from competitors. The benefits of this approach are to lower the cost of acquisition and extend a user's lifetime.
For instance, when we launched our first social arcade game, Bubble Mania, we achieved one million downloads in just three days without spending a single dollar on marketing. This was made possible by leveraging the strength of our existing network.
In addition, we're seeing that a player's lifetime is three times longer within a mobile game network than with just a single game.
Thanks to this strategy and our exceptional execution, we've been able to build our user base to more than 200 million players, worldwide who have downloaded our games more than 400 million times.
Ngmoco has just announced it's shutting down some of its games like We Rule and GodFinger. What's your strategy in terms of when to move resources from legacy titles into new games?
We spend resources to maintain existing games in addition to launching new titles.
Our longest serving game is iMobsters, which is actually the first game we developed back in 2009. We are still serving this game and, in fact, it was on the App Store's top 100 grossing list for 2012 - three years after it first launched! We're super proud of it.
Of the following numbers, 400 million downloads, 200 million players and 10 million DAUs, which are you most proud of and why?
We're equally proud of all three of these milestones as it points to the strength of our gaming and player network, which we've strived to achieve since the beginning of Storm8.
The fact that 200 million players worldwide play our games, and that more than 10 million come back to our games every single day is pretty humbling for a young company like us.
And it may sound cheesy but the one 'number' that people don't pay as much attention to is our headcount.
Storm8 has grown to more than 175 employees today and if there's one additional milestone that I'm really proud of, it's our 175+ employees who are the true reason for our success.
What can you tell us about Storm8's strategy for 2013?
We will continue to build on our network of games, adding new social casual titles as well as games that target mid-core and hardcore gamers. We will keep you updated when those titles are ready.
Another area of expansion for Storm8 is international.
We are localising our games for international markets and will continue to seek out the right partners in key areas/countries to really understand the local market and drive the right distribution for different games.
Thanks to Perry for his time
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