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4 ways mobile gaming companies can succeed through failure

4 ways mobile gaming companies can succeed through failure

Jon Radoff is CEO and Founder of Disruptor Beam.

Everyone fears the “F word”. No, not that F word. Here we’re talking about “failure” as it relates to running a company.

As human beings, we strive to reach success without bumps or bruises, but what most don’t realise is that the battle wounds acquired throughout the course of the journey are the very things that help you as an individual and your company grow exponentially.

It is important to embrace the learning process associated with failing instead of avoid it.

Failure is to be accepted, not feared.

Mobile gaming companies are inevitably going to come face-to-face with both minor and major failures. However, failure has to be expressed as an option as oppose to a point of no return.

In order to create innovation driven organisations, and as a result, innovative games, you have to take risks; you don’t learn as much from a successful experience as you do from an attempt that falls short of expectations.

It is important to embrace the learning process associated with failing instead of avoid it.

As an entrepreneur who has run five different gaming and technology companies, I’d like to share four tips on how a mobile gaming leader can incorporate a culture of failure into their company, leading to success in such a competitive industry.

1. Instill the acceptance of failure into your company’s DNA

Nothing is worse than building a mobile gaming company with the wrong foundation - who wants to build a house that could blow over in the wind, or a boat that will sink-under when pulled by the tide? Laying the wrong groundwork will only prove to be detrimental to the company once it’s faced with challenges.

Considering that obstacles are unavoidable, forming your company with the notion that failure is not only tolerated but also encouraged is crucial to both its sustainability and growth.

Mobile gaming is a vast industry, so by embracing the fact that failure happens, you allow for the potential growth that follows suit. Growth means that you’re able to reflect on failure - that’s how you know you’re doing it right!

Whether it is a large or small failure, be sure to encourage contesting changes with an open mind and a new perspective.

Once it becomes habitual to celebrate the learning that derives from failure, you can carry forward with a growth-mindset, and in turn work to improve your start-up, and your games.

2. Capitalise on what you learn from failure

Taking risks and experimenting in the mobile game marketplace will at some point result in failure - this notion is expected, and that’s perfectly okay.

Disruptor Beam took its learnings from Game of Thrones Ascent to help make Star Trek Timelines a better game.

Trying new things, taking leaps, nose-diving into unfamiliar waters - sometimes we don’t always land on the solid surface we were aiming for. But here’s the good news! When you end up there - and you will - learn from every crack and pothole in your rearview.

For example, at Disruptor Beam, we learned through our first game, Game of Thrones Ascent, that the incorporation of characters, great graphics and a parallel to the TV series encouraged users to play and stay engaged.

We learned from the experience, and our development team was sure to create our second game, Star Trek Timelines, with these features in mind.

Teaching how to learn from mistakes will only result in a net positive.

Teaching how to learn from mistakes will only result in a net positive. Institute a company-wide process for best practices for learning from failure. This fundamentally changes the company culture and makes it a positive experience for every part of the company.

3. Reassure your team that the right kind of failure is actually good

The right kind of failure is actually a good thing. Because the “F word” is feared in so many ways, for most, this is a tough concept to grasp.

So how can you reassure your team the right way to approach failure?

For starters, don’t punish an employee for failing as long as growth results from it. Celebration of the learning process, and sometimes even a small reward, will show and reassure your company that failing is okay as long as a positive change comes from it.

If an employee has a grip on company values, and passion and curiosity for the company’s growth, have patience and work with them to get them to place they need to be performance wise.

As a figure of authority, it’s important to keep a high tolerance level for performance to show employees that there is breathing room for taking chances and potentially making mistakes.

There is so much room for start-ups to grow, so finding the secret sauce for your company through the right kind if trial and error should be welcomed.

4. Create guardrails to avoid failing the wrong way

As good as failing can be, there are ways to fail incorrectly, too. It’s essential to highlight to your employees’ situations by which failing is not acceptable, to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.

So how can mobile gaming companies fail the wrong way? Well, consistently failing for the same reason doesn’t benefit anyone.

If an individual is making the same mistake over and over again, they clearly are not making the right changes and aren’t learning from their errors. Failing to learn from failures poses a destructive threat rather than a constructive steppingstone.

Failing to learn from failures poses a destructive threat rather than a constructive steppingstone.

That also includes “playing it safe” and not diversifying risk taking - don’t fear unfamiliar territories or be afraid to fail in different areas - that’s how we learn, so be sure to encourage them to test the waters!

Bringing It All Together

Learning and improvement always requires some sort of failure. Given that there is always room for growth, especially for a start-up, correctly approaching these failures will pave the way for future development.

So don’t be afraid to fail! Failure is inherent in taking risks and inevitably making progress.

Talk to your team, instill a mindset by which failing is acceptable, and clearly distinguish the best ways to do so.

By creating these guidelines, and making the distinction between good and bad forms of failure, it allows for action without hesitation moving forward.

By taking all feedback into account and working off of what you’ve previously done, your mobile gaming company will be able to cultivate for the next project and build something of even greater value than before.

After learning from our experiences with both Game of Thrones Ascent and Star Trek Timelines, our team at Disruptor Beam learned how compelling social storytelling is and what key elements drive usage.

For instance, we discovered how powerful personal connections to the characters drive engagement, and we will use this in our third game, debuting in 2017, The Walking Dead: March to War.



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Bob Schreeven
I cannot believe the crap that comes out of this smug CEO. The utter neglect the enitre DB team has shown for the players of GoTA for months now is nothing short of disgusting.
Janet Regonini Powers
Not only do I agree with the first three to comment, the fact that DB continues to fail its customers with GoTA will surely mean the demise of its newer mobile games. Granted I continue to play GoTA - even with all the bugs and don't spend money as their prices are ridiculous for the items they give you - due to friends that I have made thru the game. But DB better wake up - many people are fed up!
Sabrina Hayford
WARNING!! I want to echo what these 3 other players have said. Potential players of DB games should take heed. Make this go viral!
Liz Ard King
Radoff's team certainly knows how to alienate a customer base. I've been an active GoTA player for 2 years. I have quit spending money on the game, as it is stagnating. That seems to be the feeling across the community. I refuse to even try to play Timeless or Walking Dead after watching how GoTA players are treated. So, is failing to retain paying customers the right way, or wrong way to fail?
Elle Wall Ops Mgr
To hear Radoff speak makes me sick, he only pretends his players are important.

Kat could not be more correct, as a 3+ year player of Game of Thrones Ascent, the ONLY reason I log on is for the community of players in my alliance that I have grown to love as dear friends. DB has fallen down the slippery slope of neglecting its players. Kat is right in that DB refuses to address the cheaters/scripters (because these cheaters also spend real money on the game), ticket time for issues is insane, lag and known issues is an ever growing, never resolving issue. I have had 2 problems where I have been told 'we are aware and when its resolved it will be in the build notes' and no resolution has ever come forward. While some employees used to be helpful and present, they shuffled them along to their new endeavor (Star Trek at the time) and they too now ignore us. I wish any who play STTL or TWD luck because even if you are important now while they build it, once you spend enough and they get a new idea they will surely drop you as they have dropped us.
Kat Moore HR Coordinator
A friend who knows I played Game of Thrones Ascent linked me to this and I cannot let it pass without commenting. While a company culture where failure is built upon rather than punished is highly commendable, my experience with Disruptor Beam is that they build this on the backs of players/customers who they then abandon. The players of GoTA, customers of DB, have been made to feel like test subjects who have been tossed aside once they have outlived their usefulness for testing.

GoTA is given no attention, and no communication is given from DB beyond the daily "spend money" notifications on new "deals." Complaints are ignored, cheaters are given a free pass. You may be striving for a positive company but you are forgetting the core players/customers who supported your first game. DB's treatment of the GoTA players as they 'expand' and leave us behind means that I - and many others - are leaving the game to die and will never play another DB game again.