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Empowering Everyone - How Xsolla Plans To Give Developers The Power To Find And Keep Players Content

In the era of ‘forever games’ Xsolla CEO Chris Hewish outlines the company’s goals of empowering developers to own and understand their players directly
Empowering Everyone - How Xsolla Plans To Give Developers The Power To Find And Keep Players Content
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Chris Hewish, President and Interim CEO of Xsolla, is a veteran game industry executive with a rich history that spans roles at Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Survios, and Skydance. A gamer at his core, Chris has leveraged his enthusiasm for games into a lucrative career, overseeing the creation of more than 50 titles that have cumulatively generated over $1 billion in sales.

With over a decade of experience in roles like Executive Producer and Creative Executive, Chris possesses a unique blend of creative flair, business insight, and marketing savvy.

Chris is also the founder of two game companies, affirming his entrepreneurial skills and versatility in an ever-changing industry.

In a recent episode of the PocketGamer.biz podcast, Chris spoke to hosts, Peggy Ann Salz and Brian Baglow, about the company’s capabilities and ambition of empowering game developers worldwide and publishers to create, launch, and grow their games.

Xsolla will be a familiar name to many working across the mobile games industry. The company is a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the global games market.

Headquartered and incorporated in Los Angeles, California, Xsolla has offices in Berlin, Seoul, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and cities around the world, Xsolla supports many of the world’s leading games studios and titles including Valve, Twitch, Roblox, Ubisoft, Epic Games, Take-Two, KRAFTON, Nexters, NetEase, Playstudios, Playrix, miHoYo, and many more.

Since it was founded in 2005, Xsolla has helped thousands of game developers and publishers of all sizes fund, market, launch and monetise their games globally and across multiple platforms. The company’s mission is to solve the inherent complexities of global distribution, marketing, and monetisation to help its thousands of partners reach more geographies, generate more revenue and create relationships with gamers worldwide.

Hewish, a self-confessed lifelong gamer, who has spent his entire career within the games ecosystem explained that having seen many business models come and go within the world of games - and their impact on the developers and creators, he is a firm believer in helping developers connect directly with their players, from a game play, community and business perspective.

“What we're seeing a trend of is is publishers and developers are really looking at their margins now and realising it actually is more cost-effective in a lot of cases to acquire those players directly...”
Chris Hewish

Everything Under One Roof

According to Hewish, the company is adopting an ‘everything under one roof’ approach for developers, bringing together all of the tools, platforms and capabilities a studio might need to go directly to their players.

This includes all of the commercial aspects - selling, subscriptions, in-app purchases - through to being the ‘merchant of record’, which enables Xsolla to handle all of the background financial elements, including taxation, compliance and customer support, enabling the developer/publisher to focus upon their real passion - making great games.

The company is now complementing that commercial support with an increased focus on business to consumer services, from user acquisition to helping developers make “great connections with their players”.

Third Stage Distribution

In the early days of the games industry, the focus was entirely upon the retail model, notes Hewish. Developers had to work with publishers to cover the costs of manufacturing disks, or cartridges and get them out to stores internationally. The evolution into digital distribution removed many of those costs and gave developers access to an audience ‘at scale’. However, says Hewish, the rise of the ‘third stage’ of the market is now opening up opportunities for developers to side-step the third party marketplaces and go direct to players.

This is increasingly important in the era of ‘forever games’, in which LiveOps, subscription-based services, or even premium content with ongoing downloadable content (DLC) can massively increase the lifetime value of a player, as they engage with the game for a much longer period, possibly years.

In those circumstances, handing your player to a third-party such as third-party store front or distributor can curtail their experience and stop the game creator from curating the entire experience, or receiving the full benefit of the player’s engagement.

“What we're seeing a trend of is is publishers and developers are really looking at their margins now and realising it actually is more cost effective in a lot of cases to acquire those players directly themselves,” says Hewish. “Keep them within their own ecosystem and not only do they then maximise the lifetime value of that player but they actually get all of the the data around them that can be lost to you when your player comes through a third party platform.”

“If you work with companies like ourselves you actually get that data, your own data which can give you a complete picture not only of what your players are doing in your game, but how they're transacting with your game and and their life within within your own platform.”

Marketplace Evolution

The changing shape of distribution is only the first step in a broader range of changes coming to the global games market. Changes in legislation promise to open up new challenges for developers, with options like ‘side-loading’ (pushing content to your device from another device), alternative app stores and the introduction of new/additional payment methods, all becoming possibilities (or requirements) within some regions.

Xsolla is once more on-hand to help developers navigate these new options and provide them with the tools they need to reach players and engage with them in meaningful ways.

“My understanding it would allow something like the Epic game store to go inside of the App Store, so this is really a a foundational shift. The walled gardens [are] crumbling, this is like a huge crack in the wall,” says Hewish. “This is a big opening where developers and publishers can start to take much more direct control of what's happening in the mobile landscape and within the apps business.”

“We are really excited about this because if you're a publisher or a developer who wants to sideload or do a third-party app store that's exactly what we do - we provide everything you would need to do that.”

“What's really great is for a lot of the independent developers this starts to give them much more power and control of everything..."

The whole interview includes detailed information on Xsolla’s work with alternative payment methods, e-commerce expertise, ‘headless’ checkouts, Accelerate XR and Xsolla Mall, as well as exclusive insight into Chris’s favourite games franchise.

You can watch the whole interview here:

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Get in touch

For more information on how Xsolla can help your business, please visit the company's home page.