Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Niccolo de Masi

Glu CEO talks the future of mobile

Hall of Fame: Niccolo de Masi

Niccolo de Masi joined Glu Mobile as CEO in January 2010 with one aim: to change the fortunes of the stumbling publisher.

Drawing on his industry experience, gathered while working at the likes of Hands-On Mobile and Monstermob, de Masi - with a little recent help from Kim Kardashian - has managed to pull the company back from the brink.

However, while his mobile pedigree is undeniable, de Masi hasn't always been shaping the futures of the industry's hottest properties.

Holding a MA degree in Physics and an MSc degree in Electronic Engineering (both from Cambridge University), de Masi has also worked as a physicist with Siemens Solar, and within the Strategic Planning and Development divisions of Technicolor.

Pocket Gamer: What was your favourite game as a kid?

Niccolo de Masi: Axis & Allies

When did you realise you wanted to make games as a career?

When the iPhone was announced in early 2007. I realised it would be an opportunity to move out of the mobile music sector and into an industry where we could be a vertically integrated mobile content creators + publishers.

What was your first role in the industry?

President of Hands-on Mobile.

What do you consider your first significant success?

Turning around and growing Monstermob Group PLC – a public mobile music company listed in London, which I grew from $20 million of revenue in 2004 to over $220 million in 2007.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

When the iPhone was announced and a computer in your pocket first became a mass market probability.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming to-date?

The advent of free-to-play as the winning business model, and leadership of Apple and Google as a holistic hardware-software-payment global distribution platforms.

What are you most proud of? Any regrets?

Turning around Glu: a business I joined which had $12 million of smartphone revenues in 2010, and this year is guided to deliver over $228 million.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood – it is the first celebrity game in the world that has had this level of sustained traction. It is mobile centric, free-to-play, and makes the virtual world part of Kim’s real world.

Glu will be a profitable company in 2014, thanks to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

What are your predictions for the future of mobile games?

That there will be substantial consolidation in the industry from where we are today to reach a structure more similar to the advertising industry.

The centre of gravity for gaming is moving towards Asia and will continue to do so.
Niccolo de Masi

WPP, Publicis, Interpublic and Omnicom are giants with many labels beneath them they acquired over the years. Their industry looks like a barbell – global cross-genre giants and mom-and-pop minnows.

Mobile gaming will look the same over the next decade with fewer bigger, cross-genre, multi-geographic scaled leaders dominating the sector.

The centre of gravity for gaming is moving towards Asia and will continue to do so. They were the free-to-play inventors and with that early lead now have the wherewithal to lead consolidation worldwide.

The US, China, Japan, and Korea will continue to be the most important gaming markets worldwide.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

Hollywood. DVD revenues have declined systematically from 100% of box office receipts to only 20%-30% over the past few years. Gaming, in my opinion is the biggest hope for Hollywood IP to augment its overall structural revenues.

We are building the first James Bond 007-branded free-to-play mobile game for release in 2015. We are also building a Terminator shooter for release with the reboot of the franchise next year.

We are also working to get additional celebrity games into our pipeline – examples of the direct monetisation of an individual’s appeal even outside of the Hollywood studio model.

Thanks to Niccolo for his time.

Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something PocketGamer.biz is doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.

You can read our previous Hall of Fame articles here.

What do you call someone who has an unhealthy obsession with video games and Sean Bean? That'd be a 'Chris Kerr'. Chris is one of those deluded souls who actually believes that one day Sean Bean will survive a movie. Poor guy.