San Francisco Week: Gaming and technology is 'baked into the Bay Area's DNA', says PlayFirst

CEO DeMiroz on the city's central status

San Francisco Week: Gaming and technology is 'baked into the Bay Area's DNA', says PlayFirst
This the fourth and final part of our week-long look at the mobile development scene in San Francisco.

PlayFirst is a prime example of a mobile game studio that has fostered great success by following a strategy of pushing out a large volume of games.

To date, the studio has released 64 apps so far all from its base in San Francisco, including multiple entries in the firm's successful series of Dash games - Diner Dash et al.

Little wonder, then, that CEO Marco DeMiroz considers San Francisco the centre of the gaming world.

"Gaming is a global business, but there's no doubt that San Francisco is at the centre of the action," he told us.

"There's an innovative spirit in this part of the country that can't quite be found anywhere else. Silicon Valley offers unique and comprehensive access to funding, talent, strategic partners and customers, all within driving distance. It's a special place."

Local legacy

Indeed, this 'special place' has attracted vast numbers of talented developers, artists and business people to its games industry over the last thirty years.

Marco argues that the area's legacy – its track record of success - is what will define its future, attracting new businesses and growing the games industry in the area.

Welcome to PlayFirst's HQ

It's a tend he believes brings new benefits to all of the studios, both new and old.

"Many mobile game studios choose this area because gaming and technology are baked into the DNA of the Bay Area like no other place in the country," he continued.

"The ecosystem here supports the kind of talent, spirit, and funding that young developers look for. It also helps that both Google and Apple are located here. As more and more developers come here, those benefits increase in scale. It's a kind of snowball effect."

The power of three: Apple, Google and the games media

For all of the studios we've spoken to in San Francisco - including PlayFirst - locating on the doorstep of Google and Apple has been of massive importance.

However, while Marco values the opportunity to meet key platform holders face-to-face, he also reiterates the fact that this is not the only way to foster relationships with Apple and Google.

PlayFirst CEO Marco DeMiroz

"The Internet helps the world feel like a much smaller place, but there's still a definite benefit to having platform-holders like Google and Apple right down the road," he noted.

"We value our relationships with all of our partners regardless of location, but we certainly feel lucky to have face-to-face meetings and a shared experience in the Bay Area with Google and Apple in particular."

Of course, it's not just Google and Apple that San Francisco's game companies have privileged access to.

The vast majority of the USA's and indeed the world's games media are located in the city. Marcro argues that the number of local developers competing for media attention makes it difficult to get noticed, but still recognises that having the press just down the road is a key benefit to locating here.

"We do benefit from the density of media outlets in the area," DeMiroz admitted.

"We invite members of the press to visit our offices and believe a firm handshake can help both parties if they're collaborating on a story or news item. It also helps reporters get to know us, which is further boosted by the shared experience of living here in San Francisco."

Getting lost in the noise

While there seems to be an endless list of advantages to making games in San Francisco, the sheer number of companies in the Bay Area creates some unique challenges, especially around recruitment.

While Marco acknowledges these issues, he still wouldn't want to change the dynamics of the local development climate.

"The major benefits of developing games in San Francisco, as great as they are, come along with some obstacles. Recruitment can be incredibly competitive, and with so much talent in the area, companies can get lost in the 'noise' and receive less attention from press or consumers," said DeMiroz.

"But that's merely the small, inevitable downside of the incredible developer community we have here, and we really couldn't ask for much to change. Despite its challenges, this is still the best area for gaming start-ups."
Have you worked in video game development in San Francisco? What was your experience of the area and what do you think the future holds?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Joe just loves to go fast. That's both a reflection of his status as a self-proclaimed 'racing game expert', and the fact he spends his days frantically freelancing for a bevy of games sites. For, however, Joe brings his insight from previous job as a community manager at iOS developer Kwalee. He also has a crippling addiction to Skittles, but the sugar gets him through the day.