Spil Games' CEO explains Unsung Heroes, its move to get the best games to the widest audience

A new publishing initiative

Spil Games' CEO explains Unsung Heroes, its move to get the best games to the widest audience

Dutch web and mobile game publisher Spil Games is on a drive to bring together developers and players.

That's why it's launched its Unsung Heroes initiative.

Over the next couple of months, it's looking to find the best games so it can encourage its audience to try them.

To find out more, we spoke to the company's new CEO Tung Nguyen-Khac. You've only recently joined Spil Games as CEO, so why did you decide to join the company?

Tung Nguyen-Khac: It's a great company and a tremendous opportunity, especially with the powerful base of 130 monthly million users, from both desktop and mobile web.

I am impressed with the team and their focus on being the game publisher of choice, enabling game developers to reach massive global audiences across multiple platforms and devices.

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

Obviously, we want to be the number one choice both for developers as a publisher of third-party games, and as a destination for mobile game players.

Every year, developers build great games that disappear into the black hole of the app stores.
Tung Nguyen-Khac

We have an incredible history in publishing, a loyal audience base and expertise in multi-platform content delivery, so I think we can achieve the first of these aims within the year.

But our immediate goal is about networking with players and developers to find ways of getting the best games in front of a wider audience.

Your Unsung Heroes initiative is the big move for 2015. Can you explain the thinking behind it?

Every year, developers build great games that disappear into the black hole of the app stores. In that crowded market, even smoking games struggle to survive. With our Unsung Heroes initiative, we want to give some of those games more attention.

In the first phase of Unsung Heroes we heard from game developers about how tough it is to get an audience in the app stores. Now we want to begin to do something about that.

We want developers to let us know about the games they think merit a larger audience, to tell us their stories and to convince us that the games deserve to be given a chance.

For the best game, we'll be awarding a publishing contract worth the equivalent of $50,000.

Why is this important for Spil in terms of business development?

Our aim is to be the publisher of choice for developers. To achieve that, we're constantly looking for new ways to build relationships with game developers so that we can find the very best games and give them the impetus they deserve.

But Unsung Heroes is more than that. When you're building games for mobile, you quickly discover the market is seriously tough.

We want to address some of those issues for everyone (whether they end up publishing with Spil Games, or not).

Because if we can get more people to play a broader range of great games, then everyone wins: the players, the developers and, yes, the publisher too.

It's interesting that you're marketing it as not only a discovery mechanism for mobile games but also a way of encouraging gamers to expand their tastes. How do you expect to accomplish this?

Spil Games' greatest strength has always been in marketing games to consumers. It's the foundation of our business, really. With Unsung Heroes, we'll be using many of the same techniques to promote this idea that awesome games are being missed.

If we can get more people to play a broader range of great games, then everyone wins.
Tung Nguyen-Khac

With the competition, we'll be letting players know about these games through a range of channels including our own web presences, social media and with

Your readers will get to vote for the competition winner, but they will also be finding out about some fantastic new games in the process.

What advice would you have for developers entering the competition?

You've much to gain by getting involved in the Unsung Heroes competition. The app stores are a tough market, so you need to take every opportunity to get your games noticed.

Tell us about your greatest games and we'll help you tell the world.

Be smart, funny, passionate and concise and if you get us as excited as you are, then everyone wins.

Entries for submissions to Unsung Heroes are now open. You can find out all the details via its website.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.


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Thomas Nielsen CEO at Osao Games
While I certainly encourage initiatives to spot promising indie titles that haven't had much success, I'm somewhat concerned about the terms and conditions offered here:

"The winner and SPIL Games will conclude a standard non-negotiable Licensing Agreement in which the winner grants Sponsor an exclusive, non-revocable, royalty-free, fully-paid worldwide right to use, promote, publish and exploit such Submission or parts thereof in any application store (including but not limited to the Apple App store and the Google Play store) under a license for the term of twelve (12) months. This will ensure Sponsor can put its efforts and resources at making the game as popular and well known as possible. To do this, Sponsor is granted the exclusive right to exploit, use, display and copy the prize winning Submission and parts thereof as provided under Dutch copyright law, to produce derivative works and to sublicense these rights to third parties and/or end users in in any application store (including but not limited to the Apple App store and the Google Play store) now known or hereinafter developed without territorial or time limitations."

Sooo.. To my understanding, this allows Spil Games to spend "the equivalent of $50,000" (some of that being on internal resources) and in return getting unrestricted rights to commercially exploit the product across all stores for 12 months.

That sounds like a great deal for a publisher. Am I way off here?
Scott Johnston Head of Global PR at Spil Games
We are aware that terms and conditions can be off-putting but a $50,000 publishing contract represents quite a commitment from Spil Games. Signing a contract for a year also represents Spil Games commitment to allocating resource to making the game the best it can be - which ultimately benefits the developer. We hope to generate revenue and an audience for the winning game that otherwise may not have been possible for the developer. Yes, we are looking for great content for Spil Games, but by running this competition we hope to have a win-win situation for us and the developer, plus we hope to open up the range of games that consumers play and look at - which we hope will benefit smaller developers in the long run.

We think it is pretty good competition all round, because additionally, the best games (even if they donâ
Shu Wan cheng Game Developer at Nob Studio
hmm... does it mean Spil Games gets your game for 12 months, promises to spend $50,000 on marketing and keep the earnings of that 12 months?
Shu Wan cheng Game Developer at Nob Studio
thank you for the clarification scott.
Scott Johnston Head of Global PR at Spil Games
As with all our publishing partnerships, we will have a revenue share deal with the winner. This deal will be worked out based on a number of factors but will be agreed by both parties. Ultimately, the winner will be getting an opportunity, and revenue, they may otherwise not have done had they not entered the competition.