Described as 'Tinder for games', Gameway (formerly know as ANDi) is dsigned as an even easier way for mobile gamers to access apps they want to play.
Discoverability has long been an issues on marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play But as we start 2018 many of those issues are becoming exasperated as the titles continue to flood in and the top publishers get a stranglehold on the top charts and featuring positions.
Gameway CEO Ben Woolf thinks his company has the answer to the discoverability problem, by offering a one-stop app that offers up titles based on player preferences and habits - all recorded by its Tinder-like interactions.
We caught up with Woolf to discuss the company's recent rebrand and how its app is helping mobile users find new games to play.
PocketGamer.biz: Talk us through your decision to rebrand ANDi to Gameway please. How did that come about?
Ben Woolf: We originally positioned ourselves as a mobile gaming assistant, an AI portal to find you the very best game. The name ANDi fit our vision at the time. We felt it spoke to the tech crowd and fit with the rise of chat bots across existing and new platforms.
Having now spent more time with members of the games community, and building our own, it became apparent that no one really understood what ANDi had to do with games. It was apparent we needed to clearly define ourselves as a games company rather than a tech start-up.
There were additional problems with ANDi, especially when it came to localisation and app store optimisation. Spelling was a problem too, people would search ‘Andy’ and after not finding us, give up.
We went back to the drawing board, worked on our brand values, mission and promise. We came up with Gameway as a team and when we shared this with our users, ambassadors and beta testers, everyone agreed, Gameway was the right fit.
Since the rebrand, we’ve enjoyed organic growth in terms of downloads and community. The idea of Gameway is something people understand, ANDi left them confused.
Talk us through the app. What problems does it solve for the user?
There are millions of games available, with hundreds released every day. Many of them being clones of games, and clones of the clones of games.
Finding a new game to play can be a daunting challenge and we know that it can take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes for people to find a game they might want to play. Who has that amount of time to search for a new game? And even then the chances are that the game will be deleted after being played just twice.
Whilst the app stores attempt to make recommendations, they are not personalised. They don’t look at your preferences or habits, and even then users still only see one per cent of games available.
Gameway at its core is an intuitive single location to discover new games. Gameway centres around a Tinder for Games, matching the best games to users based on their gaming preferences and habits. Users swipe left to dislike and right to like games. You can also favourite the games you like the most.
In the background, Gameway monitors your interactions along with analysing your current games and when you play them. This way we build up a profile of you as an individual, and send you recommendations, at the times you need them.
We built in additional features like the Games Folder that allows you to manage your games from one central location. You can delete games, view different games from the same developer and share games with friends and family. We’re building upon this to include user profiles, achievements, feeds and more.
Other features currently include a news feed which includes mobile gaming news and reviews, mobile esports tournaments and events, competitions and giveaways and soon users will be able to contribute to this.
And finally we are working with some amazing partners to offer you discounts on accessories (virtual reality headsets and controllers), data saving and secure wifi services, community events and even a Discord community, all accessible from the app.
Your app uses machine learning. Was that the hardest part of the software to implement?
Our machine learning model is always being improved. The hardest part in developing the algorithms is gathering valuable data to support the core value of the app, the ability to match games with users.
Our aim is to then expand this out to make recommendations on hardware and services we know you’d be interested in.
Every feature we introduce has been based on the feedback and data we have received from our power users. Working with our partners, we use this information to adapt the the system to ensure it is as intuitive as possible.
Was it hard to raise funding to get the company off the ground originally? Where did your launch cash come from?
It definitely wasn’t easy, and still remains a challenge today. Both Sam and myself originally started working on Gameway in the evenings and weekends whilst working at other start-ups.
It took months of developing, planning and creating pitches, attending events and educating ourselves before we were ready to even seek investment. At that point it was just as long a process to then each out to investors, advisors and build relationships with people we knew would support our vision.
We came across the accelerator Wayra UK, an initiative of Telefonica, focusing at the time on AI related companies. This is when we saw the potential of working alongside telecoms companies.
Even this process took time. Once we had applied, we then pitched in total six times. Four of these were evening events we attended after our other jobs. The final two pitches were the semi-finals and then the finals.
When we made it into the accelerator, it came with launch cash flow, office space, services, mentors and additional support. It was at this point we were able to ramp up development, user growth and partnerships.
What are you next funding challenges and what do you need to take your business to the next level?
Having spent a lot of time talking to a variety of different game studios, investors, syndicates and institutions we quickly found that games is a niche industry when it comes to finance and investment.
There is not much out there to support start-ups, although this is now slowly changing, especially with Games London supporting with pitch days.
So we reviewed our options and decided that a crowdfunding campaign would be the way to go. We recently launched on Crowdcube which has been an exhilarating experience. We chose Crowdcube over alternatives like Kickstarter as it allowed us to not just offer rewards, but also equity/shares in Gameway.
This way anyone, whether a gaming giant like Craig Fletcher or the casual gamer can get involved, give feedback and play a part in our future but most importantly they also share in the reward.
What's been the response to the Android version so far?
We’ve been thrilled with the initial response. We’ve had over 13,000 installs and currently have just over 5,000 monthly active users. This includes users from the Middle East, South America and Russia. We’ve localised our app store listing to assist with this. Our power users currently come from the UK and US.
We have just shy of 100x five star ratings in the Google Play Store which is amazing. But more incredible is how many of our users regularly tweet about us and the games they find through the app.
When is the iOS version due out and how will it differ from the Android version?
Once the crowdfunding is complete we will begin hiring an iOS developer and start implementing our design plans immediately. We already have a base iOS version internally for testing but with a dedicated developer assigned we can ramp our development dramatically.
Whilst Apple doesn’t like app curation services, many companies in the past have successfully worked with them and we’ve already begun discussions and preparing for iOS.
Whilst some iOS features will undoubtedly alter, the next major version of Gameway will be a big one that includes a number of feature requests from our users.
What would you like to do next once this Gameway app is a success?
Diversify our portfolio of products, provide new solutions to challenges as well as creating games and entertainment of our own.