Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2019 will take place on October 1st to October 2nd. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.
For more details on PGC Helsinki and to book a ticket, head to the website here.
In this speaker spotlight we caught up with Alexander Krug, CEO and Co-Founder of SOFTGAMES Mobile Entertainment Services GmbH.
Previously working at Yahoo!, Alexander is a serial games industry entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience in making big things happen. He possesses excellent corporate strategy skills and is a person of proven ability to act as results-oriented leader who collaboratively develops innovative solutions, spearheads change, and engages the team in creating successful outcomes.
Furthermore, Alexander is a well-known ambassador and pioneer of HTML5 gaming through worldwide articles and speaking events such as Casual Connect, Pocket Gamer Connects, White Nights, Devgamm, Gamescom, and many more.
At Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2019 he'll be part of a panel discussion looking at the ups and downs of working on instant platforms.
Pocketgamer.biz: Could you tell us a bit about your company?
Alexander Krug: SOFTGAMES is a leading developer of the most popular Instant Games for various social networks and Messengers (such as Facebook or LINE). The company was founded in Berlin in 2006, and thanks to our strong and constant growth, we made the list of the biggest developers in Germany this year. We are operating from our headquarters, which is located near Berlin Alexanderplatz, and have opened a second studio in Toronto in early 2019.
Our vision is to enable everybody to instantly play great casual games with their friends across any device. Our flagship titles such as Cookie Crush, Solitaire Story or Mahjong Story are being played by tens of millions of users every month. We further provide over 400 hypercasual games via our innovative HTML5 games platform, which allows our partners to engage and retain their user base.
What does your role entail?
In my role as CEO I lead SOFTGAMES’ vision and strategy. Besides that I oversee the company’s investor relations.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
When I started out, the games industry was already a hotbed of innovation, both on the creative as well as the technological side, offering fantastic opportunities. That fascinated me! Beyond the big studios many Indie teams were formed here in Germany, who experimented with the medium and continuously pushed its development forward.
But while they created awesome games, many of them did not know how to bring the results of their hard work in front of potential players - that’s where I came in. I built a website, through which they could advertise their games and also connect with each other. It wasn’t long before this website became the biggest German Indie Dev community.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the industry?
The games industry is the perfect place for you when you enjoy the combination of pioneering spirit, creativity and entrepreneurship. You’re at the forefront of exploring cutting-edge technologies and what you can do with them. Mobile gaming especially offers many opportunities and fresh challenges. This means that things can change quickly, therefore you must always keep an eye on recent developments both regarding technology and business, and always be prepared to meet a strong competition.
That said, it is definitely a good thing to pursue your ideas and stay true to your vision, but you also need to be willing to learn and remain open to new challenges and ideas. The trick is to find the perfect balance.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
2019 brought some very exciting changes in the mobile sector, particularly in the field of gaming in Social Networks and on Messengers. Due to its enormous success, Facebook decided to move Instant Games from the Messenger to the main Facebook App to have a central home for all things games in one dedicated place.
Additionally, Snap launched its curated Messenger Games platform Snap Games and LINE broadened the range of games it's offering on LINE QUICK GAME. All these developments hold big opportunities for us as developers, as the demand for high quality HTML5 gaming experiences for several markets is significantly increased.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
I think the overall market will continue to grow and the smartphone will remain the most vivid platform, both in terms of technology and in terms of reaching new audiences. The boom on the mobile market will continue. Based on the above-mentioned developments, HTML5 gaming will gain in importance as there are more platforms seizing the opportunity to engage their users with fun and social games that can easily be played with friends at any point during the day. For us as developers, the challenge will be to understand the diverse communities on all the new platforms, and what kind of gaming experiences they’re looking for.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
When we founded SOFTGAMES in 2006 we started out as a developer for J2ME games for feature phones. At that time, though, consoles and PC still were the major platforms. The shift towards mobile gaming and its power to unlock new audiences, many of whom might have otherwise never played, is definitely one of the major changes that I have seen during my time in the industry.
Which part of Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki are you most looking forward to?
Pocket Gamer Connects conferences are the core events for our industry, so I am very much looking forward to the talks and panels for all the fresh insights provided by high level industry professionals and top-class speakers. Engaging in exchanges with people as passionate about games as we are at SOFTGAMES. Inspiring and being inspired - that’s the best part of these events.