After building up German PC developer Gameforge in a 600-strong company, Klaas Kersting moved into mobile games, forming Flaregames in 2012.
Starting out as a developer, it quickly also became a publisher, working with the likes of Remedy and Limbic and helping to kickstart the idle gaming genre with releases such as Nonstop Knight and Nonstop Chuck Norris.
Since 2019, however, Kersting’s been the CEO of startup Phoenix Games, a company he says puts into practice what he’s learned about the “fundamental flaws in the relationship with the developer and publisher model.”
“You can create smart, super-fair contracts trying to align things to the maximum but in the end it’s two different companies wanting two different things strategically,” Kersting says.
“Naturally, the paths [between the two companies] will diverge and that harms the player, the product, the fun and the long term commercial success.”
So how is Phoenix Games fixing this?
It’s a well-funded outfit, which is looking to accumulate fully-owned development teams through acquisition and then scale their games to commercial success, in part thanks to the automated tools Phoenix Games has created to optimise marketing and UA.
To-date, Phoenix has bought five mobile-first developers - Sixteen Tons Entertainment, Studio Firefly, Well Played Games, Kopla Games, Smileygamer - and is looking for additional opportunities as it builds on its existing business which generated $35 million in revenue in 2020.
We need to be able to create value and that’s easiest with free-to-play games.Klaas Kersting
Indeed it’s just raised more money from a new set of investors, all of whom have already been successful in the games industry, including Wooga co-founder Jens Begemann, Fingersoft CEO Toni Fingerroos and the three founders of Kolibri Games.
The place to scale
Ever the businessman, he points out, “We need to be able to create value and that’s easiest with free-to-play games.”
This content is from Beyond Games, the new standalone event from Pocket Gamer Connects, running 11-13 May 2021.