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Ben Cousins leaves DeNA to become free-to-play consultant

Ready to go solo

Ben Cousins leaves DeNA to become free-to-play consultant

Ben Cousins has announced that he is leaving DeNA's Scattered Entertainment studio to become a free-to-play consultant.

Speaking to on the matter, Cousins noted that the transition was a natural one.

"People have been asking me to help them out forever," began Cousins.

"I've got lots of friends in the industry, having been around for 15 years - it was always frustrating to turn down offers to be on advisory boards or management boards, to be worried that I was breaking non-compete arrangements when I spoke to people. I wanted to spend some time exploring this idea of consultancy, freeing myself up to help out those people."

Cousins has posted a sampling of his new consultancy services on his personal site - with options ranging from how to move into mobile and how to set up a studio in Sweden.

It's in his DeNA

While Cousins did not provide a direct reason for his leaving, it was clear from the debut of the free-to-play shooter The Drowning that there were some crossed wires at Scattered Entertainment.

Despite an enormous PR campaign and prolonged soft launch, The Drowning only cracked the 10 top grossing list in three countries for iPhone - Laos, Lithuania, and Malta. It fared little better on the iPad, going top 10 top grossing only in Malta, Ecuador, Armenia and Bolivia.

In top 10 markets, The Drowning peaked at #219 in the UK's iPad top grossing chart.

Despite this lacklustre performance, Cousins spoke glowingly of the trilogy of games to come out of his time at Scattered.

"My takeaway from those three games was that there is an enormous demand for free-to-play shooters on mobile - not necessarily something I would have assumed at the time we started work on them: there weren't any examples of that on the platform.” Cousins began.

"We've seen multiple examples of multi-million download products in that category since. Besides those three games from Scattered we had Dead Trigger 2 last year, which was a huge hit, and Gunner Z from BitMonster, which was a pretty big success as well," Cousins concluded, before praising his former employer.

"DeNA's certainly doing quite well across the board with its Western products; I think it's probably in the top five mobile publishers in the Western world at the moment,"

Free to stay

In terms of advocacy, free-to-play games couldn't ask for a better standard bearer than Cousins - who has long-defended the business model.

Speaking at GDC 2014, he concluded that free-to-play was no less ethical than traditional packaged gaming – and later equated the anti-F2P sentiment by 'The Establishment' as this generation’s disco sucks movement.

Yet, as always, Cousins kept an even keel when talking about the future of free-to-play and the industry.

"For me, whenever I'm talking about free-to-play and its inevitable overtaking of the industry, I'm really talking about audience engagement and revenue - I still think we'll see a shift where the majority of people worldwide are playing free-to-play games and generating the majority of the revenue,"

But he quickly conceded that the dominance of free-to-play, "doesn't mean a complete eradication of all other business models,"


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Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.