Menu PocketGamer.biz
Search
Home   >   Features

Mobile Mavens' highlights and lowlights of 2023 part two: "After a disastrous and turbulent 2022, we successfully reframed our business"

The big names in the industry tell us how a challenging year in the industry went for them and their business
Mobile Mavens' highlights and lowlights of 2023 part two:

Once again it's that time of year where we all start feeling reflective and look back on the year just gone.

So to that end, we thought we'd ask our Mobile Mavens - a collection of games industry experts - a few questions about the year gone by, and what lies ahead in 2024.

For many in the sector, it's been a tough year, coming off the back of a down market in 2022 and a series of redundancies and closures throughout 2023. So we took the opportunity to ask:

What were the highlights and lowlights for you and your business in 2023?

You can read part one of this article here.

Christian Lövstedt

Christian Lövstedt

General Manager at Midjiwan

This year, we celebrated 20 million downloads for our title, The Battle of Polytopia, amid continued strong player interest in the game. We also started to build up a budding tournament scene for the game.

On the low side, the downsizing and layoffs at studios across the industry have been disheartening to see.

Victoria Beliaeva

Victoria Beliaeva

Head of Business Development & PR at AppQuantum

This year continued to present challenges in the games development industry, including a global economic downturn, post-Covid market decline, and shifts in the industry and across genres. Despite these difficulties, they have spurred us to adapt, further develop, and grow stronger.

This year, AppQuantum has invested significantly in developing our services to support the developers we partner with, making their work on games more efficient and effective.

Additionally, we've expanded our global team, welcoming members from around the world and supporting our employees' relocation decisions. Now, AppQuantum has representatives in 15 countries across six time zones.

Peter  Fodor

Peter Fodor

Founder at AppAgent

2023 was a challenging year for both games publishers and the vendor ecosystem. Everyone had to rethink what they do and how they do it, and so did we!

I’m most excited about initiating new growth partnerships where AppAgent transcends the role of an agency paid by fees to become a true partner working on revenue sharing or even equity basis.

We aim to have skin in the game, leveraging our seven years of experience, exceptional talent, and effective frameworks. We plan to double down on this model in 2024, with the mission of turning great apps that bring joy to people into flourishing businesses.

As an agency, we experienced a surge in requests for strategic assistance and engaged in several very interesting projects in the realms of creative development, user acquisition, and ASO. Many of our partnerships evolved into close collaborations between our partners’ in-house teams and our agency.

Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring AI, finding new use cases nearly every week. It’s a mix of fascination and trepidation, although I probably don’t see 90% of what will emerge from it.

Matej Lancaric

Matej Lancaric

User Acquisition & Marketing consultant at lancaric.me

The year 2023 was quite good for me personally and professionally. It was hard, but still managed to reach 8,000 subscribers of my Brutally Honest newsletter and 7,000 subscribers of the Two & a Half Gamers no bullshit podcast.

It's not going to get any easier next year, but I'm not complaining at all about the user acquisition consultancy!

Paraag Amin

Paraag Amin

CFO at SuperScale

The highlights for SuperScale in 2023 include our company rebrand in the Summer, alongside a Series A fund raise of €4.8m in a difficult macroeconomic and industry environment.

The lowlight has been seeing the struggles through the industry, including those that some of our partners have had during the year as a result of the difficult environment.

Wenfeng Yang

Wenfeng Yang

SVP at Paper Games

In 2023, a personal highlight for me has been gaining deeper insights into the talent distribution and future trends of various industries through daily conversations with creative game CEOs in China.

Reconnecting with old friends post-Covid has also deepened our long-standing relationships. Joining Paper Games in August, I've immersed myself in learning about content-driven games, particularly focusing on non-UA marketing strategies and venturing into previously unexplored areas within this domain.

Yet, the year also brought its share of difficulties. The global economic climate placed considerable strain on the games sector, affecting our operations as well. I have a firm belief in the power of talent and remain confident that we can devise a solution to address the widespread layoffs happening globally.

Maria Kochmola

Maria Kochmola

Co-founder and Managing Partner at The Games Fund

Highlights

After a disastrous and turbulent 2022, we successfully reframed our business. We were fortunate to receive support from our investors and partners and are now focused on steady growth. Not every first-time fund manager goes through such challenges, and we are proud of our team and portfolio companies, which not only survived but also became much stronger.

Our portfolio has started growing actively, proving that our strategy works. Our portfolio companies are releasing games that are gaining organic traction, and some companies are securing new rounds from top global gaming investors.

TGF has been repeatedly recognised as the leading gaming VC fund. We have actively explored untapped markets and identified tremendous growth potential there. Additionally, we have contributed to the development of the developer community worldwide, from Cyprus and Poland to Saudi Arabia and Central Asia.

We are looking into 2024 and beyond with great optimism and determination.

Lowlights

The market is becoming tougher than before, and we don't anticipate it getting easier anytime soon. This means many companies will cease to exist, and people will lose their jobs. It's heartbreaking to witness great companies perish, and talented individuals struggle.

So far, our companies haven't been significantly impacted, but ultimately, there will be winners and those who can't survive. This is the reality of the high-risk venture business, and polarisation will be very prominent in the current environment.

We're also concerned about mobile marketing and the lack of progress in developing post-IDFA solutions. Privacy concerns are understandable, but the inability to provide relevant advertisements and target our game to the right audience leads to the rise of unhealthy marketing tactics, from fake ads to a complete shift in game design toward mass-market preferences, harming deep niche gameplay communities.

This situation also inflates marketing budgets, driving up acquisition costs and essentially squeezing out the middle class of developers.

Alex Petrenko

Alex Petrenko

Co-founder and CEO at Zibra AI

This year, we released new solutions from the Zibra Effects ecosystem on the Unity Asset Store. Mainly, Zibra Liquid, Zibra Effects, and complementary assets to further streamline game development, making VFX creation more easy and accessible for everyone. All these solutions have already received a VSP badge.

Perhaps our biggest milestone was our participation in the a16z Games Speedrun program. Zibra AI was chosen as one of only 32 companies out of 1,600 applicants. This six- week program was transformative, offering us invaluable insights from leading gaming and tech companies.

Moreover, we forged meaningful connections with innovative startups like PicFinder, The Possible Company, and others, which have been instrumental in our ongoing growth and development. The capstone of it all was a $500,000 investment from a16z Games.

Kian Hozouri

Kian Hozouri

Co-founder at ByteBrew

2023 has been an awesome year at ByteBrew. We are incredibly proud of our team for all our achievements throughout the year including: reaching over 10,000 Developers on our platform, recognised as Best Analytics Finalist at the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards, and being selected as a Game Changer of 2024 by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Gamebeat.

In addition to the accolades, we launched 10 new products on the platform and welcomed new team members to support and foster our developer community.

Jonas Martins

Jonas Martins

Director Video Gaming & Media at Worldline

2023 saw our business at Worldline experience some significant highlights as well as some challenges.

A major highlight for us this year was the announcement of bringing Worldline’s solutions into South Korea; and Türkiye. This was a significant milestone for us - not only for our global expansion efforts, but also in bringing our payments tech to experienced developers and publishers who work in countries steeped with rich gaming histories.

Additionally, a personal highlight of mine was participating in Gamescom Asia and Gamescom Europe! These massive festival-type games industry events proved to be fruitful for our team, but in particular, it was great to meet so many industry friends in real life.