Can we have a minute of silence for OMGPOP? Its one-hit wonder Draw Something garnered 50 million hits in 50 days, and was dubbed as one of the fastest-growing web sensations. The makers of this smartphone version of Pictionary got acquired by Zynga, a social gaming provider, for a rumored US$200 million 15 months back.
Well, a few days ago, Zynga announced its killing off of OMGPOP. Various news sources reported the sentiment on the ground to be one of celebratory joy and excitement, even though the employees seemingly only got to know the news first-hand through social networks. Apparently, OMGPOP never felt welcomed by Zynga, and this proved to be a sweet exodus for them.
To have their ex-employees say that “they aren’t surprised by this corporate BS” and “are relieved to leave” does make me wonder if OMGPOP was just a game to Zynga. While they might have a plethora of other top (in this case, think “popular”) games on their portfolio like Words With Friends and FarmVille, Zynga has been said to be under-utilizing the team behind Draw Something. Their business operations manager, Ali Nicolas also shared on Twitter:
I guess EA’s not going to win “the Worst Company in America” award next year. Go Zynga!
Gaming is something almost everyone has grown up with for the mere sake of entertainment, and it truly is something almost everyone can relate to. We have definitely come a long way from Atari video game machines, and while we can all shoot at birds from our little rectangular retina screens right now, there is still potential for the gaming market.
At Echelon 2013, we held a panel discussion regarding mobile gaming in Asia which was moderated by Rivai Adidharma (Sr VP, International Business Development at MOL Global) and participated by Hironao Kunimitsu (founder and CEO at gumi), Anton Soeharyo (co-founder and CEO at Touchten Games), Juha Paananen (CEO and co-founder at Nonstop Games) and Hal Bame (CCO at Take5 Limited).
Hal started off by saying that Asia has always been the hub of innovation when it comes to gaming, and is ahead of everywhere else. “The rest of the world is playing catch up. You can’t ignore the growth of mobile. The next space [which is the] most interesting is tablet.” He added that people are more stationery right now and the games for tablets are still rather undeveloped.
Playing the numbers game
When GungHo’s hit game Puzzle and Dragons hit 14 million users in just Japan end-May 2013, everyone finally started paying attention. Hironao shared that the attention in Japan is shifting quickly, from the traditional web and console games to mobile. Puzzle and Dragons just announced their earnings for April, some US$113 million in April alone. If that isn’t enough, its market cap reached US$15.1 billion, exceeding Nintendo with US$15 billion.
Indonesia, the biggest market in Southeast Asia, as Anton shared, has a huge potential with at least 243 million people. However, payments are not as advanced as other countries where most are using smartphones. He added, “I still don’t see a good payment solution where I will be rich tomorrow but it’ll take three to five years.”
How to emulate the success stories
While the likes of King.com, Supercell and Gungho get to strut with their hit games (Candy Crush Saga, Hayday/Clash of Clans, and Puzzle & Dragons respectively), Juha said that startups should not be scared of failure. He shared that looking at the success stories, these companies might be their second or third creations. “We shouldn’t […] try to copy them and try to be more efficient. King, Supercell, and Gungho had the resources to fail. We get kind of scared and the second game turns out to something like Social Casino (lacking in quality).”
Anton too shared that as a startup with little resources and time, it is essential to learn how to say no. “Guys will come to you and tell you “build for my platform!” To quote Bill Cosby, I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”. If you’re good at one thing, focus on that first and make money.”
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