Transition Years

If you read my blogs or listen to my talks you know that I held a talk 2001 where I described the 5 year cycle of the industry (PDF link, note: this cycle is longer)

Generally whenever the old console is aging and the new one isn't here yet several things happen:

  1. Publishers close or fire people
  2. Publishers take less risk and go conservative (sequels, less 3rd party development)
  3. Developers close down as they can't sell their pitches to publishers
  4. Magazines/Media closes as they are dependent on marketing spending

Some explanation here: most console games are sold to owners who own the console for the 1st year. In other words console sales influence the next 12 months game sales volume. On the other hand: less console sales mean less software sales for that reason. Check current console sales history.

So this causes a dire news coverage and you might take the impression away that we are in deep trouble. In fact we are not - we are in the best state we will be in the next 5 years.

The reason is simple: during that time called 'transitions years' the games industry is most creative and usually comes up with some new toys to play with. In the past transision years we had things like 3d hardware, CD rom, DvD, the internet & team based games and MMO's to drive new categories.

This transition we got smartphone/tablet gaming, or going digital generally which allows even small developers to publish worldwide: basically this fixes the problem #3 above for the next transition years, If the developers are adapting.

Transition years usually cause trouble for publishers or developers who do not adapt or do not want to adapt. It happens all the time as some of those companies start to be comfortable what they do and so they lose the lead.

But listen, we are the gaming industry. We live from innovation, from change, from new technology, from new gadgets and devices or software concepts. If you start to stand still and feel comfortable or want to be, then you are in the wrong industry.

Change is good. And 2013 will be the biggest change for our industry we ever experienced. Exactly that is the reason why I love this industry.


Online Marketing Lies

Online companies need proper b2b marketing. But they tend to confuse people who don't know a lot about the online games industry. Lets look at a recent example:

Innogames celebrates 100 million users and a revenue of 50 million this year (German link)

So investors are astonished. Wow. 100 million players. (Note: I like Innogames, I only use them as an example. Bigpoint does the same 'propaganda' thing)

No, no. Its registrations. LIFETIME registrations. And as Innogames has been founded in 2007 it means they collected 100 million registrations over the period of 5 years, resembling an average registration count of 2700 per day 54.000 per day (just one user noticed my calculation error? Shame on you!) Now that doesn't seem as much anymore is a lot. (calculation assumes linear reg numbers which of course is wrong, I simply use it to make a point).

This number only tells you one thing: their marketing is pretty good. That's all. It does NOT mean:

- they have 100 million players
- they have millions of players in one game anyways.

So lets look at the second number: 50 million revenue. That is very good. As they have 3 major games (Tribal Wars, Grepolis, Forge of Empires) you can basically assume most of the revenue is done by those games (neglecting their other games like The West etc.).

Grepolis is by far their largest, Tribal Wars WAS their largest and first success, Forge of Empires is their latest success. So we can roughly assume a revenue distribution of 3:2:1. Lets add 1 for the smaller games, i.e. 7 parts:

5 Million / 7 = 7.142 Million a share, or:

Grepolis: 21 million - or 1.75 million per month
Tribal Wars: 14 million - or 1.16 million per month
Forge of Empires: 7 Million - or 1 million per month (it was launched later)

Notes: Tribal Wars and FoE might be switched, depends how Tribal Wars suffered from the Grepolis launch. From my info it didn't suffer at all.

Now close to 2 million revenue a month per game is nothing special in the f2p space considering you operate world wide. Operating three good f2p games and making 4-5 Million per month is good. But its not perfect. There are iOS f2p games making 3x as much per month.

So I hope I put some of these numbers into perspective. Again, don't get me wrong. I like Innogames, I don't criticize them, I use them as an example. I just criticize the propaganda around f2p numbers.