Goodgame Studios develops and publishes online and mobile games, which are free to play on smartphones, tablets or PCs and available all over the world. Just recently, we hit 200 million registered users.
Who is your startup aimed at?
We aim to make games that are attractive to potentially anyone. Since more people gain access to the internet every day, our target group is continuously growing. We also design our games such that we reach a wide range of players, including casual gamers who might have never tried out a mobile game before, as well as mid-core gamers who are more demanding.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
We have a very scientific approach to running the company: we analyze a lot of information to get to the cause of things and constantly improve. Not just our games but also any other part of our business, for example our marketing efforts.
The results of our analyses also flow into any new games we develop. Combined with high production values concerning graphics, gameplay and technical aspects that help us to create games with high chances of success instead of putting several new titles on the market in a short period of time and hoping for the best.
Another aspect that makes us stand out is our talented and highly motivated team. We scaled up very quickly since our foundation in 2009 and now comprise over 800 staff. Still, we don’t compromise on our hiring standards: only the best 1.5 per cent of about 4,000 applicants per month make it into the team. Despite our size we keep our startup culture and our agility and flexibility. This way we are able to react quickly to new market developments. We are very goal-oriented and hardworking, but we have a lot of fun at the same time. Here, too, our startup culture plays an important role, because we were able to keep our flat hierarchies. At Goodgame Studios, everyone’s work is valued and everyone can bring in their own ideas and really contribute to the company’s success story.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Goodgame Studios was founded by two brothers, Dr. Kai and Dr. Christian Wawrzinek. They have always been passionate about entrepreneurship and founded their first company while they were still students. Before founding Goodgame Studios they were trading websites with a focus on games. So creating their own games was a logical next step.
Do you know if they had any concerns when they started the business and if so, what they were?
Founding a company is always risky. For every successful startup you have many, many that fail. But Kai and Christian had a very reasonable deal with themselves that if after three years they weren’t making as much money with their company as they would in the professions they studied for, they would pursue their careers as a lawyer and a dentist, respectively.
We are very happy they did not have to do that.
What is the founders’ business background, and what got them interested in startups?
Kai and Christian have pursued their goal to become entrepreneurs very persistently. While going to university they put together working groups with others to inform themselves on business strategies, discuss business models et cetera. They founded their first company in 2003 and continuously developed their skills and knowledge.
How did they initially raise funding for their company?
The company was founded in a way that is very traditional in Germany: With a bank loan of 500,000 euros.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Our rapid and successful growth is something that we are definitely extremely proud of. We are also very happy with the overall success of Goodgame Empire, which is currently played by about 60 million users worldwide. Another achievement is the performance of our first mobile app Empire: Four Kingdoms, which has ranked among the 10 highest grossing titles in numerous countries since its release in 2013. We also received several awards in recognition of our company development and our games, for instance the European Games Award in three categories, among them “Best Studio”. Kai and Christian’s achievements have been decorated with the prestigious “Entrepreneur of the Year” award by Ernst & Young.
How do you keep your business relevant, and engaged with your audience over the last 3 years?
Games are intrinsically highly engaging. To create even more engagement over a long period of time, we continuously optimise our titles and publish new features almost every week. We also have great customer support and a very active community management, both in many different languages to cater to our international target group. This method is working for us: our browser game Goodgame Empire, for instance, was published in 2011 and is still attracting new users and growing revenue.
How long has Goodgame Studios been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
As mentioned, Kai and Christian had always wanted to become entrepreneurs and started working on the idea when they had barely left school. So the basic idea of founding a startup had been in the making for a good couple of years before Goodgame Studios came into being.
A team of six is managing the work of over 800 employees from more than 40 nations: Our Chief Financial Officer Fabian Ritter, who co-founded the company, Chief Sales Officer Patrick Abrar, who joined us in the very early stages. Stefan Klemm, Chief Technical Officer, and Dominik Willers, Chief Innovation Officer, came aboard in a merger in 2010.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Our rapid growth is of course not only a big success, but also a continuing challenge, because we constantly have to optimise our internal processes. Finding enough of the right people to support and foster this growth is also quite challenging.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with the company?
Our main focus for next year and beyond is to continue growing sustainably. We want to create something big and lasting. Of course, we are particularly excited to see how our new games will perform. Here, our focus will be on mobile and on expanding further into the international market.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since you started working at the startup?
I’ve been working at Goodgame Studios for over three years now, experiencing our growth first hand while contributing my share to it. I learned that you have to think big to create something extraordinary. But you need to focus on the essentials, the few things that matter most, in order to make it work.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
My main advice would be to simply do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you to fail, learn from it and try again. But make sure you not only have a great product you believe in but also an idea how to make money with it in the long run.