InnoGames: 擴散風險也意味着把能量擴散出去(不能聚焦做事)

原作者:Matthew Handrahan 譯者:Willow Wu

InnoGames的CEO Hendrik Klindworth在Devcom發表演講之前,他認真思考了從網頁端轉移到移動端的過程中,專注於少數遊戲給了他們多大的幫助。

2011年的時候我去拜訪了InnoGames,那時德國的遊戲產業正處於蓬勃發展時期。這家位於漢堡的遊戲工作室正要發佈一款被衆人看好的新遊戲,Forge of Empires,後來也成爲該工作室最成功的作品。

在那一年我還拜訪了其他幾家德國工作室,包括Gamigo, Bigpoint和Goodgame Studios,這時的網遊市場還處於繁榮時期,他們同樣也在瀏覽器平臺收穫成功,並且期盼着在未來能夠收穫更多。雖然並不是每個公司都能稱心如意,但是InnoGames卻做到了。

innogames (from gamer boom.com)

innogames (from gamer boom.com)

鑑於InnoGames熱門遊戲都發展得非常好,收益也是逐年穩步上升,今年,Modern Times Group把他們在InnoGames股份增加到了51%。Devcom下週將會在科隆舉行,CEO Hendrik Klindworth將會詳細說明公司把目標轉向移動市場對於他們的成功歷程有怎樣的意義。

“不僅僅是成功,”他補充,“伴隨而來的還有挑戰。”

2011年的時候,你們在網頁端下了很多功夫。那段時間,還有幾個非常成功的本地公司也致力於這個領域:比如Bigpoint, Goodgame Studios, Gamigo。對於德國遊戲產業來說,那真是一段黃金期,但是InnoGames的勢頭一直都很好,愈變愈強。

Klindworth: 2011年,那時候好像人們都不用擔心你的遊戲會不會賣得好,一路飛漲。雖說現在要盈利也還是挺容易的,但是從2011年開始,這個行業的競爭也開始激烈起來了。爲了獲取用戶爭得頭破血流,市場變得更具有挑戰性,但這段時期也是InnoGames發展漸入佳境的起點。

尤其是和處於同一階段的其他公司比較,市場條件越不好,對我們來說越有利。在製作遊戲的過程中,一定要確保我們做好了數據分析工作,營銷工作,在各個方面都保證效率。市場競爭越來越激烈,但是這種做法對我們來說非常有效。

這次我們成功地把其中一些對手遠遠甩開。但我認爲有個很重要的原因是我們並不想招募很多人進來,把公司規模擴得很大,這對於現在的我們來說也是一樣重要。如果發展速度過快,就很難維持本來的公司文化,也很難找到適合的做事方法。

你們的其中一些對手採取的是完全不同的策略,公司發展迅速,規模也非常大。而你們選擇放緩腳步?

Klindworth: 當一切都進展順利的時候,最好的辦法看似就是去招募更多人,做更多的事,但是尤爲重要的是要在這段時期要堅持貫徹你的發展策略。要小心,不要發展過快,員工人數不需要那麼多。保持後見之明對我們來說真的非常重要。

另外,我們也非常注重招納適合的人才。不是人多就是好,而是在於人才的能力。

InnoGames在2003年發佈了首款網頁遊戲,Tribal Wars,到今天它仍然還在屹立不倒。

當我去拜訪InnoGames的時候,那時你們大概有200人左右。現在你們有多少人了?

Klindworth: 大概420人。

鑑於InnoGames的成功經歷,在6年內人數翻一倍還算是比較保守了。Forge of Empires是InnoGames成功路上的功臣之一,網頁版本的遊戲計劃在2011年發佈,截止今年五月的終生收益(lifetime revenue)已經達到了2.5億歐元。

Klindworth: 它已經在市場上有些年頭了,而且還呈現增長趨勢。移動版本真的是幫了我們大忙,也爲Forge of Empires帶來了新一波的收益。

距離我們上次全身心投入移動平臺已經有好幾年了,我們還可以繼續增加玩家人數,增加收益。能夠經營一個遊戲這麼多年,這非常令人欣慰,這也成爲了InnoGames的優勢之一。我們早些年的第一款遊戲Tribal Wars,它已經14歲了,現在仍然活躍於市場中。

我在2011年採訪了好幾家公司,不是所有公司都可以達到現在這種繁榮的局面。原因在於InnoGames轉移重心到移動平臺的這個過程處理得比其他公司好。僅僅是這麼簡單的原因嗎?

Klindworth: 結果也證明了這麼做確實有效,但是對我們來說其中包含了很多困難的工作……我們真正的突破要算是2014年Forge of Empires的手遊版本。有至少三年的時間我們全公司的精力都放在了移動平臺,但是並不是所有的東西在一開始就能獲得完美的成果。有時候我們需要反覆嘗試,但這也是對我們有幫助的。

我們從經驗中吸取教訓,嘗試新方法,2014年的平板版本的Forge of Empires成爲了我們的真正突破。這是頭一次,我們有了“終於啊,所有的努力都沒有白費,在移動平臺也能行得通。”這樣的感覺。

網頁端對於現在的InnoGames來說定位是怎樣的?從現在開始每個新遊戲都會有移動版本的嗎?

Klindworth: 我們網頁端的盈利還在持續增長,作爲一個公司看到這些當然是很高興。當然它的漲勢是比不上移動端的,因此我們的新遊戲只會發行移動版本。我們預計未來的收益增長主要就是靠這一塊了,雖然我們的網頁遊戲還會繼續運營下去。

你們現在在多個平臺發展,但是你們的作品還是挺少的。比起2011年的時候是多了一些,但是也沒多少。

Klindworth: 這個值得說一說。人們有時想要在同一時間做好幾件事。作爲一個公司來說,即使是一個400人的公司,你必須集中精力製作出非常棒的遊戲。當你有了一些成功的作品之後,你可以繼續把它提升到一個新的高度,可以去發展更多玩家。重點並不在於數量。就算你手頭上有12個遊戲,質量都不怎麼樣,這對你沒有任何幫助。

如今看來,這適用於所有公司。你的遊戲成爲行業中的佼佼者,你對這些遊戲增加投入,如此重複,一切都會變得越來越好。

從網頁端轉移到移動端,發佈平板版本的Forge of Empires對InnoGames來說具有重大意義。

遊戲數量增加,風險也隨之增加,你的看法是什麼?

Klindworth: 擴散風險的同時也意味着把你的能量擴散出去。任何公司的資源都是有限的,精力也是。這就是爲什麼你需要專注。

2016年,你們的收益是1.3億歐元,比前一年還高25%。你們有過低谷期嗎?

Klindworth: 迄今爲止,我們每年都是這樣,成績一年比一年好。這是我們過去的成就,現在成爲了我們對未來的期望。

關於未來發展,全球市場對你們來說有多重要?你們有打算把市場從歐美延伸到亞洲和南美地區嗎?

Klindworth: 南美市場有在我們的計劃之內,它是一個頗具潛力的市場。但是我們決定停止在韓國後續計劃。韓國玩家對遊戲的期待和歐美地區玩家是相當不同的。在韓國,各種不同類型的遊戲都可以獲得成功,本地的開發者們非常厲害,十分了解當地市場。我們的重點就是西方市場,不打算進入韓國、中國或是日本市場。

你們現在聚焦的是移動市場,人們普遍認爲這是一個一直都不太穩定的市場。

Klindworth: 但是鑑於我們所累積的經驗,我們有能力預測接下來的幾個月甚至幾年將會發生的事情。我們對所建的項目瞭如指掌,我們知道要怎麼營銷,怎麼投資,怎麼擴大玩家基數。尤其是當遊戲投放到市場中後,我們真的能預測到之後會如何發展。

新遊戲?對我們來說,觀察反饋一直都是件很有趣的事情。新遊戲都可以算是挑戰。

對你們來說,一年可以發行多少個新遊戲而同時又保持專注?

Klindworth: 每年就那麼幾個吧。這就是我們的上限了。即使只有兩個或三個遊戲,對我們來說也是艱難的挑戰,質量是我們一直都是我們的重點。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Ahead of his talk at Devcom, CEO Hendrik Klindworth reflects on how a focused portfolio aided the transition from browser to mobile

Matthew Handrahan

When I last visited InnoGames in 2011, the German industry was in a boom period. The Hamburg-based studio was just about to release a promising new title called Forge of Empires, one that went on to be its greatest success.

The other German companies I visited that year – including Gamigo, Bigpoint and Goodgame Studios – had also found success in the still robust browser market, and were looking toward a future that would bring plenty more. It didn’t work out for all of them, but it did for InnoGames.

This year, the Modern Times Group upped its stake in the company to 51%, recognition of InnoGames’ track record for sustaining hit games and growing revenue year after year. At Devcom in Cologne next week, CEO Hendrik Klindworth will detail the role the company’s transition to mobile played in that story of success.

“Not only the success,” he adds, “but also the challenges along the way.”

In 2011, you were very much focused on the browser. At that time, there were some really successful German companies in that space: Bigpoint, Goodgame Studios, Gamigo; it was a vibrant period for the German games industry, but InnoGames is the one that has really gone from strength to strength.

Klindworth: In 2011, it was a time when it really seemed like there was unlimited growth. Growth was very easy still, but 2011 was also the time when it started to get much more competitive. User acquisition went through the roof, markets got more challenging, but this was a time when – especially on a relative level – things for InnoGames were getting better and better.

The harder the market got, the better it worked for us. Really making sure we had good analytics in place, good marketing, and also being efficient in all of our activities when we scaled a game. It worked very well for us when the market was getting hotter and more competitive.

At this time we managed to really outgrow some of our competitors. But I think one aspect that was always very important for us – and is still important – is that we didn’t want to grow too much in terms of company size, employees and people. It becomes too hard to keep a consistent culture and find the right processes when you grow too fast.

Some of your competitors took a different strategy, growing very big relatively quickly. You wanted to take a more measured approach then?

Klindworth: When things are running very well the best idea seems to be to hire more people and do more of everything, but it is especially important to stay true to your growth strategy in those times. Be careful not to over-spend, over-hire; in hindsight that was really important for us.

Also, we focused on hiring the right people. It wasn’t about the mass of people, it was really about the quality.

InnoGames launched its first browser game, Tribal Wars, in 2003 – and it’s still running today

When I visited InnoGames had around 200 people. How many are you now?

Klindworth: Around 420.

Given how successful InnoGames has been, doubling headcount in six years is fairly conservative. One of the main contributors to that success is Forge of Empires, the browser version of which was about to launch in 2011, and reached €250 million lifetime revenue in May this year.

Klindworth: It’s been on the market for a few years already, and it’s still growing. It was very helpful to have the mobile version out there, which started a new growth phase for Forge of Empires.

It’s also been a couple of years since we went full-force into mobile, and we can continue to grow player base and revenues. It’s really nice to see, and also a strength of InnoGames; that we are able to run games for many, many years. Our very first game, Tribal Wars, is 14 years old and still active.

Not every company I talked to in 2011 has been so prosperous. The temptation is to put it down to InnoGames handling the transition to mobile better than the others. Is it that simple?

Klindworth: I would say that, in the end, it worked out, but it was a lot of hard work for us… Our real breakthrough was Forge of Empires [on mobile] in 2014. There was at least three years where we had to make sure the whole company was focused on mobile, and not everything went perfectly immediately. Sometimes we had to re-try things, but that helped us.

We learned from that experience, tried a new approach, and then the real breakthrough was 2014 with the tablet version of Forge of Empires. That was the first time we thought, ‘finally, now all of the hard work pays off. Mobile really works.’

What part does browser play for InnoGames today? Will every new product be mobile from now on?

Klindworth: As a company, we still continue to grow our browser revenues, which is quite nice to see. The growth is not as big as mobile, of course, so we focus our new games on mobile-only. That’s where we see the future growth of the company, even though we continue to run our browser games.

You’re on more platforms now, but you still have quite a lean portfolio. It’s bigger than it was in 2011, but not dramatically so.

Klindworth: That’s important. There is the temptation to do many things at the same time. As a company – even as a 400-person company – you have to focus your energy on your making really great games. Then when you have a couple of successful games you can focus on making this super successful, you can develop your players there. It’s not really about a mass of games. It doesn’t help if you have 12 mediocre games.

Nowadays this is relevant for all companies. You have strong games, you invest more in these strong games, and everything gets better iteration by iteration.

The launch of Forge of Empires for tablet devices was a key moment in InnoGames’ transition from browser to mobile
Is there anything to be said for a larger portfolio, and spreading risk across more games?

Klindworth: Spreading risk also means you’re spreading your energy. Any company has a limited amount of resources, a limited amount of energy that you can use to be successful. That’s why you have to focus.

You earned €130 million revenue in 2016, 25% higher than the year before. Have there been many down years?

Klindworth: Every year until now [has been higher than the last]. It’s what we’ve achieved in the past, and it’s what we hope will follow in the future.

When you think about growing in the future, how important is global expansion? Are you looking beyond Europe and the US, to Asia and South America?

Klindworth: South America is a relevant market for us, and a growing market. But we decided against further activities in Korea. The player expectations there are quite different to what you see in the US and Europe. Different kinds of games are successful there; the local developers are very strong and really understand the market. Our focus is on Western markets, and not so much South Korea, China or Japan.

You’re now focused on the mobile market, which is widely seen as becoming more volatile all the time.

Klindworth: But with the experience we’ve gathered, we also gain the ability to predict what will happen over the next months and years to come. When we build an experience we know what’s going on behind it; we know how to do the marketing, the investments, how to grow our player base. For us, especially when a game is out there and live, it’s really a predictable part of our business.

New games? It’s always interesting to see how they work out. They’re more of a challenge.

How many new games can you release in a year and still retain the focus that has proved so valuable?

Klindworth: A few launches per year. That’s the upper limit of what we can achieve. Even two or three games is a big challenge, and we will always focus on quality.(source:gamesindustry.biz