Lamendola, General Manager at Slingo, was a professional actor before joining the games industry. “I see Iron Man today and think back to playing cars between takes with Robert Downey Jr. on the set of The Pick Up Artist,” Lamendola remembers. “He was GREAT with the kids.” He still dabbles in voice acting for games occationally, but Lamendola’s actual business experience began when he opened his own video game rental store out of his bedroom.
Lucky in Life
Starting at Slingo, strangely enough, was not actually about “getting into games”. It was more about wanting to get away from tech consulting. At the time, Slingo had five employees including the founder, and they were looking for someone who knew about games and could also do network and server administration. “Fortunately, that was right up my alley,” Eric recalls, “so I joined the company as a server jock but quickly moved into product development, released a bunch of games, and then took over operations and business development.” With repeated success in all those other, varied, roles, he was soon running the studio as the General Manager.
Lamendola has watched Slingo rise on several platforms — most recently on Facebook, as Zynga Slingo, where the title broke the 50 million monthly active user mark, according to Appdata. While it satisfies him to see that success, he still has the acting itch, and hopes to spend more time doing voice acting in the future.
Leveraging the Non-Paying 90%
As for the business world, Lamendola sees the transition to mobile and on-demand networks as the key trend that will affect Slingo and other companies. The trend has already changed the way we communicate and the immediacy with which we engage the world. He believes the biggest impact it will have on the games industry will come from discovering ways to monetize the 90 percent of non-paying players that currently play most of the games.
“Games will ultimately follow this curve as new social paradigms emerge and people seek new, immediate and portable game experiences,” Lamendola said. “We plan to respond by using premium branded content across all devices and platforms.”
A Crowded Marketplace
Lamendola believes that the single largest challenge that any content developer faces is discoverability. Games have become easier to develop, independent games are becoming a larger part of the marketplace, and being able to create competitive advantage within products is becoming increasingly difficult. “Fortunately, Slingo leverages its brand strength and unique game play to create some differentiation, but for most developers getting anyone to even hear about your game is almost impossible without substantial investment,” Eric explains. Especially with social graphs cracking down on how players can market games within their existing networks, it’s becoming a considerably more expensive market to gain traction.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.