“What is that X-factor that can explain why games become more addictive?” Yaniv Nizan asked his audience at Casual Connect Europe. “What I’ve realized is that there is one thing: time.”
Yaniv Nizan is Co-founder and CEO of SOOMLA, which he describes as a self-serve platform for creating dynamic in-app purchase stores for mobile games. As the first virtual economy platform, SOOMLA offers an open source framework which standardizes virtual economies in games, while the platform allows the creation and management of these economies. The company’s core technology focuses on financial algorithms, big data, and community-based frameworks.
SOOMLA Starts with a Conversation
It was a conversation with a developer that led to the founding of SOOMLA. This developer was quite successful, with five million downloads on his first game. He described the many emails he had been receiving from different SDK companies. At that point, Nizan realized the company’s success depended on making a product game developers would really love. They decided to start an open source framework, which has now become the leading framework for in-game economies and in-app purchases. He proudly announces that SOOMLA has recently passed 1,500 developer accounts.
Nizan tells us the size of the company requires him to have a generalist’s role. Fortunately, he has a background of diverse experiences filling different roles in a number of companies.
Satisfaction and Snowboarding in Israel
When Nizan gets away from work, he clears his head by swimming on a daily basis and also enjoys hiking with his children. He states that his true addiction is snowboarding, although this is a challenging hobby to pursue in Israel. He appreciates both electronic music and alternative rock, depending on his mood.
It was in the first company he founded, EyeView, that he experienced the most satisfying time of his career. In order to open the market and prove to investors their product was valid, they needed to close big customers. He was able to close two of these customers in one month: Ebay and Yahoo, an accomplishment which had him shouting with excitement. Although Ebay was ten times bigger, Yahoo was the first and most rewarding.
Underdogs – Fight Harder and Smarter
The first time Nizan dealt with a competitor that was better funded, as well as having a stronger brand and more traction, brought his most challenging opportunity. He created a strategy to focus on one segment of the market, win it over, and expand from that position. Now he insists, “Never be afraid of big companies. In most situations, there is a way for a highly-focused, extremely talented team to win.”
He points to the mobile games market today as an example where the small developers have as much chance of making it to the top as the big companies do.
Pursuing Constant Innovation
Nizan strongly emphasizes the need for constant innovation. For example, he advises Apple to return to promoting innovation rather than copying the operating system features of Android and the form factors from Samsung and other hardware providers. He stresses, “Apple’s brand stands for innovative products, but it will not stay that way if the company stops being what the brand stands for.”
In the next few years, Nizan expects the games industry to show higher creativity levels in games artwork, more emphasis on the quality of game controls and highly immersive experiences. But he also believes the amount of game-play innovation will decline.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.