Jussi Laakkonen is Founder and CEO of Applifier, the company that helps players discover games and has pioneered cross-promotion on Facebook. With a background in product, Laakkonen has had an active hand in designing and leading the services Applifier offers. Now that the company has grown to over 40 people, his focus has changed to ensuring that the team is headed in the right direction and accomplishing more in less time.
Epiphanies = Progression
Laakkonen tells us the epiphanies he had while dreaming up new products have helped redefine the company as a whole. The first idea was to leverage a cross-promotion network on Facebook that would support their game by allying with other developers. A little way down Applifier’s road to success, this idea turned the entire company into a cross-promotion network. The second epiphany came in the form of a question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could share video replays from your mobile game?” Development proved the tech feasibility and launched Everyplay just seven months after the first concept demo.
The most exciting time of Laakkonen’s career came with the astonishing growth of their cross-promotion network on Facebook. Only 100 days after launching, Applifier reached 50 million monthly active users across the integrated network of games with the service.
“We built the service to help ourselves as game developers, then allied with other fellow devs, built the rebel alliance to take on the death star of Zynga, and it exploded in popularity,” Laakkonen said. “It was great fighting the good fight for fellow developers.”
The CEO divides his personal game-playing time between the PS4 and his iPad Mini Retina. On his PS4, his current preference is Resogun by Housemarque, which he describes as, “a sublime shooter with over the top visual FX and retro arcade action.” On the iPad, he is playing Colossatron by Halfbrick, which “just keeps bringing me back to wreak more havoc.”
Laakkonen has strong feelings about free-to-play. He supports that this business model kills piracy in 99 percent of cases, enabling true fans of the games to support those games for the other 80 to 90 percent of players who play for free. He objects to people thinking of free-to-play as a genre, insisting, “You don’t design a ‘F2P game’ anymore than you design a boxed product. F2P is a business model, like a boxed product is a business model, and both models can support a wide variety of games.”
According to Laakkonen, three major trends will impact the games industry in the next few years. First, mobile game revenue will become the biggest segment of the global game business and will eclipse console game revenue. Second, Apple, Google and Amazon will all release a TV-connected device that also plays games. Within three to five years, he expects these devices to consume a large chunk of the console market. And finally, virtual reality, such as Oculus Rift, will become mainstream and redefine the hardcore PC and console gaming experience.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.