When it comes to the challenge of online games, Vincent Vergonjeanne offered this advice to his audience at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014: “Get your priorities straight. Understanding your retention is the one key to the long term success of your online game.”
“Creating games is the most complete form of expression that I know. It is also the only one that allows me to touch so many lives,” says Vincent Vergonjeanne, a free-to-play consultant, business angel, and a lean startup enthusiast.
At the young age of twelve, Vergonjeanne started programming. By age thirteen, he collaborated with another young artist. Together, they developed over eight games by the time they were twenty years old. They eventually drifted apart, but the seeds were planted. He shifted from IT jobs which paid well to video game jobs which paid much less. In 2009, Vergonjeanne and a couple other friends created Kobojo in France. With over a million daily users and a Series A of 7.5 million dollars, Kobojo grew to be one of the largest social gaming companies in Europe with up to 90 employees.
EVERYDAYiPLAY and Free-to-play Games
Vergonjeanne currently lives in Krakow, Poland. It is where he has founded EVERYDAYiPLAY, a new game studio specialized in mid-core gaming. According to their website, the company believes “in hand-crafting fun, recognizable, and beautiful games with a no-compromise-policy on quality”. They have three simple rules: stay small and do only one game at a time, stay independent forever, and recruit top talent only. Their current game is a strategy and action game entitled Vikings Gone Wild. In 2013, Vikings Gone Wild was chosen by Facebook as one of the Top 10. In fact, Vikings Gone Wild has been installed by more than 2.5 million people.
Consistent with one of the company’s rules to recruit top talent only, Vergonjeanne took his time in hiring people for Vikings Gone Wild. Initially, he did coding himself for the first four months. This gave him the freedom to find highly talented programmers for the game. For Vergonjeanne, being a programmer allows great insight on all technical decisions of the company. When he is not programming, Vergonjeanne works as product manager. He deals with the product roadmap which includes features and content of the game. Basically, the idea is to apply the learning which occurs in game design and monetization. Designing free-to-play is challenging. Experience has helped him make more informed decisions.
As for the future, Vergonjeanne sees free-to-play games being a key part. According to Vergonjeanne, as the free-to-play market matures, “casual games will be harder to make successful as the necessity of high volumes to make it profitable is only accessible by larger companies.” There is a need for specialized games, which are targeted to specific audiences. This is a niche that EVERYDAYiPLAY fills. The targeted strategy games they make enable them to touch the intended audience on a deeper level.
Vergonjeanne is a PC and mobile player. He mainly plays similar games to what he creates: mobile Real-time strategy (RTS) games. He does this so that he can discover and understand the best features of the genre, be inspired, and be able to recognize ideal economical tensions. He describes himself as both creative and analytical. Vergonjeanne is analytical in that he believes that better decisions are made if you first analyze past experiences and thereby seek patterns and learn from them. He is creative because he finds “nothing more fulfilling than the sentiment of creation”. The process of creation, which is a way of giving life to ideas, is what motivates him. Vergonjeanne has two beautiful children. His most recent passion is Lego. Just as game developers do, he loves how Lego (specifically the Star Wars line), “reinterpret pop-culture references into a world with its own visual rules and scale”.
After all of Vergonjeanne’s experience, his proudest moment of his career was when he founded EVERYDAYiPLAY. With no venture capital money, the studio is profitable and has grown to more than 20 extremely talented people. Vergonjeanne states, “This studio is the result of many learning in process, scale, and product, and its success a tremendous validation”. EVERYDAYiPLAY’s commitment to quality product holds promise for the future.
Emily Baker is the Production Supervisor for www.gamesauce.biz. Emily loves learning about cultures, taking care of her hobby farm and spending time with her two kiddos.