What strategies do small local video game studios adopt?

What strategies do small local video game studios adopt?

Romanian video game studios have been signing the top titles of the global profile industry for several years. Some of them are big players in the market, while small studios are looking for solutions and funding to develop top products.

In early March, local video game studio Metagame announced that it had been acquired by Fortis, an American game developer and publisher founded in the fall of 2021. Fortis was founded by Steven Chiang, president of Fortis and former executive vice president of global studios at WB. Games (Warner Bros. Games Division), Shawn Foust, CEO of Fortis, former CEO of WB Games and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Plexchat, and Calvin Lau, former lead designer for several successful games, currently product manager at Fortis.

The acquisition of Metagame is part of the US company’s strategy to consolidate globally. “Fortis was founded last year and they started making some acquisitions. Their strategy was to take teams that were already formed and could produce quickly, so that they could speed up their entry into the market, ”says Daniel Nay, co-founder of Metagame. Fortis has also acquired two other gaming studios, Doppio Games (Portugal) and Oktagon Games (Brazil). “We are at the beginning of a huge new opportunity for games to have the greatest and most positive impact on global culture and human experience,” said Steven Chiang, co-founder and president of Fortis, a wholly owned and funded company. of Las Vegas Sands, one of the largest operators of luxury resorts and casinos in the world, with a turnover of 3.6 billion dollars in 2020.

The need for change

The Romanian gaming studio acquired by Fortis was founded in 2016 by Dan Teodorescu and Daniel Nay, known in the video game industry in Romania, together with the artist Noper (Radu Pop). Metagame has already signed two video game productions, “Tap Busters” and “Zombieland”, made with Sony Pictures. “Games like ours have revenue potentials of $ 5 million to $ 30 million,” says Daniel Nay. However, together with its partners, it intends to develop more elaborate games that will generate revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars over time.

The two Metagame games are now being used by publishers, and the studio’s management team intended the next generation of products to be self-made, from concept to sale. But for that, Metagame needed several rounds of funding to be able to develop not only its gaming capabilities, but also its marketing and sales capabilities. “That’s why we started looking for investment. And we talked to a lot of investors in the gaming area and that’s how we got to the founders of Fortis, who told us what their vision is “, says Daniel Nay.

Negotiations have been going on for more than half a year, and Nay says they started before Steven Chiang, Shawn Foust and Calvin Lau launched Fortis. As the three Americans had a lot of experience in the video game industry, the Metagame team was interested in collaborating, even though a sale was not initially considered. “It was an exchange of experience and we realized that we want to work with these people, even if we no longer have 100% control, but we can also make games much more ambitious, and that’s what we want in the end,” explains Daniel Nay.

At the time of the acquisition, Metagame had a team of 15 people and a turnover of over 700,000 euros, and now Daniel Nay says he will start an employment campaign to raise the studio to a higher level of production.

From corporate to entrepreneur

Daniel Nay is a programmer by profession, being a graduate of the Faculty of Automation and Computers at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. He has been working at the local gaming manufacturer Gameloft’s office since his senior year. Before entering entrepreneurship, he held the position of manager at Adobe Romania, from where he left in 2014.

Having a very good financial situation, from 2014 to 2016 he took a break and traveled with his wife, by car, through Europe. During his travels, he even thought of moving to one of the countries he visited, but he realized that he did not want to leave Romania. Back in the country, he began to think more and more about opening a business.

He then met Dan Teodorescu, whom he had known since he worked at Gameloft and who, in the meantime, ran the local Electronic Arts studio for a while. “It simply came to our notice then. Being better known than me in the gaming area in Romania, we thought of doing something together, because we had similar ideas “, details Daniel Nay. In 2016, he also met the third co-founder of Metagame, Noper (Radu Pop), a well-known advertising artist. “I was the programmer, Dan, the designer, and Noper, the artist,” says Nay.

A growing market

In the first year of the pandemic, the Romanian gaming market grew to about $ 218 million, an advance of 19.1% over the previous year. And this, given that the global video game market in 2020 amounted to over 170 billion dollars, half of the revenue being generated by gaming sessions on mobile devices.

According to Daniel Nay, the business of video game studios behaved very well during the pandemic. “Certainly people played more, there were bigger sessions, because they stayed at home, and all kinds of games grew,” he added. He initially thought that users would panic and stop playing, amid the excitement and fears of early 2020. But things were different and the number of players was growing, especially on mobile devices.

At the beginning of the pandemic, however, the company had some problems. Metagame had just launched a game and wanted to hire people to further develop the product. Job announcements have been made since February 2020, except that as of March, no one in the IT industry seemed willing to change jobs. Especially those who worked in corporations and did not want to risk going to a startup. “After six months, the world calmed down and then we found people,” says Daniel Nay. One of the ways he attracted new employees was the flexible work schedule, especially since many wanted to work from home and not on a fixed schedule. In the case of Metagame, the flexible program has brought more productivity and efficiency.

The entrepreneur mentions that with the launch of the “Zombieland” game, Metagame has become more credible in the market and more secure. Against this background of product development, Nay says that the idea of ​​moving to a better level of game production also appeared. At the moment, when his team is part of Fortis, he will adapt to the new market conditions, and will develop new game concepts that will generate much higher revenues than before.

This article appeared in issue 137 of . magazine.

PHOTO: Laszlo Raduly