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EGD News #60 — M&A talk and annual review

EGD News #60 — M&A talk and annual review
opened book with valentine lying inside
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Sent on December 18th 2020.

If you aren’t a subscriber to EGD News, you can subscribe here.

It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Helsinki!

Last week we went live with Gaming Angel Fellowship! The community is starting to grow and more people who are beginning their journey into angel investing, are signing up every day.

I’m going to start something new in the Gaming Angel Fellowship members-only Slack channel: I’m going to start sharing information about companies that I’ve been talking to, who are raising an angel round or pre-seed round and are interested in being featured on the community.

If you have a startup that is looking for funding, or if you know of a startup like that, please let me know. The best way to reach out is to ping me on LinkedIn and let’s get the company featured.

On to this week’s news.

📹 Chris Petrovic interview on GameMakers

This was an amazing discussion on the topic of mergers and acquisitions in gaming, with Chris Petrovic, previously Head of Corp. Dev and M&A from Zynga and Kabam.

My takeaways:

Eric Kress

What do you think that Frank Gibeau did that turned Zynga around?

Chris Petrovic

1) First of all, it helps to have somebody in that [CEO] seat that actually understands Free-to-Play mobile.

2) It also helped to have an executive like Frank that was able to have pattern recognition of what it feels like it looks like to go from high to low and back up again, which EA had done during his time there.

[There’s a finite number of things] that can go wrong, and that needs to be fixed in a gaming company when things are not going well versus going well. And so having that pattern recognition of what works, both when things were going well, and when needed, fixing really helped.

3) [Frank] brought in, you know, a whole cadre of his former EA peers, to help him and be part of the management team to craft the turnaround.

4) [The management] identified great franchises that had been underleveraged, and Zynga Poker, and Words with Friends. [Basically] looking at the business more like an annuity than a hits-driven business, knowing that you always have to create new games, but you have that hedge with really dependable stable revenues coming off of long-standing games and franchises.

Read the rest of my takeaways by going here.

🗓 Annual Review 2020

This is the first annual review that I’ve done since I started Elite Game Developers. Here are the questions that I decided to got through. I’ll cover most of these in this article and how I came up with the format.

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go so well this year?
  • What did I learn this year?
  • The purpose for 2021?
  • What do I need in 2021?
  • What personal qualities do I want to strengthen?
  • What do I no longer need?
  • Focus for 2021?
  • What do I want to become?
  • What I won’t be sorry about if I do/don’t do in 2021?
  • Big Beats for 2021?

Let’s first talk about what went well.

1. What went well this year?

My book came out in March 2020

After launching three big products this year, my highlight of 2020 was the launch of my first book, the “Long Term Game: How to build a video games company” which came out in March 2020.

To write the first draft of the book, I had a goal of writing 1,000 words per day. The book ended up having approx. 42,000 words, and I did finish writing the book in less than 1.5 months.

After that, the editing and publishing of the book was the much harder part. I’m glad that I decided to partner with a few folks to get past these final hurdles and eventually launched the book in March 2020.

I recently passed 1,000 copies sold and the book is trending towards 1,500 as I write this.

Newsletter keeps growing

Out of all the mediums that I’ve used this year, I’m the happiest about how my newsletter grew in popularity. As this post is going out on Dec 16th, I have 2,148 newsletter subscribers, which is almost 3X from where I started the year, when on January 1st of 2020, I had 402 subscribers.

Similarly, I’m getting the most feedback about my newsletter. What people like about it and how they can’t wait for Friday 9am CET to come around and a the latest EGD News to hit their inboxes.

I did lots of investor work

This year, I’ve completed five angel investments. What I noticed is that I could have done a lot more, but I’ve said no to several dozen companies, who I felt didn’t meet the criteria that I’ve been talking about.

Started investing other people’s money

When I started my angel syndicate and did the first deal, I took a step towards investing other people’s money. It’s an interesting format, compared to only doing angel investments with my own capital. With the syndicate, I pool in a bunch of angels and together, we write a bigger check.

I believe that angel syndicates are a great way for founders to have optionality, when considering VC funding, as many syndicates can write over 100k checks. I talk about syndicates a lot in my angel course.

Started treating everything as experiments

I feel that I left behind a mindset of each project having to be perfect. I started seeing each piece of content that I create as an experiment. The I do this is I don’t put any expectations, goals or desired outcomes on the projects I work on.

The only goal I have is to learn something from these experiments. I felt I could really let go of a lot of worries if I’m not stressing too much about the outcome. For example, I started treating the angel investor course as an experiment: what would happen if I created a course on angel investing? The best outcome is that some people would learn to angel invest. If no one learned anything, I would spend time learning from this failure and then build something new again with all the learnings.

I used to think that I need to have the best tools in place. I need to have the best community service for the courses, but then I noticed that a good old Slack workspace for the course would do just fine.

Just treat everything as experiments and it will all go fine.

There’s more

To read my full annual review for 2020, you should go here.

🎯  Top podcast episodes 2020 by downloads

This was a big year for the Elite Game Developers podcast, with almost 60 new episodes going live. Here were the most downloaded episodes that came out in 2020.

  1. Jörgen Larsson, CEO, Stillfront Group
  2. Kristian Segerstrale, CEO, Super Evil Megacorp
  3. Harri Manninen, Founder Partner at Play Ventures
  4. David Gardner, General Partner at London Venture Partners
  5. Michael Cheung, General Partner at Makers Fund
  6. Reko Ukko, Co-Founder at Seriously
  7. Celine Pasula, CEO, Fingersoft
  8. Florian Steinhoff, Game Designer, Undisclosed Startup
  9. Paul Murphy, General Partner at Northzone
  10. EGD Special: How To Minimize Risks In Games Business

I’m not at all surprised about the top 3 — I think these are the topics that have gained the most interest during the year. Some additional thoughts on these:

My favorite podcast episode this year was the one I did with Kristian in June. He’s such an amazing entrepreneur and gaming company builder. If you haven’t seen his lecture video from 2011, you should definitely check it out.

The episode with Jörgen Larsson had the most preparation work, as I prepared the topics and questions together with Aaron and Manyu from Master the Meta, as we were working on the Stillfront article to coincide with this episode. I’m super happy with how it turned out and it shows in the numbers.

The biggest takeaway for 2021 is that I have to have more diversity on the podcast. Only one female gaming individual, Fingersoft’s Celine Pasula, made it on the podcast top 10. I need to do better than that.

🎙  EGD Special: Raising Angel Funding in Gaming

Loads of new gaming studios first spend time courting with VCs, when they should actually start from the ground floor. In this podcast episode, I talk about raising funding from angel investors and how you can build your own list of angel investor leads.

“If you’re just focusing on angel investors, I think it becomes a mindset shift, where you need to create your own way of fundraising because this is not the common way. Everybody goes out to talk to the VCs first.”

Listen to the full episode here.

📃 Articles Worth Reading

Apple Arcade: no killer games, can’t compete with free — “Despite offering over 130 brand new and exclusive (at launch) games on its service, the appeal/relevance of the content on Arcade seems to be a point of concern. Those subscribers considering cancelling their subscription to Arcade cite (problematically) that “there aren’t enough games” on Arcade despite an overwhelming majority of subscribers only having played 10 games or less on the service (less than 10% of the content) even after being a subscriber for 4-6 months.”

2020 is YouTube Gaming’s biggest year, ever — “Globally, there were over 100 billion hours of gaming content watched on YouTube. From events that pivoted to digital to live streams to an ever-growing library of VOD content, YouTube Gaming is the home for all video game content.”

Scaling the startup mountain — “The trick is to accept this condition. Build systems to prevent yourself from making the same mistake twice. But don’t view failure to forecast unforeseeable problems as a knock on your leadership. You don’t know where the next crisis will hit, but you can be certain there will soon be another one. When you acknowledge this reality, it’s liberating. You can exhale.”

Generating buzz — “As Marc Andreessen said, “everyone’s time is already allocated.” With hundreds of products launching each day and endless ads clamoring for our attention, how do you get over the event horizon of attention? Easy: DO SOMETHING REMARKABLE.”

💬 Quote that I’ve been thinking about

“If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now — and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”

— Jeff Bezos

Sponsored by ironSource

We all know that developing a great game is one thing, but developing a great game business can be something else entirely. That’s why some of the top game developers in the industry use ironSource’s game growth platform, which takes care of both sides of the business, helping you monetize to fuel user acquisition, and vice versa.

From their ROAS Optimizer, the only product on the market built to optimize UA campaigns towards ROAS according to both IAP and ad revenue data, to LevelPlay, their in-app bidding solution, they offer everything you need to supercharge your growth. See for yourself at ironsrc.com

Sponsored by Opera Event

​Looking for some great new authentic video creative? Try something totally new with Influencer Generated Content (IGC) by Opera Event. Influencers or actors will make specific creative content for your games and Opera Event will deliver you high-quality video ads that highlight the best parts of your game.

Note! You get a free video with the purchase of 4 or more videos. Remember to say that Elite Game Developers sent you!

Go to www.getigc.com to see some examples and get more information.


That’s all for this week. Take care and stay safe!


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