The comeback of the Berlin games company Wooga

The comeback of the Berlin games company Wooga

Nai Chang

The CEO took over the leadership of the game developer Wooga 2020 from founder Jens Begemann.

(Photo: Wooga)

After the media-heavy visit of the then Chancellor Angela Merkel In 2013, video game developer Wooga slipped from one crisis to the next in the brightly colored Berlin office: the costs were too high, new releases flopped and numerous employees had to leave. At the end of 2018, the significantly larger Playtika group from Israel took over the former stock market candidate.

The corona crisis, which gave the entire industry a boost, also boosted business at Wooga. The crime-hidden-object game June’s Journey has now grossed $500 million since its launch five years ago, despite the fact that the game itself is free. This was mainly achieved through in-app purchases, players beautify the island, the setting of the game, for money and buy help in the search for the protagonist’s deceased sister.

Thanks to the success of June’s Journey, Wooga is now aiming higher, aiming to break the $1 billion mark in total sales for the first time this year. “Wooga is currently celebrating a comeback,” says company boss Nai Chang, who took over management from founder Jens Begemann in mid-2020 and has already worked for the games division of in the past Google and the big Wooga competitor Zynga from the United States worked.

According to Nai Chang, Wooga used to dance at too many weddings. Today, the games company concentrates on so-called “casual games”. These are games for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that are rarely played for long periods of time. “Our games are mostly played by commuters or before bed instead of watching TV or Netflix to watch,” says Nai Chang.

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The market is big: Felix Falk, Managing Director of the Association of the German Games Industry “Game”, says: “With 23.5 million players, the smartphone is the most used gaming platform in Germany.” However, the competition is extremely tough for casual games players are particularly willing to change. Hits can quickly fade into obscurity as players turn to newer offerings.

Game development is expensive and time-consuming

In addition to Wooga, the “Farmville” developer Zynga also felt this, which fell into a deep hole after the hype phase and the IPO in 2013. There was a lack of new best sellers and dependence on Facebook became a problem when the world’s largest internet network changed its rules. In the meantime, the US group has been taken over by the “Grand Theft Auto” inventor Take Two.

Developing a casual game like June’s Journey that tells complex stories is time-consuming and expensive. Players want to be constantly updated with new content. So that Wooga does not take on financial responsibility again, Nai Chang is trying to cap expenses: “We want to grow sustainably.” With a view to the listed parent company, however, the 40-year-old does not want to publish any specific figures and also leaves open whether Wooga is currently profitable .

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The video game industry is currently trying to take the momentum from the Corona period with it. Game Managing Director Falk explains: “Now that more leisure activities are possible again, growth is understandably slowing down again.” In the first half of the year, revenues in the German games market only increased by two percent.

Wooga games have many female players

Wooga also open up the new privacy rules Apple-Create devices that make it difficult to advertise efficiently. According to Nai Chang, Wooga is therefore increasingly using advertisements in the conventional media of television and print, as well as in podcasts. Wooga also mostly appeals to women, and compared to the classic gaming sector, the target group for casual games is even more diverse. “June’s Journey” has around two-thirds female players.

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Wooga has not yet reached this quota in the workforce. However, Nai Chang aims to bring more diversity to the male-dominated gaming industry. 42 percent of the approximately 300 Wooga employees are now women. To achieve this, the Berliners start at the roots and keep an eye out for female candidates, for example at talent days.

More: This is how the game manufacturer Wooga has overcome its crisis

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