This presentation is intended to share the insights, learned lessons and best practices of how our startup succeeded through failing endlessly, even with a game that had a huge audience which we sadly never managed to properly monetize
Vlad Micu, Head of Studio Critical Force Entertainment - The complete game startup turnoaround (How to Web Conference 2014 - Game Development Track)
1. The Complete Game Startup
HD Redux EditionHD Redux Edition
Tips and TricksTips and Tricks from thefrom the
TrenchesTrenches to (Re)Build Yourto (Re)Build Your
Studio ForStudio For
The FutureThe Future
3. Table of contents
• The story of Critical Force Entertainment
• What does a damn game startup turnaround look like?
• The lessons we’ve learned so you don’t have to go
through this crap
4. Who am I?
This is a talk by
Head of Studio at
Critical Force Entertainment
Used to be the PR Manager of
Did production, game design and creative direction for
arkavis Siam co. ltd. in Thailand
Wrote for many other international outlets including
PocketGamer.biz, Control Magazine,
Gamer.nl, XBLAFans.com, Casual Connect
Magazine and many more.
6. Where does this all come from?
• 600+ developers
• Personal start-up
• Advising multiple
international studios &
getting tons of advice
• Reading a BUTTLOAD on
the interwebz & listening
to other devs.
9. Not enough to succeed!
The past 9 months looked like this:
• (A) Post traumatic stress from
• (B) then just hoping the wheels
don’t fall entirely off the car,
• (C) then investing in product
• (D) then on-boarding new team
members and leads, then —
and this is the place we’re at
• (E) solving for a repeatable
viable business model.
• Jason Gold
This talk is inspired by a blogpost on Startup Turnaround by
Jason Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Fab
He took a lot of words right of my mouth…
11. “The experience we will gain in this turnaround will be the
most valuable experience of our lives.”
– Random Fab Employee
13. #1 What is our culture?
• Team = Not a family, but
a sports team.
• Responsibility > Authority
• The ‘24H bother’-rule
• Weekly reports
• Shareholder agreement
“I can say with confidence that Fab will win or lose based on our ability
to assemble and manage the right people for right now.”
– Jason Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Fab
15. Do we foster young talent
the right way?
• First month of
intensive research &
• Giving them more
• The simple rule:
decisions based on
Free or Unpaid internships?
16. #2 Do we optimally exploit our
300+ websites iframed the web version of Critical Strike Portable
28. = Perfectly alligned jobs that allow you to
work on/prepare for your own dreams
(Smart) Work for Hire
29. Early results
“The Last Tinker is particularly eye-catching for
being so colorful in a Viva Piñata-esque manner” –
At first, I thought The Last Tinker: City of Colors was a childish
game. It turned out to be the game that has made me smile the most
in the past year. – TheDailyChill.co.uk
"The Last Tinker is a colorful and truly beautiful game." - IndieMag.fr
“Although The Last Tinker feels like a blending of different genres
and earlier games, the gorgeous art style and creative story offer a
vibrant new appeal.” – VentureBeat
115 Preview articles from February – April 2014
32. #4 Is all of that enough for us to
33. Focus > Growth
• Different platforms
• Growing audience
• SDKs SDKs SDKs
34. We’re a fucking start-up!
“What is Fab right now? Right now it’s a fucking startup.
It’s really hard. It’s intense. It’s a struggle. It’s ambiguous. It
changes a lot. It’s all consuming. It’s a lot of sausage making. It’s
working weekends to hit numbers and dates. It’s stretching people
beyond their comfort zone. It’s insisting on doing it better even
when it’s already pretty good. It’s being brutally honest about gaps
and weaknesses. It’s one day you’re headed in one direction and the
next day another, because the first move wasn’t the best move. It’s
being ok with things not working because that creates opportunities
to learn how to fix it.
It’s a fucking startup.”
– Jason Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Fab
35. Vision: become the Riot Games of
Become market leader of real-time multiplayer mobile
games with a competitive e-sports community
36. Different attitude & vocabulary
Get standardized legal documents for your startup here:
• Sustainable traction
– who’s ever used that word?
• Cash flow positive
– or this one?
• Share holders agreement
• Business plan!?
38. #5 Pitching = Knowing thyself
• Know who you are and
who you aren’t
• Know what the other
person wants and doesn’t
• Use that to disarm your
opponent and put
him/her in the defensive
• Make yourself rare/scarce
Learn from Eminem!