Posted 1 year ago

Social games start-up Pretty Simple Games hits gold

Originally posted on rudebaguette.com

Back just over a month ago, Criminal Case was off to an impressive start, with nearly 100k DAUs. Fast forward, and this hit by Pretty Simple Games sees 1.5M daily players. The kicker(s)? Still almost no ads, organic growth being a staggering 97% of their total growth, and projected revenues for the game in 2013 in the 8 digits range. I sat down with the co-founders Corentin Raux and Bastien Cazenave to discuss their rocket ride.

Space capsule Criminal Case

This success is attracting the spotlight, with Facebook’s head of Partnerships for the EMEA region, Julien Cordoniou, calling Pretty Simple Games “a key Facebook world partner” and praising their performance and the quality of their work. This is only the beginning however.

From what the co-founders observed, peak DAUs for hidden object games are in the region of 3M, and 3 languages (DE ES FR) are about to be added to the game that was only in english up to this point. This makes them cautiously hope for a peak at 2.5M DAUs for Criminal Case. Then again, as Corentin puts it: “With Criminal Case, we have better retention numbers after a week, than we had after 24h on our previous game Magical Ride”. The co-founders wouldn’t go into specifics, but it does seem like their day 7 retention numbers are so good, that other developers wouldn’t be entirely sad having them for day 1 retention. Efficient virality and high monetiztion don’t hurt either.

Mothership Pretty Simple Games

These impressive results have been achieved with a total team a little under 40 people, with about 25 on the production team for Criminal Case. The team releases one full new case every week, trying to keep up with the players’ desire for more, without losing the narrative and artistic quality they feel is part and parcel of the game’s experience. Being in their office between 6 and 7pm, I can attest this is not either a case of constant crunch where teams are driven crazy. Indeed, when asked what their number one priority was for the year, both co-founders reiterated that team building came first.

This means not only growing the team with great care, but also focusing on Criminal Case, in itself a great learning experience for the whole team, and understood as such. It makes perfect business sense as well, since this focus will ensure that Criminal Case produces the highest possible value for the company.

Overall the founders struck me as remaining unfazed and pragmatic in the face of success. If you don’t get why this is very important, besides the company ultimately relying on the sound judgement of the founders, go read Rudyard Kipling’s If poem, and don’t miss the part on Triumph and Disaster.

The co-founders know they have a lot of work ahead, and that the games business is a marathon. They have a clear and simple growth strategy:

  • Focus on social by pushing Criminal Case to franchise-level success, making Magical Ride more casual, and working on 2 new games. One will be a more niche game in an undisclosed genre, and the other a game with hidden object gameplay elements but with an experience announced as entirely different from Criminal Case.
  • Build up their reserves thanks to this current success, in order to fund the company’s growth organically.
  • Recruit 25 new people: coders, game designers, game artists, etc.

They are open to international candidates, so if you wanna come to Paris and work for what is effectively the hottest French social games startup at the moment, drop them a line on jobs@prettysimplegames.com.

Posted 1 year ago

Why Facebook game Criminal Case is seeing explosive organic growth

Pretty Simple Games is a 40 persons social games company here in Paris, who’s just published Criminal Case, a hidden object game on Facebook. Another one, right? So why should you care? Here’s exhibit A :

MAUDAU_CriminalCase

This is a hockey stick kind of growth – basically the dream of any company launching a scalable web product. Not even a month in, they’ve passed 200k MAUs, and the DAU curve is reaching 80k. These numbers are as of the 16th of December (source Appstats – always disregard last 2 days, it’s not real time and the figures only get corrected after 48h).

Add exhibit B to this, that is the sum they invested in advertising:a big fat 0$. What do you get? A game that shows true organic growth, does a great job at retaining players, and gets them to invite their friends to play as well.

Granted, they did do some soft cross-promotion from their other Fb games, ie banners at the bottom of the page, but didn’t do any of the much more powerful in-game mission cross-promotion. This was surely useful in seeding initial users to the game, but doesn’t come close to explaining this kind of growth. No inherently social gameplay either, so how did they do it? And if you think I’m going to talk mostly about viral design, like I did before meeting Bastien Cazenave, CEO and co-founder of Pretty Simple Games, think again.

Quality

The first thing I noticed when testing the game is the quality of the level design, and of the whole game itself – and I’m no fan of hidden object games. One key element in the quality of the content is the game story itself. It would be a euphemism to say that not all game stories are compelling. What this means in the hidden object genre is that players often find themselves looking for random stuff, but lack any real sense of purpose in their search for objects. Criminal Case, on the other hand, offers well-crafted investigative stories, which give purpose and depth to the scenes in which the hidden clues are to be found.

criminal_case

The gameplay itself is also markedly better than many of its competitors, as elements are placed at places that you use a mix of logic and observation skills to find. This is much more satisfying an experience than finding the seemingly random distribution of items in many other hidden object games, which are happy to make you find a dolphin wearing glasses and a top hat in a tree or some other kind of nonsense. That is not to say that Criminal Case objects are placed in too much a predictable way either, but I think they struck very close to the ideal balance here.

The technology behind the game is far from lacking either. With very quick to non-existent loading times, and lots of the sharing stuff happening behind the scenes, the playing experience is one of the least cluttered with interrupting screens that I’ve seen recently on Facebook. Last but not least, the art, with a team of 10 graphic designers behind it, looks very good, and converges to create the right kind of atmosphere for the game. This means that this game gets right the four pillars of a game : gameplay, art, technology and story.

This kind of result is no stroke of luck. Pretty Simple Games followed a very good approach, in that they didn’t define a specific launch date and decided the game would be ready when it would be ready. Iterating 20 times and delaying the release of a game as long as needed is something that not every publisher decides to do – or simply can do, for that matter – with hard deadlines sometimes coming in the way of quality. A telling thing in the interview was the sounds used by Bastien Cazenave to describe the feelings they were going for, as in “Aha!” moments, as opposed to the frustrated ” Ooo, pfff”, they sometimes got in playtesting, which denotes an understanding of the gaming experience at a deep emotional level, and rings of passion.

Their main financial backer IDinvest, and its representing board member Guillaume Latour, are now reaping the fruits of their patience, and of the manifest focus of Bastien Cazenave and the whole team on quality. Bastien Cazenave emphasized just how important the support of an investor of this quality can be – bearing in mind that Guillaume Latour also invested in Social Point (with runaway hit Dragon City), or other startups you might have heard of, like Deezer, Dailymotion, or Criteo.

Retention

Retention is key to durable growth, no news there. What might be more counter-intuitive at first, in a year that saw inherently social blockbusters like Draw Something or Song Pop take the market by storm, is that the social strategy of Criminal Case focused so much on retention. Of course there are mechanisms aimed at making people invite one another, as having friends within the game provide clues and energy. Energy is the main limiter to playing, and it’s a pretty tough one at that. On a side note, I respectfully disagree with Inside Social Game’s Pete Davison’s review, in that I believe that the energy system’s primary goal is virality and not a heavy-handed monetization tactic. What this energy system effectively means for a free daily player is that if she wants to play more, she’ll need friends playing. This is where the focus on retention comes back in play.

Why would you invite anyone to a game in order to get some in-game edge, if you weren’t hooked on the game to begin with? This is why a lot of the sharing activity, including wall publishing of rewards for big in-game achievements, and even app page community management, focuses on engagement and re-engagement of existing players.

By making a difficult choice that is in all likelihood reducing the overall number of invites sent, compared to titles where prompts for invites occur pretty much from the get go, Pretty Simple has achieved what seems to be greater stickiness than many of the aforementionned titles. When combined with strong in-game incentives for daily players to invite friends to come and play, this makes for a powerful virality mechanism, with the added benefit of it not being nearly as invasive as in many of its competitors.

Another difficult choice is focusing on Facebook when most companies turn to mobile games. The experience of the founders and what feels like a pragmatic acknowledgement that a small company can’t do it all at once means that they stick by their guns on this choice, and seem to be pulling it off pretty damn well. I do believe that they would leave a lot of money on the table if they were to delay releasing a mobile version too much, and they most definitely know that Criminal Case would be a great tablet game as well. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in this area in the coming year.

A company to watch

Pretty Simple had already seen a good success with its first game, My Shops. Though Magical Ride, their second game – a Jetpack Joyride meets Bubble Witch Saga theming – wasn’t exactly a home run, Criminal Case is shaping up to be a hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if it crossed the 1M DAU threshold, and this is certainly where the team wants to take it. Add to this a focus on team-building that rings even stronger than usual, a strategy of developing games they love playing, the intellectual honesty to recognize failures and go back to the drawing board as much as needed to produce a great quality game, and you’ve got a game company that could very well produce repeat hits and become France’s own Wooga.

(article originally published on december 20th 2012 on Rudebaguette.com)

Posted 1 year ago

Interactive programming in Python - Coursera

TL:DR - Invaluable learning experience for a newbie to Python and OOP, professors of exceptional dedication and talent making the learning easy as can be, great course all-round. I recommend it ++++.

This course, offered freely on Coursera, is An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python, by professors Joe Warren, Scott Rixner, John Greiner, and Stephen Wong

I knew close to nothing about real OOP programming when I started this class, I was at most tinkering until then. I learned a whole lot about Object Oriented Programming and Python in just two months, I pretty much feel like I imagine I did when I learned how to swim. It’s that huge a step. The professors made it easy to progress, which is why I think so many people who took this class have felt the same sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm I did and still do.

The professor’s apparent relaxation was only allowed by what I know must have been a great deal of work. The community forums that were vibrant with activity and provided answers each time I and countless others needed it.

In many ways, from the feeling of the lectures to the sheer efficiency of the teaching, this has felt more like a one on one class than a massive course with thousands learning, and I was blown away by the quality of it all. I hadn’t felt such a pleasure of learning since I’d left university basically, and as a game designer, what I’ve learned here is invaluable - I could complete a solo Ludum Dare hackathon this weekend, which would have been utterly impossible for me just 2 months ago. I would  recommend this class to anyone, especially real newbies like I am/was. If one of the professors happens to read this, you have my deepest gratitude.

Last but not least, thank you to the great people at Coursera for empowering great instructors and opening the gates of knowledge to so many people. Making courses of this quality available freely so widely will no doubt have a profound impact on many people in the coming years. This is internet and the free flow of information at its best, you guys are up there with wikipedia as far as I’m concerned.

Posted 1 year ago

French tax on startups: eternal bullshit of the clueless minds #geonpi

The French startup ecosystem is essentially on death row thanks to a single law, voted on this friday. For these of you who don’t know how new innovative companies can come into existence, here’s a rough progression:

  • Founders / team get together and decide they want to try doing something new and innovative
  • This new and innovative thing usually requires time to develop, and people need to eat while they work, so that means STARTUPS NEED STARTUP CAPITAL
  • Investors can provide this startup capital, but they need a viable economic model that provides them with a return on investment. Since they often lose money as startups often fail, basically they make all their money on a couple of outliers, which usually represent 5-10% of their portfolio.

It’s easy to see what is likely to happen if the tax jumped from 30% to 60% for the shares being sold by investors on the few big successes they invested in. If the obvious needs to be spelt out, it means that their whole economic equation just tanked, and that they’ll need to find ways to either reduce their risk (not an exact science) or keep a similar level of return, ie go set up shop elsewhere. This tax hike has effectively been accepted by lawmakers, it isn’t voted into law yet, but the majority lawmakers have accepted the article of law, are discussing others for a bit, and are slated to vote on it on tuesday the 23rd, so it’s pretty much done.

That sucks majorly for all startup founders. Talking about what other measures the government put in place, or what tweaks the government made to lower taxes for entrepreneurs is besides the point, as NO FUNDING MEANS THERE WILL NO LONGER BE SUCCESSFUL FUNDED STARTUPS from which to exit. Or at least a lot less. 

This means that the government will get less taxes from startups. Let’s repeat that as simple logic seems to escape our dear ministers: YOUR TAX LAW WILL YIELD LESS TAXES. Not more. A logical inference is that half-blind government dogmatism, yet again, will screw everyone involved, including the government itself.

The political class of France, save a few rare exceptions from both sides, has largely seen this debate as an occasion to score points, rather than try and agree on what could actually be good for the country. But I guess with big industrial groups laying off people by the thousands, who needs startups, right?

But it’s all good. Just as long as governing party’s members of parliament, freshly reelected on a platform that included their signed commitment to not accumulate several elective mandates simultaneously, can renege on their word; just as long as politicians and commentators alike are more interested in score keeping than actually policy making for the good of their constituents and listeners; just as long as there’s enough real economy to squeeze money from while ignoring the roots of the financial crisis (subprimes/CDS) or adressing totally improductive speculation (HFT); nothing will change. It’s the eternal bullshit of the clueless minds.

More constructively, when as a country we’re able to take decisions against our best interests despite the facts being pretty simple, this is the textbook definition of stupidity. I think we need to approach all representation, be it trade unions or government, in a transparent, open and public way, with systems such as Liquid Feedback. We’ll probably still make stupid decisions, but hopefully not as often and not as badly. And maybe we’ll actually discuss these decisions, as opposed to the current practice of scoring points against a political “enemy” without caring so much for the common good.

update: discussion on HN is here

Posted 1 year ago

Mesurette Moscovici & Pellerin. L’erreur au carré.

Les annonces faites depuis 18h ce jeudi 4 annoncent la mesurette suivante:

"éxonération des plus values de cession pour les entrepreneurs qui réinvestissent".

Très bien pour moi, donc, entrepreneur, mais surprise, JE M’EN FOUS. Le problème n’est pas ce que je gagne ou pas, dans l’hypothèse statistiquement peu probable où ça marche, mais que je trouve DU FRIC POUR DEVELOPPER MON PRODUIT ET ENGAGER UNE EQUIPE. Eh oui, une boite ça ne se construit pas tout seul, et beaucoup d’entrepreneurs n’ont pas d’argent à investir, et leur famille pas nécessairement non plus. Et donc cet argent, il faut le lever auprès d’investisseurs.

Ces investisseurs ne semblent aucunement concernés par la mesurette. Donc pour les start-ups, notre écosystème économique va dans le mur, car les investisseurs, dont on manque déjà cruellement, vont encore se raréfier.

Je suis doublement frustré. Je me disais qu’au moins quand les socialistes faisaient une connerie, ils avaient au moins le courage de le reconnaitre et de la corriger, pas comme l’UMP et leur aberrations du type réforme du statut JEI ou vote d’Hadopi. Eh non. Poudre aux yeux. Une erreur annoncée, qu’on enveloppe d’une mesure tout ce qu’il y a de plus inutile en faisant croire que l’erreur initiale est corrigée. Du grand n’importe quoi.

Pour une vue d’entrepreneur très bien expliquée, claire et posée, du problème, visitez le blog de JD Guyot, CEO de @captaintrain 

Posted 1 year ago

Jean-Daniel Guyot: Projet de loi de finances 2013

Meilleur article qu’il m’a été donné de lire sur le sujet #geonpi jusqu’ici. Chapeau.

jdguyot:

J’ai hésité quelques jours à apporter ma pierre à la discussion sur le projet de loi de finances 2013 et ses conséquences sur les créations d’entreprises. Je suis moi-même créateur d’une start-up et je vois surgir depuis quelques jours des arguments qui n’ont rien à voir avec les vraies…

Posted 2 years ago

French startups getting ready to demonstrate against plans to tax exits at 60%

The French government has spelled out its own definition of tax austerity on the 28th, with a goal for an extra 30 B€ to be found in 2013. Among these measures, the decision to tax capital gains indiscriminately would mean any gains from a startup exit would be taxed at 60%.

The reaction to this nonsense has been quick in the startup community, and a protest is planned for the 7th of October (Fb event here - FR).  It makes my head spin that as startups we might need to take to the streets to be heard. But however ironic it might all sound, it is no laughing matter for us.

Many people don’t realize just what it usually means to be a startup founder. I’m talking about the big majority of startups with just a little funding, that try to make do and launch their product, not the minority that gets funded before even launching. Here’s what it looks like for me, with 25k€ raised:

  • my own risk: didn’t pay myself in over a year
  • my investors’ risk: stats show they’re way more likely never to see their money again than to make a profit
  • my contribution to the country’s economy: my team and suppliers were paid, and 90% of my spending was done in my home country
  • my product is launching (social game Flirtatious on Facebook) but the product development is only a small part of the job, and the uncertainty is still very large

Don’t take my word for just how bad this policy is, Jean-David Chamboredon, boss of ISAI, one of the main French funds, expressed his dismay very clearly in an op-ed (FR).

This government claims it wants to protect startups and small business, yet should this law come into effect it would effectively disrupt funding for high-potential startups in France. Taxing both founders and investors 60% of their gains without taking into account the risk taken and often the losses suffered, and somehow expecting a startup ecosystem to thrive under these conditions is utter nonsense.

Surely, some form of workaround involving the French company being just the subsidiary of a parent in a neighboring country without such a 60% tax on gains would be found. But this would hurt entrepreneurship by making starting up a company more complex and costly, and pushing even more French entrepreneurs to leave and try their luck somewhere else. It’s quite unlikely this would even bring the government much extra taxes at all. As far as examples of what no to do go, this policy is unbelievable.

Article published under the CC-BY-NC licence

Posted 2 years ago

Really? A $-tail sperm cell logo for a dating website?

If someone pitched your startup a logo hijacking the male and female symbols to turn them into a female heart with a male dollar-sign-propelled sperm cell on top, you’d think they were joking? Not whatsyourprice.

I’ll give the whatsyourprice founder this: he isn’t afraid to go and be challenged on a TV show. His starting point makes sense: on most dating websites, no matter the questionnaires or matching, people look at the picture and if you don’t go past this, there’s never a chance to know one another. So the problem he tries to solve is unattractive but rich guys never getting to meet attractive women.

So much if you have all the qualities in the world, if you’re not rich, you’re of no interest to the dude. And it all just shoots downhill from there.

THE PITCH

On his “dating” website, members are either attractive or generous. Some sell dates, some buy them. Some are men, and some are either cleavage, boobs, more boobs, or tits. I’ll let you guess which category goes mostly with generous, and which goes mostly with attractive.

But hey, people pay for “a chance at love”, right? My guess: better have a lifelong breast fetish because that’s most of the love that’s on offer. See the screenshot below, that where you land when you click browse singles, and yes, it does say in big bold letter, “Everyone has a price, what’s yours?”.

THE BUSINESS MODEL

People buy and sell first dates. Dates can be given any price: 20$, 200$, sky’s the limit. A quick browse at the profile leaves very little doubt that this website is at best extremely shallow, matching money to looks. At worst, as one TV show wonders, what does one who pays a large sum for a date expect as a return on investment?

And this is where you may think this website is basically a bidding website for an escort service. But this is where the business model is partially smart: any transaction happens only between members. The website is not involved in that transaction, or so it would appear.

Instead, it sells communications to generous members, if these want to talk to attractive members. So if there is indeed prostitution happening, it’s not like the website is taking a commission and being a pimp, right? It’s like when a phone company charges people calling an escort service, it’s only dealing with communication not with the content of the conversation. Plus people pay for a date, not for sex that may or may not happen afterwards.

The one tiny crack in the shining armor is that communications are priced on a sliding scale. The more expensive the date, the more expensive the communication. And since “generous” members can communicate only by paying AND only to an “attractive” member who already accepted their offer, it does look like this ends up being a commission on the end transaction after all. As long as that end transaction is a date though, it seems legal. More than a little questionnable, but legal.

SO WHAT?

Not our problem, right? So why discuss this at all? First, I must admit I find it extremely fun that what could appear to be a pimping 2.0 platform is actually patent pending in the US where prostitution is largely illegal. But mostly, I wrote this because the claimed “money for looks” principle of this website epitomizes everything that’s wrong with relationships, where someone with looks and little money thinks marrying a boatload of money can buy happiness, and where someone with money but who has trouble finding someone to love thinks he can buy a loving relationship.

Part of the reason I started Flirtatious Labs is because I thought online dating services were bad, shallow, often overpriced, and sometimes even hurtful experiences for their users. With the Flirtatious game on Facebook, we’re trying to connect people through humor and personality quirks. If you play with someone and win, you’ll know you can at least enjoy each other’s company when flirting, whether there ends up being some chemistry or not. Point is, you’ll have fun, and this is the ambition of Flirtatious: making flirting fun more often. Plus if there was no chemistry but a good connection with someone new nonetheless, this isn’t bad at all, and it could be the start of a new friendship. And, you know, friends tend to introduce cool single friends to one another.

Posted 2 years ago

Zynga: forget games, let’s just do viruses

Zynga is notorious for borderline tactics, from the first Farmville scamville stories to its very agressive use of Facebook’s social channels. There is a difference between making something intrisically viral - think Draw Something or SongPop - and behaving like a virus doing actions on behalf of the user without the user even realizing or authorizing it.

Why it matters to all social developers

The trouble is, all this is affecting heavily other developers on Facebook, who might be more respectful of their users’ privacy for example. These developers, big and small, have to put up with Facebook itself changing the rules of its social channels time and again as it tries to protect its users timeline against the social games spam. Zynga is far from being the only publisher that has less than exemplary ethics and methods, but due to its reach and the example for success it sets, it should be held accountable for practices that are actually hurting the whole social gaming ecosystem.

What’s more Zynga manages to just keep on bending the rules to fit its short-term objectives, ensuring Facebook will eventually feel compelled to crack down on social channels abuse again. When that happens all the other social developers will suffer, courtesy of Zynga’s practices.


The Farmville 2 Virus

Consider the two following examples. Sure there’s been worst in other games who just ignore Facebook Platform policies, but their scale remained a drop in the ocean of Zynga games.

Look at this first screenshot. Most users will click ok and not even realize they are sharing something on their wall. The box is below the action line of the design, the contrast between the tick and the box is weak, the font is very small. On top of this, the okay button just calls on the player to say “okay I want the rewards” without realizing a publish will be made.

The user never agrees to publish the story, yet a story is published. Reminds you of virus-like behavior yet?

Here’s the second screenshot. It’s a devious little psychological ploy to force players into making a decision they might not have agreed with.

The workflow here is in two-steps. First this screen, then a classic Facebook authorization screen asking for app publishing rights. The trick here is that while it is possible to disagree at the second step, there is no way to disagree to this first step. The player can’t interact with the game anymore until clicking the okay button. Once “Okay” has been clicked once, what do you think happens? People become more likely to just click ok again to get back to the game, thinking they’ve agreed to let the app “post [their] game news faster” already.

So, when in fact the first ok simply takes them to the actual authorization page, players are made to believe that clicking Okay means:
a) that they give their agreement
b) that the agreement given has to do with speed of posting rather than choice of posting

This way, when they get to the actual screen where clicking yes matters, and where there actually is a “no” option, the players have already been tricked into believing the deal has been done, and can’t wait to just click yes and getting back to playing.

It turns out that clicking this second yes actually means that the user agrees that the app can post whatever to their stream without their explicit consent, and the first screenshot showed just how twisted the definition of explicit consent was to start with.

There are certainly a lot more of these dirty little behavioral tricks in Farmville 2, if these two screenshots seen in just an initial 10 minute playtest are anything to go by. So:
- Players beware the unfriending
- Developers beware the backlash with yet less discovery for quality games
- Facebook, STEP UP and stop your big partners from hurting your product, users and whole ecosystem once in a while!

HN discussion here

———-

btw, we’re an indie startup, and our game is launching, so try Flirtatious on Facebook, and let us know what you think. All feedback will be read and thought through.

Posted 2 years ago

Boostrapping: the Steady Strategy of Adictiz

(originally published on Rudebaguette)

Adictiz is a mobile and social games developper based in Lille, France. They have been bootstrapping for 4 years now, and they have grown into a profitable company that has managed to balance out a product strategy with a real service strategy.

Product start-ups usually need a breadwinner on the side if they’re bootstrapping. In the gaming industry, this mostly means doing development jobs for other companies while trying to get in-house products ready to ship. A coherent company strategy for offering services, without losing product focus, however, is much less common.

Adictiz seems to have managed to do both, even cross-promoting its advergames accross its own casual games. Adictiz studio is the advergaming services side of the company, with an offer ranging from custom development to a turnkey promotional competition CMS. On the product side, Adictiz has mostly stayed with its star products, “Space Dog” and “What a stupid pigeon”. They are based on a very casual mechanic of trying to kick an animal as far as possible. While it would be easy to criticize the gameplay as overly simplistic, complexity isn’t what makes compelling gameplay either, and the production value of the games is quite good. The latest iteration, “Space Dog +”, even offers a continuous experience for players between their mobile and social accounts, something not every game on mobile and Facebook do.

Success here isn’t measured by the ranking on Facebook or on the Appstore, but more prosaically on whether it allows the company to keep on hiring and growing. In terms of results, this series of games have monetized in the 10-15c ARPU bracket.Thanks to this, Adictiz did manage to grow, and it got a lot of visibility in its home French market. Its studio has established a solid foothold in the advergaming business, where it competes with some major digital ad agencies, as well as advergaming agencies like Chugulu.

Relying on one star line of fairly similar products could however go stale after a while, as everyone can’t be Mario. Even social gaming giants are finally coming to terms with the fact that the same core game mechanic repeated over and over again – hello, Zynga – will eventually bore players. The competitive pressure on both mobile and social is increasing as well, making innovative gameplay that much more needed.

Adictiz is aware of the competitive landscape, and is getting ready to launch two completely new games. The first one, Duck it, is a revisited take on the classic shoot them up, which hopefully will mean that there are a couple new mechanics freshening up the gameplay. The second game, Purplz, will be a management game, which aims at being more fun and casual than the current standard. Both of these games are to be released in October.

Despite the inherent ambition of a game like Puplz, Adictiz has made a strategic choice to focus on the European, South American, and Middle-Eastern markets. CEO Charles Christory goes as far as saying that going head to head with the big boys would be a waste of time and money, given the user acquisition costs involved. Considering that this company was built from the ground up, without venture capital, it makes sense that its team won’t go for bets that are too risky, and instead try and build a company on robust foundations.

Following this relatively cautious development model, Adictiz currently boasts 240k DAUs on mobile and 110k on Facebook, while growing its revenue 250% yoy for the last two years, which should bring it around the 5 million euros level for 2012. In this, in-house products account for an increasing proportion of revenue, as advergaming services, though growing as well, now represent around 30% of total revenue. These numbers do seem like a robust foundation indeed. Many funded product startups still looking for their market would probably be quite happy to trade places and have, perhaps, a little less potential for growth, but a little more peace of mind.