Fortumo is powering GameFounders, Europe’s first gaming accelerator

We are happy to announce our sponsorship of GameFounders - Europe’s first gaming accelerator. They just finished mentoring their first batch of six gaming startups from Italy, Netherlands, Argentina, Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia. Check out the list here.

Working closely with the teams has given GameFounders a pretty good idea of where mobile gaming is headed and what mistakes to watch out for. We had a brief chat with co-founder Lauri Antalainen who gave his insight into the gaming industry.

What’s the business model of startups in GameFounders? Freemium or premium?

From our first batch of startups, two thirds are using the freemium model and one third is using the premium model. Before the program started, the balance was exactly opposite - the majority were using premium, with perhaps a light free version available. However, during the program several of them changed their business model due to new perspectives and suggestions from the mentors.

The reason is pretty clear - the most successful games on mobile platforms use the freemium model. With freemium, it’s easier to offer more value to different types of players. You also get more initial installs to begin with and if you have a really good game - like our startups do - a fair amount of players will eventually convert. However, freemium is not suitable for all aims.

What markets are the startups aiming for?

Apart from the Akira team from Lithuania and in a smaller extent Baila team from Estonia, all of our startups are developing for mobile platforms. Thus their target is the whole world. Obviously key performance indicators will differ in different countries and some regions require games to be localised to become successful, but nevertheless the target market is smartphone owners all over the world.

The most popular platforms are still iOS and Android. The vast majority of our applicants as well as those admitted to the program develop for these platforms. Most of the teams start with iOS and if successful, release on Android and perhaps on other platforms, including Windows Phone and Windows 8. Some teams start with Android instead and then go iOS. We also have a few applicants who are developing for Windows 8 exclusively - the reason being participation in the AppCampus programme. In the light of the success of a few Windows Phone 8 phones lately, it might actually not be such a bad idea to release there early.

In your experience, what’s the most common mistake that gaming startups make?

If there would be a most common mistake in developing the business model, it would obviously be selecting the wrong model for your game. Right now freemium seems to be the best in general. However, as already stated, it is not suitable for all games. In general, the most common mistake that game developers do is perhaps not getting advice from experts and mentors.

Developing a great game is necessary, yet not sufficient for making money with that game. Great developers might not be the best experts on monetization so this is definitely something to get help with. It is also very important to think through the conditions of the publishing deal. The main pitfalls here to watch out would be:

  1. DO NOT give away your intellectual property
  2. If giving out exclusivity, be sure publishers commit as well. Even then, think it through 3 times.

By the way, if you’re building the next killer game and want to participate in GameFounders, you can fill out an application here. Startups for the second batch beginning in March have already been chosen, but you will be put in the waiting line for the third batch.