Cloud-based sparks let the games begin

With the number of mobile games and players increasing exponentially, a young Irish company with a creative spark is preparing to up its game to cater for an expected 100m players, writes Trish Dromey.

Cloud-based sparks let the games begin

Exponential growth in the mobile games industry has opened up global opportunities for Dublin company Gamesparks which provides a solution which can help studios up their game in a highly competitive marketplace.

The offering is a cloud-based platform which helps games developers to launch quickly, manage their games, retain players and scale up rapidly, explains company co-founder and chief marketing officer John Griffin.

Since launching in August last year, Gamesparks has signed up 350 games studios from around the world including some big names in the industry. Short term it expects to provide services used by 5m to 10m players by the end of the year – in the long term Gamesparks aims to establish itself the world number one in this space.

The company was set up in January last year by Gabriel Page and John Griffin who had previously worked for UK company ioko which built online TV and media platforms. They were joined by co-founder Griffin Parry who, as head of Digital Products at News International had previously been one of their customers and is now Gamesparks CEO.

While working as Chief Technical Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at ioko, Mr Page and Mr Griffin worked on digital convergence solutions for media companies and for the games sector. “The games industry was changed fundamentally by the development of mobile phones and devices – there are now 2bn Smartphone and 700m tablets and the number is projected to rise sharply in the next few years. This puts a games console in everyone’s hand,’’ observes Mr Griffin

Following the sale of ioko Mr Griffin and Mr Page saw an opportunity to put their experience in digital convergence to good use – and set up Gamesparks in an office in Dawson Street early last year. “We bootstrapped to start with and raised €600,000 from Angel investors and from Enterprise Ireland as part of the High Potential Start Up Programme,” reveals Mr Griffin.

In October the company entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft which resulted in Gamesparks platform being run on Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure Azure.

“In March this year we agreed to provide services to Square Enix which is one of the top 10 games companies in the world. By April Gamesparks had over 350 studios on the platform from all over the world. says Mr Griffin adding that of the company’s customers, Hutch Games achieved a global top 10 list for its game MMX racing early this month.

Earlier this year the company moved to new offices in the Trinity Enterprise and has a total staff of 12 people located across its offices in Dublin and the UK. It also has a presence in Germany to service sales in Northern Europe. Currently recruiting it plans to double the staff size by the end of the year.

Mr Griffin says the company’s strength lies in its ability to offer studios tools which make it easy to build and manage the server side components of games. “Games companies need to understand what the players are doing and whether they are giving up if they can’t go beyond a certain level. The server allows them to capture player data and understand how they are playing.”

Because of intense competition in a market where app stores typically offer 1m games, he believes the demand for Gamesparks platform which can improve the chances of a game’s success, is set to keep growing.

Gamesparks operates by providing its platform free to smaller companies, only charging when they become successful while charging a licence fee to larger companies. “We aim to sign between 3 to 5 large companies a month. We have been doing this consistently since January and we expect to have 50 large clients by the end of the year,’’

Now embarking on a fundraising round with a view to raising a further €600,000, Gamesparks is looking at the US market. This will be spent on sales and marketing and for R&D. The plan is to continue developing the platform and “take it to areas where other companies have not gone.”

The company is looking at setting up an office in San Francisco, the games capital of the US. “The US market is an easier market than Asia for a small

As the games industry grows, Gamesparks sees the possibility for exponential growth. “This year we aim to see our platform being used by between 5m and 10m, next year we aim to grow this to 100m.”

Profile

Company: Gamesparks.

Location: Dublin.

Set-up: 2013.

CEO: Griffin Parry.

Staff: 12.

Markets: Europe and US.

Exports: 90%.

Website: www.gamesparks.com

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