Upstart Business Journal: Great games have great stories, passion, says MySpace co-founder (Video)

Donna J. Tuttle

San Antonio Business Journal

The UpTake: Chris DeWolfe has a few ideas of what makes a great game, and it starts with story. The founder of mobile gaming company SGN and co-founder of MySpace shared his thoughts at SXSW today.

Candy Crush SagaRidiculous Fishing,Panda Pop and Bingo Blingo may not sound as literary as The Great Gatsby or The Sound and the Fury. But at their cores, great mobile games and books share the same content and compelling stories or plots that draw in the user.

“Puzzle games really interest me. I love them. And I like arcade games such as bubble popping and creating a story around that, adding characters and new levels that keep the user engaged,” Chris DeWolfe, CEO of Social Gaming Network (SGN), a cross-platform mobile game developer, and the co-founder of MySpace.

It’s easy for game developers to catch the “bright-and-shiny” syndrome building a game based on what’s trending, rather than creating from a place of passion.

“Earlier in our company’s history, we dabbled in the social casino space. People were acquiring those games for a lot of money. But we built a crappy game because none of us were into it,” DeWolfe told the audience at South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin today. He was interviewed by Mashable‘s Adam Ostrow.

Lesson learned. Today, DeWolfe is focused on building games that build excitement and challenges and have great polished graphics without clunky wait-times. The company advertises primarily through Facebook, spending 80 percent of its marketing dollars ( or $1 million per month) on the social platform and only about 20 percent through traditional channels.

DeWolfe’s advice for gaming engineers and developers:

  • Facebook web is a great place to build out games because “it allows you to immediately iterate and do everything on the fly.”
  • Get to know and use Open Graph on Facebook “It’s still the glue that holds everything together. You should know everything about it.”
  • Monetization is higher on mobile, but the drawback to using iOS is the long wait to get approved by Apple, and if there’s a bug that needs to be fixed “it takes a week before it gets fixed and that’s super painful.”
March 8, 2014


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