It operates one of the most successful smartphone games on the planet, but Machine Zone has decided to hunt for growth away from the games sector.
The company recently unveiled not only a rebrand – it is now called MZ – but also a brand new cloud platform that hopes to sell data management services to a wide array of sectors, well beyond just gaming.
Take a look at its new website. Does that feel like a video games company to you?
"The market is too competitive," Machine Zone founder Gabe Leydon told Games Industry. "The process of creating an app, running an app, and marketing an app is too complicated to do for five games a year. Especially if you want to grow a game to a very large scale.
“I don't think it's possible to do five games a year. I'm not even sure it's possible to do two. 2017 will be, on the distribution side, probably three to five times harder than it is now. People complain about how difficult it is today. People in 2017 will look back and say we had it easy."
Leydon went into more detail about the difficulties with mobile gaming growth in a previous interview with VentureBeat, criticising key players such as Facebook. Part of his frustration stems from the fact that as growth hits its natural limit, marketing and advertising efforts are ramped to try and maintain an impossible rate of growth.
MZ says this has to stop, and furthermore, that everyone else feels it the same. The only reason more are not speaking out, he says, is for the fear of hurting commercial partnerships.
“In the beginning you go to Facebook, because it’s clean. But as you grow, Facebook will only grow with you so much. So then you go to YouTube or Google, the next guys. Then you run out of room to grow there. Now you’re going to the 298 other guys, and you’re getting down into affiliates and so forth. It becomes really nasty,” he stated.
“There’s a panic, I would say. No one’s talking about it because it’s not the right people talking about it. Who wants to go on stage and say, ‘All my partners suck’? They don’t want to say that because they have to go back and deal with them. But I’m the CEO and I’m writing big checks for now, so I can say it.
“You start seeing a lot of panic around growth because they’ve raised too much money, gotten bigger than they should be, and they stop thinking. The salespeople start pushing harder. That creates a culture at the network that we see a lot. Machine Zone has to be the cops.
“Things need to change, and unfortunately the only people who can change it are the people spending the money. You have the big stick.”
UPDATE: MZ has contacted MCV to say that it remains committed to gaming, adding that the VentureBeat quotes are from last year.
“While we’re diversifying as a brand, games remain our core business and will always be in our DNA,” CEO Gabe Leydon said. “Game of War and Mobile Strike are among the most popular and successful mobile games in existence, and we are investing substantially in new game development.
“Games are where we started, they’re the inspiration and innovation behind our platform technology, and they’re an integral part of our long-term future.”
The headline has been altered to reflect this.