Gree: Don’t build studios, buy them

Mobile games giant Gree believes that establishing a new studio from scratch is more costly in the long run than acquiring them.

Speaking to MCV @ Gamescom, COO Andrew Sheppard said that it’s tough to find success in the free-to-play market with a brand new team.

The general belief at this time in the market is that starting from scratch is so hard,” he said.

Having worked on over 60 free-to-play projects over the last nine years, I’ve found that building a studio from scratch doesn’t correlate strongly with having that team’s first game be successful.”

He added that this first game could cost millions of dollars to produce at the quality expected from today’s free-to-play titles, which he calls a very expensive learning opportunity”.

Sheppard’s comments followed the recent acquisition of Australian developer Twiitch, which has now been rebranded as Gree Melbourne. The studio’s new parent wants to use the team’s experience to expand into the core and mid-core smartphone game markets, and Sheppard hopes for future acquisitions.

We are actively looking at studios that are tenured in the gaming space, that have either demonstrative free-to-play experience or have learned by way of fire and can build games that are commercially viable,” he said.

We’re also looking for free-to-play developers that are running profitable, successful free-to-play businesses that will either expand our understanding of the category beyond the types of games we work on directly or move us into entire new categories and genres.”

He concluded that Gree’s cash reserves and the revenue from its most popular games means the firm has time to make the right long-term decisions”.

When we find something that fits, we have the capacity to take action,” he said.

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