Matt Frenchman is the first to admit that gaming is a passion of his that fell by the wayside, many years ago. Frenchman’s talent is for data and numbers, something that’s seen him working at finance companies like JP Morgan and Credit Suisse.
It’s this expertise, Frenchman’s lapsed love of gaming and a desire to find a truly niche business that led him to PlayIgnite, a company with a £100m fund that’s hoping to help studios think bigger with their games by giving them help with their user acquisition (UA) and marketing.
“As I left banking and met probably 200 to 300 different companies, this was the most niche business that I could find,” Frenchman says with a laugh. “There isn’t really much like this at all. Adding to that, I really like games. And I sort of lost my love for games when I was in finance and now I’m back in this world I love.”
PlayIgnite, while under the PlayStack umbrella, is its own business and its main product is Ignition Capital, a heavily data-driven marketing loan that can give studios the cash to invest heavily in UA and marketing as they’re looking to launch their games for the first time or perhaps take it out of soft launch, armed with some impressive metrics.
“This is quite risky capital,” Frenchman admits. “We’re looking to make sure we’re lending to the studios that have the right metrics. This means we’re looking for a game that has a good return on investment, so if they spend $100 buying users, after 60 days can they turn that $100 into $120. We have the data to model that, and we monetise by charging a monthly fee on top of the loan.”
This monthly fee varies depending on the amount loaned, or the metrics shown, but primarily PlayIgnite seems to be focused on keeping itself sustainable. The fund can lend to any free-to-play game at any stage, although its focus is primarily on mobile games. And the fund is only the headline part of its work. While it can’t speak about any specific games, this is a model that appears to be working out for the young company. So much so that it’s heading to GDC to try and meet new developers it can help.
For Frenchman, the team is looking to meet people with free-to-play mobile and PC titles who need money to spend on user acquisition and scale their games. The ideal point for developers is when they’ve already soft launched their games in a region and are seeing numbers that look positive and are thinking about their next steps.
“That’s the sweet spot where we can really help a developer to reach their potential,” says Frenchman. He posits that most companies just aren’t thinking big enough when it comes to revenues: “It’s hard enough to make a game that stands out, so I think when developers start to think about how much it would cost to spend on acquisition, people are put off.
“Most studios think the only way to raise money is to give away equity in their company, part of their business. PlayIgnite represents a totally new concept to a lot of people, and we’re really keen to get out there and educate people.”
The long term goal is that PlayIgnite can step in and simplify studio’s user acquisition process entirely.
PlayIgnite is already capable of helping people working with it via advisors and technical help from within the PlayStack umbrella. But in the future it’s hoping to grow this side of the business, in addition to making a dashboard available that the team currently uses internally to measure the returns on a game.
This is expected to appear in around six months time, and the company hopes it can give PlayIgnite customers an edge, live data that can empower them make smarter decisions.
After all, Frenchman has always loved data.