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Sep 6, 2023

Interviews: From Publishing to Independence - Big Wolf Games

CASE STUDY

Interview with Ismail Maiyegun, CEO & Co founder - Big Wolf Games
Interview with Ismail Maiyegun, CEO & Co founder - Big Wolf Games
Interview with Ismail Maiyegun, CEO & Co founder - Big Wolf Games

From Publishing to Independence - An Interview with Big Wolf Games

Background and Founding Story:

Founded with a vision to create immersive gaming experiences and led by Ismail Maiyegun , Big Wolf Games has consistently delivered top-quality games that captivate players worldwide. Big Wolf is a developer & publisher of Narrative-driven games and collectibles with Original & Licensed content, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The team has a combined 40 years of experience building and operating F2P games and working on AAA titles. When Big Wolf decided to transition from working with third-party publishers for its games, Sanlo played a vital role in supporting them during the phase.

Biggest Opportunities in Gaming:

While Big Wolf Games remains committed to mobile-first entertainment as one of its primary areas of focus, they are also exploring opportunities on other platforms. Leveraging the power of tools like Unity, WebGL, & PixiJS, the company has developed a diverse set of technical competencies & AI-powered in-house tools that enable them to build games for different platforms, including browsers and desktops. Recognizing the limitations imposed by the policies of mobile app stores, such as Apple and Google, Big Wolf team sees an opportunity to expand its horizons beyond the confines of the mobile ecosystem.

"We are surely mobile first, but not mobile only. We leverage Unity, WebGl, and PixiJS, along with our deep experience and technical competency to also build for other platforms like the browser.

Significant opportunity lies in mobile acting as an entry point towards a larger cross-platform experience, and I believe we'll see this trend continue to evolve in the future."

There are clearly regulatory changes on the way, especially after the last legal battles between Epic and Apple.

"We believe that the traditional dominance of Apple and Google in the mobile gaming space is gradually waning. Government intervention and legal scrutiny have shed light on the need for fair competition, leading to potential changes in app store policies. In Europe, there is a strong stance against anti-competitive practices, with demands for developers to be allowed to launch their own app stores. Although they haven't achieved complete victories, they have managed to enforce some changes. Per Bloomberg, Apple is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its devices to comply with EU requirements starting in 2024"

As traditional mobile gaming continues to evolve, player-owned collectibles may drive deeper engagement and brand loyalty. Big Wolf Games sees the power of player ownership in shaping player behavior and fostering stronger connections with games.

"We're particularly intrigued by the idea of allowing players to own their in-game items. Traditionally, conversion rates hover around 2%, but we've seen a significant difference in behavior when individuals own something rather than just renting it. We anticipate that players who have a sense of ownership or affiliation with a larger franchise or ecosystem will display more positive behavior towards the products they engage with, such as increased spending, advocacy, and driving greater awareness."

The use of Artificial Intelligence is another area that Ismail sees as a massive opportunity for the company.

"Being a publisher & developer that’s focused on Narrative and Characters, AI has empowered us to move beyond dialog trees and to build exciting interactive experiences powered by our narrative engine. It has also allowed our studio to produce an order of magnitude more assets and content than we’ve historically been able to do, at an incredibly efficient rate & cost.."

Challenges in Gaming:

It is impossible to ignore the fact that while mobile game development is easier than ever, with low barriers for entry, standing out from the competition became an herculean task for most game developers especially when many studios are competing for a declining supply of game venture capital.

"The traditional mobile gaming industry has become highly competitive. Players face an increasing amount of competition for their attention - including from non-games. The established gaming companies continue to enjoy first-mover advantages and are able to double down on user acquisition and content to retain their loyal user base. The only new entrants in top grossing mobile lists tend to be companies or games that are able to raise a significant amount of game venture capital and deploy it back into marketing."

Despite the current state of affairs, the Big Wolf team still sees a massive opportunity to build a generational company, built upon the lessons learned from today’s environment.

"Newzoo reports that the global gaming market generated $184.4B in revenue in 2022, which is more than triple the revenue from all global box office and music streaming sales combined."

Why Sanlo?

Sanlo is the partner game developers can count on for sustainable growth. By providing a financial platform and easily accessible financial support, it’s changed the way Big Wolf Games manages their finances and acquires game funding.

"As a startup, speed is one of our competitive advantages, and we wanted to move quickly when it comes to our game funding. Traditional banks and some gaming venture debt firms had stringent requirements that didn't align with our needs. While we noticed some interesting mobile-first capital providers in the market, many of them had strict criteria and assumptions."

Traditional financing can be troublesome to attract, even for venture-backed studios.

"We have the expertise and experience in the mobile game industry, having built top-ranking games and establishing world class partnerships. We are also a venture capital backed studio. However, our decision to become a self publisher made it challenging to secure game funding that was based on existing game performance - since many of our successful games history lived on our partners accounts. Our game financing discussions with Sanlo were fruitful as they understood our unique situation and the transition phase we were in. We were transparent about our plans to stand up a marketing division and needed growth capital to preserve our venture dollars. Sanlo's understanding and support made the game financing process relatively seamless."

Sanlo Capital's support and understanding of the developer’s circumstances played a crucial role in streamlining the game funding process. Big Wolf could navigate the complexities of securing game funding with greater confidence, while preserving its existing game venture capital, knowing that they had a supportive partner who acknowledged and valued their unique situation.

"Sanlo’s expertise and experience in the game industry were evident from the beginning. From day one, it’s felt as though we were working with true colleagues and partners. Thanks to them, we were able to spend less time securing game funding and instead, we were able to focus on actually running some marketing & product experiments."

With Sanlo's assistance, Big Wolf was empowered to chart a new path and pursue their goals of becoming a thriving publisher & developer.

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About Big Wolf Games

Big Wolf is a developer & publisher of Narrative Games powered by Original IP, Licensed IP & NFTs. Their leadership team has a combined 40 years of building and operating free-to-play games with extensive experience working on AAA titles and Licensed Intellectual Properties.

Explore their website at https://bigwolf.com to discover their work.

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For game developers, by game developers.
Questions? Drop us a line👇
Copyright © 2024 Sanlo
Made with ❤️ across the globe
For game developers, by game developers.
Questions? Drop us a line👇
Copyright © 2024 Sanlo
Made with ❤️ across the globe