Today, I decided to post an interview with Damian Harburger, the CEO of Metro Games. Metro Games is one of the largest, if not largest, Facebook game developers in South America.
Lloyd: Please tell me a little about the history of Metro Games, when you started it and what was your vision? What are the biggest differences between what you originally thought Metro would be doing and how the company has evolved?
Damian: MetroGames was founded in July 2007, with the objective of becoming the largest gaming destination, a spot that was empty at the time: the idea was to create the Facebook or the Youtube of games.
By mid-2008, the company had ten web multiplayer games and its own platform almost ready. But with the great impact Facebook had on the gaming industry, MetroGames started to port its games for that platform. In less than a year the company released six titles, becoming one of the top 10 developers on Facebook, reaching 2MM DAUs.
Throughout 2009 we released 10 games on Facebook, and based on the success Farmville was having, in the last quarter of 2009 we started developing our first resource management game.:Towner. This game was key to learn about this format, which led in the release of our most successful social game so far: Fashion World.
In February 2010 we received an investment from Playdom. Only five months after Playdom’s investment in MetroGames, the team tripled its size from 35 to 110 and we consolidated as one of the most succesful new companies in the social gaming arena.
By the end of 2010, we opened a Mobile games division, with the objective of replicating our success in new platforms like iOS and Andorid.
Lloyd: What do you think is different about being based in Argentina as opposed to California?
Damian: There is actually not much of a difference. Our goal is to entertain people by providing them with high quality fun games. With globalization, location is not really important nowadays. (Just think of Rovio’s Angry Birds, developed in Finland)
Lloyd: What disadvantages do you face being an Argentine company?
Damian: Besides a few hour time difference with the Bay area, I cannot think of any other disadvantage.
Lloyd: What advantages have you found being in Argentina rather than the US?
Damian: Definitely the most important advantage is the possibility of having great innovative professionals at lower costs, if compared with US salaries.
Lloyd: Given your location, have you focused on the local South American market?
Damian: Not really. Most of our users are from the US and Europe. However, we hold a big piece of Latin America’s social gaming market.
Lloyd: What opportunities do you see for social game companies in Argentina and overall South America?
Damian: I see great opportunities for social game companies in South America. The quality of human resources is both abundant and highly skilled, and even though candidates do not bring much specifically related previous experience, with some coaching they are good to go in a really short period of time, and this is clearly compensated by the creativity they show. Like in any other business, finding the right people is key in order to be successful. In addition, the user base has been growing steadily over the past couple of years. This is partially due to the fact that internet access and usage in most of South American countries have expanded considerably and also because people in the region have finally lost their fear of internet transactions. If we add that to the fact that the economy in the region has been explosively growing for the past decade we get a massive and much more mature and profitable market to serve.
Lloyd: I noticed you were the first social game developer on Tuenti, what have your experiences been like on other social networks?
Damian: Our experience with Tuenti has been great so far. We got there first and that gave us some clear advantages over the rest of the developers. Nowadays, Tuenti users relate to our brand in a very positive way and they are always asking us for new games and features, which is great. Besides from Tuenti and Facebook, we have not placed our games on any other social network.
Lloyd: Overall, what type of opportunities do you see off of Facebook?
Damian: iOS and Android are hot and going to be even hotter within the next few years. Those are platforms where a small developer with little or no money, but with a great game, still has a chance to succeed.
Lloyd: Thank you Damian and I hope for your continued success.