A Q&A with Klaas Kersting, co-founder and CEO of flaregames. The Karlsruhe, Germany–based company was founded in March of 2011.
SUB: Please describe what flaregames is, and the value proposition you bring to mobile gaming.
Kersting: We create seriously awesome mobile games. Games are our passion, gaming is our lifestyle. That may sound like a marketing blurb but it is totally true. We’re gamers and do games for gamers; we’re very dedicated to quality and great gameplay experiences. Also, we believe in free to play—when done right—is a fair and comprehensive value proposition for every player.
SUB: What are your target markets?
Kersting: We’ll be starting to go international with the first product, mainly in what we call the “EFIGS” languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish. More languages will follow later.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Kersting: We’re not trying to emulate specific companies. The mobile market is huge and growing fast, so there is definitely room for everybody. But everybody in the mobile space competes for AppStore rankings and eyeballs, so we’re all competitors in a way.
SUB: What differentiates flaregames from the competition?
Kersting: We believe that we have an especially strong team and a very solid plan of how we go about conquering the market. Between us, we have years and years of experience in free to play mechanics, game design and monetization. We are very metrics-conscious and have rock solid tracking technology in place, but still we won’t neglect the need of the gamers for a really great game experience. We want to give the world games that stand above the crowd through that extra bit of development love we put in it.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Kersting: The company was founded in March 2011 and the founders each brought something unique to the table: Klaas provided the initial spark and has deep entrepreneurial know-how, as he has built a big company before and is a well-connected Angel investor. Matthias contributed his first-rate technology know-how and part of his former company, Rough Sea Games. Andreas brought his excellent understanding of game design and more than a decade of experience with game projects small and big. Georg is a top-of-the-class business developer and brought his former company, Orbster.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for flaregames? Was there an “aha!” moment, or did the idea develop gradually?
Kersting: I’m an avid gamer, I play games of every genre. I even wasted the first two years at University becoming one of the world’s best Alpha Centauri players. In 2010 I left Gameforge and suddenly had a ridiculous amount of time to kill. I wanted to play all the big games I had missed, but…I found myself hooked on one iPhone game after the other. But most were games of limited scope, over in a few hours and centered on a single mechanic. I wanted deeper experiences, open-ended games—and decided to build them myself, with a new company. Much like in 2002 when I wrote “Wogen des Schicksals”, a browser-based strategy game, which, in my opinion, was something the market did not really offer at that time.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Kersting: There have been no real obstacles; everything is running really smoothly so far. Perhaps we aimed too high with our first project, in terms of scale; that has kept us from getting a game out of the door very fast. But we have learned many things during development, so the time is not wasted.
SUB: You recently raised $7.9 million in funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Kersting: Nothing surprising: We’re going to continue hiring great people. Also, we are building marketing budgets to spend when we finally start releasing games. We currently have a line-up of five games slated for launch during the first half of 2012.
And we’re not ruling out small acquisitions, but this is not central to our operation.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Kersting: We’re well funded now and plan on being cash flow positive by the end of 2012. If we’re going to accept more funding, it has to be an exceptional strategic fit.
SUB: What are your goals for flaregames over the next year or so?
Kersting: We want to launch a number of games this year, learn much doing so and be in a good position to release even better games next year. During that process we will build a user base and reach to make launching games much more streamlined later on. And last but not least we will invest in our own technology platforms.
flaregames – www.flaregames.com