Free-to-play games for mobile platforms
G5 Entertainment develops and publishes free-to-play games for both smartphones and tablets. The games are family-friendly, easy to learn and target a wide audience of experienced and inexperienced players. Distribution is achieved digitally through the various app stores of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Windows. In addition to its proprietary games, the company also works as a publisher for games licensed from other developers, in which case a royalty is paid to the developer based on the game’s sales performance.
G5 Entertainment in brief
The company, which has been listed on Nasdaq OMX since June 2014, is headquartered in Stockholm and has a total of about 350 employees, the vast majority of them located outside of Sweden. The unit that deals with intellectual property rights, creative processes and game licensing is located in Malta, while the development offices and studios are located in Moscow and Kaliningrad in Russia, and in Kharkov and Lvov in Ukraine. G5 also has a marketing office in San Francisco, USA. In 2017, G5 had sales of SEK 1,135 million and a profit of SEK 89 million.
The business model focuses on free-to-play
G5’s portfolio has about twenty free-to-play games, mainly in the genres of Hidden Object, Puzzle and Time Management. In addition, there is also a large number of so-called unlockable games that are a legacy from a previous business model. The difference between the two game types is that the free-to-play games do not cost the player anything to download, but there are opportunities to buy virtual goods such as time, lives or tools during the game. The unlockable games can be tested free of charge by the player for a period of time, but a one-off fee must then be paid to continue playing. Free-to-play games dominate the market, and the share of G5’s revenues generated by these games has grown very significantly and now accounts for over 99 percent of sales.
The games are available for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Facebook and devices powered by Windows. They reach the customer through digital stores like Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore. G5 offers proprietary games and is also a publisher for games licensed by other developers. All games developed by the company are based on the proprietary Talisman technology, and this is one of the company's most important competitive advantages. It enables efficient development of innovative and technologically advanced games and, in combination with the company's well-implemented processes, the games can be easily and cost-effectively launched on all Talisman-compatible platforms and translated into 11 languages.
G5's games are aimed at a wide range of players, but the company has chosen to focus particularly on female players over the age of 35. In 2009, G5 realised that this segment of mobile players was neglected by the gaming industry, and began to develop and publish games with a particular focus on this segment. The company quickly gained success with this focus and has built on it since. Competition in the segment is lower than for other parts of the market, but it requires a deep understanding of the needs of the audience, which are different than in the traditional gaming market. The company’s target group has proven to be loyal players that use G5’s games for a year or more and are unlikely to try to circumvent the revenue model for the games.
Time to play
As more and more people use smartphones and tablets, the potential user base is increasing and broadening. An ever-improved gaming experience and the convenience of playing anywhere encourages users to leave their traditional gaming platforms and become mobile. When they do, tablets and smartphones are the fastest growing game platforms in terms of the number of devices. Casual games of the type offered by G5 also help to expand the user base since they are easy to start playing and suit a wider audience than traditional games, in term of both age and gender.
Even the average time each player dedicates to gaming is constantly increasing. About one-third of the total amount of time spent by users of iOS and Android on their mobiles or tablets is devoted to gaming. According to market intelligence company Newzoo, revenues from different types of mobile games are expected to increase from USD 38.6 billion in 2016 to USD 64.9 billion by 2020, corresponding to CAGR of about 14 percent.