Chris Petrovic: “The gaming sector has the capability to launch the ‘next great entertainment franchise of the future”


Mobile gaming regularly draws in more revenue than other gaming platforms, but it’s easy to forget that despite the accessibility of gaming on your phone or tablet, the industry is still relatively young – which means that there’s still plenty of room for the sector to grow as technology becomes more powerful, games become more complex and the market continues to evolve.

We spoke with FunPlus chief business officer Chris Petrovic about the history of mobile gaming and the potential growth of the sector in the future.

Firstly, can you please introduce yourself and briefly explain your role within your company?

Hi PocketGamer! My name is Chris Petrovic and I’m Chief Business Officer of the mobile game developer and publisher FunPlus, where I’m in charge of overseeing the company’s growth and expansion efforts from our global HQ in Switzerland.

What would you say has been the biggest change in the industry since you entered into it?

I believe that we are witnessing a shift in seismic proportions that in my opinion is of larger scale and more impactful than the transition our industry experienced as we pivoted from Facebook to mobile as the primary platform for making and distributing games.

The mobile gaming industry has gone through three phases up until now: the first one starting in 1997 with the introduction of the game “Snake” by Nokia; the second one starting around 10 years later with the introduction of the App Store; and the third starting in 2012 with the emergence of in-game monetisation as the primary driver of revenue and growth for the sector.

Fast forward another 10 years to the present, and it’s clear that we are dealing with a number of existential points that are coalescing around our industry at the same time.

The first and perhaps most important is the reality that we are operating in a very mature sector (some would say declining but I tend to be an optimist on this point) which by definition provides less opportunities for growth and new entrants than when operating in nascent or growth sectors.

Fast forward another 10 years to the present, and it’s clear that we are dealing with a number of existential points that are coalescing around our industry at the same time.

Chris Petrovic

The second is the new playing field created by Apple and Google that is materially impacting the status quo around how to effectively reach customers, and the third is the unforeseen circumstances created by the onset of the COVID pandemic and the associated return to normalcy.

We are currently facing the biggest change in our industry that I can think of driven by the factors mentioned above.

The traditional ways of doing business are no longer as relevant and impactful, and as such we must evolve and perhaps even reinvent the rules for what it means to develop, launch and scale a commercially successful game, whether that means new modes of gameplay, new go-to-market strategies and/or new business models, I for one am excited by these challenges and how as an industry we will rally together to meet them head on!

Did you see the above mentioned change coming? If not, how did you adapt to it?

One of the benefits of being in and around gaming and interactive entertainment as long as I have is that you can see a repeatable pattern of market changes that create both challenges and opportunities for sectors to evolve and move forward.

While many of the changes mentioned above were somewhat obvious and predictable, as we experienced first hand that did not equate to successful evolution and transformation for all companies.

I have been fortunate enough to be part of three companies (Kabam, Zynga and now FunPlus) who were able to successfully evolve and transform over the course of their respective 10+ year histories while taking vastly different routes to get there.

It goes without saying that the onset and resulting impact of the pandemic was an unforeseen change to our industry and we are all learning each day how to deal with and adapt to that impact.

For myself, I am constantly reminding my colleagues and team members that this unnatural event needs to be viewed as just that rather than the creation of a new steady state for our sector.

Thinking back over the past couple of years, what is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced?

I think we can agree that the effects of the pandemic have impacted all of us, not only as an industry but in our personal lives too.
Although our teams across the globe have done a brilliant job working remotely and safely, not being able to physically connect with colleagues, attend events or engage with our community in-person has been very challenging.

While remaining vigilant, now we are getting back to normal and it has been so inspiring to see how all our teams across different locations and offices are excited to interact together in person, having shown such great resilience over this period.

Many app/game developers have moved away from in-app purchases in favour of subscription models. How do you feel about the current state of monetisation in the industry?

While both are very reliable business models, I think this is another example of how our industry is constantly evolving and adapting to the consumer.

It’s safe to say that FunPlus and most mobile gaming companies in the industry still believe in free experiences for all but will continue exploring all models, always in favour of offering the best possible gaming experience for those players who decide to engage with our titles through optional purchases or subscriptions.

We have many examples in our sector which show that multiple business models can successfully coexist within a game and I expect that to continue being the case going forward.

Where do you think the mobile gaming industry is headed in the next few years?

Currently, the mobile industry is more open and inclusive than ever, which is thrilling not only because it allows us to reach emerging markets where we can provide great gaming experiences, but also because now the barriers of accessibility are blurring as tech and hardware are becoming more and more widely available and can support equal experiences for everyone.

The way I see this manifesting for our industry is increased focus on and investment in bringing cross-platform game experiences to market which allow mobile gamers to experience games and IP alongside PC and console players.

In terms of content, I believe that the gaming sector has the capability to launch the next great entertainment franchise of the future, on the same scale as Marvel or Star Wars.

Chris Petrovic

Clearly there is increased consumer demand for this “anytime, anywhere any device” reality, and there are many games and platforms (Fortnite, Hearthstone, Minecraft, Roblox, etc.) that have shown that this is possible.

In terms of content, I believe that the gaming sector has the capability to launch the next great entertainment franchise of the future, on the same scale as Marvel or Star Wars. That’s certainly our ambition here at FunPlus – to be one of the top interactive entertainment companies in the world.

Technologies like AR and location-awareness are becoming increasingly mainstream. Which, if any, technology excites you most?

There’s so much innovation that will drastically change not only the way we develop games but also the way our players interact with them. For AR and location-awareness in particular, I have not yet seen any category defining examples of these technologies being both mainstream and repeatable beyond a single game.

Having said that, I am very hopeful that we will see examples here sooner rather than later. I also continue to want to learn about the future potential of Web3 technologies and business models, specifically the extent to which they can be applied to more mainstream gaming experiences.

Edited by Lewis Rees

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *