Full transcript of the interview with Douglas Ogeto (Ludique Works) which was one half of the Two publishers features.
Could you please expand on the formation of the company and the initial vision?
LudiqueWorks was founded in 2018 with 2 Co-Founders (Nathan Masyuko and Douglas Ogeto) to solve the challenges that studios and indie developers were facing which are around: marketing, distribution, monetization, and internalization of their games.
The company was formed off the backdrops of the founders respective experiences: Nathan Masyuko who has 12+ years’ experience in the video game development space, working for companies such as Afroes Transformational Games in addition to his company NextGen which among other local esports activities was the first in Kenya to take a team in 2009 to compete in the then World Cyber Games in China. Douglas Ogeto with 9+ experience in the business advisory space through his company Fuse Catalysts supporting local entrepreneurs and programs that allow startups access to markets, funding, and expansion. Together with their complimentary skills and both having technology backgrounds thus formed the genesis of LudiqueWorks to support the video game ecosystem by forming the Africa Game Developers community.
Lillian Nduati later joined the founding team as a co-founder and CEO to lead the company’s growth. Lillian, a technology entrepreneur herself with a couple of startups under her belt and having worked with regional companies, brought the 3rd eye in addition to her strategy experience. Further to having her on-board, this would encourage more women to get into video game development space and break the negative stigma and perception associated with video games and women.
Further to this, our vision is to tell African stories through the medium of games given the rich content available across the continent.
How have your respective backgrounds added to the company’s vision of being the premier publisher from the continent?
The team, now led by Douglas Ogeto, is comprised of members that have strong technology backgrounds coupled with their vast experience across the continent through their previous engagements and projects spanning both East, West and Southern Africa, respectively. Their experience spans roles in advisory, game development, esports, branding, event management and merchandising with a Pan-African mindset.
Having worked at various startups and corporates with the likes of Techstars, Liquid Telecom, Griffinworx and Seedstars where he has been responsible for leading Pan-African programs and initiatives, Douglas brings on-board broad business acumen and a Pan-African vision to support the much-needed growth and scale for video game studios.
What is the focus of the company as a publisher and could you briefly outline the scope of your publishing model? Outlining the relationship between the platform focus and the USP to the development community.
We focus on all platforms: mobile, console and PC however given the nascent stage of the industry, key focus now is in supporting studios with a mobile offering given that it currently has the least barrier to entry.
We work on a revenue share model with the respective studios and our key USP to the community is our international partnerships and linkages which enables distribution of the games both within and outside the continent.
Additionally, we have access to a Pan-African esports community through which studios building multi-player games will tap into for increased visibility and retention.
We seek studios directly across the region, as well as through our current call for hyper casual games in addition to those that reach out directly to us for support.
What do you view as the company’s biggest success story so far?
We have built a community of video game developers across 16+ African countries both in anglo-phone and franco-phone speaking countries and enable mentorship and training through the monthly meetups where the community meets with industry.
On the esports front in partnership with our production partner What’s Good Studios, we are the first to have produced and aired esports content on a Free-To-Air broadcast on the continent curated from the Africa Esports Championship Kenya National League that we organized. We also won a coveted Kalasha Film and TV Award for the show.
What have been some of the misconceptions you’ve faced in trying to be a publisher in an industry still in its relative infancy?
That there are no good developers to be found on the continent is a big one. The expectation is very low to non-existent and we spend a lot of time trying to correct these misconceptions.
Studios such as Kiro’o games, Qene Technologies, Nyamakop, Nuked Cockroach, Newgen Studios among others are changing the narrative and creating new benchmarks and standards by developing games that have a global appeal.
What do you look for in a game or studio you choose to work with and what level of due diligence is carried out before signing a studio or project?
Key criteria are the storyline of the game that the developer or studio wants to tell and an existing track record of developing games that have at least been launched on one of the international stores. Additionally, the team composition matters so as to ensure follow through on the concept. A studio or developer needs to showcase game design documents and thought process for us to sign them up.
Could you share any unique insights on the behavior of developers across the continent and what regions and countries have been a lot more responsive and open to your publisher model?
Common trends being seen now is similarity or commonality in the genre of games e.g. platformer, educational and Role-playing games being built given that we share similar folklore stories across the continent. The continent is warming up to publisher relationships as for most, it’s their first time experience.
Despite funding successes, how were you able to rally the attentions of VCs and investors to back you in an industry that is littered with a lot of firsts?
Building valuable, long-term relationships is one of our key values and which has helped us get the various support that has enabled us get this far in addition to having a trusted board of advisors consisting of Stefan Lampinen, Samali Kirika and Dr. Wilmot Allen who have global experience in the video game, finance and investment industries respectively has been instrumental in achieving this.
We also work with visionary corporate technology leaders such as Ben Roberts who understand the potential of the industry and its positive impact on the continent.
What kind of key and local partnerships have been crucial to your achieving your goals as a publisher?
Our key partners include but not limited to: Telco’s, Media houses, Internet Infrastructure Providers, Academic Institutions and Production houses has enabled us achieve traction in the market and leapfrog challenges that face young companies.
How do you view the entry of other publishers to the market and how do you see that benefitting the game development community?
It is beneficial to the ecosystem and market as each will have various niches or strong points that local studios or indie developers can and will be able to leverage. Also, having multiple options to pick from will greatly increase competition and make the environment favorable for developer studios to strike the best deals for them. Lastly, the industry is hardly saturated and there is room for several players to enter the market as this will make it possible to reach as many talented developers as possible. The goal is to grow the industry and the more people working towards that goal, the better.
Why should a developer choose to have their game published through you?
We are a Pan-African publisher that understands the local markets, distribution challenges and are able to provide a tailored service offering while leveraging our international partnerships that enables to scale them to an international level. Also, we have experience in the field and can relate to their struggles. Basically, “we care”.
What can we expect from your outfit between now and the end of the year?
We have lined up several exciting programs to upskill the local talent through which they will gain new game development skills while increasing their avenues of generating revenue. We will also be releasing an exciting gamified product in addition to signing new and exciting studios into our portfolio.