International Focus Interview

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Florian Bohn of Travian Games

There is, of course, more to the industry than just the United States and its market. GiN has always been an international publication. In this series of interviews Publisher Nate Wooley puts the question to executives in the game industry who deal with international issues everyday. This week’s subject is Florian Bohn, CEO of Travian Games, a Germany-based game company. Travian entered the market with their first release in 2004 and has released several MMORPG’s since then.

GiN: How’s business been? What new release are you most excited about?

Bohn: Travian Games can look back on almost seven amazing years. We have grown from three people working on one game to over 200 employees working on nine games to become Bavaria’s largest online games company. The success of the Travian 4 launch this spring with a rollout in over 40 languages and over 60 countries within 6 weeks was a masterpiece of everyone involved. Our 2011 products goalunited and Miramagia are also performing very well on an international basis and I am personally very satisfied, how our global rollout is currently capitalizing.

The upcoming months will be very interesting, as we are launching two new products with the roleplay and adventure style game Battlemons and the MMO trade simulation Remanum.

GiN: Are the challenges faced by European-based firms any different than North American or Asian game companies?

Bohn: The online gaming business is a global one, especially when it comes to pure browser games that do not need any client or streaming content. So a global minded company like Travian Games should not face any other challenges or problems more so than any other. As the experience in browser-based games has evolved a lot in the last years, the only real difference is the know-how of the employees. As an established company we own a strong advantage in know-how with our employees, while new upcoming publishers need to develop this experience and form a capable team to rely on.

But of course you are right, that for each company it is much easier to act in their local area because of their know how. As a European or as well North American company you must work harder to succeed in Asia, while companies from the far east seem to have more problems in the western markets.

GiN: How does marketing a game internationally differ from domestic marketing?

Bohn: Compared to a global marketing approach, domestic marketing is fairly easy. In your own country you instinctively know a lot about how to address your target group. Talking to users from a different cultural background is much harder to do.

GiN: Personally, do you find the business of game development more difficult now than a few years ago?

Bohn: Yes things have changed in several branches. If you look to online games, the expectations of the players are higher in every way. The result is that the production of current browser games is much more sophisticated, with a bigger development team and thus a higher investment for the publisher. We are facing this challenge with experienced employees and their individual strengths whom we bring together in highly motivated teams. All in all we are well prepared for the continuous development of high quality browser games for the world wide market.

GiN: What’s the next big thing? Any predictions?

Bohn: The online market is still growing, and there are currently genres and niches that simply did not exist some years ago. So the specialization and evolution of the “platform browser game” is just beginning. You have so many different approaches with client games, streaming content, html, java script, flash, middleware etc. that it is impossible to really see, what will be up and down in the future.

Travian Games has decided to remain as a pure browser based online gaming business without any client. This is related to our product range, which we offer not only to the technological well-developed areas but also to those territories or countries where a big broadband net is still not possible.

What will be big is the rapidly growing target audience globally, the quick merging of many different entertainment sections and how former different online gaming sections are blending together (social games, classic online games, browser games etc.) with rapid speed.

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