Boostrapping: the Steady Strategy of Adictiz

Aug 30, 2012
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Adictiz is a mobile and social games developper based in Lille, France. They have been bootstrapping for 4 years now, and they have grown into a profitable company that has managed to balance out a product strategy with a real service strategy.

Product start-ups usually need a breadwinner on the side if they’re bootstrapping. In the gaming industry, this mostly means doing development jobs for other companies while trying to get in-house products ready to ship. A coherent company strategy for offering services, without losing product focus, however, is much less common.

Adictiz seems to have managed to do both, even cross-promoting its advergames accross its own casual games. Adictiz studio is the advergaming services side of the company, with an offer ranging from custom development to a turnkey promotional competition CMS. On the product side, Adictiz has mostly stayed with its star products, “Space Dog” and “What a stupid pigeon”. They are based on a very casual mechanic of trying to kick an animal as far as possible. While it would be easy to criticize the gameplay as overly simplistic, complexity isn’t what makes compelling gameplay either, and the production value of the games is quite good. The latest iteration, “Space Dog +”, even offers a continuous experience for players between their mobile and social accounts, something not every game on mobile and Facebook do.

Success here isn’t measured by the ranking on Facebook or on the Appstore, but more prosaically on whether it allows the company to keep on hiring and growing. In terms of results, this series of games have monetized in the 10-15c ARPU bracket.Thanks to this, Adictiz did manage to grow, and it got a lot of visibility in its home French market. Its studio has established a solid foothold in the advergaming business, where it competes with some major digital ad agencies, as well as advergaming agencies like Chugulu.

Relying on one star line of fairly similar products could however go stale after a while, as everyone can’t be Mario. Even social gaming giants are finally coming to terms with the fact that the same core game mechanic repeated over and over again – hello, Zynga – will eventually bore players. The competitive pressure on both mobile and social is increasing as well, making innovative gameplay that much more needed.

Adictiz is aware of the competitive landscape, and is getting ready to launch two completely new games. The first one, Duck it, is a revisited take on the classic shoot them up, which hopefully will mean that there are a couple new mechanics freshening up the gameplay. The second game, Purplz, will be a management game, which aims at being more fun and casual than the current standard. Both of these games are to be released in October.

Despite the inherent ambition of a game like Puplz, Adictiz has made a strategic choice to focus on the European, South American, and Middle-Eastern markets. CEO Charles Christory goes as far as saying that going head to head with the big boys would be a waste of time and money, given the user acquisition costs involved. Considering that this company was built from the ground up, without venture capital, it makes sense that its team won’t go for bets that are too risky, and instead try and build a company on robust foundations.

Following this relatively cautious development model, Adictiz currently boasts 240k DAUs on mobile and 110k on Facebook, while growing its revenue 250% yoy for the last two years, which should bring it around the 5 million euros level for 2012. In this, in-house products account for an increasing proportion of revenue, as advergaming services, though growing as well, now represent around 30% of total revenue. These numbers do seem like a robust foundation indeed. Many funded product startups still looking for their market would probably be quite happy to trade places and have, perhaps, a little less potential for growth, but a little more peace of mind.