For a new installment in our “2021 in Video Games” series, we are joined by Peter Warman, Co-Founder and CEO of Newzoo.
Peter Warman, Co-Founder and CEO of Newzoo
How did 2021 treat Newzoo?
This year has been a special year for Newzoo for a variety of reasons. Business-wise, it will be our biggest year ever. We have shown significant growth every single year since Newzoo was founded, but this year we are outperforming all previous years. In terms of staff, we blasted through the one hundred mark and now are a team of around 110 extremely talented, passionate people. The last time I counted, we have 32 different nationalities in-house, which is a great asset considering how global our market is. More importantly, we want to create a working environment that enriches the lives of the people that have chosen to spend part of their career with us. Exchanging cultural experiences is an important part of that.
From an innovation and product perspective, this year was probably the most important in Newzoo’s fifteen years of existence. We have been making significant investments into our data warehouse and proprietary platform, combining all our models, taxonomies, and data into a new suite of services. This year, our flagship platform subscription service, Newzoo Expert, found tremendous traction in the market, in particular in our core markets of game development, game tech, and hardware.
At the same time, our consumer insights business flourished because of the need to understand what impact the pandemic is having on consumer behavior within and outside of games. The current attention for the “metaverse” is only increasing that need. I am also very proud that we have been involved in some of the biggest investment and M&A activities that our market witnessed this year.
What development or trend that you saw in 2021 do you consider critical for the market in general?
I continue to be amazed by how dynamic our market is and how fast the games business is expanding in multiple directions. Traditional media and entertainment companies, including the complete consumer brand and advertising ecosystem, are only very slowly starting to realize what is coming their way. Popular game IPs and game themes are increasingly entering traditional media formats such as TV series and movies. Squid Game and Arcane are obvious Netflix examples. Vica versa, traditional media content such as live concerts is increasingly being consumed within game environments. It is not surprising that the world’s tech giants are doubling down on games.
The success of games, accelerated by the pandemic, comes with great responsibility. Games are the biggest form of entertainment from both a business and an engagement perspective. Communities are shaped within as well as around games with platforms such as Discord and Reddit hosting hundreds of millions of people on a monthly basis. Games and games-related tools have taken center stage as destinations to socialize. It is the responsibility of these companies to keep these environments safe and make everyone feel at home. On top of that, the communities expect the companies to give back part of their success to contribute to a better world.
At Newzoo, we aim to play an active role when it comes to this responsibility. We perform an annual diversity and inclusion study and share those results with the world. We work together with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to research and report on harassment and discrimination within games.
The above trends have an impact on Newzoo’s priorities. We invest a lot of time in R&D and product development to stay ahead of the curve and have the insights and data that our clients need when they are faced with new responsibilities or market shifts. This is no different this year and will certainly be no different in the years to come.
As a company, what are you going to strategically focus on in 2022?
In the past six months, we have scoped our short- and long-term vision and strategy for the coming five years. I cannot disclose too much about our long-term ambitions and the direction we see the market and ourselves heading, except that I am extremely excited about it. Short term, we will continue to increase the value that we create for our clients in our platform and the data that is available to integrate with their business intelligence platforms. In practice, this means for example: higher frequency of data (e.g. DAU), new platform features around very specific use cases, expansion of our taxonomies and depth of data across tens of thousands of games. Almost every large games or games-related company uses our service now. This year, we have seen an increasing share of medium-sized developers and indies embrace our services. We aim to create value for them all, regardless of genre, region, or size. Other exciting plans for 2022 I will keep to myself for now. Keep your eyes and ears open.
What third-party titles were you personally excited about as a gamer?
I have been an avid gamer since the very first Pong console that my parents bought me back in 1979. I must confess that I spend more time now on thinking about the business and future of games as well as watching over the shoulders of my kids and colleagues than playing games intensively myself. During the past months, we had a Game Olympics event at Newzoo that featured very competitive tournaments involving Among Us, Rocket League, Valorant, LoL, Assetto Corsa Competizione, and Brawl Stars with shoutcasters and everything. Lots of fun. We also have challenged some of our partners for a competitive game of Dota 2, LoL and CS:GO…
I did a brief survey among Newzoo people and these four games stood out as ones that we are especially excited about:
- Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian Studios
- Hollow Knight; Silksong, Team Cherry
- Halo Infinite, Xbox Game Studios
- Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, ZA/UM