Games have delighted people of all ages, genders and geographies for millennia. From chess and other popular board games, to early video games, to today’s hits like Roblox, games are daily rituals that have come to occupy a defining role in cultures around the world. With a $150 billion annual turnover, gaming has now become the largest entertainment category – greater than box office movies ($42 billion), music ($21 billion) and video streaming ($43 billion) combined.
Yet, despite the sheer scale of the industry with nearly 100,000 games released across all the app stores every quarter, the top mobile charts have largely featured the same franchises and publishers over the past decade.
Index has been privileged to partner with several of them, such as King, Supercell and Roblox, and we have recognised firsthand that the creation of a lasting gaming company is no small feat. It takes a unique combination of creativity, design, technical expertise, analytics, marketing know-how, and – perhaps most importantly – great execution. Bringing such diverse skills together under a single roof, ensuring they all perform at an outstanding level, and nurturing a culture of seamless collaboration is very rare.
In January 2020, my partners Danny Rimer, Stephane Kurgan and I first spoke with Soner Aydemir, co-founder and CEO of Dream Games – a mobile gaming company from Istanbul. We immediately realised we had come across one of these exceptional founding teams. Soner and his co-founders, Eren, Hakan, Ikbal, and Serdar, brought this elusive mix of deep gameplay know-how forged from their years of experience at Peak Games, with a singular product vision for their first title, Royal Match. What specifically stood out was their shared desire to build something different – a more inclusive gaming company, matching product and execution excellence with a positive culture.
Dream Games is an iconic gaming company in the making, embodying many of the attributes shared by the best gaming studios: outstanding product matched with flawless execution.
Since leading the pre-launch Series A investment in Dream Games in March 2021, the team has exceeded all our expectations: Royal Match has millions of dedicated daily active players and has rocketed to join the exclusive club of the top five grossing titles in the US App Store. Dream Games is an iconic gaming company in the making, embodying many of the attributes shared by the best gaming studios: outstanding product matched with flawless execution, both of which are pivotal to lasting success.
Royal Match has all the things that make for a magical user experience: it is highly relatable, beautifully polished and perfectly balanced.
Its relatability comes from the established and intuitive “match 3” casual puzzle gameplay mechanic – where users swipe objects to match three or more in a row. Match 3 is the largest segment within the casual puzzle genre, which includes multiple hits, such as Candy Crush Saga. Every game item is beautifully polished from the joyful art, to the simplicity of the UI design, to the playful King Robert character himself. Finally, Royal Match is perfectly balanced in that the game progression is fast-paced and exhilarating, consistently blending sequences of easy and challenging levels.
Dream Games also excels at execution, from their regular high-quality content releases, to robust tech, to thoughtful distribution.
There are big, high-quality content drops every few days – this includes new levels and live-ops, such as time-limited live events where players compete directly against each other to earn rewards. Each drop requires careful design and reassessment to ensure a great user experience, involving thousands of micro-decisions that can only be processed by a perfectly aligned team. Dream Games’ back-end delivers instant response times that delight players, and their creative yet disciplined marketing engine has allowed them to reach extraordinary global scale. These less visible skills, which require continuous dedication and attention to detail, make all the difference in taking a beautifully designed title from mere success to blockbuster size like Royal Match.
It takes rare leadership to bring together these diverse skills and make them work in harmony. If a single craft is too weak, the title will not reach its potential; if one is too strong, it might drive the product in a ditch. A typical example is over-monetising (“pinching'') the players at the expense of reach, which then harms title longevity. Great gaming founders are the conductors of the studio orchestra, setting pace and direction for product and execution while finely tuning each craft contribution. It is through countless choices and delicate nudges that the founders’ vision of building a beautiful match 3 product has come to life with Royal Match, a true outlier in the vast sea of games unveiled every year.
These defining achievements speak for themselves, and we could not be more thrilled to lead a $255m round at a $2.75bn valuation as we deepen our partnership with Eren, Hakan, Ikbal, Serdar and Soner on their mission to entertain the world.
Published — Jan. 18, 2022