Principles of Game Economy (Google x DoF)

A few weeks ago I spoke at the Google x Deconstructor of Fun event in Istanbul, where my talk Principles of Game Economy was the highest scored of the whole conference (!!!). An even more impressive feat considering that there were some heavy hitters from the DoF main crew and Google Turkey superstars, and that the average score was 4.5 out of 5.

If you couldn’t watch it live, the folks at Deconstructor of Fun posted the stream on their YT channel so you can check it out at your convenience for free.

My talk can be found at 4:21:00.

Or if you want to get all the info even faster, you can also check out this fantastic summary of every talk by our friends at

My must-watch list of the event

It goes to say that ALL the sessions of the event were awesome.
But there are a couple of them that I particularly enjoyed among the rest (perhaps because they resonated with some topics that I enjoy researching), and I think were generalistic enough to be interesting for everybody in the industry:

First is Miska’s Mobile Games’ Market Predictions in 2022, where he does a fantastic diagnostic of the current status of the market and what’s coming next for different categories, in a summarized and very approachable way.
In my opinion, this one it’s the top must-watch talk of the year so far and a requirement to understand the major shift that’s going on in the industry.

For people looking for extra details on this shift, Sencer Kutluğ and especially Eric Seufert’s talk on Mobile gaming megatrends did a great job giving extra insights on those ongoing market shifts and attributed the causes to both demographic changes and ripples from IDFA deprecation.

Second, I’d like to highlight the talk by Matej Lancaric (UA consultant) and Nimrod Levy (Google Play) on How to optimally soft launch a mobile game in 2022 (5:36:00). That one is pure gold.
It has lots of battle-proven tips and practices on how to launch and scale new games; and – sorry if I sound a bit blunt – it highlights a lot of knowledge that I think it’s missing in the new games departments of many bigger companies, which explains why so many struggle launching, evaluating and scaling new projects.

In my experience, many consolidated companies that launched their hits years ago tend to spend too much time on pre-production, or focus on validating the game through core KPIs (i.e. retention), while putting the focus away from user acquisition practices that – in fact – have a HUGE influence over those KPIs. (Long story short: This is not 2015, folks! If you’re struggling to launch, evaluate and scale new games, you may want to give a holler to Matej).

Mobile Games market 2022 snapshot

The fireside chats were also quite enjoyable too, although I understand that some of the topics may be a bit less generalistic, and were particularly targeted at people trying to start a company in the Turkish devsphere.

My thoughts on the Istanbul Gamesdevsphere

After visiting Istanbul, I’ve quite a solid opinion on this: If your company is thinking about investing or entering the mobile games market, particularly in the puzzle genre, you should think seriously about establishing a presence in Istanbul.

When I think about mobile games from Turkey, the first thing that comes to mind are the big fishes like Dream Games (Royal Match), Peak Games (Toon Blast, Toy Blast), and Loop Games (Match 3D).
Now, I’m sure this won’t stay like that for long: I was amazed by the army of passionate and energetic founders – many of them very young, 20-30s – that showed me ready-to-market games and games being soft-launched.

To be fair, it’s not only puzzle: Istanbul also has a significant hypercasual scene and some relevant upcoming developers in other genres as well. A few years ago I had a chance to test out an early version Zula Mobile, a mobile FPS, and I was impressed by the overall quality and production value, which has allowed them to achieve significant success in EMEA thanks to their localized content.

Everyone I talked to had the feeling that something big was going on in the city.
And I believe that the feeling shared in the game industry circles is that the Turkish game development scene is heavily on the rise, which is why actors like Zynga and AppLovin have acquired companies there, and VCs are very active.


From my humble and non-expert POV, I believe there are a couple of key factors to understand why the Istanbul game dev scene is so vibrant:

  • Talent expertise (in terms of design, product, and development)
    • AFAIK, there’s a regular flow of workers rotating between the big and small companies, which creates a constant flow of shared knowledge:
      Any new best practices, successful methodologies, or features are quickly spread by virtue of people moving between companies.
    • Interestingly, it was hinted several times during the event that Turkish game companies have a fiercely competitive environment (they fight hard for talent, success, etc). While obviously collaboration is a better choice for some initiatives like education, it also works as a ward against complacency, the killer of companies.
    • Another key factor is that many of the devs come from the already significant dev scene that specialized in hypercasual games. This means that they’ve significant knowledge about UA and scaling games (key for hypercasual biz) and they develop lighting fast (since the temporal compression of hypercasual is huge).
  • Multiple success cases, and lots of VC funding.  
    • Of course, the rapid succession of several big companies becoming successful (Peak, Dream…) and their massive acquisitions by international actors brought a lot of attention from all sorts of investors.
      Currently, it seems that all major acquirable companies have been already bought, but the VCs can still find an amount of smaller companies started by or with ex-Peak and ex-Dream games employees with entrepreneurial dreams.
    • Additionally, worker salaries are extremely competitive, which makes investing in startups there is a low-cost endeavor (compared to, say, investing in a startup in Helsinki…), which allows Turkish startups that receive a similar amount of funding to operate for much longer, with bigger teams, and pivot more times before the cash runs out.

IMO, demographics and education play a big part as well: Turkey has a significantly young population in the 20-40yo age range, and their education has a strong focus on STEM. This creates a perfect ecosystem for many young developers willing to try new things.

I believe that the demographic structure plays a significant role in why some countries have more entrepreneurial activity: While there are all sorts of people, 40+ people tend to think more about family and job stability than 20-30 yo, that are more prone to engage in the risks and uncertainties that a startup involves.

On a personal note…

As an ascended fanboy, meeting in person so many of the folks that I had been reading content from since I started my career, like Michail Katkoff, Eric Scheufert, and Joakim Achren, has been an incredible experience.
I was especially thrilled to meet in person and chat about blockchain game economics with Ryan Foo from Delphi Digital, one of the masterminds in Axie Infinity and definitively a person that’s defining what the future of in-game economics will look like.

The treatment that we got from Google was just incredible, and they put together a fantastic production value as well, which made the event even more enjoyable.

In this time and age where major conventions have been invaded by crypto-enthusiasts (nothing wrong with them, but other fields of the game dev scene need our space too!) or lock their content under unaffordable prices, I’m really proud of having been part of an event that provided world-class quality content for free.
And rumor goes that due to the huge success of this event, there’s another one incoming!

Finally, I’d like to thank the massive support I received. I’m really glad you found my material insightful, and I’ll keep working hard to deliver more of it.

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