It’s been seven years since Paul Sulyok and co launched their vision for how PC games should be purchased.
At launch, Green Man Gaming had 26 publishers on board – with just 500 games – and the pitch was an online storefront with the ability to trade-in digital games.
Since then, the firm has grown considerably; it now works with 550 publishers and developers, while selling 8,500 games. If that weren’t enough, Green Man Gaming uses data drawn from the community to effectively market to consumers through what was PlayFire. What’s more, it now publishes its own games through the Green Man Gaming Publishing arm (more on that next week).
But, with the move to a brand new – and more importantly, larger – office in Kings Cross, it’s clear that Sulyok isn’t planning on slowing things down for the tech firm just yet.
“The last year has been one of change,” he says.
“We were in the same office for six years. The office was brilliant and allowed us to grow as a team. As a business, it allowed us to always maximise our ability to get the most out of the space. But we reached a size where we realised that enough was enough. We were fortunate enough that EuroStar decided to relocate a lot of its people back to Paris and we managed to get this office.
“The move has been quite significant. The business has gone from strength to strength. Twelve months ago we probably had about 70 people; now we have about 85. Part of that is the ability to hire more people because we moved into a bigger space. Part of it is the requirements of the business. We're maturing as an organisation. We're getting some tremendously talented individuals joining the company and have a bunch more coming through as well. We're in a very good position.”
It's not just a change of office – Green Man Gaming has been making some sizeable hires in the last year, including Sam Bennett, formerly of EA, Sony and Activision, who is EVP of customer experience and communications, and MCV/NewBay Media veteran Lesley McDiarmid, who joined as SVP of corporate partnerships.
“We're at a stage now where we've hit a certain level of momentum and size,” Sulyok explains.
“The opportunities we have right now are what we're hiring against. We have some brilliant opportunities. Green Man Gaming has shifted what it is. We've gone from being an e-commerce store, community and a publishing house. We merged the community and e-commerce store into a single entity, which means there's no brand confusion; we're bringing PlayFire and it's functionality onto Green Man Gaming. We're supporting that community with excellent writers that are doing news and other information – the depth of background information that we find is very positive.
"That allows us to give customers a fuller experience. The publishing arm is maturing. It's a very exciting part of our business but we really feel we can support it well now. We are seeing it grow significantly.
“And then the final piece is the b2b relationships; we announced a formal partnership at CES this year with Lenovo where we are supporting Lenovo Entertainment Hub. We have a number of other partnerships that we are going to be announced over the coming months with significant hardware manufacturers where we are working with them to support them on their gaming hardware and partner with them effectively.”
As well as expanding its business-to-business relationships, Green Man Gaming is also setting its sights overseas. “One of our objectives this year is to extend our international footprint. We sell games around the world right now. However, we want to ensure that customers that come onto Green Man Gaming have the ability to do a number of things,” Sulyok says.
“One of our objectives this year is to extend our international footprint. We sell games around the world right now. However, we want to ensure that customers that come onto Green Man Gaming have the ability to do a number of things,” Sulyok says.
“They should be able to read the website in their own language. Then if they decide to purchase a product, they should be able to via a payment method that they are familiar with. In the West, we tend to think of credit cards, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and PayPal as the standard ways to buy online. But actually, there's a whole range of different payment systems that are used around the world.
"Allowing customers to be able to understand the content that they're going to purchase in their own language, make that purchase in a payment system that they're familiar and comfortable with, and that they trust and then purchase the product in their own currency. We have taken three objectives and bundled them up by territory.
“We have rolled out to Germany with local payment systems, language and currency. Now we're extending that. Over the next three or four months we're going to be rolling out to Latin America as well as 12 additional currencies on a global basis, aside from the four base currencies we have right now – Euro, Dollar, Sterling and Roubles. In total we'll have about 16 currencies, which reflects some of the big players. We're looking at everything from Argentinian Pesos to Chilean Pesos to Brazilian Real, Malaysian Ringgit. Customers will be able to see the game in their own currency in their own territory and purchase with a payment system they're familiar with.”
If we are going to talk about the international market, then Brexit is something that we have to discuss. Sulyok says that the tech industry is very much dependant on labour from mainland Europe, and that we need to secure a good deal for once we have actually left the EU.
“The UK has been very good at a number of things over the years,” he says.
"As an island nation we like trading and we're very good at trading. The merchant navy has now been replaced with e-commerce and Green Man Gaming is in that pool. We trade and have customers around the world. We are the new forefront of that trading relationship with the rest of the world. Brexit is happening. We have triggered Article 50 and we are on a path now. What we have to make sure we can do is ensure we have the ability to be able to function.
"I can only talk about my industry and my interaction with the rest of the world, but 35 per cent of my company is European; 50 per cent of my technology team is European and I'm sure that other tech entrepreneurs in London would agree with me that if we didn't have this hot and cold running stream of European technologists coming in to support what we are trying to do, the British education system right now couldn't support us with graduates coming through and as a consequence of that we'd suffer.
"The quality of our products would suffer, the ability for us to be able to support the UK as we are doing would suffer as well. 92 per cent of the games we sell are exported around the world. So we are an export-driven business and we are a tech business. We, like all other technology companies, need that manpower stream and we need to have it on all levels. It's not just the very senior specialists; it's the junior staff, the fresh graduates coming out of university that you need to have. You need to have doers as well as thinkers and strategists.”
Moving forwards, Sulyok is rather bullish about Green Man Gaming’s potential for growth, thanks to its plans for international plans and the firm's bolstering of its b2b and corporate partnerships.
“Green Man Gaming is a high-growth company," he says.
"We have some pretty aggressive growth targets and some really interesting things we are doing with our corporate partnerships. We will certainly be announcing a lot more of those in the coming months. From an international perspective, we're looking at some really interesting growth into new markets. Sometimes we're looking to do that on our own the way we are doing with Latin America. Sometimes we'll be working with local partners as well. There are a number of things that are going on both from a corporate partnership perspective, headed up by Lesley McDiarmid, and then our internationalisation plans. then just looking to grow the core platform that we've got.
"Our vision for Green Man Gaming is to be the first place they go to when they think of a game and the last place they go to when they think of that game. We want to provide the information for customers to be able to understand what they are potentially considering buying, the community, data and background around that and a simple, easy, quick purchase point. And then, a community they can engage with thereafter.”