ChargeUp Games Launches With "Developer-First" Approach

Adam Flanders and Kevin Flynn- Publicity - Split - h 2020
ChargeUp Games

Mobile Game Partners' co-founders Kevin Flynn and Adam Flanders are collaborating with Digital Development Management on the new venture, which emphasizes a business model where the developer retains control of the game.

Video game marketing and consulting firm Mobile Game Partners and video game agency Digital Development Management unveiled Wednesday the formation of ChargeUp Games, a new mobile publisher.

The joint venture was initiated by MGP co-founders Kevin Flynn and Adam Flanders, who identified that game developers can be unfairly compensated in external publishing deals whereby, typically, a mobile publisher takes 40 or 50 percent of a game's profits as well as long term rights to the IP and franchise. With backgrounds in strategic business development, the pair launched the company to offer a fairer model where the developer will retain control of the game. 

"We've always waited for the publishing model to evolve along with the industry," Flynn tells The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the business is a "70B a year juggernaut," yet contracts often still use language that was established a decade ago. "The problem is that publishers nowadays don't take on any risk, and often very little in the way of guarantees. Most of them end up doing a shotgun approach, where they sign up dozens of games, throw them all up on the wall and see what sticks. If your game doesn't stick, you're still tied to the publisher, with again, very little in the way of promises and you're giving them 50 percent of your revenue."

He adds that ChargeUp will aim to make things more equitable. "The developers are the ones that are putting all of their passion into creating these games, so we're aiming to do half the traditional revenue share." Flanders adds that, typically, when publishers release their terms, it's a "take it or leave it" mentality.  "Kevin and I decided that we wanted to work closely with each developer to come up with unique terms that really fit what their needs were," he said, adding that not every developer is the same and needs the same services. 

The company will emphasize quality over quantity, meaning it will only work on a small number of games at a time — about a dozen, says Flynn. "We're open to look at everything, [and] I have a feeling it'll probably fall somewhere between casual and midcore games [requiring more skill and strategy than casual, but not yet hardcore]," continues Flanders.

He emphasizes that ChargeUp will look for good teams with solid ideas and games, rather than just doing a user acquisition test and seeing if the metrics work. "We're going to look at it and say, 'how can we help these guys get to a point where the metrics do work? How can we help them pre-launch during the beta phase to get the lifetime value of the game up and the effective cost of acquisition down so that when we do spend money on user acquisition, it's more impactful."

Speaking to the collaboration with DDM, which was founded in 2006 and specializes in studio presentation, game industry consulting, complete game launch preparation, marketing, licensing and more, Flynn notes the agency is known for around-the-world coverage — and that was a specific appeal. "We have found that good games can come from literally anywhere," he says, adding that he and Flanders have worked with teams from South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Japan, China and more and intend on continuing the goal of finding great games that defy geographic walls. 

Looking ahead, the company will offer a variety of soft launch services such as user acquisition setup, execution and gameplay feedback in addition to launch and post-launch services such as ongoing game analysis with the goal of improving monetization, virality and user engagement. 

Flanders emphasizes that he and Flynn operate with a "developer friendly and developer first" mentality, and will scale the company as needed.