DoDreams stands out with customer insight
Erik Pöntiskoski of the Helsinki-based game development company DoDreams told how their success story unravelled in the year’s last Kopla Morning Class session.
“When I first started at DoDreams, I noticed that the game developers and coders weren’t having fun together. They were developing a game they didn’t particularly like”, Erik Pöntiskoski recalls his first days as the CEO of DoDreams a couple of years ago. This worried Pöntiskoski, “The gaming industry is very competitive and it’s hard to succeed in it.” Pöntiskoski realised that something had to be changed about the way DoDreams were working, otherwise they wouldn’t stand a chance against the competition. They would have to develop a game that would truly stand out from the crowd – a game that people would want to download and play over and over again.
Applying marketing theory in practice
Before DoDreams, Pöntiskoski had worked as a researcher and teacher of marketing at Aalto University. His academic studies became handy at DoDreams – they formed a basis for DoDreams’ new strategy.
First of all, Pöntiskoski had learned from his research that to create a successful concept, it would have to solve a problem for customers to answer a true need. DoDreams decided to develop a local multiplayer game, as there was no other similar game on the market. It would re-introduce the fundamental experience of playing games: sharing a fun moment with someone else.
Secondly, Pöntiskoski knew that great things were created with integrated effort. To encourage his game developers and coders to work together, he suggested that they would work on a game in pairs over one week, each pair in their turn. This prompted them to try out new things with minimal risk as little time and resources were invested in the development. Developing this ‘mini-game strategy’ couldn’t have been a better decision: it resulted in 10 published games over one year and DoDreams’ best-selling, flagship game Drive Ahead!. Drive Ahead! became the success story that Pöntiskoski had hoped for. In the past seven months that it has existed, the game has been downloaded nine million times, and it has a constantly growing fan base.
Simple recipe for success
The recipe for success has been simple: DoDreams have listened to their customers. Ever since Drive Ahead! was launched, DoDreams have carefully followed the game performance and asked their players for direct feedback. Feedback is largely collected through the active online user community formed around Drive Ahead! Every second week, DoDreams update the game making sure that players’ needs and desires are answered promptly.
Above all, however, Pöntiskoski believes that DoDreams’ success and good customer relationship have naturally followed from enjoyable collaborations between people who love what they do as well as experimentation with minimal risk and investment.