Huuuge Games is a late entrant in the social casino game market. By all measures, it should have failed in its effort to compete with rivals such as Playtika, Scientific Games, Aristocrat, Zynga, and IGT.
But a little more than a year after its launch in late 2015, Huuuge Games is gaining market share in the social casino game industry, which hit $976 million in the fourth quarter, according to analyst firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. In the fourth quarter, Huuuge had an estimated $18.9 million in revenues, up 894 percent from a year earlier, making it the fastest-growing company in the sector, the analyst said.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company now has four studios and 150 employees. It has the No. 1 social casino game in downloads and the No. 4 in top-grossing on Android. And it is also moving up the charts on iOS. The company is profitable and hiring 90 more people.
“When we started, everyone said you are late in the game and there is no way you can succeed,” said Anton Gauffin, the CEO of Huuuge, in an interview with GamesBeat at Casual Connect Europe in Berlin. “It wasn’t easy. At the time, we did our soft launch, we almost went bankrupt. We were forced to launch our game, and it was a close call. We didn’t imagine things would go so well.”
He said that his company found an opening with real-time multiplayer for its social casino game, Huuuge Casino. Most of the other games were first-generation free-to-play titles, where you paid real money for casino chips if you ran out of the virtual chips that you got for free. With Huuuge, there’s a greater variety of ways for people to spend money. And Huuuge went after younger players who weren’t casino fans.
“We have a different mindset for approaching monetization,” Gauffin said. “We’re are focusing on being truly social.”
Huuuge Casino is more social than other games because you can pick a friend to play with or against. If another player accepts your invitation, you can play together and see who does better. If you win, you can buy a round of virtual drinks for your friend.
Huuuge Games has also spent aggressively on marketing to acquire new users. Its latest television commercial is below.
In Huuuge Casino, you can play slot machines, baccarat, roulette, or blackjack with friends. You can join tournaments. The company has more than 500,000 users, which doesn’t sound like much. But those players are spending money, and Huuuge has a high average revenue per daily active user, Gauffin said.
Over time, Gauffin hopes to expand to more markets. China, if it opens up to social casino gaming, might represent an opportunity.
Back in 2015, Huuuge had more than 80 people. Now the company has three studios in Poland (Warsaw, Szczecin, Bydgoszcz) and one in Berlin. It has 150 people.
“For us, Poland is a great place, and I’ve made games in that region for 10 years,” Gauffin said.
The costs are far lower in Poland compared to places like the San Francisco Bay Area, he said.
“That gives us excess capacity to do more research and development,” Gauffin said. “Supercell does it with a lot fewer people. There are different kinds of success stories. For us, the most important is to invest in people.”
Gauffin started his first mobile gaming company, Gamelion, in 2002 in Finland. He left in 2007 and moved to Silicon Valley. He reassembled some of the team in 2014 to start Huuuge. For now, Gauffin is focused solely on the social casino games market, which Eilers & Krejcik Gaming expects to hit $4 billion by 2020.
“In the long term, I think real-time multiplayer is going to give us a real advantage,” Gauffin said.
Disclosure: Casual Connect paid my way to Berlin. Our coverage remains objective.