Chris DeWolfe has built Jam City into one of the biggest mobile game companies in the world through the combination of licensed Hollywood franchises like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery and original titles like Cookie Jam.
DeWolfe spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event in April. Michael Pachter, managing director and analyst at Wedbush Securities, moderated the talk.
DeWolfe took note of gaming while he was CEO and founder at MySpace. When he left, he saw that Zynga was making a lot of money every day on the social network, and he went to places like Japan where he saw everybody engaging with mobile devices.
He jumped into mobile and social gaming, and now Jam City has more than 700 employees. When he started, a lot of the competition was local in California. But now the mobile game industry has grown beyond $70 billion, and the competitors are all over the world.
Now mobile gamers expect live operations, or events that keep them coming back and engaging with the new content over and over, DeWolfe said. Jam City has been growing through acquisition, and it has become a force for consolidation in the industry.
Jam City is working on a game based on the upcoming Frozen 2 movie from Disney. But DeWolfe sees the wisdom of going after “blue ocean” markets, or original titles or genres where there aren’t as many sharks, or competitors, creating a red ocean.
Pachter pointed out that DeWolfe almost bought Small Giant Games, the maker of Empires & Puzzles, for $20 million. Jam City didn’t do that, and instead Zynga bought 80% of it in December 2018 for $560 million. But Jam City isn’t so bad off.
Its Harry Potter game went to No. 1 in 40 countries. Tens of millions of people are playing the company’s games. Mobile is the future of entertainment, and Los Angeles is the center of storytelling, and that’s why DeWolfe feels like Jam City is in a good place.