Up interviews Per Besson at social Gaming start-up, Happy Elements


Can you tell us about Happy Elements? What do you do and how was the business founded?

We are a social gaming company focused on bringing our games to both Social Networks, such as Facebook, as well mobile gaming platforms.

Happy Elements was founded in 2009 and first game was launched in fall of that year in traditional Chinese on Facebook Taiwan. Launch coincided with that platforms  explosive growth and our game “My Fishbowl” soon became extremely hot on the market. With its 1.3 million Daily Active Users it still remains the platform’s most popular game.

What markets are Happy Elements currently in and what are your plans for expansion?

Based on that initial success in Taiwan with “My Fishbowl” we have launched successive games on that platform as well as an additional 18 platforms around the world in a total of 15 languages, both Asian and Western. We are widely considered to be the social gaming company with strongest overall presence across Asia’s four strongest social gaming markets; Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea. We are now using that presence to serve as a “publisher” for other gaming companies i.e. customize and promote other companies’ games using our resources.

You launched the business with “My Fishbowl”, a Facebook game. How important is Facebook to your future strategy and success?

With the launch of our first game “My Fishbowl” on Taiwan, Facebook, has served as the base of our success, however across other key Asian markets Facebook (Japan, China and Korea) is way behind local social network platforms. Our strategy is to work, when we can, with the market leaders in each country.

Facebook and the web in general are awash with casual gaming companies, so who are you targeting and how do you seek to differentiate yourselves from others on offer?

The social gaming landscape is entering a mature phase where the dominant companies now have the user base across which they can cross promote their games. This means that for smaller companies with a small game portfolio having a good game is often not quite good enough. Monetization often isn’t higher than the cost of acquiring new users.

We believe that “We are running a service, not a product”, so that our games must constantly be kept fresh and new with updates to improve quality of content and gameplay. With so much competition the users are becoming more and more demanding. And that pushes all of us in industry to make better and better games.

How important is it that you have a multiplatform product, and to what extent are you focussing on mobile and tablet?

Creating a new social game can easily involve 6 months work for a team of 15-20 people. That is a lot of fixed costs to recoup, therefore it is important to try to get the new game on as many platforms as possible. Because of this we have created GIP (Global Integration Platform) as a type of middleware to connect our proprietary games, as well as the games we publish for third parties, with the 18 platforms we serve.

Mobile and tablet games are the new hot field and we are putting a large part of resources into game development. Some large players that from the SNS gaming space such as Zynga & Electronic Arts are naturally reallocating resources and growing quickly into this space, but there is still much space for new entries and Happy Elements as well as many are rushing to establish a strong market presence.

What is it like to work at Happy Elements? What type of company culture are you keen to foster?

Ours is a very young relaxed, fun team-oriented company culture. We are trying to foster a merit-based culture that rewards innovation and self-motivation. Since demand for top talent in this sector can be so fierce it is especially important for us to create not only a friendly place to work, but also a place where employees feel challenged to grow professionally.

Outside of your own market, what do you think is the hottest emerging trend or technology right now?

I see smart phone technologies getting smarter and smarter and this combined with location-based technologies will make the mobile in our pocket and even more of a powerful, multi-use tool in our lives.  Things that we probably can’t even imagine now, but will definitely also include innovations to make gaming ever more exciting and engaging for the users.

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