In this interview, we've had the chance to talk with Martin Spinetto, founder and CEO at Widow Games, which is a game developer company from Argentina founded in 2012. What makes them stand out is that they specialize in porting popular board and card games to digital platforms. As exciting as that sounded, the first thing that stuck in my head is the name, why Widow? So, I had to ask how did he come up with it, and is there any hidden symbolism behind it.
Martin Spinetto - Yes, I founded Widow Games back in 2012. But with all honesty, it started to get interesting in 2013 when I realized exactly what was the mission of the company: to port famous and classic board games to digital platforms. The name came from my love for Tim Burton's movies. I wanted to create a character that was dark and mysterious, but naive at the same time, and I couldn't think of anything more mysterious than a Widow smiling...
GameBuz - After many years of working for Microsoft Latam, how hard was it to make such a big step and start something new from scratch?
Martin Spinetto - It was definitely much harder than I expected, no question about that! In a big corporation, your ability to make a big difference is really tough since there is always bureaucracy in the middle, and that could be somewhat frustrating. But on the other hand, you have a lot of resources at your disposal.
In a start-up, everything depends on your ability and you can make a big change in seconds, but you lack resources, and it is a constant struggle to survive with the minimum. Also, as a founder, I never worked so many hours, but when you are doing what you love, it doesn't feel like work.
GameBuz - Your main goal is digitalizing classic tabletop games. Does that mean you are a fan of tabletop games, or was that just the best strategy for success in the gaming industry?
Martin Spinetto - Actually, it is both! I’ve always loved tabletop games since I was very little, and the same goes for video games. But I also decided to take this approach based on the fact that today, in mobile gaming, the challenge is not only creating a really good game that will retain and monetize users, but also how to generate traction and awareness of the game in an over-saturated space like Google Play and App Store. By developing video games based on classic board game mechanics, we solved the “Discoverability” challenge with “Familiarity”.
GameBuz - Carrera de Mente and T.E.G. are your most successful releases, but are they your favorites as well? Or, maybe, you didn’t have the chance to digitalize your favorite board game yet?
Martin Spinetto - It's true that Carrera de Mente and T.E.G. were actually my favorite board games, so I felt really satisfied when we had the chance to port them to mobile for the very first time. But now my favorite (from our portfolio) is GEOPOLY since it's the most ambitious and innovative game we have ever made.
GameBuz - Since you’ve already had success in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the US, what’s next? Do you have any plans for spreading your creations worldwide?
Martin Spinetto - Totally! I just came back from Korea, and last year I was in China as well. Those markets are super interesting, but it is a beast that’s really hard to dominate. You need a local partner in order to be successful, and we are looking into that.
GameBuz - What are the biggest challenges you’ve had so far, and what was the most rewarding part of being in the gaming industry?
Martin Spinetto - My biggest challenge was how to monetize in an emerging region like Latam successfully. If you only rely on users paying by credit card, you are missing a huge opportunity there. So, we started working with the biggest carriers in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, and we developed a subscription platform with all of our games where users can pay for it with in-carrier billing. Nowadays, we have more than 500 thousand monthly subscribers just in Brazil.
GameBuz - Any advice you can give to young developers just entering the Gaming Industry?
Martin Spinetto - Yes: not to do it for the money! Do it because you love video games! The path is really hard and it requires a lot of sweat and tears, but if you love what you do, you will enjoy every moment of the perfect convergence between creativity and technology.
GameBuz - Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Martin Spinetto - Sure! I would like to ask all of them to try our latest Beta of GEOPOLY, the mix between Pokemon GO! and Monopoly, where players can buy, improve, and sell real-life properties across the world. You can download Early Access on Google Play and on Testflight for iOS. For more info you can check our website.