Aeria Games became one of the most successful providers of free to play games on the Internet by creating a truly global community, a rapidly scalable and extensible platform, and, most importantly, by publishing good games.
The 270 person company is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA and has over 25 million registered users (growing at 1 million users per month) for their free to play games. Forty percent are English speakers, forty percent are non-English speaking Europeans, and 20 percent in Latin America – of special note is Brazil where the number of active gamers is booming.
Aeria is a company built to deliver games internationally. And they have. Founded in 2006 in the USA with rapid expansion to Germany and Brazil, Aeria now offers high quality online games in nine languages in more than 30 countries. Games run the gamut of playfulness, including highly engaging fantasy MMORPGs, action shooters, anime-style social games, and multiplayer mobile titles.
“We wanted to build a global online community,” explains JT Nguyen, Chief Operating Officer. “We provide a single registration and a single virtual currency for all of our games so it is easy for users to play one or all of our games.” The company started publishing downloadable games, then browser based games and will soon launch its first mobile game. “There are hardcore gamers who will always want a downloadable game for a deeper experience, while the market that is really growing is the mid-core gamers who just want to have fun online together.”
Aeria Games prides itself on being more agile than the competition. “We succeed because we can move faster than anyone else into new territories,” says JT. “We build a team and a culture. Payment, customer service, and localization take place in every country where our games are played.” This ensures that localization takes places completely and accurately.
Aeria has focused on getting new players into the community and then making it fun for them to stay. Hundreds of volunteers, known as “game sages”, help newbies learn the nuances of the game and answer questions on message boards; they do this for access to in-game perks as well as for recognition within the community as leaders.
One of Aeria’s success factors is scalability. Games can be played in nine languages now. It might take a week to localize the web portal and then three or four weeks to localize the game. The platform is built to scale. According to JT, “Scaling the technology is basically transparent. Our biggest challenge is getting players into the community, playing the games, and sticking with the games.”
If you’re a game developer looking for a big way to launch online, then talk to Aeria Games. According to JT, “We are always looking for new games to publish. We take a portfolio approach … and experiment with different types of games: FPS, RPG, mini games, social games. The minimum requirement is that the game must provide a true multiplayer environment.”