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Driving the growth of CTV gaming: M51 and Playtium

Ronen Menipaz

Ronen Menipaz

21.01.2021

People’s appetite for gaming continues to grow as we’re at a point where playing through a connected TV (CTV) is becoming widespread. The switch from cable or satellite subscriptions to CTV streaming (aka cordcutting) has been steady over the past couple of years but the pandemic rapidly increased online streaming, including this new gaming audience reachable only in the streaming environment.

So, we’ve decided to present our ace in the sleeve when it comes to winning the CTV gaming jackpot: Playtium.

We sat down with Andrey Migalovich, the mastermind behind the company and its technology, to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest in CTV gaming, and what his company is doing to further its growth.

The future of CTV gaming

Andrey, tell us a little bit about Playtium first.

In one sentence – Playtium is a ROKU gaming company. 

As an online streaming platform, Roku emerged as one of the foremost options for cordcutters so we decided to focus our efforts solely on it. 

Because it’s both a hardware and software company, Roku can also function as a gaming device, and that’s the space we’re aiming for at the moment.

Playtium - a ROKU gaming company

As of 2020, it had an estimated 51.2 million active accounts in the US alone, which makes it prime ground for CTV gaming. 

Right now, we’re a company of five people but seeing as we’re hiring, that number will definitely grow very soon.

For those uninitiated – what is CTV gaming?

CTV gaming is a less formal type of console gaming that closely matches a mobile experience. While consoles like PlayStation and Xbox represent the high end of gaming on TV, CTV gaming is more like an extended form of mobile gaming via a CTV platform. 

In other words: CTV gaming is a casual gaming experience for casual gamers on a TV screen. We’re talking about people who are, for example, taking a gaming break from watching their favorite show but aren’t really going for something heavy-duty like Fortnite or Cyberpunk 2077. They want something simple, yet engaging enough to pass the time.

Playtium is a year and a half old now – tell us a little bit about your beginnings.

We began by developing slot machine games because that was what appealed to people. It was the quickest source for our startup to support itself in terms of finance. The opportunity was there as even though it’s a saturated market on mobile, there was initially a very small amount of slot machine games on Roku.

Plus, there were a lot of constraints device-wise that didn’t allow us to develop anything more interesting at first. However, as the industry began to grow and evolve, so did Playtium in terms of HR. We started developing more and more games and eventually branched out of the specific niche of slot machines to video poker games, blackjack, and such. A few months ago, we began creating real hyper-casual for Roku – the same type of games you see on mobile devices. 

I am proud to say that we’ve built our own game engine, effectively solving the biggest challenge we had since day 1. Just like Unity is a standard for the mobile gaming industry in terms of development, we’ve basically created our own version of Unity for Roku game development. This means we can develop a game in two weeks from start to finish. That really makes us happy and excited as we’re just starting to create multiple, quality games. Right now, we’re recruiting more developers, more designers, and getting a bigger office to accommodate our growth.

Galactic Hero game by Playtium
Galactic Hero by Playtium

We won’t abandon the slot machine niche altogether as it provides us with the support to continue doing what we love to do. Thanks to M51’s help, our company is making some money out of itMost of our efforts are bootstrapped so a solid revenue stream helps a lot to push on. 

What was the role of M51 in all of that?

In a nutshell, M51 is our home, our headquarters that provides us with all the necessary HR and tools apart from finance. I am part of the M51 management so I know full well what to expect and what’s in storeIn other words: a hands-on approach and strategic guidance that will help Playtium navigate to success.

That’s the M51 way: working closely with portfolio companies to help them achieve goals that seemed unattainable at first. Playtium is no different in that regard as we got a roof over our heads and we’re constantly stimulated to be creative and think outside the box. 

For example, one of the benefits of being in a hub like that is sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas with other people. I’m also a partner at OVIVO Games (mobile gaming company and one of M51’s most successful portfolio brands) so these healthy discussions benefit Playtium on the CTV market side and OVIVO on the mobile market side. It’s an incredible opportunity to absorb knowledge and grow, both as an entrepreneur and a company. 

Thanks to the conducive environment of M51, we gained a complete understanding of the CTV market on a company level. We now understand all the ins and out, how to create quality content and monetize it. Basically, we’re just scaling up now, and I have to admit I find this to be the most exciting time for us.

M51 and Playtium zoom call
The gang at a recent Zoom meeting

Future plans?

We’ll be definitely moving beyond Roku and expanding into other CTV platforms by the end of the year. Right now, we are our own clients but we plan to push our game engine (our technological and creative edge) toward other Roku developers. The idea is to evolve Playtium from a gaming company into a tech ecosystem for Roku developers and creators. 

For more immediate plans, we’re looking for mobile game publishers with whom we’d be able to create their brand on Roku. The idea is to form a publishing-like model of business where we create the assets and work together on the CTV part of branding.

So many plans, so little time! 

Satisfying the gaming appetite

As streaming platforms and content creators race to meet the growing content demands of consumers worldwide, delving into new digital areas with established gaming roots seems logical and appealing. With CTV’s breakthrough year in 2020 and a change in viewing habits that will stick around for the time being, there is no going back. 

In 2021, we can expect the CTV market to begin to mature and smart TV manufacturers making CTV apps (games included) more discoverable. While most of these games might not break the mold, they are a great way to improve device functionality and offer a convincing casual gaming experience. Coupled with gaming’s continuing growth and high engagement, it wouldn’t surprise us to see gaming-inspired innovation branching out to other sectors. 

That’s CTV for you.

Stay in touch with Playtium via LinkedIn and check out their selection of games.

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