Mobile Game Maker Storm8 Competes With Goliaths of the Industry

4/3/12Follow @xconomy

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the competition from some of the biggest powerhouses in gaming. “For all the competitors in this space, it’s not the case that if someone wins, so-and-so loses,” he says. “There’s enough growth for everyone to be successful. All the companies have to invest lots of time and money into the space.”

But that said, he believes that Storm8 has to distinguish itself by moving quickly and identifying new trends in mobile gaming. When the company started building for the iPhone back in 2009, they were among the first. By 2010 they were on Android as well, “and back then, it wasn’t all that hyped up,” he says. Last year, they began to create in HTML5, and were among Facebook’s Open Graph launch partners. “We keep innovating and stay ahead of the curve, compared to bigger companies that might not be able to spot those trends,” he says.

Storm8 also constantly invests in its back end, reinforcing its infrastructure so that the company can be agile enough to quickly create new genres of games. In 2010, they launched another brand called TeamLava with more gender-neutral games. “You’re not trying to fight your friends, you’re trying to send them gifts to help them build whatever structure they’re trying to build,” he says. “That was our second brand, and that’s been a phenomenal success.”

Storm8's office in Redwood City, CA

In the last three years, as the company has grown from that first group to 110 employees, Tam has found it increasingly important to invest in the happiness of his team. Storm8′s Chief People Officer, Laura Yip (a co-founder, also Tam’s wife), started a program called the “Pimp Your Desk” competition, where each new employee gets a stipend to decorate his or her desk with a theme. Employees compete against the other new additions, and the winner gets an iPad. One employee even went so far as to create a Tron theme, neon lights and all.

Tam also borrowed an idea from his time at Facebook, hosting hackathons between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m. Teams are expected to get everything they need, including the engineers, to actually make something. It’s been a great way for the company to generate creativity, Tam says. “You come up with some ideas and implement them. Don’t just say you want to do it. Lots of people even create their own games.”

For Tam, this team-oriented culture is really important to the success of the company. “There are no cubicles, no offices; it’s all open space. We really want to drive home the point that we are collaborative.”

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