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Marvel Snap and its developer, Second Dinner, are getting a lot of attention. Its publisher, Nuverse, is going a little more under the radar.
Nuverse is the gaming arm of ByteDance, the same Chinese company that owns TikTok. And just like with that video app, Nuverse has global ambitions.
I had the opportunity to speak with Nuverse’s senior director of global business, Tom van Dam. I asked him about the publisher’s global plans, the early success of Marvel Snap, the future of the mobile gaming market, and more. Below is an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: What exactly are Nuverse’s responsibilities as publisher of Marvel Snap?
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They go prey: We’re the global publisher of Marvel Snap, which means we do the marketing for the game, including user acquisition, branding, and everything that’s outward-facing. We do things like customer service. And then we also do a lot of operational and support activities, we extend the content that’s available to players by running events that are connected to the game, but don’t necessarily put a burden on the development team at the same time. That creates great synergy.
GamesBeat: This is still a relatively new publishing brand, but you have this Marvel game and you get to work with a new studio like Second Dinner and brands like One Piece.
They go prey: Yes, the company has been around for about five years, and then I’m specifically referring to Nuverse, which is the gaming unit of ByteDance. So there’s a five-year history, that’s relatively new. And certainly compared to other players in the industry, I think it’s a new company. But now we employ thousands of people. It’s definitely not a small operation, it’s definitely an operation that’s been established at scale to target the top of the market, we recruit a lot of high-end talent with backgrounds that tend to other blue-chip companies. And so as we build this, this organization that aims to provide fun and inspiring experiences to players around the world, we’ve made it a point to work with other partners who also subscribed to that particular version that wants to be big.
One Piece is a good example, and we have a deal with Electronic Arts for Red Alert IP in China. Marvel of course is great. And so there are many of these. So I think we started off strong, but there will definitely be more as we go down the road.
GamesBeat: I’m more familiar with Marvel Snap and I think a lot of my readers are too. What are some of the other types of highlights in your portfolio?
They go prey: Well, we’ve had a lot of success in Asian games like Ragnarok, the Red Alert 4X game that we did, but we’re also looking to the future where we’re about to release a game called Earth: Revival. That will be a product that will also reach players in the West. But obviously speaking, the Marvel Snap was meant to be our biggest flagship release in Western markets. So I think it’s only natural that that’s the first game that everyone gets to see.
GamesBeat: It’s been a few months since the launch of Marvel Snap. What has been the reaction of the players?
They go prey: Yes, we have been speechless. It was a pretty tense time, I think for everyone at Nuverse for our partners at Second Dinner, hoping the launch went well, and I think we’ve seen incredible sentiment from players and media.
GamesBeat: We think of a digital card game, the obvious thing to do is to sell cards from people and packs of cards. Marvel Snap is doing a different kind of monetization plan where he sells season passes and bundles.
They go prey: Yes it’s correct. I mean, you have the classic CCG games that use that method of selling cards, I think that’s one of the things that the Second Dinner team wanted to get away from, we wanted to make this a new take on the genre, which also meant innovation potential in the monetary aspect. And it has been well received. If you look at a lot of modern games, cosmetic monetization is very popular. And for those who want to play fair games and just put their time into the game, you have the same opportunities. So it’s a very good mix. I think it’s been very successful in other games, and it certainly seems to work for us with Snap as well.
GamesBeat: Marvel Snap is off to a good start. Can you keep up that momentum?
They go prey: Yes, we definitely bet on long-term trading. We want this game to last for many years. But of course, in the short term, the next exciting update will be Battle Mode, where you finally get a chance to play against someone you know, and we’re very excited about that, hopefully people will really cheer you on. your friends and everyone around you to have more Snap games [Battle Mode launched between the time of this interview and the publishing of this story]. And then going further into the future, you know that we already have an early access version of the game on Steam. But that’s just an early access version, we’re planning a lot more for the PC version. And that’s probably another big milestone for the game this year.
GamesBeat: Mobile gaming has seen the same titles dominate for years. Is it difficult these days to get a new success in the mobile field?
They go prey: Yes, I would say that it is quite difficult. It’s also not a very predictable business. You know, you see companies with big budgets and big IPs, and they still don’t get the best results and other games with lower budgets and unknown IPs suddenly skyrocket to the top of the charts. So it’s hit or miss. But of course if you focus on finding the right teams, what Nuverse has done with Second Dinner or some of the internal studios we’re building, you can increase the chances that you’ll deliver a very good game that players will love. and thus have a greater potential to reach the top of the market. And then of course the other thing you need is that triple-A marketing and financial horsepower to push a game to the top of the charts these days. So it depends on many ingredients. And if you have most of these ingredients, you can definitely increase your chances, and that’s what Nuverse is trying to do as well.
GamesBeat: You talked a bit about having IP and how that’s not all. But still, I imagine it helps.
They go prey: Yes, I would agree with that. It’s amazing that we have this partnership between Second Dinner, Marvel and us and some of the other IP holders that I mentioned earlier, like EA for Red Alert. So having just that IP makes things a bit easier. That initial connection that the IP can make between the game and the player is really very valuable. That’s why Marvel has also been amazing for us in promoting the Marvel Snap.
Game pace: How do you approach marketing to different markets?
They go prey: Nuverse is truly a globally minded publisher. When people often think of publishers in Asia, they think of taking their game to Asia, taking their game to China. But one of the reasons I joined the company was because of that global mindset. I previously spent time with other Chinese companies that also wanted to go global. But I think Nuverse really is global, right, not just focused on one part of the world. And so because we have this global mindset, we have what we call decentralized global publishing, which means there are multiple teams in different parts of the world. There’s a team in the US, a team in China, one in Japan, and other places, and they work together on a given game to give it the best focus locally, but then tie it into a global plan driven by a global strategy. .
So for example, for Marvel Snap, you know, it’s a game that works really well in the West. But we have also seen great success in Japan and Korea. And we use local teams under Nuverse that do what’s right for the game and for those markets.
GamesBeat: Are there any trends in mobile gaming that Nuverse finds interesting?
They go prey: You know, it’s a sensitive period in the sense that we’re seeing a bit of an economic slowdown, and that translates to global market growth being much slower than in years past. That is why it is very important that you find the right products. But because so many will fail, it’s hard to predict which ones will succeed. So it’s better to focus again on having a strong team that knows what they’re doing in the space, like Second Dinner and CCG for example. And have editorial teams that have a lot of experience in that particular category.
What Nuverse tries to do is prioritize developer success. Because if we can have two people who are good at what they do, in their particular genre, make the game that they think is right, that usually translates to something that players want to play. And that allows you, even in a perhaps shrinking market, to still have a game that is really interesting to players and generally generates success.
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