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How AppOnboard’s software is helping the gaming industry evolve

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As video game usage sees a spike amid the coronavirus pandemic, game developers are evolving their software to fit a changing marketplace. AppOnboard CEO Mike Seavers joins The Final Round panel to break down how the gaming space is changing.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: I want to turn now to the gaming industry and some of the trends that we're seeing there. The trends in the sector over the past several months as the pandemic has kept millions of people home, we've talked about the fact that more and more people than playing video games over the last several months. For more on that, I want to bring in Mike Seavers. He's AppOnboard CEO, also the former chief technology officer at Riot Games.

And Mike, congratulations on the new position. Now AppOnboard, for our viewers who don't know, basically let's anyone with an idea build and publish games without any code. But I first want to get to your thoughts on what we've seen play out in the industry over the last several months. How big of an uptick has this sector experienced in terms of the volume and then simply just the opportunity of attracting a number of new users?

MIKE SEAVERS: Yeah, I think the sector as a whole has obviously seen a lot of growth. But my personal thought is, that's riding on the back of what is already a really big trend and platform shift in the industry, from PC to mobile. The US is really just catching up to other markets in the world, where in China, most video games are played on mobile devices. And they're continuing to see huge growth, and that trend is just continuing in the US. So I do think, as more people have been at home, I think you're seeing a lot more interest in even hyper casual games and those games that lend themselves to killing time. I think we're just going to continue to see that trend into the future.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, Mike, it's interesting, when we think about a lot of those hit games out there, both when you think of the well-known studios that are behind those games, like your old company, Riot Games. But when it comes to gaming development, I guess it doesn't have to be as complex as we always thought it was. Because at AppOnboard, you're addressing this and letting people build and publish those games without any code. So what is the builder experience like? And I guess what kind of traction, what kind of interest are you getting for this from users out there?

MIKE SEAVERS: Yeah. I think the experience for anyone who's a creator, if you go into the application, you're going to get an interface where you see templates that are trends in the market that you can start from. And using, really, just your creativity, drag and drop, changing some of the knobs and dials, you can really create some really fascinating and interesting games.

And I think there's a huge place for this in the market because other media, other parts of the media sector, have seen huge shifts. If you look at big budget TV shows and movies-- there's 2.2 million hours of content, roughly, I think on Netflix was the last stat I saw. But consumers upload over 500 hours a minute on YouTube, and it's because technology made it easy for them to create compelling content.

Gaming is kind of far behind because gaming has traditionally been very technically complex. And so with tools like Buildbox, we're making it as easy for people to create video games as the big budget studios. So I don't think we'll ever replace big budget studios. There will always be a place for the Riots of the world to have really compelling game experiences. But if you're someone who has a great game idea, and maybe you want to build a business for yourself or make some money on the side or even start your own game studio, the technology is often in the way. And this just makes it easy for everyone to have that opportunity.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Mike. Rick Newman here. Is there a correlation between the volume of game playing and unemployment?

MIKE SEAVERS: That's a good question. I actually don't know. I would imagine there would have to be some correlation there, as people have free time on their hands. I think a lot of people like to spend that free time playing games. But that's certainly not the majority, I would think, of the increase. I think a lot of people just love playing games, that we're seeing a huge growth in the gaming sector just as gaming becomes more accessible to more people.

- Mike, we've seen so many of these platforms expand their pool of users over the last three, four months, largely because so many people were staying at home. What have you seen in the gaming space?

MIKE SEAVERS: Yeah, so we've had about 950% increase in our users since we released our free version in the fall of last year. And I think some of that could be described by people that are now looking for other ways to generate income or things like that. But again, I do think it's really hard for us to tell, at least currently, how much of that is driven by people staying home, looking for ways to start their own business to make money, versus there's this platform in the market that just appeals to people who are now trying to ride the wave of this influx of gaming into a more consumer space.

SEANA SMITH: It is interesting, though, when you take a look at the trends that we have seen in the gaming space. So it'll be interesting to see how many of those hold moving forward. Mike Seavers, App Onboard CEO. Thanks so much for joining us today.

MIKE SEAVERS: Thank you very much.