Matthew Jarvis visits Green Man Gaming to check out the rapidly growing digital PC games specialist, discover how growing too fast caused its ceiling to collapse and find out why every company should have a beer fridge…
Launched in May 2010, PC game download platform Green Man Gaming (GMG) has since rocketed to success. It’s been identified as one of the Government’s high-potential ‘Future Fifty’ firms and is predicted by SVC2UK to generate £100 million in profit within five years.
That’s a lot of expectation for a relatively young company, but GMG is already proving its worth, acquiring social platform Playfire and expanding to offer physical products just two years after its launch.
The military past of Paul Sulyok (pictured), CEO and co-founder of GMG – and former British Army Captain – is apparent in his firm handshake. He appears a man deeply dedicated to his firm and colleagues – deliberately placing his desk among the ranks of his employees.
“When we started, there were two of us in an office, face to face,” Sulyok recalls.
“That was in September-November time. We literally had the same office for six hours, with a plant that we brought, and then they booted us out because we were too insignificant.”
Sulyok and fellow co-founder Lee Packham moved to a different area of the same floor, and set to work on the upcoming launch.
“We said: ‘We’ll sell games in the UK, after 18 months sell a few games in Northern Europe and after three years maybe do Southern Europe,’” Sulyok explains.
But things didn’t quite go as planned.
“In the first six hours of launching we sold 400 games in Japan,” he continues.
“I took the growth chapter out of my business plan and put it in the bin.”
Even the firm’s own office couldn’t keep up.
“We started taking walls down to provide more space, knocking down wall after wall,” Sulyok says.
“And then the ceiling collapsed.
“We took out too many walls, and the builders had left the plasterboard stumps in the ceiling. We were ceiling-less for four weeks over Christmas last year.”
With a restored roof over their heads, GMG is laying the foundations for more growth – and the key is data.
Upbeat PR manager Tracey introduces me to several key figures. One is jokingly lambasted for pinching a woolly hat that Tracey knitted – the staff seem a tight, friendly bunch.
“And this is our data scientist, Paul Gesiak,” she continues.
Clasped between a set of headphones, Gesiak’s gaze is fixed on his screen. His role is so vital he never removes his headphones, I’m told.
The purchase of Playfire and Gesiak’s appointment were the first steps in discovering exactly what gamers want, and working to cater to each and every one.
“With Playfire, we can see every single game players have ever owned on a platform, how many times they’ve played it, which achievements they’ve scored – in some games I can even see how many bullets they’ve fired,” Sulyok says.
“People have different tastes. The main thing is to make sure you offer the right product at the right time, when they’re liable to take it – that’s the proposition we have.”
Customers aren’t the only focus – GMG knows how to keep its staff happy too.
“We have an office beer fridge, which is always fully-stocked and unlocked at 5pm everyday,” Tracey tells me.
“Because we’re a digital site, it’s a 24/7 job, so being able to relax a little can make a long evening that much easier.
“Every company should have one – it’s an ideal end to a busy day or week.”
Considering how quickly GMG continues to grow, it’s great that the staff seem as happy and relaxed as they are – they’re aimed at the stars, and there’s nothing alien about that.
Year established: 2010
Number of staff: 55
Contact: 020 7135 2274
Address: Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD