…Community-focused. Listen to community feedback so that your product brings incredible value to your target audience. Be willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake to your community and do whatever it takes to adjust the game so that you keep the trust of those playing it.
As a part of our series about what’s around the corner for the toy, game, and video game industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Uri Marchand.
Uri Marchand is the CEO and Co-Founder of Overwolf, the guild for in-game creators. Built for creators by creators, Overwolf is the all-in-one platform that enables creators to build, distribute, and monetize in-game apps and mods. Under Uri’s leadership, Overwolf has seen exponential growth with more than 15M MAU, 30,000 creators, and a team of 85 employees. With over 15 years in the technology industry, Uri is a leader in establishing and scaling software operations. Prior to founding Overwolf, he founded and led Applicell, a cross-platform e-learning product. A graduate of the prestigious Zell Entrepreneurship Program, Uri has a Magna cum Laude degree in computer science and served as a search and rescue helicopter pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Uri plays League of Legends and PUBG.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?
We started Overwolf in 2010 as fresh Computer Science grads with a big passion for building gaming apps. When we started Overwolf, our aim was to build a swiss-army knife type software, with all the features we were missing while playing games. Our first features included in-game overlay apps for Skype, Facebook, game capture, and even an in-game web browser. The key inspiration came from either the features we were missing or from existing products and use cases that we felt could be done a lot better if designed specifically for gamers. From day one, our team had a passion for enhancing the gaming experience.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
While it’s hard to find the most interesting story, I think that the story behind Trucky Overlay is a very interesting one. Trucky is an app built by a single developer, who’s passionate about Truck Simulators. Since I play other games, I haven’t personally used Trucky, but I was recently presented with the creator’s work and was blown away. The app is very impressive, and the scope and value the creator was able to bake into his app, his website, and even his Partners Program is impressive. The main lesson to learn here is the formula of passion + tools = amazing creations.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Bruce Hack, a board member at Overwolf, has been a tremendous inspiration to me and has contributed a lot to our success. While I feel it’s really up to the entrepreneur to do the actual heavy lifting, knowing what to lift is often hard. Bruce has been instrumental in providing guidance on what’s important and helping us stay true to our values.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Everything we do at Overwolf is geared toward people who create in-game apps and mods that enhance the gaming experience for players around the world. Building products around games can be hard, and it’s usually not financially rewarding. Last year, we acquired CurseForge from Twitch to empower mod authors to not only create better experiences for gamers but also make a living from their passion. The essence of what we do is to build a new profession in the world, and the fact we have creators making anywhere from a hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars every month is a huge privilege for us.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell us about the technological innovations in gaming that you are working on?
Third-party content around games, which includes apps, mods, or gaming websites has existed since the genesis of gaming. Passionate gamers who were also techies helped in the creation of content for their favorite games like Dota 2 and League of Legends. Millions of gamers enjoy their creations, but they don’t get the credit or the compensation for it because they’ve remained out of the spotlight. These creators lack the advanced tools, the distribution, or the resources AAA developers already have.
Overwolf is changing that by being the all-in-one platform for in-game creators who make in-game apps and mods. Aside from the tech platform, Overwolf offers creators a lot of resources to get started and stay focused. Services like QA and testing by pro gamers, technical support, development resources, and marketing solutions, allow creators to solely focus on building the best app they can. In only a few weeks, creators can build and publish a high-quality app, share it with millions of gamers, and turn a hobby into a lucrative business if they desire.
How do you think this might disrupt the status quo?
We have essentially turned what was once a hobby into a new profession — in-game creators.
This is similar to a YouTube or Twitch streamer, but instead of the creator being a very good gamer or entertainer, she’s a developer. As the game industry looks to User Generated Content (UGC) to improve the gaming experience, we will see creators pioneering the future growth of the industry with their valuable creations. Additionally, the more content and customizability a game has, the more likely a gamer will keep experiencing its content and by that extending the longevity of the game and generating more value for game developers and publishers in the long run.
You, of course, know that games and toys are not simply entertainment, but they can be used for important purposes. What is the “purpose” or mission behind your company? How do you think you are helping people or society?
Overwolf is on a mission to unite the in-game creator community and empower them to make a living doing what they love — developing truly awesome gaming experiences. With over 30,000 creators and 15 million monthly active users, Overwolf is the all-in-one platform that enables creators to create, distribute, and monetize in-game apps and mods.
Traditionally, most of the creators of in-game apps and mods have been scattered, isolated, and not getting paid significantly for their valuable contributions to the industry. Overwolf is changing this and paid out 10 million dollars to in-game creators in 2020 alone.
I’m very interested in the interface between games and education. How do you think more people (parents, teachers etc.) or institutions (work, school etc.) can leverage toys or gamification to enhance education?
The best step forward is for schools to embrace esports and gaming as a legitimate extracurricular activity and possible career path.
How would you define a “successful” game or toy? Can you share an example of a game or toy that you hold up as an aspiration?
A successful game or toy is one that you feel warmly about playing with over and over again. To me, the magic of a game could come in many different ways — the social experience around it, the mechanics, the story, or really any other characteristics. The true differentiator is that sense of “I want to play” that never fades.
What are the “5 Things You Need to Know To Create a Successful Game” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Community-focused. Listen to community feedback so that your product brings incredible value to your target audience. Be willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake to your community and do whatever it takes to adjust the game so that you keep the trust of those playing it.
2. Passion for games. If you don’t have a passion for games, you will burn out and not last long in this industry. The most respected leaders in the industry are those that have gaming as part of their DNA.
3. Extreme Tenacity. Anybody who has created a successful game or in-game app knows that extreme persistence is needed to overcome the numerous obstacles you will face.
4. Clear vision. Everybody needs a strong north star to guide them and concrete goals to achieve.
5. Financial support. This one is a little obvious but has to be stated. If you don’t have the backing of investors or supportive services, your great game may never see the light of day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life was to listen to the Non-Violent Communication workshop by Marshall Rosenberg. My thinking is that communication is a key area in which we humans often lack. Whether it’s because of cultural differences, education, habits, or religion — many of the conflicts in our world could have been solved by better communication. I love the Non-Violent Communication training and I would love for it to be more popular.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Big vision, small bites.” If you want to achieve something big, you have to dream huge. But if you try to take giant steps towards it, you may miss it altogether. When pursuing huge goals, many small steps work better.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.