(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform blog)
Editor’s note: Today we hear from Daniel Hasselberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of mobile game development company, MAG Interactive, based in Stockholm, Sweden. MAG Interactive produces some of the most popular games in the world, including Ruzzle, which has more than 45 million players in 142 different countries.
When we launched our word game Ruzzle in 2012, we had no idea it would become an international sensation almost overnight. We initially promoted the game only to our family and friends, but within two weeks of our launch, Ruzzle was the No.1 game on the Swedish App Store.
I believe if we hadn’t used Google App Engine to build the backend of Ruzzle, we wouldn’t have been able to scale fast enough with our own servers, which would have killed the app in the marketplace. There were about a million downloads of Ruzzle per month in the Nordic region, Holland, Spain and Italy through 2012. As we refined the game’s social integration through channels like Facebook and Twitter, we grew rapidly in Italy and the United States. In 2013, Ruzzle became the No. 1 game download on Google Play and the App Store in Italy, Sweden, the United States and many other countries.
Things were especially crazy at the end of last year. We were seeing about 700,000 new players each day from December 2012 through January 2013. We added 20 million users in a single month! It was incredible to see App Engine scale – and just keep on working – as we grew from about 5 million players to 25 million players in just a few weeks.
Our decision to use App Engine as the platform for Ruzzle and our new game, QuizCross, was strategic. Some of us at MAG Interactive helped develop the server platform for one of the most popular music download services in the Nordic region, so we knew about the challenges of having to scale quickly. While we didn’t anticipate Ruzzle’s popularity, we did recognize even before creating the game that we could face scaling problems if we were successful. So we decided from day one to use a cloud solution.
We looked at Amazon’s platform but preferred Google’s approach to cloud solutions. Google’s scalability was an important factor in our decision, but we also appreciated the company’s transparent pricing. The more efficient we became with App Engine, the less we paid.
The Google Cloud Platform team has been great to work with, as well. They are very supportive and appreciate our feedback. The technical support experts at Google are amazing, too – very hands-on. They know the platform extremely well and can help us work through any challenge.
We’re also using Google BigQuery for business intelligence. We track millions of events in the game every day so we know what users are doing – or not doing – and how we should improve the experience. We really like that we can throw enormous amounts of data at BigQuery, and it still performs. It only takes a few seconds to get results, and there are no scaling issues. It’s also easy to use. We have just one data analyst doing all the work with BigQuery but could probably use more people. If there are a few brilliant data mining experts out there who can imagine a future in Stockholm, please give us a call!
One thing we’ve learned from our BigQuery analysis is that the more users play Ruzzle, the more they improve their skills. New players typically find about 18 words in the two-minute time frame they’re given. After they play 100 games, they can find about 50 words, on average. I think that tracking player improvement is what keeps people playing and has helped to make Ruzzle so popular.
BigQuery offers our company a lot of insight into the use of our games and how we can improve them. We’re looking forward to expanding our relationship with Google as App Engine and Cloud Platform evolves.