For our debut blog post, we quizzed the man who has been at the helm of our company for over a year after moving from health tech to the video games industry. Matt reflects on 2018 highlights, how the GENBA™ platform continues to innovate in 2019, and breaking into Asia and beyond…
Tell us a bit about your background before you joined Genba Digital.
I joined Genba Digital full time at the end of 2017, having spent over a decade in health technology, which was a brilliant and challenging sector to work in. I was Managing Director at EMIS Health, which is the leading clinical technology business in the UK – where we looked after 40m patient records, 8m of which were directly accessed by patients via patient.info and the Patient app. As you can imagine, every day was exciting, as we took our responsibility very seriously and we were constantly looking to innovate our technologies and service for healthcare professionals and their patients.
I’m married and have two small children, so I took the opportunity to switch technology sectors and move back closer to home just before my second child arrived. The kids and the business are keeping me super busy, and I’m loving every day in our industry.
What have been some highlights for Genba over the past 12 months?
I think the people have been the real highlight. We’ve built a fantastic team at Genba Digital over the past few years; everyone is so passionate about what we do and who we work with. We’ve focused on our company culture and values, we’ve moved offices and I think we’ve built a growing business we can all be proud of.
Meeting new contacts at GDC, China Joy and Gamescom was absolutely fantastic. The people are so welcoming and eager to talk about new business. As a consequence, the new relationships with our clients have gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months – from adding PUBG and Square Enix to our Publisher portfolio, to opening up new Etailer relationships in the Americas, LATAM and Asia.
We’ve made some big technology decisions in the last year – and this really gathers pace in early 2019. Moving our Etailers onto the Ubisoft silent key activation distribution model has been a real achievement for us, and it shows the commitment of our industry leaders to tackle the ‘grey market’. We’ll be working in partnership with our clients to raise the bar on transparency and security still further in 2019.
What is your plan for Genba Digital?
It’s been 3 years now since we span out of Sony DADC. In that time, we’ve really grown up as a business to build a fabulous client base and double in size every year. Our plan for the next 3-5 years will see us continue this level of growth with four key elements. Firstly, we will grow our business in new territories. We’ll focus on Asia, the Americas and new EMEA countries to build an enviable global distribution network. Secondly, we will expand to support new platforms and channels – from digital console distribution to code on receipt sales channels. Thirdly, we will continue to drive forward our content strategy – always seeking to add the best AAA titles and the rising indie star titles to our portfolio. Fourthly, we will develop new data services that leverage the assets of the GENBATM platform for the benefit of our Publisher and Etailer clients.
Supporting all of this, we have embarked on our largest technology transformation project since we started. Our next generation technology will facilitate all of our growth markets and will support the strategic move towards direct entitlement solutions for all digital games distribution.
What lessons can you bring from your past experience that will help both Genba Digital and the wider market?
When I joined Genba Digital I knew what made successful technology businesses. But I didn’t understand the games industry. Yes, I was an avid gamer back in the 80s playing Way of the Exploding Fist on my ZX Spectrum, but I had no idea of just how sophisticated the industry had become. I’m learning lessons every day, which I love.
What I believe I can bring is a dedication to working in collaboration across the industry (an absolute necessity for survival in healthtech) and a focus on transparency and security – having led a high-risk business for years. I believe the combination of health tech’s ability to always see the bigger picture and the games industry’s incredible creativity and pace can bring a new level of success for Genba Digital. I’m really proud of our team, and learn from them every day we work together – I hope they feel the same way, but you’d need to ask them that question!
What would you say are the key factors that differentiate Genba from the competition?
I wanted to understand this as soon as I started. When we asked our clients – both Publishers and Etailers – they liked the combination of our technology, our service levels and our dedication to driving revenues. I don’t think it is one single element, it’s the blend of all of these strengths that makes us the partner of choice for our clients. Everything we do – from our business objectives to our personal objectives – is focused on improving one or more of those elements. That’s what motivates us and pleases our clients, so we’ll focus relentlessly on this.
Photo from ChinaJoy website.
You went to China Joy in August this year. What insight did you gain about Asian markets?
That was a brilliant highlight. I had no idea what to expect, but we knew that we needed to explore the Chinese market and the UKIE trade mission was the perfect platform for us to do that. The consumer show was awesome and what struck me most from a business perspective was the innovation that’s happening in China and Asia. There was a real desire to engage with UK businesses and I felt proud that Genba was involved. The barriers to entering the Chinese market still remain stringent, but I think the games sector’s famous creativity and agility will find a way! And we’ll make sure we are part of that.
The digital console market has boomed in the past 4 years and isn’t slowing down. What are the opportunities here for the GENBA™ platform?
You are right, the digital console market is predicted to grow 15% YoY for the next 5 years. Perhaps, looking further into the future, the platform will become less relevant as console providers focus on their unerring ability to deliver amazing content. Our network of 3rd party online retailers are champing at the bit to sell digital console content and they have proven there is a growing appetite for digital games sold outside of the platform ecosystems. We will work with them to make that a reality.
Finally, what would you say are the main challenges facing the industry in the next 3-5 years and how do you think Genba Digital can have a positive influence?
This is an interesting question, as the games sector is so dynamic. I think we are already seeing that Publishers (especially the largest) are looking to take more control of the relationship with the player. Their forays into B2C direct relationships will help them understand more about their consumers, but it may disrupt the player experience if multiple player platforms emerge. Will players demonstrate the Publisher brand loyalty that the creators desire? It’ll be interesting to watch. Also, I think the business models for everyone will start to be challenged. In the healthcare industry, the focus has completely shifted – largely due to technology and data – to a ‘patient centric’ market. That’s why closed ecosystems are outmoded in healthcare. Interoperability and collaboration have become the modus operandi. If we see the games sector moving to even more of a ‘player centric’ industry, then perhaps we will all need to be ready to adapt how we build our businesses. We are excited, and ready.