Mobile game company BonusXP found the perfect place to grow in the Watters Creek development in Allen, Texas.
The game studio was started in April 2012 by three industry veterans of titles such as “Age of Empires,” and now has 15 employees. That growth meant finding a larger office space that would appeal to employees and set the stage for future expansion.
“A lot of the decision was based on the development of the area where we’re going to be located. There’s a really nice live/work/play atmosphere in the area. It’s a nice, subtle perk to have an office in a cool location,” says Dave Pottinger, founder and CEO of BonusXP.
Smart Business spoke with Pottinger about BonusXP and the company’s new offices in Allen.
Was the office decision based on location or assistance from the city and the Allen Economic Development Corporation?
It was mutual. It’s a good location that’s near home, and we were introduced to the development corporation, which was able to provide some economic incentives and help us get involved in the community. They were able to connect us with technology staff at the Allen school district for assistance in getting interns.
Even for a city with a population of 90,000, Allen is still able to provide unique services to companies relocating here. The economic development corporation tailored its help to what we needed. Once we get bigger we’ll receive some economic incentives.
Was it important to be around similar companies?
Although there are small tech corridors nearby, that really wasn’t a factor in the decision. Dallas has a thriving tech culture, but there aren’t really any within walking distance.
What types of games does BonusXP develop?
We’re up to two teams now and recently launched ‘Cavemania,’ which is available on iTunes for iPhones and iPads and Google Play for Android devices. It’s more original than a lot of games. We’re known for strategy games, like ‘Age of Empires.’ When you develop a game, it needs to be familiar enough so people understand how to play, but with new elements to capture their interest. ‘Cavemania’ is kind of a mix of ‘Candy Crush’ and ‘Age of Empires.’ You move around the board and gather resources, which are spent on characters used to fight dinosaurs and save your town.
We take an old-school approach to games. We build our games without any monetization — make a fun game and then try to figure out what people would be willing to pay to make the game better or customize their character.
What are the plans for BonusXP’s future?
Reaching 15 employees was a big goal because it enabled us to have two teams. The next step would be getting to 20 or 25 employees.
We’re in a difficult industry. People want downloadable games to be free. The barrier to entry is very low, but it also creates a simultaneous low barrier to exit. When people pay $60 for a game, they give it time to decide if they like it or conclude they wasted their money. When a game is free, they move on if they don’t see something new in 15 to 20 seconds. It’s a hit-driven business where the top 10 games make most of the money. Then there’s a big dropoff.
We’ve been lucky enough with some of our previous jobs to be able to self-fund the company and build it. We’ve been fortunate and now we’re trying to build a studio that works the way we’d like it to.
Would you recommend Allen to other companies looking to relocate?
Definitely. It’s a nice area and has a little bit of everything. This location is in a medium-sized development, but there are about 15 restaurants you can walk to for lunch. We were able to build out an office that was simpler because we didn’t need things like a café — employees can walk out the door and get better items than what we would have in the studio.
The Allen Economic Development Corporation also was very helpful and that certainly was a factor in deciding to come to Allen.
Dave Pottinger is founder and CEO of BonusXP. Reach him at (214) 616-8771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the Allen Economic Development Corporation at www.allentx.com or call (972) 727-0250.
Insights Economic Development is brought to you by the Allen Economic Development Corporation