Wordgrams maker FunCraft has hit 7m installs and $15m revenue in its fifth year by deliberately making “unsexy” games other studios avoid, says CEO and cofounder Michael Martinez.
The studio was founded in 2019 with an initial $1.8m raise led by Play Ventures and supported by angels including Zynga founder Marc Pincus. Cofounders Michael Martinez and Jason McGuirk are Zynga veterans and also previously cofounded HonorBound and StormBorn maker Juicebox Games.
FunCraft now has a team of 15 remote workers and prides itself on making ‘boring’ daily ritual word games. “‘Embrace the unsexy to succeed’ is a sound strategy for any startup,” FunCraft CEO and cofounder Michael Martinez tells us.
“Especially in a maturing market that has seen heavy consolidation. We started FunCraft with the intention of going after untapped areas of the market or overlooked areas. We don’t want to go head-to-head with big giants whose sophistication with UA, segmentation and player payback windows totally overwhelms our own. A lot of developers or VCs want to go after MOBAs, shooters, and RPGs – good luck…”
The studio’s biggest hit to date is Wordgrams, but new title Word Yatzy is already outpacing its flagship game on several KPIs, the studio says. Martinez tells us his studio has conducted ‘over 300 ROAS experiments’ in the process of launching and managing its games, and has steadily built its business around testing and experimentation to eke out incremental improvements.
“We test everything. We measure everything,” Martinez continues. “Even features we’re pretty sure about we test – and are often surprised. It’s so important because we don’t want to clutter our game with features that don’t move the needle and add to ongoing maintenance costs and unneeded complexity.”
FunCraft’s games are partly inspired by Toon Blast’s approach to live ops and social gaming, says Martinez, and 70% of its audience is female, the majority aged between 25 and 55. The FunCraft boss adds that while the word game genre is pretty crowded already, to date relatively few studios have taken the deeper systems present in other genres and applied them in this context.
“Given our team’s experience on invest-express, casino, and RPGs we wanted to take some of these metagame and social features and apply them to word games,” he says. “We feel we can better serve word game players by giving them deeper goals and reasons to keep playing.”