As Co-Founder and CEO of pnkfrg studios, Philipp Lanik wants to push entertainment to the next level. pnkfrg studios strives for the fulfillment of the needs and demands of the next generation of mobile casual players. In this regard, we talk about crypto-gaming, free-to-play and play-to-earn as well as the future of gaming.
You are the Co-Founder and Managing Director of pnkfrg studios. Why did you choose Berlin as the location for your headquarter?
Simply because of the people. Even in this short time we have an incredible core team in place because of the great pool of creative and technical talent in the city. In addition, it is centrally located in Europe - so the distance to all other important hubs, like London, Stockholm, Helsinki or Barcelona is quite close. All in all, Berlin is a great city to work and to live in - amazing cultural offer, high living quality, inspiring people, a lot of green areas and lakes. As an Austrian the only thing I am missing are mountains.
Until 2021, you were Vice President and Studio General Manager at King, the publisher that brought us the Candy Crush franchise. In your opinion, what makes Candy Crush so accessible to and popular with the players? What did you learn in your previous position for the foundation of your own studio and in regard to the development of successful games?
I worked for around 8 years for King and of course there are a lot of learnings out of this time. Understanding a casual mass audience, making games easily accessible, providing a sustainable long term entertainment and everything related to mobile f2p economy are only a few of them. Personally, I think my experience of leading a team like Candy Crush and scaling up a business up to 100 million daily active users will always have a lasting impact on my thinking about scale - and therefore my work and ambition.
You want to establish a new gaming genre. What is your vision and how do you want to realize it?
We are focusing on the needs and demands of what we call the “next generation of mobile casual players” - so what is coming after Candy Crush Saga for a casual mass audience. With our product we are addressing the needs of this generation of mobile natives and social creators. We want people to play our games on their daily commute or break, getting crypto rewards for their engagement and giving them the opportunity to spend it directly in real life afterwards - direct, frictionless, rewarding. You´ve just earned your coffee.
Please, tell us more about crypto gaming. What is already out there and what new perspectives does pnkfrg studios bring to the table?
Mobile casual gaming, f2p economics and working with big scale games is our core expertise. Bringing this perspective to a crypto game also means to challenge and touch the complete payment flow around our gaming experience - with the goal to make the complete crypto gaming experience as accessible as possible. Therefore we are also working together with the most innovative partners out of the Bitcoin and Lighting space, rendering the process itself also an incredible experience.
Is play-to-earn the future of gaming?
Personally I am not a big fan of the term “play-to-earn”, as I believe it is quite misleading. As game makers we always put the “entertainment experience” first. We will continue to have different categories of gaming. What we understand today as cryptogames will evolve and will be another permanent category of gaming, with different technologies and new business models. The reasoning for this is mostly based on accelerating technologies and in particular the support of “scale” within this technology space. In addition, the demand will continue to grow due to a growing mobile native generation which is moving their social life even closer into a digital world.
What is your take on the lootbox discussion and what is the difference between play-to-earn and gambling? How do you prevent your games from being put into that corner?
An interesting question - as all three topics are quite unique and it's hard to find commonalities between all three of them from a technical perspective. Our games are in none of these categories - but can be defined as cryptogames due to the integration of Bitcoin and the lightning network. Nevertheless, gaming is the biggest and fastest growing entertainment industry - and by far more influential than film or TV. As game makers we are a big part of our society and change - it is our responsibility to listen, to stay in an active dialogue and reflect this responsibility in our decisions and actions.
Blockchain, crypto, NFT, the Metaverse – terms that are impossible to ignore within the industry in recent times. How do you rate Berlin’s potential and company landscape to keep up with the current trends?
Technology is accelerating, society is changing, young people are moving their social lifestyle closer into a digital environment. Gaming itself is outpacing other entertainment categories. The demand for security and decentralization driven by technology will see a paradigm shift in a lot of areas in the upcoming years. This shift will provide opportunities for companies to innovate and grow. Berlin has a lot of characteristics to participate in this change. It is attractive to talent and it's a creative and inspiring environment. But, in the end, no place is perfect, what matters is how open it is to change. So it's fair to ask, what's Berlin's strategy to ride the wave into the future?