Pixel Federation 2019 Annual Report

2019 was big for us. We launched two new mobile games, performed a successful managerial buyout, changed our structure to an employee stock company, won 3 valuable awards, and implemented some promising innovations.
At the same time, it was the first year in the development and publishing history of Pixel Federation, when we experienced a revenue drop compared to the previous year. So let’s look closely at what we’ve been through in the last year.

Who we are
We are an independent mobile game developer and publisher from Bratislava, Slovakia, and one of the most successful Slovak companies. Our studio was founded in 2007 by 4 game industry enthusiasts. Today, the revenues reach over 31 million euros a year and our team consists of 220+ geeks on a mission to entertain over 90 million players all around the world with beautiful free-to-play mobile games.

Change of proprietary structure
We entered 2019 with significant changes in the ownership structure. One of the founders, Filip Fischer, and the first financial investor, Martin Blaskovic, sold their company shares with a return on investment in thousands of percent. Two of the founders, Šimon Šicko and Marian Fridrich, are also members of the board of directors and currently own more than 60% of the shares. At the same time, they decided to give part of the shares to the company’s key employees and thus made a move to an employee stock company.

New Games
When it comes to game development, our strength and focus is on transport tycoons and puzzle games. After two successful transport-inspired games, Trainstation and Seaport, we decided to push the bar even higher with cute low poly 3D graphics and introduced Trainstation 2. The game was soft-launched to app stores in July, then carefully polished according to players’ and UX feedback. In December, we ran the marketing in its full strength and we are starting to see the first results of the hard work in Q1 of 2020.
With our second newbie, AFK Cats, we ventured from our comfort zone to the new genre of Idle RPG. The game full of cat heroes fighting in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world against the eternal feline enemy – the vacuum cleaner, was launched in the autumn and is waiting for its big “entré” after final improvements.

Financial Highlights
We’ve entered 2020 with 31,39M EUR revenues. Our strongest game Diggy’s Adventures earned over 15,6M and Seaport with 9,5M comes second. Trainstation, a 10-year-old project, is slowly declining but still vivid due to strong live ops and continuous care for players‘ community. As for the newbies, AFK cats still need some final touches, but Trainstation 2 is showing promising KPIs and despite the fact that its full monetization was delayed to December, it reached over 1M in revenues. Our oldest game, Emporea, generates small but fine revenues considering the fact that the game was fully automated 2 years ago and the costs are basically non-existent.

Nevertheless, the company’s overall revenues dropped from 33M in 2018 to 31M in 2019. Our CEO Simon Sicko explains the causes of this 5% EBIT decline“There are several reasons why this happened, but the most important ones are facts that the full releases of the two new TrainStation 2 and AFK Cats projects have been postponed to the end of the year and our live projects Diggy’s Adventures and TrainStation have not fulfilled their annual plan as expected. Despite these factors, I consider 2019 with 31 million revenue to be a successful year. We succeeded in launching several promising innovations and consolidating the work of the support departments such as marketing and UX.”

Marketing Highlights
With the oversaturation of the mobile gaming industry, marketing expenditures rise year after year. In 2019, our total marketing spend reached over 12M and brought us over 20,5M new registrations. The newly established close internal cooperation between Art, UA, and ASO teams pushes the productivity of the marketing department to a whole new level. The current team consists of 22 experts with diverse backgrounds from graphic design to data analysis. And it really pays off as it brought us over 10 features in the app stores and the 150% rise of CTI (Click to Install) of players acquired via the UA activities.

Employee Advocacy Highlights
We strongly encourage our pixel craft masters to speak up and share their experiences. Our talented experts shared their case studies, failures, and knowledge both online and live at more than 20 conferences around the world, including the world-famous GDC in San Francisco, Pocket Gamer Connect in Seattle and Helsinki or Reboot in Dubrovnik.
They gave talks about Game Design, UX DesignLive ops, and many more. And brought valuable knowledge and contacts back.

Community Highlights
It takes a lot of love to take care of over 90 Million of players. And we take pride in it.
The team of 18 community experts works every day to support and help them to enjoy our games to the fullest. In 2019, they promptly responded to over 120k tickets, 71 % of which were successfully resolved by first interaction (with no further need of any action from the player), and gained an outstanding customer service rating by the Nicereply system.

CSR highlights
Our mission is to put Slovakia on a gaming map and to support the growth of emerging local gaming and digital industry. That’s why we organize and cooperate on various projects for the local game dev ecosystem, including both experts and aspiring newbies.

  • We teamed up with Google and organized the Build2Last event with aim to bring knowledge of the best game dev experts to Slovakia and help new and aspiring studios and individuals to strive and get the Central European game dev community rolling stronger.
  • We organize Meetups – a series of open and free talks about programming, game design, online marketing, art, analysis, and many others because we believe that learning from each other, open debates and constructive feedback will push us all forward.
  • We understand that keeping talented people in Slovakia is vital for our future. We want to help them gain needed technical and business skills so they can bring their innovative ideas to our economy or start their own companies. Together with renowned Slovak digital brands and education experts Sygic, Leaf, HubHub, we initiated Butterfly Effect program, an educational platform where young aspiring developers work on the app or game from the ideation to launch in the app stores under the guidance of experienced mentors.

Plans for 2020
Now we should speak about the corporate challenges waiting for us, about our long-term goal of getting listed in Pocket Gamer top 50 Game Makers, about the ambitious goal of 39M revenues in 2020, or about our new puzzle adventure game in the pipeline. And about continuing with strong live ops in existing products, further improving monetization, and introducing a new market research and discovery team…
And we DO work on our corporate challenges, bringing the best games, from players to players!

But at the same time, the world is facing another challenge – COVID-19 and our gaming heart pushes us to action. Our CEO Simon Sicko teamed up talented pixels with health experts and launched a platform #Kto pomoze slovensku – a transparent financial and material help to Slovak health facilities. In 5 days we managed to fundraise almost 500K EUR and help over 35 hospitals. And we won’t stop there.
This is the year of the big test. Stay safe, play games, and show solidarity with others around you.
Live long and prosper.