Xsolla aims to provide a one-stop shop for the next gaming superstars.
5 min read
Xsolla, a 13-year-old payment provider for the gaming industry, saw an opportunity and pounced. The opportunity: game developers needed a one-stop shop to help them create and monetize their games. The solution: Xsolla built a hub that offered the all of the tools, services, and collaborative expertise its customers were craving. The result: A roster of more than 1,100 games, including the mega-hit Fortnite (which any teenagers in your life are probably playing while you read this).
Entrepreneur spoke with founder and CEO Aleksandr Shurick Agapitov about his company’s success and the ins-and-outs of serving an industry that loyal fans will spend $140 billion on this year.
What problem is Xsolla helping solve?
In the video game market, the advancement and easy access to technology has immensely lowered the barrier to entry to create a game, but the barrier to building a successful games business is high. Clearly, not every game will be as popular as Fortnite, but we were there from the beginning with them. We help developers get their games seen, paid for and played on a global scale. Through our product portfolio, we are giving developers the necessary tools, resources and infrastructure that they do not have — whether it’s building a dedicated store to sell directly to their consumers, transacting in-game payments, connecting influencers interested in playing the game, or navigating the new world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
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How many employees did you start with, and how many do you have today?
I started the organization alone in Russia over 13 years ago. I did everything myself. When I needed a website, I built it. When I needed a legal contract, I created one. When I needed a logo, I designed it. Naturally, and thankfully, we have come a long way since then, and I am happy to have a strong team to support me. Today, privately held and headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices and R&D centers throughout Europe and Asia, Xsolla has 270+ employees serving more than 1100 developers on over 2,000 projects around throughout the globe. Every day we are in constant communication with the smartest people in the world — game developers — who build rocket ships for fun.
Xsolla founder and CEO Aleksandr Shurick Agapitov
How did you land your first client?
In the very early days, I rolled up my sleeves and cold-pitched potential clients online on ICQ until they became clients. I started in virtual currency, but then moved on to payments targeting the game developer and publishing community. That early strategy laid the groundwork, and permission, to become what we are today.
Since then, Xsolla has aligned with the likes of Valve, Twitch, Ubisoft, Epic Games, and PUBG Corporation, and expanded our portfolio of services to include payments, e-commerce, antifraud, analytics, customer support, content optimization and delivery, authentication and more.
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What does having a game like Fortnite on your roster/as a customer do for your overall business?
We signed Fortnite when the game was first developed by a very small team in Warsaw. This was before Epic Games, so we’ve been there since the beginning. We then worked Epic to bring Fortnite to the global market like we would any other game, as you never know what will become a massive, breakout hit. We are thrilled to see so many gamers — young and old — really embrace the game.
We have also had great success with other key partners and games, such as Perfect World, a 3D adventure and fantasy MMORPG; Neverwinter, based on the D&D classic; Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds from Bluehole. Others we work with include Nexon, Bigpoint Games (Germany) and Phoenix Point by Snapshot Games (Bulgaria).
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What are the biggest concerns in this industry?
Everyone knows that content is king. Our industry is rapidly changing and we must stay current of the economic, political and technical establishments within our developing world. For me, this means constantly adding and integrating new solutions to address our developer, partner and customer needs.
What is your process for innovation?
Innovation comes from everywhere and everyone. My process for innovation? First off, I’m a gamer. I observe. I look. I listen. I play. I listen to my customers, developers, gamers and my employees. I research. I look at the trends. I strategize. I consider. I test. I then create a process and put things into action. I don’t mind failing as long as we’ve tried our best to create and innovate for our partners.