Online Gaming

Playing for Money

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Albion Online launched in July, with more than a quarters of a million players already signed-up. Source: Albion Online

Berlin startups usually do their best to confirm all the clichés about Berlin startups: foosball tables and goodies for staff, premises looking more like a showroom than an office. But at Sandbox Interactive, the focus is clearly on one thing — the product.

“I’m a great believer in quality,” says co-founder and managing director Stefan Wiezorek.

The Berlin-based developer now has 50 employees. Most have an eye on the game permanently. Sandbox was formed expressly to develop it after all.

Even before its official launch date in July, “Albion Online” had more than 250,000 players — every one of them a paying customer — and had generated revenue of €9 million ($10.3 million), €2 million of that in the first quarter of 2017. How much will be left over in the end? “We work profitably,” says Mr. Wiezorek – a man not obviously short on self-assurance.

Profitable German game developers are something of an exception. But Mr. Wiezorek’s firm is still quite small in comparison to competitors like Bigpoint, acquired by Chinese software firm Youzou Interactive last year, and Goodgame, the Hamburg-based developer that recently shed more than two-thirds of its 1,250 staff.

Thanks to the revenues already generated, Sandbox Interactive has more or less financed itself — without investors or loans. Mr. Wiezorek put the initial capital up himself, from the sale of poker community Pokerstrategy.com.

Yet launching a startup wasn’t the plan. “I also applied for jobs at the big development studios,” he says. But no one hired him.

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