Image: iStockphoto/Tero Vesalainen

Billions of people across the world are using their smartphones far more now due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this trend is extending heavily to smartphone-based gaming.

According to a recent report from App Annie, mobile gaming is on track to surpass $100 billion across all mobile app stores in 2020, and casual mobile games comprised 82% of mobile downloads in 2019. Monthly time spent in all mobile games grew 40% year-over-year in Q2 2020–reaching a new all-time high of more than 200 billion hours during April 2020, AppAnnie reported.

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There is no better example of this than Clipwire Games’ hit game Bingo Story, which has become the top grossing game in the US and Canadian app stores developed by a Canadian studio.

Thanks to the massive success of Bingo Story and other games, the Toronto-based studio was certified as a Great Place to Work in Canada. In an interview, CEO and founder Ritesh Khanna spoke about the company’s recent success and how it has been able to foster a positive workplace for game designers.

“For developers looking to break into mobile gaming or grow their career, it’s important to always be learning. Even if you don’t have any formal experience yet, there are low-cost programming solutions like Unity that enable you to start building a portfolio and show employers your potential. As you start to deepen your skills, you can think even more about your end user,” Khanna said.

“One of our values at Clipwire is ‘create,’ meaning that we’re always building something for our end user and continuously pushing our team to find ways to maximize the mobile game experience. When you can do that for your end user, you’ll be much more successful with retention and growing your core audience.”

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The company has existed since 2010 and has about 20 employees but really hit its stride in 2016 with Bingo Story, which was its first major hit. The game is currently ranked Top 10 Board Game in more than 20 countries for iOS, and on Android is ranked Top 10 Board Game in more than 85 countries.

Since sealing a strategic partnership with mobile gaming company AppLovin in February, Clipwire has seen a 500% growth in revenue.

Jordan Satok, vice president of corporate development at AppLovin, said the growth of Bingo Story was part of a larger effort to help companies like Clipwire with not just financial support but “strategic direction to build bigger, more impactful games that continue to engage players.”

“Bingo story has been very successful for us. We started back in 2016, and it was probably our biggest mobile success and it continues to be that to this day,” Khanna said. “Our mission is to deliver the best games we can. We want to make sure that when our players are there that we give them a great bingo experience.”

Khanna urged game developers to never stop practicing coding games, saying it makes a huge difference when applying for jobs. Even if they don’t get published by major companies, just showing employers what your skills look like in the real world is a benefit.

Within Clipwire, Khanna said the company tries to set new goals every quarter and find new ways to measure success while offering as many opportunities as possible to employees. He specifically mentioned Jaime Pearse, game design lead at Clipwire, as an example of someone with skills, intuition, and innate talent from the beginning.

Within Pearse’s first year she transitioned from a producer role to a lead game designer position after showing her knack for successfully designing features soon after being hired.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the Clipwire team and the work that we do. We have a great atmosphere of collaboration and creation,” Pearse said. “When I first joined the studio, I came in as a producer and I started to design as part of that role. I felt design came very naturally to me, and Ritesh recognized it, too. He was open to me taking on a new position and encouraged my own growth.”

Khanna added that Clipwire is able to stand out by uncovering and analyzing game data that helps the team make improvements that matter to users.

“Right now, people are playing mobile games, but it’s still imperative that we continue to be smart about how we grow our business. Fortunately, game development and business continuity are ongoing for us even in a work-from-home environment. When you have the right people and teams in place, you’re able to trust your employees to know what needs to get done,” Khanna said.

“Our leadership team has been in the industry for years and now focused on mentoring our future leaders and delivering high-quality mobile games across the globe.”