Jon Aristi, from Sage Innova: “Simple, fun games without friction are a winning strategy”

October 5, 2018

Jon Aristi may not have a lot of experience in the videogame industry, but his experience in the world of consultancy, software, and Knowledge Management for big companies have made him one of the most interesting mentors to come to the F2P Campus in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

“I’m a trained engineer but I’m more motivated by the potential of software. I truly believe these tools can help us to make profound changes to humanity”, says Aristi. Although his real focus since he founded Hominex in 2005, and subsequently started working for Sage, is Idea Management. “If we have this knowledge and this amazing capacity for ideas, how can we make the most of them and put them into practice? I think it’s a very powerful concept that we try to apply in every kind of organization”.

F2P Campus (F): In your conference you talked about free-to-play as a groundbreaking idea in the videogame industry. After 10 years, and considering how difficult it is nowadays to compete in this market, do you think the time has come for a new shake-up in the industry?

Jon Aristi (JA): Yo creo que el Free-To-Play sigue siendo un modelo disruptivo que sigue en funcionamiento. Cada vez la gente tiene menos capacidad de atención y si tu eres capaz de crear un juego más sencillo de los que hay, con menos fricción, y que a su vez siga siendo divertido y enganche ahí tienes una estrategia ganadora. Lo que pasa es que es más difícil hacer las cosas sencillas y llegar a una síntesis esencial que hacerlo complicado.

I think that free-to-play is still a groundbreaking model and it still works. People have a shorter and shorter attention span and if you can create a simpler game than those available, with less friction, which at the same time is still a lot of fun and gets people hooked, you’ve got a winning strategy. The thing is, it’s more difficult to make simple things and achieve that essential synthesis than it is to make something complicated.

Adding is really easy; the hard thing is getting to the essence. 

Jon Aristi, from Sage Innova: “Simple, fun games without friction are a winning strategy”F: How do you know when it’s time to scrap an idea and move on to the next one?

JA: There’s no crystal ball; those are subjective decisions. We can get it wrong or we can get it right. Then we have our own human tendencies that can lead us to self-deception in different circumstances. For example, in my talk I explained that in corporations they have a much colder and more radical point of view where they scrap ideas very easily. Maybe also because there’s a certain remoteness about them. 

When we’ve been part of the creation it’s almost like killing your children, because ideas are the children of the mind. And actually that happens almost systematically among entrepreneurs. When it’s taken a lot of effort to get to a certain point it’s very difficult to say no. In fact, normally you have to reach a crisis before you’re able to take a decision that changes your direction. 

What you have to do is assess situations as objectively as possible, taking advantage of different points of view. There are many mechanisms and tools that can help you but, in the end, you have to take a decision, and that decision is always going to be subjective. 

The more we invest in something, the harder it becomes for us to let it go, and the less objective we are; it’s human nature.

F: What are the most common mistakes that you come across when working on new ideas?

JA: People have problems finding the balance between ambition and realism. I often see in, in innovation programs, people doing things that might seem like they are setting up a serious program, but are often just fireworks. ‘Innovation theaters’. They do things that have a big perceptual impact, but don’t then truly lead to real innovations. 

Jon Aristi, from Sage Innova: “Simple, fun games without friction are a winning strategy”F: Can anyone ride the emotional rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, or do you need some qualities in order to not ‘get dizzy’?

JA: Anyone can do it, but you need to be prepared for it. Although I’ll also say that nobody is ever completely ready. You have to expect the journey not to be a very smooth one. 

Starting up a business is an experience that I recommend to everyone; now you have to find the idea that makes you feel the passion and desire to do it. Because that passion is what’s going to make you carry on when you hit a rough patch. 

F: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

JA: Take your time to understand the industry and see what the keys are. Take your time to think; it’s something very cheap and it allows you to identify those ideas that might be worthwhile. And start with the minimum possible resources; as soon as you start using a large amount of resources you can run out of gas halfway. 

Many thanks to Jon Aristi for coming to Vitoria-Gasteiz to answer our questions and advise the F2P Campus teams.