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Customer Snapshot: Overview

>450M online gamers every day

Gameforge – an online gaming company – always looks for ways to give their players a great user experience. But to remain truly innovative, they first needed to know more about what made their players tick. By applying Design Thinking lessons learned from SAP, Gameforge gained greater insight into their consumers and even discovered a new group of gamers.

Gameforge AG

Customer Website

Line of Business
Marketing, Sustainability

SAP Solutions
design thinking workshop for business innovation

Karlsruhe, Germany

Number of Employees


Customer Snapshot: History

Wave of the Future

Customer Snapshot: Business Model

Free to Play Games

Gameforge is an award-winning entertainment provider, and one of the world’s most successful online game companies. Every day, more than 450 million registered players in 75 countries immerse themselves into the fascinating fantasy worlds created by their more than 20 different games.
Gameforge was among the first companies in Europe to offer online games using the free-to-play business model. This approach allows a customer to access and play games mostly free of charge. The products are financed by in-game sales for low-cost items such as special abilities, personalizations, and upgrades.

Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy

Extending their Footprint in the Gaming Market

Gameforge believes in providing gamers with choices. The company markets their games on a variety of platforms: twelve client-based games, nine browser games, and five mobile games.

Currently, Gameforge is paying close attention to mobile games. The company has released several role-playing games (RPGs) for devices running Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch), Android, and Windows Phone 7.
Gameforge hopes to encourage more of their web-based PC user audience to move into the mobile market segment.

The Challenge

What Motivates the Real Online Gamer?

Gameforge believes in on-going innovation. The company strives to extend their product offerings and to ensure their online portal provides a good match with players’ needs and expectations. This is key to keeping existing players happy and attracting new gamers.

Gameforge wanted to redesign their portal, but needed a deeper understanding of what motivates gamers.
“It’s not easy for us to tell what our users want, and what their expectations are,” observed Thomas Rudin, Head of Portals for Gameforge AG. “We hoped to learn more about this from real people, real users.”

Enter SAP

Thinking By Design

Gameforge is not a customer of SAP software, but the company’s leaders were already familiar with Design Thinking. Gameforge board members had previously participated in a one-day Design Thinking workshop hosted by SAP.

Design Thinking is a process for creating innovative ideas and solving problems. One of its basic principles is to work closely with your target user group in order to learn about their structure, characteristics, needs, and motivations. Impressed by this initial experience, Gameforge asked SAP’s Design & Co-Innovation Center to provide training for their employees that would help them design a new online portal with the player in mind.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience

Talking to the Gamer on the Street
Six Gameforge employees engaged in a four-day workshop at the company’s headquarters in Karlsruhe. Their office space was turned into a creative co-innovation center. The basic theory and skills of Design Thinking were already known, so the team of developers and managers jumped directly into action.

One exercise conducted by the Gameforge team was meeting potential users in person. In the city of Karlsruhe, the team interviewed people on the street about their online gaming preferences. "We felt like street musicians," comments one team member. "We were crowded by interested people and received a lot of valuable feedback."

Plenty of ideas were collected through this user-experience research. Soon the workshop rooms were covered with handwritten sticky notes. 


“Focusing on one relevant problem is the best way to create innovative solutions,” said Jochen Gürtler, Design Thinking Coach, SAP SE.

Better Business

Unexpected Benefits

Through the Design Thinking experience, Gameforge learned directly what customers wanted and expected from the gaming experience. Combining that feedback with a lot of creativity, the team developed multiple paper prototypes for a portal to better meet players’ expectations.
Unexpectedly, Gameforge also discovered a new type of player. These gamers were highly social and looking for a quality pastime –considering game play as a more casual pursuit. They learned these players often preferred console games over free-to-play games.

With these insights, Gameforge is now better able to provide a redesigned platform that can attract a wider range of users.

Better Business: Benefits

Better Thinking, Better Gaming

The Design Thinking exercise stimulated a lot of innovative ideas for enhancements to the portal. Some revolved around ways to cross-sell additional games to existing players. Others were designed to encourage traditional console players to play online. For example, one idea was to provide greater transparency about how the company invests in new features. Another suggested a donation program to charitable projects aimed at attracting more socially minded players.
Perhaps the largest benefit was the discovery of a new approach to problem solving. Design Thinking – which uses visualizations, gaming of its own, and prototyping – provides Gameforge’s employees with a methodology they can use to power new projects well into the future.
We were astonished by the amount of innovation we could really kick off with this workshop and the methodology. -reported Markus Windelen, COO of Gameforge AG.

Better Business: Run Simple

Testing On Real Gamers in Real Time

What happened to those prototypes developed during the workshop? They were tested in shopping malls with real gamers, and today company developers have started to incorporate some of those ideas into Gameforge’s online portal.

Something else is happening, too. The skills gained during the Design Thinking exercises are helping shape a new culture of innovation at Gameforge.

A positive side effect of the workshop was the deep impact it had on the team-building process, said Miriam Müller, Design Thinking Coach, SAP SE

Journey Ahead

A Plan to Keep Up with the Gaming Boom

Many experts forecast continued strong growth for the online gaming market. By 2017, online gaming spending is expected to almost reach the level of console spending.

Gameforge is ready to play.


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