Kixeye is looking for a few good gamers.
On July 31, the San Francisco-based online gaming company released a video call to action for disaffected developers; a savage, satirical look at game shop culture, steeped in foul-mouthed humor.
Facing an intensely competitive market for gaming talent, Kixeye takes First Person Shooter-precise aim at its target audience—and its competitors—and hits the mark dead-on. It’s the latest, and perhaps most expletive-filled entry in the increasingly entertaining talent recruitment category.
The video is shot from the POV of a game designer who’s interviewing at three different companies, each a not-very-thinly veiled parody of well-known game entities, Zynga, EA and Kabam.
First, there’s Janka, with a foul-mouthed tween in a power sweater standing in for Marc Pincus. Janka is the company that makes adorable games for spinsters in cat-sweaters. Next, there’s EAARP, whose CEO is a musty old coot with late-period Einstein hair whose desk is covered in prescription meds and cobwebs, and whose games are hopelessly outdated. Finally, there’s Kerpoop, the throughput-focused wonk-shop run by a nasally uber-nerd trying to randomly approximate games that are "hardcore."
Kixeye is a company known for making free-to-play games like Backyard Monsters and Battle Pirates, which also generate revenue from sales of virtual items. As the company’s CEO Will Harbin says in an appearance toward the end of the ad, which was created in house with the aid of an outside production company, Kixeye creates "games for gamers by gamers." If YouTube comments are any indication, the direct appeal is already activating its intended audience.
"We wanted to create a piece of content that potential recruits would see," says Brandon Barber, senior vice president of marketing at Kixeye. "We’re looking for high quality, very specific folks in Silicon Valley and across the world—game developers passionate about making games. We wanted to create something that would reach all those folks, so we wanted to lean hard into humor make it a little controversial and have as much fun with it as possible and meet the criteria of, 'would I pass it along to a friend?'"
Barber doesn’t mince words about Kixeye’s desire to actively lure talent from any and all sources. "If there was a developer or project manager or artist working at Facebook or Google or another gaming company, we wanted this video to tunnel its way into that organization. We wanted to say there’s another place to go make games where the demographics are different, where the culture is different."
And as for the good-natured goof on Kixeye’s game-making peers? Barber says it was nothing personal. "The target was less about EA and Zynga than it was about the types of companies that are at play in this space—the gaming category where there are huge quantities of game makers and engineers. We wanted to create an iconic representation of that category—we’re not making a direct reference to anyone in particular."