iMob Creator Rebrands as Machine Zone; Their CEO Speaks About How the Name Change Reflects Their Direction
“Games are boring. People are interesting forever.”
That was one of the points that Machine Zone CEO Gabe Leydon said to me when I spoke with him about his company’s recent name change and announcement of funding. Their former name “Addmired” probably doesn’t sound familiar, though their titles should be. They’ve developed games like the iMob series, Global War, and Original Gangstaz that have been played by millions of players. Yet, their brand hasn’t been very well known.
This is because they hated the name Addmired. It was a relic of a past time in their history, when they were making dating and MySpace apps. They just never bothered changing their name. “Over the years, the logo got ridiculous, where it was this red heart with a bullet hole in it,” says Gabe Leydon of Addmired. I spoke with him recently about the company’s new direction as Machine Zone, and how they’re going to be pushing with additional press and branding efforts.
People knew the name only through their releases like iMob and Global War, from the seller’s name on the App Store – Gabe Leydon claims that the Addmired name and logo are never seen anywhere in the apps themselves.
So why “Machine Zone” exactly? Well, the company feels like the name is not only just a brand, but it’s a company identity. “We didn’t even have a sign on the office, we were just making games that we liked to make,” says Leydon. In particular, it’s designed to show that their company is attempting to do more than just create fun games, they’re trying to create immersive experiences on people’s devices. “It’s about the zone that you get in when you’re using your phone. You space out, and you’re in to it, and you’re one with it. Creating that kind of pull, that’s what we’re about.”
“We view ourselves as a technology company. We make really cool free to play technology…and we’re gonna make more games with it.” He describes their games as experiences, and as trying to compete with users for their time on their phone. In essence, they want to compete with even Twitter and Facebook for users’ time, in essentially designing their games and their technology around facilitating those connections. “It’s not just about playing the game itself. But the real reason people are still playing for so long is because they know everybody in there.”
Original Gangstaz has 1.5 billion friendships in the game. “That’s why that game works, because that game gets more and more connection…it gets harder and harder to leave because all your friends are there.” Machine Zone wants to make games that are attracting and trying to retain players because they can facilitate those friendships the way a social network would, or why a text chat service keeps getting people to use it. “The reason why people sleep next to their phone is the software in the phone, not just the phone itself.”
Between the company’s new funding and massive expansion, having gone from a dozen employees to 66 in a year’s time, they may just be poised to make these kinds of experiences happen.