We started Overwolf in 2010 as fresh Computer Science grads with a big passion for building gaming apps. Powered by a $100K seed investment by the epic Yossi Vardi, we wanted to build the features we were missing in the games we played. As young, inexperienced entrepreneurs we wanted to build a lot, and support every game. Easy Peasy!
(or at least this is what we thought).
With our initial beta launch at the summer of 2011, we already supported about a hundred games, and built in house apps for: in-game Skype integration (before ditching it for Discord), an in-game web browser, (clunky) video capture and more. Here’s our launch video. At this point, we got on a lot of people’s radar, and companies started reaching out to us about all sorts of new opportunities. Excited by the attention, and drunk from this initial love - we felt like we could do everything. But, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Focus is everything
In the next two years, we’ve built a touch controller for windows tablets (see here, or here), an integration with TeamSpeak, a very limited store concept, in-game chat across multiple services, jungle timers for LoL and many other features. All of that with a small team of 9 people. As you may assume, or have experienced yourself in the past - the product lacked polish, and frankly - it sucked.
We’re out of money, now what?
The two years after launch were a crazy roller coaster. A combination of user love and frustration, acquisition conversations with multiple companies, a departure of our CTO to Blizzard and eventually, no money to pay the bills. At that point, we had to look in the mirror, ask ourselves some hard questions, and analyze what we’ve learned. What we did learn is that gamers, companies and even game developers want more features inside their games. We also learned that we can’t build everything ourselves. This is when the idea to build a framework for 3rd party developers materialized.
For creators, by creators
Armed with these insights and a couple of scars on our shoulders, we were lucky to raise $5M from Marker, led by a true Jedi Master, Ohad Finkelstein. Our former CTO was replaced by a true wolf, the legendary Tom Wolf, and we set out on a journey to build a framework with a team of 20. During 2014 we were focused on building the framework and in 2015, we started reaching out to game developers and 3rd party creators, and even ran a developer hackathon for GW2. This was the year when LoLwiz, the first app for LoL was released, and the famous HearthArena started development.
Because of this focus change - we did a very poor job maintaining our previous apps (e.g. the TeamSpeak integration), which resulted in quite a bit of frustration from gamers. A big mistake on our end - we should have just killed these apps. In 2017 we started experiencing a breakthrough. After many iterations on tools, performance and overall quality, we started receiving less complaints and more love. More developers reached out to us, and as a result - more apps were built, and the value we were able to bring to the gaming community started growing.
Ads and subscriptions are like fuel for creators
Nobody likes ads, we don’t either. But, just like how gaming websites use ads to pay the bills, we wanted to introduce a way for Overwolf app developers to make a living too. So, In 2017, we’ve offered the option for creators to add in-app ads, and later app subscriptions. Creators get to choose if and where to place in-app ads, and we’re ok with that as long as they meet our guidelines (read more). On our end, similarly to how Twitch and YouTube does it - we take a rev-share from these ads. Our share is 20-30%, and we pay more for creators who build better products and meet our quality checklists.
The Guild for in-game Creators
We believe in a world in which building gaming apps and mods can be more than just a hobby, we believe it can be a legit profession. On YouTube, many years ago - people were very surprised to see creators like PewDiePie making millions from in-stream ads and sponsorships. We then saw it happen for Twitch streamers, Instagram personalities and TikTok creators. We believe that gaming app developers and mod authors work just as hard as YouTubers and Streamers, and add true value to the gaming community. We believe there’s room in this world for in-game creators to be a legitimate profession, and we’re committed to the endless journey of making this happen.
To wrap up
We’re 10 years in, but we feel like we’re just starting. We’re excited to keep pushing forward, and work together with the guild of in-game creators to bring more and more value to the gaming community. If you’re a creator yourself, I’d like to invite you to take a look at the framework. If you’re a gamer, and you feel like supporting in-game creators, I invite you to try out any of the apps or mods we have to offer.
Uri Marchand, CEO and Co-Founder