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A Q&A With Green Man Gaming's Darren Cairns

In the midst of all the E3 craziness, I had an appointment with the digital distribution company Green Man Gaming. Due to scheduling mishaps that appointment never occurred, but we managed to track down Green Man's EVP of marketing Darren Cairns for a pleasant (and very green) post-E3 interview.




How did Green Man Gaming (GMG) begin?


Green Man Gaming launched on 10th May 2010 after Paul Sulyok (CEO & Founder) and Lee Packham (EVP Engineering and Co-Founder) wanted to create a digital store loosely based on an eBay and iTunes model, but for gaming - letting people sell the games in their library.


As digital game downloads are becoming the dominant and preferred way for people to get their games, Green Man Gaming began leading millions of gamers through the transition from traditional retail purchases into a new digital era.

What does GMG offer that sets it apart from competitors like Steam or 

We know that modern core gamers care about their games, no matter what platform that they play them on. Our service allows gamers to buy games and content across a range of platforms which makes us very different to retailers like Steam and GOG. 

Green Man Gaming also collects and uses a level of gameplay data that no other commercial retailer has. Valve has data about Steam, Sony has data about PlayStation, Microsoft has data about Xbox; Green Man Gaming has data about all of them.

We then use this behavioural data (based on tracked in-game activity, rather than just purchasing or browsing history) to accurately target core gamers with offers and tailored messages that they need and want. Our strength that sets us apart from other retailers, is that we sell what gamers want, how they want (allowing game access and activation across a range of platforms including Steam, Uplay, Origin, other first party platforms, or by our own Capsule client).

Combined with our strong Playfire Community, that becomes a larger offer for gamers that is more than just a sale.


GMG Acquired Playfire in 2012. Have you seen a boost in users with the inclusion of more social elements into your platform (i.e. achievements, stat tracking)?

Being a member of the Playfire community means gamers can track their gameplay and what their friends are playing, join leaderboards, see what other members are excited about on Playfire Buzz, and create Want lists that we can then make great offers on when those games go on sale. 

The strength of our community comes from their engagement and we've seen a huge boost in users as gamers are signing up to our Playfire Rewards BETA. By linking their Steam account (with other platforms coming very soon), Playfire Members are eligible to earn Green Man Gaming Credit by playing games!

Users don’t have to originally buy their games from Green Man Gaming; they simply have to play those games that Playfire attaches rewards to for the chance to earn up to £5 (Edit: About $8.55 US) Green Man Gaming credit (which is converted into local currency depending on a user’s location).

This credit can then be spent towards anything on the Green Man Gaming site.

Have you found that offering store credit for social participation on GMG uniquely benefits your business? How does that work?

We reward people with Green Man Gaming Credit that can only be used on our service, which we know successfully reduces the cost of gaming for those involved. We feel there is a value exchange that benefits both the user and Green Man Gaming. Our users benefits from earning GMG Credit by simply playing the games they love, and we benefit from learning more about their gaming habits and style as they play. We can use this knowledge to target users with more relevant offers based on the way they play games, and help them to discover more games to love. It works!


GMG is the number two digital platform in the world. Are there any plans in the work to dethrone Steam to reach number one? I guess this also harkens back to my second question. How do you compete with something like Steam when they seemingly hold such a significant market share?


Steam has well over 75 million users, and as we have an official API from Valve, we think of Steam as one of our allies. We understand that many gamers feel comfortable accessing their games through Steam. However, our offering is quite different to Steam, and we are seeing the number of people using Green Man Gaming to access non-Steam games rapidly increasing, as they prefer our range of download options and opportunities to earn Green Man Gaming Credit.


We are going to keep focusing on creating something very special here at Green Man Gaming. We are using billions of game data points and user behaviour knowledge to continually improve the user experience for all our customers, and this will never change. We currently sell over 4500 titles across 185 territories, and are working with over 350 official publishing partners to offer even more than just a sale in the future - bringing more great titles, more great deals, and coming soon, very special Playfire Rewards to millions of gamers around the world.




A big thank you to Darren Cairns for taking the time to talk with us and to Tracy McGarrigan for being patient and helping to facilitate this interview!


To learn more about Green Man Gaming, check out their site:

Feature originally appeared on 06/30/14

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