What sucks, according to Wooga’s CTO

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Philipp Möser has been running software projects for the last 10 years and has reportedly tried out every methodology to manage software projects so far, from waterfall over scrum to kanban. Since 2009, he’s headed up game development at wooga, where he’s successful launched the Berlin-based company to international repute, serving up three of Facebook’s top 15 games and threatening to replace Zynga as the leading global game developer.

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But how does he address his own community? Last night, Möser took to the humble stage of Berlin’s very first Tech Meetup, offering his five cents on the company policies that has helped the gaming monolith to hook 40 million users. “I’m not going to tell you what we do,” he started, wearing company confidence like a long robe, “I’m going to tell you about what we don’t do.”

As Europe’s most successful social games developer and arguably Berlin’s most profitable startup this year, our ears were open. Despite the spelling mistakes.

Here’s what his five minutes looked like…

Möser began like any leading European startup would: by listing its values. On his Powerpoint slide he presented three of them: Independence, responsibility, and communication (two of which were misspelled). He also shared some valuable insight when an audience member asked him how often they deploy. “Our games are completely independent”, Möser responded, “so some we deploy 3,4,5 times a week, others a bit less. “Something biweekly I don’t like, because it’s not agile anymore,” he added.
Everybody ate it up.

He also added a new word to our vernacular: a wooga, as in, a person that works at wooga. (Personally, I’d prefer woogite but to each his own). Currently, the company has 150 “Woogas” on staff, Möser told us. 60 of their current Woogas are engineers, two of whom are engineering managers. And, like every other bad boy in town, they’re still looking to hire more.

The thought-provoking highlight of the talk: What Sucks

We don’t quite know how Möser came up with this list or whether he’s used it before, but it spurred a bit of a fuss in the crowd so we thought we’d share it. Short and sweet as it was. It gave us some insight into why else this startup might be doing so well, aside from its practice of giving out iPads instead of bonuses and its thoroughly brilliant family man of a CEO Jens Begemann.

1. “Roles suck”

At Wooga, they don’t have architects, admins, or other unnecessary roles,  According to Möser, this creates more responsibility as well as fun. “It’s great to wake up in the middle of the night to fix a glitch on a game you are directly responsible for,” he said.

When one audience member asked about distinctions within the engineering branch, Möser added, astutely: “We have engineers who do backend and engineers that do action script, because you can’t really mix the two.”

2. “Platforms suck”

“A lot of times we build games again from scratch,” said Möser. “Platforms tend to reach a point where you can’t add features anymore.”

3. “Teamleads suck”

According to Möser, you only need 3-5 people to build any truly great game. “Engineers don’t need teamleads,” he said. “If you have a small team and one is responsible for salary, you’re not going to tell him that your product sucks.”

He has a point.

And so did a lot of people in the room who disagreed with him. What do you think? 

For more on Wooga, read this, this and this.

For everything else that sucks, check out the sucksbox.com, for a live feed of exactly that.