Family-friendly gaming firm draws inspiration, tech from Israel
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Family-friendly gaming firm draws inspiration, tech from Israel

TransGaming carves out its own niche in the sometimes loud and violent world of TV and console games

One of Transgaming's  GameTree 'family friendly' games (Courtesy)
One of Transgaming's GameTree 'family friendly' games (Courtesy)

In a world where video game makers seek to outdo their competitors by making their game louder, faster, and often more violent, a Canadian-Israeli firm called TransGaming has decided to stick to its own less loud and violent niche – family games, where there are no surprises of a violent or sexual nature.

“For us, family games are the best option, because we concentrate on games that are played on TV sets,” said Dennis Ensing, TransGaming CEO. “Even teenagers can get together with their friends and enjoy these games. Unlike the games on tablets or gaming consoles, our games lend themselves to group interaction.”

Ensing spoke to The Times of Israel at the recent Intel Capital Global Summit, where the world’s largest and most successful venture capital firm hosted partners and companies it has invested in, both present and past. TransGaming was one of those investments; in 2009, the company got a $900,000 investment from Intel Capital, money that went towards helping develop, among other things, TransGaming’s GameTree TV platform.

The company is concentrating solely on its gaming platform after going through some changes (among other things, the company sold its Graphics and Portability Group to NVIDIA in 2015). Among those changes was the closure of an R&D facility in Atlanta three years ago, and the transfer of all its R&D work to Tel Aviv.

“We have 35 employees in all, 20 of them in Israel,” said Ensing. “We find that Israelis have many of the skills we need to develop the cloud-based platform we have built for the distribution of our games.”

While there are several companies working in the smart TV gaming space, TransGaming’s business model – and content model – are a bit different from the competition’s.

“We provide a single monthly subscription for our games, usually via a cable provider,” said Ensing. “Other companies sell subscriptions to specific games or blocks of games.”

Based on the deals it has with cable providers, mostly in the US, TransGaming’s content reaches some 100 million TVs.

Dennis Ensing (Courtesy)
Dennis Ensing (Courtesy)

But what really differentiates TransGaming, said Ensing, is the company’s choice of content. “We are not about the single-person shooter type games, but instead we concentrated on family-friendly content that everyone, young and old, can enjoy. Our games do not have the same level of violence or action that many console games have. We find there is a great demand for these kinds of games, and there is no one else really marketing to it than us right now.”

“Family-friendly” doesn’t sound like it would sell very well among the main demographic for games – teenagers – but Ensing said that surprisingly, kids are big consumers of his games.

“In my home, for example, we have all the systems – consoles, tablets, and of course a TransGaming subscription. My kids have about ten options for game playing, and they make use of them all – but when they have friends over, they play the TransGaming games on the TV.”

According to feedback the company gets, that’s not an unusual experience for families that subscribe to the service. “Most console games are individual experiences, but our games are specifically made for groups – families, but also groups of friends.”

And although the company didn’t anticipate it, the move to Israel also helped with the platform’s “family-friendly” vibe, said Ensing. “Besides the tech skills, Israelis have a different outlook on family than Americans. They’re more traditional and have a strong commitment to family – maybe more than Americans do. That’s something that rubs off on the work they do, and helps us to succeed.”

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