James Vaughan, founder & CEO of Ndemic Creations
James Vaughan, 30, launched his mobile simulation and strategy game Plague Inc in 2012 as a hobby, and it has since been played by more than 85m people around the world. His company, Ndemic Creations, ranked at No 72 in the 2016 Sunday Times Tech Track 100.
What inspired you to start your business?
On my 24th birthday, I decided I wanted to do something creative but had no idea what. I started making a mobile game as a hobby and personal challenge. One year later, the game had become a global hit.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Working out how to keep Plague Inc. at the top of the charts. The mobile games industry is brutally competitive with hundreds of games released every day. By targeting a niche audience, treating our players with respect and constantly working on new content, I’ve kept Plague Inc. at the top of the charts for over five years now (but that could all change tomorrow…)
What has been your best business decision?
Translating the game into multiple languages. Although initially challenging (we have c.50k words in the game) this let us access new markets and maximise our player base. Around half of our revenue now comes from non-English speaking countries and China is our second biggest market.
What has been your worst business decision?
Not hiring another game designer yet. I’m the sole designer and this limits the number of projects the company can work on at a time. Hiring someone with very specific skills (algorithmic systems and narrative design) would let us do more stuff faster!
Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?
Michael Bloomberg, because of how he has successfully developed both a business and political career, along with making an impact through philanthropy. Most people struggle to do even one of those things on the scale he’s managed!
What company do you most admire, and why?
Swedish video game developer and publisher Paradox Interactive, because of how they are developing their portfolio to provide strategy games for a dedicated, and traditionally niche, audience whilst also expanding their reach. Their IPO also went rather well!