Interviewing Pixwoo Founder Pascal Vielhescaze
Originally Published By MCM Buzz on the 6th of June 2013
“I’ve designed the website that I wanted to use, and sometimes life is simple.”
Gamers are passionate about what they do, from those who just can’t put down that pesky mobile game to those with hundreds of hours clocked shooting zombies, fighting evil, jumping platforms and unlocking secrets. Pixwoo, the social media site for gamers, is dedicated to helping videogame enthusiasts share their pixelated achievements. With major publishers such as Ubisoft, Namco Bandai and Capcom already signed on to the service with professional accounts, Pixwoo creates a hub for gamers everywhere that displays news, views and constant active discussions on your favourite games all in one place.
In a room filled with consoles from the last 20 years and a monster television, I caught up with the CEO and brain behind the rapidly expanding gaming community, French entrepreneur Pascal Vielhescaze. He took us through the site before we asked him a few questions. Pascal demonstrated the functionality of the site, and began to pitch his vision for a global gaming community.
Pascal Vielhescaze: When it comes to videogames you want to share immediately if you’re taking a picture of your Candy Crush achievement or spot something on the screen in the last Tomb Raider, you want to share it. We designed the app making sure that people can very quickly share, post, comment, and I can see the difference because now I can see people posting 20 times more on the apps than on the website, because it’s so easy, you don’t have your computer by your side every time. Most of the usage is there, and what I like with the feed for example is once you start to dig a little bit on Pixwoo you start to have some friends, you start to have some groups, you’re fully aware of some pros, you’re a fan of some game pages and then suddenly your feed is filled with a bunch of information that really reflects who you are as a gamer. It turns your experience into something unique. Pixwoo is unique, your feed is unique; you wouldn’t get such a feed of information anywhere else, I designed it for that purpose.
Me: Pixwoo has an interesting feature, with five slots given to describe your preferred style and genre. Can you tell us about Pixwoo DNA on the site?
Pascal: I want people on Pixwoo to feel comfortable to express themselves as a gamer, and as a gamer when you express yourself you have this DNA. Once selected everybody knows I’m not a pro, I’m not a journalist, I’m a power gamer, I play RPG’s, strategies and hack-and -slashers. This is a way I can express myself, and you don’t express yourself that way on Facebook or anywhere else. If I’m saying I have these consoles I’m not saying it to show off, I just want to say this is what I’m interested in.
Me: You’ve got a very good balance. One problem that a site like Facebook suffers is that you have a lot of content that you don’t necessarily want to see, with Pixwoo you’re saying that it’s catered to your interests as a gamer.
Pascal: On your feed if you’re a member of a group you will get a post on your feed. It’s a way of making sure your feed is not too crowded and you don’t get posts from people you don’t necessarily know, but you do get posts from your friends and the groups you follow. I do not consider that we are competing with Facebook, that would be ridiculous. Firstly because they are so huge and we are very small, and secondly, we’re having Facebook in mind because there is some stuff that we don’t want to reproduce. I know that on Facebook there are some things you won’t share what you will on Pixwoo, firstly because 90% of your friends may not be interested in that and secondly because you won’t dig that deeply on something like Animal Crossing there. But the spirit of it really is to make sure that people feel comfortable and we want to make sure that there is no limitation on Pixwoo when it comes to videogames. Whatever it is about the videogame culture you like you can share it. I’ve designed the website that I wanted to use, and sometimes life is simple.
Me: Yeah absolutely, and you’ve had great success with the app in France. It was recently top of the app store.
Pascal: Yeah, but that’s a beginning, it was our launch. It was a good move, it provides me with some face and some confidence in the fact there is something. We never reached that amount of users with the website but we never really launched the website because we were facing technical issues. I think I’m going to consider the website more as something you’re using as a back office, so you will manage quickly your page, but mainly it will be for heavy users that want to manage it in a marketing way or a professional way.
Me: Microsoft and Sony have put a lot of effort into getting apps up and running on consoles, is that something Pixwoo would be interested in doing in the future?
Pascal: You can even ask Samsung now as they have integrated TVs. I’m not sure Microsoft and Sony would be interested because they’re considering Xbox Live or Playstation Network as a social media service, which is not the case if you’re asking myself. No I didn’t consider that, what I considered is to get the trophies so people can integrate that on their profile, but I’m not sure it’s that interesting, it’s a way to show off on Pixwoo, but I don’t really care about that. I’m more interested in the fact that if somebody is playing Candy Crush you can directly post on Pixwoo, I would like to achieve that. I went to San Francisco in March and I met a lot people from the mobile gaming industry, and some might be interested. I think we simply need to achieve an amount of credibility based on the number of members. The more members we get, the more the industry will be focused on Pixwoo and the more developers we will register and manage their page. I don’t have the secret recipe for that, I’m trying everything so we’ve got to see.
Me: Obviously you’re very passionate about games, and you used to be a game developer in the eighties. Can you tell us about that?
Pascal: I developed an adventure game on Apple II when I was 18. At that time you had the ability to develop a game almost alone; I was with a friend. I developed Scoop on Apple II and Invitation on Amstrad CPC, it’s an RPG. Both are names that work in French and English.
Me: It’s certainly the same area of interest, but what led you from designing games to social media?
Pascal: My professional activity after being a student was developing videogames just for pleasure. I sold them so that’s good and we were quite successful at that time, we were published by a huge publisher in France. Then I developed some marketing skills and I worked with these advertising groups and then I created my own company called Spiderdreams, it’s a digital agency mixed with consulting and suddenly the idea came. I know about videogames, I know about digital and social networking, let’s create the website I want to use. There was nothing and there still is nothing I would say that you can compare to Pixwoo, so the idea was to say I want to design something I’d be happy to use. I want Pixwoo to be on the tablet, not just as an adaptation of the iPhone app on iPad. I really want to develop something for the tablet, and if we want to implement ourselves everywhere we will need additional funding. We have already invested quite a lot I have to say, I won’t give figures but, yes, so this is where it comes from. I’ve also always been interested in technology and marketing so little by little I started to consider that I would love to be a member of a social network dedicated to videogames. I’m not going to be like Groucho Marx and say, “I would never become a member of any club that will have me as a member.” I’m the opposite, I’m really happy to be a member of Pixwoo.
Me: The best way to get results when it comes to a passion is to be involved in it directly.
Pascal: I absolutely 100% agree with you on that, I could have said that.
Me: It’s great to see you are not going down the same route as other social media sites but are more focused, arguably that makes for a better community.
Pascal: I also think it’s a market move. I think the market will move to more dedicated networks. I think eventually everybody will be on Facebook because it’s like the Internet, but it’s gonna be your life, but when it comes to more specific fields of interest I’m not sure Facebook can deliver because it’s the exact opposite of being universal. The more people are on Facebook the less able it is to become focused on a dedicated feed or activity. I think the market will move to that. I also considered that with videogames for example you are developing features specifically for them, you don’t develop achievements for books or films, so there’s a need for dedicated features too. I think the market will move in that way because it sounds logical.
Me: What’s next for Pixwoo?
Pascal: Next I want to make sure that our mobile app is fully functional, that you can only use the app if you don’t want to use the website. We are thinking of more dedicated features that will make it more seductive and exciting.I would prefer to be small in 20 countries than be big in one country, because videogame culture has no borders. I want to prove indeed it is a global website and the best way to do that is have resources to communicate with some countries and there are so many different approaches. My partner is helping me to realise we need a presence everywhere in the world, even if we are not successful or huge, little by little all of these people will start to connect themselves. First people watch, then they navigate through groups, then they start to post and then they start to invite somebody. There’s a lot to do, and it takes time.
Me: One last question, you’re a big fan of gaming, what games are you playing right now.
Pascal: I’ve just started playing the new Tomb Raider. I am playing Ni no Kuni, from Studio Ghibli, it’s really good, really in the spirit of Miyazaki. I’m playing Small World, a board game adaptation, I think iPad are really good for board game adaptations, and I’m playing Animal Crossing on the 3DS. I didn’t finish Final Fantasy XIII-2, so now I keep going back and playing it ten hours at a time. So, yeah!
Me: This has been fantastic, thank you.
Pascal: Thank you.