Game maker Kabam ups Swasey to comms SVP amid corporate strategy shift

Kabam's new strategy is all about "fewer, bigger, bolder" products.

SAN FRANCISCO: Mobile game developer Kabam has upped Steve Swasey to SVP and head of global corporate communications.

Swasey was promoted to the newly created position on August 1 and continues to report to Kabam’s COO Kent Wakeford. He has three direct reports.

His responsibilities include building, maintaining, and, when necessary, defending the reputation of Kabam for the corporate entity among investors, business partners vendors, and employees, as well as for the product side among consumers.

Swasey’s previous duties as Kabam’s VP and head of global corporate communications have been folded into his new role.

"Our challenge is bigger, our footprint is bigger, and our geographic scope is wider, so the requirement of the comms function here increases and needs to scale," Swasey said of the reasoning behind his elevated position.

Kabam has quickly expanded since Swasey came onboard in 2012 as VP of corporate comms. Even though the gaming company had been present in Beijing since 2011, it wasn’t until it opened a European operations office in Berlin in 2013 that Kabam made Swasey’s role global.

"In 2012, we didn’t have a corporate strategy that was specific for future growth, we were just growing," Swasey said. "We refined that strategy earlier this year, trading some pieces of business, and stalling and deferring some games. We call our new strategy: fewer, bigger, bolder."

He explained that last year Kabam launched 16 games, whereas this year, the company is only launching four. The reason for the change, said Swasey, is that Kabam’s 2014 earnings of $400 million "missed the company’s revenue target significantly."

Swasey puts the earnings miss down to intentional game delays, such as holding off the sequel to Fast & Furious 6: The Game until early 2015 due to the unexpected death of the film’s star Paul Walker.

"We are looking at going after the top three games in their category, as opposed to being just one of the top 100, to gain more returns," Swasey said. "With that has come a higher emphasis on a much bigger strategy for corporate comms and a bigger global footprint as we launch games in places like China later this year."

Earlier in 2015, Kabam hired Lewis PR-owned EBA Communications to assist with corporate communications in China. Prior to that, Kabam engaged Bite in China on a project basis. Recently, the company also brought on Lewis PR for corporate comms in Germany.

Rogers & Cowan assists Kabam with product PR in the US.

Swasey’s promotion follows that of Kabam’s Joanne Sibug in June to senior manager of corporate communications.

Before joining Kabam, Swasey served as Netflix’s VP of corporate communications for seven years.  

Previously, he was PeopleSoft’s director of corporate communications; Tri Valley Growers’ director of PR and public affairs; and E & J Gallo Winery’s director of PR.

Earlier in his career, Swasey served as VP and management supervisor at Ketchum.

Last year, Alibaba invested $120 million in Kabam to aid the Chinese tech giant to reach more users ahead of its September IPO.

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