Sunstorm Games works locally, amuses young players nationally

Sunstorm Games has made Las Vegas its tech home, and doesn’t have any plans to stray.

Since 2009, the company has built mobile games targeted to children and recently reached a milestone of
140 million downloads for its 80 titles. Sunstorm Games has two large issues ready to release this month; the company’s goal is launching up to 16 new games this year.

Some of the games in the catalog are simpler than others and are used to keep Sunstorm’s player base engaged between the larger launches. This month, two of the largest — Sunnyville Pets and Sunnyville Salon — will launch.

“These are a good indication of where we’re taking the company in terms of product strategy,” Sunstorm Games CEO Eric Cantini said.

Sunstorm Games’ entire development studio resides in Las Vegas, with about 25 people employed at 8820 W. Russell Road in engineering, quality assurance, art, support staff, the director of game development and the chief product officer.

“We’re really committed to Las Vegas. We have every intention of building and growing our business here. We’ve found tons of talent,” Cantini said. “There’s an amazing amount of really smart, really motivated people there.”

Cantini said the company is focused on creating an emotional attachment with its players — all 10 million monthly active users.

“We did a lot of hiring over the last nine months and we think we put a really good team together,” Cantini said.

Until the fourth quarter, Cantini said the company wants to let its new employees settle in. Then, he said, the company may resume hiring if more staff is needed. Sunstorm Games also plans to stay focused on the children’s game market.

“We think we’re really good at that and we want to get even better,” Cantini said.

Sunstorm Games uses three primary distributors: Apple, Google and Amazon. Its games first go live in Apple’s App Store, then a few weeks later they launch for Android.

“Most of our players know us from the Apple App Store. That’s where we’ve had the vast majority of our success,” Cantini said.

Roughly 1 million people a day play Sunstorm’s games on an Apple device.

When the two Sunnyville games launch this month, Cantini expects 500,000 monthly active users for the pets version and 1.5 million monthly active users for the salon game. Sunstorm’s creations are free, and the company derives revenue primarily from in-app purchases that let users unlock content or amass virtual currency. Sunstorm Games also uses ads to stimulate revenue, but the in-app purchases make up three-quarters of the company’s revenue.

“Our growth is driven by how good our games are,” Cantini said. “The vast majority of our players play for free.”

Only about 10 percent of players have ever made an in-app purchase, the most popular being $1.99. Seventy percent of Sunstorm’s business comes from the United States.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at
lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588.
Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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