Kinguin on the Blockchain: How Kinguin is positioning itself as an industry leader in a Web3 future.

Kinguin on the Blockchain: How Kinguin is positioning itself as an industry leader in a Web3 future. 

 

 

In May, Kinguin launched their NFT Marketplace, offering its customers an entirely new range of products and positioning Kinguin as a company building for an NFT and Web3 future. Krzysztof Pająk, Technical Leader at Kinguin, who was responsible for developing and implementing the Kinguin NFT Marketplace. In just three months, Kryzsztof and his team were able to work with Immutable X to take the Kinguin NFT Marketplace from an idea, to full-scale implementation. 

Throughout the development process, Krzysztof placed great emphasis on the importance of awareness as a team leader. Being tuned in to both his teams, and the wider Kinguin companies’ activities, allowed him to effectively manage and upskill his colleagues, as they tackled the challenges that came with the implementation of the Kinguin NFT Marketplace. We sat down with Krzysztof to chat about the project, its challenges, and the long term advantages both his team and Kinguin will benefit from.

I was initially briefed on the Kinguin NFT Marketplace idea in March 2021. We had just begun our conversations with Immutable X and the reality of a fully implemented Kinguin NFT Marketplace was still a long way down the line. It wasn’t until February 2022 that we were asked to begin the process of building a fully functional NFT marketplace. Throughout the three month implementation process I was able to significantly grow my team, starting with a few in-house developers, and ending with a fully capable blockchain development department.

When we began the project, we entered into a series of calls with our partner Immutable X. Our team had very little experience developing on the blockchain and almost no experience of dealing with layer 2 protocols. Immutable X was able to provide us with ready-to-use API solutions, a full Software Development Kit (SDK) and a suite of fantastic documentation that allowed us to effectively and efficiently implement their system to our Marketplace. Parallel to the development benefits of our partnership, Immutable X also enabled us to list NFT’s from popular blockchain games such as Gods Unchained. The future of gaming is decentralization, and games such as Gods Unchained give the players the ability to genuinely own items and products from within a game that they can sell or trade, like any other asset. Kinguin has always been a future-focused company, looking forward to what is next, rather than catching up with what has already been, and the NFT marketplace is a great example of how we are preparing for the Web3 future and beyond.

Despite the excellent support we received from Immutable X, there were many challenges throughout the development process; most notably team capacity and baseline knowledge of both first and second layer blockchain solutions. In order to effectively tackle the problem and deliver the completed product on time, we onboarded additional team members quickly and collectively researched and upskilled each other when it came to handling the 2nd layer protocols we were less familiar with. I believe our collective awareness, of not only our strengths and weaknesses but also the gaps in our knowledge, allowed us to quickly and effectively source solutions to problems we had never encountered before. Throughout the development process, my team and I were able to learn a whole suite of new skills, effectively equipping us to manage any future blockchain related demands that Kinguin may face. 

As I reflect on the completed project, I also reflect on how we adjusted our development goals to better focus our efforts. At the start of the project we had a single goal in mind – to finish the integration of the marketplace in time. However, as we began to problem solve and discuss implementation of the project, we also began to think about the marketplace in terms of ‘customer stories’ – i.e. the different ways in which our customers would be able to interact with the marketplace. In total we had 14 different ‘user stories’ to make a reality, and our goals were to ensure that the customer could follow any one of those 14 scenarios by the time we were ready to go live with the integration. By thinking about the implementation in terms of how our customers would experience the product, and how each of these scenarios would provide value to our customers, we were able to focus our efforts and solve problems more effectively to ensure we met the tight deadline. I think this reflects Kinguin’s wider attitude to customer service and showcases how we develop and implement ideas with the customer’s experience a priority.

I am extremely proud of my team and what we were able to accomplish in such a short time frame. By analyzing problems with a customer-first approach and having the awareness as a team to collectively support and upskill each other we were effectively able to future proof our development skills and support Kinguin on its journey into the NFT industry. As Kinguin begins to develop more products and initiatives in this area, I believe we will truly be able to build something special and unique for our customers, which is really exciting for everyone at Kinguin. The completion of the Kinguin NFT Marketplace firmly plants our stake as a key player in the future of Web3 ecommerce and as we continue to develop and grow, our position will only get stronger.

Kinguin Launches NFT Marketplace in Partnership with Immutable X

Kinguin Launches NFT Marketplace in Partnership

with Immutable X

 

 

Kinguin is launching its NFT marketplace, in partnership with Immutable X. Featuring 40+ collections and over 200,000 unique NFTs, it will give gaming and esports customers access to a vast array of exclusive NFT offerings. 

The marketplace, built on top of the Immutable X protocol, is mixing the familiarity and practicality of web2 with the freedom and potential of web3. Kinguin offers its users the stability and security of an established digital goods marketplace. Some top NFT games like Gods Unchained, Guild of Guardians, PlanetQuest and Habbo Hotel will all offer NFTs on the marketplace, with more to be announced in the coming months.

But there’s more than just the high-quality content that will appeal to Kinguin’s vast community. Immutable X, created by Immutable and Starkware, is the technologically leading layer 2 scaling solution for NFTs on Ethereum. The combination of Immutable’s deep knowledge of blockchain technology with Starkware’s cutting-edge ZK-rollup technology, means the Kinguin NFT Marketplace will be lightning fast (at 9,000 TPS) and carbon-neutral, without compromising on security.

The partnership presents mass adoption opportunities for both developers and end-users. By combining Kinguin’s 13 million registered users with Immutable X’s scaling solution, you don’t have to compromise your assets’ security, transaction speed, gas fees and negative impact when diving deeper into NFT, making it easier to scale the game and NFT industries together.

Other features include a dedicated search option, making it easy for everyone to buy and sell NFTs. Users can also connect their MetaMask crypto wallet with the Kinguin NFT marketplace, a free hot wallet service available as a smartphone app or web browser extension. With that, every user can buy NFTs or deposit Ethereum for purchase purposes and also check their NFT balance. 

Robert Kalbarczyk, Chief Operating Officer & Acting CEO at Kinguin said “We remain focused on our community’s interests and passions. With Play and Earn on the rise, this felt like the natural next step for us. We’re thankful to have partners that share our vision and we’re looking forward to working with Immutable X to offer our customers a range of exclusive NFT gaming assets.”  

“We’re thrilled to welcome Kinguin’s 13 million users to Immutable’s open order book, and help power the next generation of mainstream gamers to truly own their in-game items,” said Robbie Ferguson, Co-Founder at Immutable. “This is an incredibly significant move — one of the powerhouses of digital goods trading from web2 is expanding their offering to NFTs, and they’ve chosen layer-2 Ethereum as the way to do it. We look forward to helping Kinguin scale this marketplace across hundreds of games and millions of players.”

The NFT marketplace may still be in early stages but long term plans are being considered to ensure its continuous evolution. As well as collaborations with big marketplaces, Kinguin also hopes, in time, to develop its own NFT games.

A Masterclass in Customer Excellence

A Masterclass in Customer Excellence

 

 

 

In 2015, Michał Figas joined Kinguin’s customer service team and since then, they have gone from strength to strength in terms of innovation and motivation. Now as the Vice President of Customer Service & Fraud Risk Management, he has clearly defined a customer service strategy which puts the Kinguin customer front and centre. 

We sat down with Michał so we could learn more about his top priorities when it comes to customer satisfaction, his thoughts on the integration of top tech and his passion for team development.

Many people may look at my job title and think my responsibilities are opposing, but they are actually more similar than not. In fact, building a structure where fraud risk management sits beside customer service has delivered increased customer satisfaction and safety – the holy grail for any customer service team!

Customer satisfaction  

A key part of our success has come from the fact that we have cemented a simple ethos towards customer service – treat them how you would like to be treated. At the end of the day, we have all been customers, so we all have expectations. Ultimately, our goal is to go the extra mile for every Kinguin customer and make them feel valued and listened to. 

For this to work, we have set in stone some key non-negotiables. In 2017, the golden standard for responding to customers was between 24 and 48 hours, but times have changed, and customers are constantly expecting more. There is now a small window before they turn to social media so, with this in mind, we aim to reply to all cases in less than 24 hours. But whilst prioritising waiting times is very important to our customers, we have also put a lot of emphasis on personalising messages. 

Giving our customers a choice is also important, so we offer multiple routes to resolving their issues. We have extensive FAQs that can be easily accessed through our website but, if after reading them, a customer still cannot find the answer to their question they can contact us through our chatbot. Each month we accommodate around 7,000 chats and over 50% of these are resolved then and there.

Tech innovation 

Using advanced technology is a priority because it does improve the customer experience. In late 2020, for example, we introduced Zendesk –  a complete customer service software solution. This adds value to our customer relationships by helping us personalise interactions. Another bonus is that it is integrated with our own software and this means we can adapt much more quickly to our customer’s needs. 

We also continuously review our internal process – particularly as we have, in the past, come under fire for not authenticating gaming keys properly. With an increasing number of people shopping online there has been a dramatic rise in fraud and scam complaints and we need to make sure we are protecting our customers. With tech investment we have reduced our fraud rate to 0.42%, but we want to take it one step further and introduce Shufti Pro, an API based identity Verification solution. This will help us increase conversions, reduce chargebacks and deter fraudulent attempts. 

And finally, look out for our natural language processing – this will give our chatbots the ability to understand human language as it is spoken and written.

The team

None of this growth or innovation would however be possible if it was not for my team who are the face of Kinguin, and visible at every touchpoint. This is why I am passionate about investing in the right people, including hiring students straight from University because they are often motivated to grow. And what I love most about my team (and what I am looking for in every potential new recruit) is humility. Also, as long as people have the heart for the work they do, they will always convey this passion to our customers, and that is what will lead to them having a positive interaction with Kinguin. Then via thorough training and support, from the more experienced Kinguiners, we will be able to strengthen the team even further.

That said, we are not resting on our laurels – the world of ecommerce is competitive. So, we actively encourage our customers to leave honest feedback on Trustpilot. We believe this helps us work out where we are going wrong so we can put in place plans to counteract issues and improve. I believe we have the best group of customer specialists and I am determined to ensure that continues.

The importance of care in the Kinguin culture

The importance of care in the Kinguin culture

 

 

 

In 2020 Natalia Szepelowska was announced as Kinguin’s Head of People and since then she has spearheaded the charge to ensure smooth people-related operations – whether it is employee satisfaction or driving recruitment. 

As a psychologist and cognitive scientist, she combines her passion for getting to know people, their potential and their struggles, with her ability to deliver pathways to personal goals and company growth. We sat down with Natalia where she described the employee culture at Kinguin and the company’s new recruitment aspirations.

As Head of People, I recognise that Kinguiners will always be our greatest asset and our top priority. I knew from the beginning that we needed to create a company culture that allows them to have a voice to show them we cared. So, that is exactly what we are doing. We are building a culture centred around caring for our employees, which we believe can enable them to thrive, develop and progress during their time at Kinguin.

Our culture is integral to us, and it is how we measure whether candidates would be a good fit for Kinguin. During any interview, no matter your level, care always sits front and centre. In a world where empathy is increasingly paramount, it has become a standout principle by which we measure both potential candidates and our existing team. 

Take the last two years for example. From clearly communicating our company policy which strongly recommended all Kinguiners to work from home, to moving a majority of the meetings online, to distributing home-office set-ups, to ensuring job security, we were able to successfully help all of our employees through the pandemic – we are extremely proud of this.

More recently, we have introduced new internal initiatives to encourage employee retention, satisfaction and progression. One being our team player of the quarter initiative, which rewards three employees who demonstrate a hands-on approach to sharing their knowledge and supporting others, with winners receiving a gift of their choice. This year, we also established ‘Kinguiners’ Day’ to highlight the company’s appreciation for all our employees’ hard work. The day was filled with special gifts and a personal video from executives and team leaders praising Kinguiners for their ongoing dedication to the company. We thrive off making each employee feel valued and reward those who are excelling – so, keep up the good work Kinguiners!

But we have also expanded our duty of care to help those outside the company. The world has been touched by what’s been happening in Ukraine and as their neighbours, we are passionate about doing our part. So, as soon as the crisis began, we not only opened up the Kinguin Esports Performance Centre for all Ukrainian esports players and their families free of charge, but also welcomed Ukrainian families into our Polish offices. Even though our capacity is limited, we are working tirelessly to accommodate every single guest. It is clear for us to care for those in need, and we will continue to explore ways to provide ongoing support. 

Another example of a programme we created was Kinguin Cares, and a key part of this project focused on supporting children in orphanages across Poland. Last year we provided next generation consoles and games to more than 650 children. In July, we also invited the children back to attend educational webinars led by well-known Polish influencers – Luure, Nieuczesana, Popo and Fanaberry – to give them an insight into potential gaming career opportunities. To finish off the programme, we organised an event at the Kinguin Esports Lounge in Gdańsk with special prizes for all the children.

I feel very passionate about shining a light on our internal and external initiatives because they define our company and people – it is one of the reasons Kinguin is a great place to work. Another reason is because we have a progressive and entrepreneurial spirit – we want to give everyone who works for us the support they need to reach their goals. I am one example of someone who has been able to grow – moving from HR & Education specialist to Head of People in just four years. You can find many similar stories across the company!

And all of this is important in a year when we, as a company, have some big ambitions. Due to continued growth, we want to increase our personnel by 40%. So, if you have big aspirations and believe you embody Kinguin’s company culture, check out our recruitment page – we have multiple vacancies open.

Impacting personal growth and company success this year

Impacting personal growth and company success this year

 

Robert Kalbarczyk is the second of three employees to take up the acting CEO position and, while he has only been in the role for a month, he has already set out the leader he wants to be – an approachable and adaptable CEO who has the ability to build a high performing team that delivers results. 

 

Robert has a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, start-up leader and management board advisor. This, alongside his business development background, means he is able to develop solutions that will grow revenue streams and inevitably make a huge influence at Kinguin. We found time to chat with Robert where he told us about his personal Kinguin journey, how he plans to nurture a people-first culture and his strategy for making an impact on the business. 

 

When joining the company in 2018 I instantly realised that the beauty of Kinguin lies in every employee being free to be themselves and to contribute to the business. Sometimes it drives me crazy, in a good way, just thinking about the huge potential yet to be unlocked. It’s why I’m looking forward to the next stage of my journey with Kinguin so much.

 

My time has been full of notable moments, many of them learning curves. One which sticks out was two years ago during a period which offered many internal challenges to the company’s cash flow. Then the pandemic hit and people turned to video games and we saw an opportunity to reverse our fortunes. Our team really pulled together – they demonstrated belief, passion and a work ethic I’ve not seen anywhere else. We ignited the fire that grew the business to where it is today – and I’m proud to be part of a team that didn’t give up. 

 

When Kinguin Founder, Viktor Romaniuk Wanli, asked me to take on the acting CEO role alongside Brandon Doerfler and Adam Gruda, I knew my first priority was our people, they are the most important layer of our business. As Brandon previously highlighted, they are our greatest assets and advocates, and while he has already cemented a solid people-first philosophy, I want to put my own stamp on it. 

 

From my perspective, personal development has to come front and centre. I want to work closely with our employees and encourage them to take ownership of their own goal setting. This is how we will lead them down a path to becoming the best versions of themselves, which will inevitably make Kinguin the best it can be. 

 

This links closely to my other priority – considering ways we can impact the business. As a team, we need to be aligned in our strategy and goals. And to do this, our employees must understand the bigger Kinguin picture and specifically, how they can add value. In my experience, people in leadership roles talk about inspiring their workforce and I buy into that, but without context it serves no purpose. So, with that in mind we now hold weekly meetings where we present top-level strategy decisions to the entire company. This keeps everyone in the loop, and also gives them a voice. Two-way communication is crucial to any successful company, and our people are game changers – they will always come armed with solutions and valuable insights to help with growth and cash flow.

 

2022 will be the year of personal growth and company success for Kinguin – it’s all about achieving clarity in goals and traceability of impact. But for this to be successful, it will be my job to remove any obstacles on our way to excellence. It may only have been one month since I took on this role, but I look forward to carrying these insights, and the Kinguiners, into the next chapter with me.