INTERVIEWS

How Wei-Fan Chen developed and founded Fourdesire, a real-life problem-solving app

January 12, 2021

A developer turned award-winning game designer, a serial entrepreneur, a producer, and a growth hacker, Wei-Fan Chen has won many hats in his extensive career. He founded Fourdesire to promote the correct way of living and inculcate sustainable habits in children and adults. Fourdesire is an app publisher that aims to produce a variety of purposeful and meaningful games which help you face everyday problems. Recently, our team members had an in-depth conversation with him about various crucial aspects of his venture and his vision. Here is the complete interview, where he shares his experience and thought-process in detail.

Full Interview

Q1: What is Fourdesire? What services does it offer?

We believe fun is what makes for a better life. Everything we do starts with the goal of turning boring, routine activities into new ways of having fun. Fourdesire merges fun with technology and design to build sleek, data-driven apps. We use fun as a guide for developing our products, but we also believe that together we can use having fun to solve some real-life problems people face every day. For example our app Fortune City helps people track their spendings  while growing a city in the game. Thesemetods enable users to add some fun in monotonous tasks and make them interesting. 

Q2: How did you decide to launch Fourdesire? What was the idea behind its inception?

Regardless of age, playing is one of the best ways to learn. Through fun and games, we can learn valuable skills, cultivate habits, and even solve some of the most common problems we face in everyday life. When I graduated from graduate school, I wanted to join these kinds of companies but I found nothing. So why not start one by ourselves? Fourdesire began in the summer of 2012 when a group of friends got together and began discussing their ideas on how fun could be used to solve problems and improve lives. 

Q3: Tell us about your career experiences till now. What is your mantra for success in the app world?

To embrace innovation, my key management philosophy is balance. First, the balance of development paces: when you need to release new features quickly when we have time to conceive new ideas. Second, the balance of interaction of team members: when we need to focus on the director’s thought as we are shooting a film when we need to share the diverse ideas pop-up from team members. Finally, the balance of convention and innovation. We’d like to bring new things to the market, but sometimes we need to stop and think if the market can embrace it now.

Q4: How were the early days to Fourdesire? How big was the team when it all started?

3 founders sit in a 26 square-meters room which is full of IKEA furniture. Today, we look something like this.

Q5: Take us through a typical Fourdesire project. How it starts, what are the key checkpoints during the development, and everything that contributes to the “Fourdesire experience”.

At the initial stage of the product, the initial design, system planning and prototype production are carried out after the product has a preliminary concept. The goal of this stage is to iteratively produce a testable prototype and verify whether it meets the set questions, such as whether it is attractive to continue to use, whether it is original and innovative enough, whether it attracts attention, etc. Participants include producers, prototype designers, concept artists/main designers, etc.

Q6: Do you still directly control all aspects of Fourdesire like creativity, engineering and marketing? Is it necessary for a CEO to have direct control and interference in all the departments?

For the state quo, yes. Not only Fourdesire is a highly hybrid company, but also our products are highly hybrid, which combined with lots of game elements and useful utilities. Because of this, how to connect our talents such as engineers, designers, artists and producers is really important work. I still directly advise on all these aspects to make sure they are all aligned with the same goal. However, shortly, when the production methodology is more clear, things will be changed.

Q7: How competitive is the gaming industry? Do you see any pattern in its evolution?

It’s a very highly competitive industry, there are more games published by indie developers and big commercial companies, which will cause the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) to become higher and higher. Because these companies are highly competitive, many innovative games have been created and made great masterpieces both for aesthetics and commercial aspects.

Q8: Where is the digital gaming industry going? What does the future look like?

Apps that create wonderful and extraordinary experiences. There will be more apps providing interesting ways to learn languages, touching ways to interact with people, playful ways to do your daily routines and so on.

Q9: What are a few design trends in gaming? Are minimalism and simplicity also the norm in future game designs?

Some said that games in the future will be more fractal, I will say games in the future will be more immersive. Not only because of the rise of mobile devices that encourage players to play games anywhere but also we could leverage the benefits of mobile devices to let the games go into people’s everyday life.

Q10: You created many award-winning games over the years which are focused on self-development. Is it just a coincidence or your strategy?

It’s my dream. Two forces are driving me to make these new kinds of games. First, I believe PLAY is still an extremely important activity in people’s lives, and the attitude, playfulness, is also important to drive people to do what they want in a good and pleasurable way. Second, when I graduated from graduate school, my professor told all the graduate students that he hoped we could make some meaningful contribution to society. Drive by the playful thinking and the common good of society. I believe making meaningful games or gamification apps, just like what we did before, can make the world a better place. Our game To-do-adventure is the testament to that, where you can play your day’s tasks and turn your life into a real-world adventure. 

Q11: Don't you think “addictive” is the wrong way to describe a game? Do you think mobile games shorten the attention span in children and give gratification easily, making them uninterested in tedious and repetitive tasks?

Everything in the world is all a double-sided blade. Game and the word “addictive” are also double-sided blades. If you use “addictive” to describe an attitude when a child is doing their homework, I believe every parent will think the word is awesome. I agree that mobile games shorten the attention span in children, but there are also lots of games that extend the attention span in children by encouraging them to learn or create new things. In this sense, I still have positive beliefs about games in the future.

Q12: What is growth hacking? How can it help?

Help your products get more users under their will. haha.

Q13: What are playfulness and behavioural design?

To understand more about playfulness, I believe that play is the best way to explore the world. There are many kinds of play, which means that we use different kinds of ways to explore our world. Using playfulness as spices to encourage behavioural change makes sense. For instance, Plant Nanny 2 is an app designed to help users drink water with the accompaniment of adorable plants. For every cup of water you drink and record, you are also watering your plants in the meantime. 

When you drink water, the plant rises and grows. In contrast, when you forget to take water, the plant looks thirsty and sad. On the surface, it looks like you are the nanny who takes care of the plant, but actually, the plant is a metaphor of yourself. The health status of the plant reflects your water level.

Q14: What is scalable cloud computing and what are some of its benefits?

Scalable cloud computing technology like AWS is an extreme partner of ours. Fourdesire is driving business growth and supporting a rapidly growing user base with the help of AWS. The company uses AWS infrastructures in the Amazon Asia-Pacific (Tokyo) and Amazon US East (N. Virginia) Regions. Fourdesire has reduced its game development time now that the business is no longer focusing its efforts on the strategic development of its IT infrastructure. 

Q15: What are your plans for Fourdesire in 2021?

Go deeply to combine more wellness topics with playfulness, publish interesting and attractive new titles.

Q16: Pandemic has been especially beneficial for games developers due to huge rise in footfall, app usage hours and the number of downloads. Was the experience the same for Fourdesire?

Not exactly, our goal is to create playful lifestyle experiences by gamified apps. Because of the pandemic, many of our users’ lives have been changed rapidly and extremely, not only financially, but also physically. The way some of our apps have been changed, such as Walker, a game encourages users to walk more. In Pandemic, the usage of the game has decreased. However, apps like Plant Nanny 2, a product that encourages users to keep hydrated, is growing very well during the pandemic.  

Q17: Did pandemic change Fourdesire in any way?

Not so much, we’re still focused on building new, innovative and creative products for future generations.

Q18: Your advice for young tech-entrepreneurs expecting to make it big in 2021?

Do your best, but manage the risk well.

Q19: What is the one thing you change about Fourdesire and why?

The value proposition, which defines how users find values in our products and services. We’re trying to create higher value for our users by changing their life with playful design. 

Q20: What is the most important quality of yours which has helped you a lot over the years?

Playfulness, I see every challenge is a game in real life. If I could repeat 100 times to try to go through the hardest level of a Super Mario game, then I could at least try 10 times to solve the problem in real life.

Key takeaways:

  • Balance is the key to innovation.
  • The goal of the initial stages of product development is to iteratively produce a testable prototype and verify whether it meets the set questions.
  • Try to do your best when planning but also manage the risk well.
  • Create a higher value proposition with your product and services by changing life and playful design.
  • Playfulness is an important quality which helps in solving everyday problems in real life. 
Twinkle <span>Product Strategist</span>
Written By

She is a writer and content marketer at MobileAppDaily. Her knack around the mobile apps is merely splendid. Her experience in the tech industry has assisted her in churning out the best and more importantly, unbiased mobile app reviews.

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