This Female-Founded Company Is Capitalizing On The Momentum Of Women In Gaming


When we mentioned the word “momentum”, it’s hard for us not to think of the gaming industry, and specifically the mobile gaming area. While the industry overall is still very male dominated, with certain games like Candy Crush and even Kim Kardashian’s ‘Hollywood’ game being major hits for female users, it would be foolish for any game company to ignore the huge influx of women to the genre overall.

In 2014, research from Immobi found that 61% of American mobile gamers are female. That same year the Internet Advertising Bureau found that 52% of the gaming audience in general is now made up of women. Yes, you read that right. Sorry Gamergaters, women are NOT a minority in gaming anymore, they are a force to be reckoned with. If women make up the majority of people consuming and engaging in the gaming world, wouldn’t it make sense for more of the bigger gaming corporations to start tailoring their content toward this current trend?

EA Sports released the first FIFA game featuring female soccer players in 2015, which was certainly a step in the right direction. But why wait for the big names to move the needle when there are so many smaller companies taking the lead on this issue? One company which has recently come on our radar is Nix Hydra, founded by two badass female entrepreneurs based out of Los Angeles.


Lina Chen and Naomi Ladizinsky are both Yale graduates who came together in 2012 with a dream to create a gaming company aimed at disrupting the market and proving mobile games were not just for boys. In fact, their idea was so badass, they received funding from the same Venture Capital firms which backed Zynga, Fitbit and Harmonix (think: major money-making brands).

Their debut game based around a virtual pet was called Egg Baby, and has over 15 million downloads, and that was achieved with zero marketing spend. Egg Baby consists of big-eyed eggs that hatch into over one hundred different types of gift-giving creatures depending on how the player raises the egg. The game quickly became a massive phenomenon in the U.S. among teen girls and has an impressive 4.5/5 average score from more than 430k reviews on the App Store. LA Weekly lauded the duo for taking on the aggressive male video game industry as well as creating a work environment that reflects some of the above stats on women in gaming – women make up 60% of their company.

Since we are keen to keep our readers aware of this major momentum happening in mobile gaming, we cornered Lina Chen and took time out of her busy day creating super fun games for girls everywhere, to ask her about her egg-celent company (we promise to keep the egg puns to a minimum!), and what we all need to know about the Eggverse.


Lina Chen: Tell us how you and Naomi met and started your company?
Naomi and I met at Yale and then became roommates when we both moved to Los Angeles after graduation. We both like to play games but most of the games we were coming across on the app store did not resonate with us at all. We discovered that our demographic – that of young women – was overlooked by most of the gaming industry. Since we were oblivious at the time as to how difficult it would actually be to make a game, we set out to do just that.

What is Nix Hydra and how is it different to other game studios?
Nix Hydra is a VC backed gaming company that makes magical, colorful, and friendly games popular with young women. We are actually one of the only, if not the only, well-funded mobile gaming company that is both female-led and caters to young women.

With the growing amount of women playing video, online and mobile games, how do you hope Nix Hydra will serve a market that is still somewhat overlooked by other major companies?
We have a lot of talented young women on the team designing our games and we only make games that we would want to play ourselves. That ensures authenticity and players with similar interests and sensibilities will be attracted to that. Of course, each person can have a diverse range of types of games that they enjoy. To give our games the best chance of being hits, we focus on female-friendly themes that are under-represented in mobile gaming, such as collaboration, self expression and social interaction dynamics.


We’ve mentioned on our site before the immense success of Kim Kardashian’s mobile game. How do you think this changed the way the gaming industry views female players?
You would be surprised at how much most people in the gaming industry either don’t care or are unfairly dismissive of that game and/or its players. The game was barely mentioned at the biggest game developer conference of the year, after it had already became a huge hit. However, between that game and Candy Crush (which there’s a LOT of talk about, but not too much focus on how it is more popular with women), there are a handful of developers who have gotten the message and are leaning their games to be more female-friendly.

What are some of the games you have produced so far?
Egg Baby is our first and only game so far…although our second game is launching imminently! The game consists of big-eyed eggs that hatch into over one hundred different types of gift-giving creatures. The creatures then hatch depend on how the player raises the Egg.

Our next game, Egg!, will be out in early June. The heart of Egg! is the same as Egg Baby, but everything in Egg! is more sophisticated, expansive, and interactive. One of the most exciting new features is that players are now able to adopt and shape the personality of an Egg with a friend. The hope is that Egg! will not only revolve around the relationship you have with your Egg, but also the relationship you have with your friends.


Looking at the tech industry in general, the stats about the representation of women is still very low. What do you think will change this?
A comfortable and friendly environment for women in the industry.

We hear lots of statements about how hard it is for women to get their ideas funded by VC’s, as opposed to men. What was your experience like and what did you learn?

The first round of financing – the angel round – was extremely difficult because we started with no product, no experience, no credibility and no contacts. Haha. It was a testament to the power of perseverance in making miracles happen. Most angel investors are men and since those super early stage investments are often based on personal interest, it was sometimes difficult to get them passionate about the idea of games for young women.

The later round of VC financing was super easy in comparison, because we had very strong metrics from our first game that indicated we could make products that resonate with this underserved market.


With the advent of the Gamergate controversy, it is clear there are still some very territorial and aggressive male gamers who are unwilling to share the space with women. What do you think it will take for men to stop seeing women as such a threat?
It is natural to see new competitors as threats. So maybe what you are asking is, what will it take for those types of men to stop sending death threats and such? More self confidence, more strategy and an ability to see obstacles as opportunities.

You’ve already racked up 14 million downloads for Egg Baby without spending a dime on marketing. How did you react when you learned how popular your games were?

We are actually over 15 million downloads for Egg Baby now! We were surprised at the timing of it, because when we first put out Egg Baby, it was not even close to being a finished product and we were using it to collect data on user-experience to further improve the game. We are very happy of course, that our very first attempt at a game resonated with the people we were hoping to serve and that it brought them enough joy that they felt compelled to share it with others.

What advice do you give to other women in tech who are looking for investors, a creative team or some help executing an idea?
Persevere and be grateful to anyone who helps you in any way.

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