A punk out­fit mak­ing big noises from the north of Fin­land

EDGE - - REGION SPECIFIC STUDIO PROFILE - Jaakko Kylmäoja Vice pres­i­dent, pub­lish­ing

Start­ing out with nov­elty cam­era apps, Finger­soft en­joyed steady suc­cess un­til the re­lease of Hill Climb Rac­ing, at which point it shifted into a dif­fer­ent gear. With in­stal­la­tions of its An­droid/iOS games now be­yond the 350m mark, the de­vel­oper/pub­lisher has a huge, and hun­gry, au­di­ence. VP of pub­lish­ing Jaakko Kylmäoja tells us more.

In such an in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, how do you think Finger­soft stands out?

We’re kind of like a punk band, fight­ing against big cor­po­ra­tions in the game in­dus­try. We have a small team mak­ing games, and some of them might look a bit rough, but hope­fully they’re all fun, and they break the nor­mal in­dus­try rules a lit­tle bit. For ex­am­ple, Hill Climb Rac­ing doesn’t have any in­ter­sti­tial ads in it, even though we know that if it did, we would make lots more money. For us, it’s more im­por­tant that the ex­pe­ri­ence is good for the player.

What do you think it is about Hill Climb

Rac­ing that’s given it such an in­cred­i­ble amount of suc­cess? Have you an­a­lysed it to the nth de­gree to break it down?

Not in such a for­mal way, but we do have an idea about why it’s so suc­cess­ful. Orig­i­nally, our early cam­era apps crosspro­moted the game, which gave us the orig­i­nal down­loads, but it’s two years old now and it’s still get­ting some­thing like 300,000 down­loads a day, so it’s about more than that. Per­for­mance-wise, for ex­am­ple, it was im­por­tant that even the most low-end de­vices would run the game smoothly. There are so many cheap An­droid de­vices that ba­si­cally don’t have any games, but Hill Climb Rac­ing runs on them, so it keeps us in the charts. Also, we be­lieve in fair play. We re­fund ev­ery time we’re asked to make a re­fund – when a child has been al­lowed to buy things by mis­take, for ex­am­ple. We don’t ask why, we just do it. In ev­ery­thing we do, we try to be as fair as pos­si­ble.

On the pub­lish­ing side, how do you sign up devel­op­ment part­ners?

There are two ways. First, I travel to con­fer­ences, at­tend par­ties and meet peo­ple, and I also have lots of friends who know that I’m around, and if they find game com­pa­nies they pass on my con­tact in­for­ma­tion. And then our web page makes it clear that we pub­lish games, so we also find peo­ple that way. I pass games to our in-house testers to ask their opin­ion, but I also want to meet the team – it’s very im­por­tant that the team is good; it’s not just about the game. Be­cause the most im­por­tant part in game devel­op­ment comes af­ter you have re­leased the game: how are you go­ing to re­act to feed­back from the play­ers? How are you go­ing to up­date the game to keep it alive, not just for three months but in Hill Climb Rac­ing’s case two years, and it’s still grow­ing? In the case of SixMinute [the Dublin stu­dio be­hind the Finger­soft-pub­lished Pick A

Pet], we met them in San Fran­cisco at GDC 2013 and I asked John [Hal­lo­ran] to come to our suite and have a meet­ing. We checked out the game and it looked great, then we came back to Europe and I went to visit the team in Ire­land, and we went out and drank to­gether in the pub. Then those guys came to Fin­land and we went to a sauna and stuff, and we got to know each other. Our men­tal­ity is that our part­ners must be good guys. It’s not about try­ing to come into the game in­dus­try just to ben­e­fit from the money avail­able. At Finger­soft, we’ve all been hob­by­ists since we were kids. Games are our lives. We hope that the peo­ple work­ing with us share that same kind of men­tal­ity, that same kind of en­thu­si­asm for games.

Lo­cated in the north of Fin­land, in Oulu’s Kem­pele, Finger­soft’s HQ was orig­i­nally a house. It’s re­tained all of the best fea­tures, in­clud­ing a sauna

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