A punk outfit making big noises from the north of Finland
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