With its strategy debut due soon, Next’s next move looks to TV for inspiration
When we previously visited Next Games, the team shared one office at the company’s HQ, but toda today it’s spread over multiple floors, with a fre freshly installed in-house sauna facility. As t they prepare to launch their debut title,
JoakimJoa Achrén and Jay Ranki explain the company’s progress in more detail.
WhatWha was the inspiration behind Next Games’Gam first release?
JoakimJoa Achrén Compass Point: West startedstart as an idea I had about destroying oil derricksd in the wild west, with these old ’49ers throwing dynamite at them, makingmak them explode, and then creating an interestingi gameplay element with player-versus-playerplay and player-versus-environment. In terms of genre, action strategystrat was something that seemed to be workingw really nicely on mobile, so bringingbrin new twists to that, such as adding the card-collecting element, would actually make us stand out really nicely.
Given your history, a strategy title might be expected, but how did you tie up your deal with AMC?
JA Early on, we decided that we want to work on both licensed IP and create our own. That was a very clear strategic decision. We discussed what our ideal thirdparty IP project would be, and we all ended up with the same conclusion. The Walking Dead is a TV show the whole world loves, us included, so we decided to go after that. Our CEO, Teemu Huuhtanen, is very well connected within the entertainment industry, and he got us to sit down with AMC. We and AMC had a very similar vision about how the TV show would translate into a mobile game, and it all really started from there.
Does it slow you down considerably when you need to get everything approved by a company such as AMC?
Jay Ranki No, not at all, actually. I mean, obviously we need to keep close sync with AMC on many fronts, including where the game is going, the marketing, the visuals, the game design and everything else, but it’s in a very different context than these licence deals usually are. The key component here is that AMC has invested in Next Games, so they have a vested interest in our projects over the long term. Often it’s the case that licensor and licensee have only limited mutual interests, but AMC’s involvement in Next Games makes all the difference. It affects the collaboration on all levels, from day-to-day work to high-level communication, because we are truly in the same boat. If you look at our investors, there’s both AMC and [movie studio] Lionsgate, and if you look at our portfolio strategy you can put everything together and see what the idea here is. It gives us strength which we believe will give us the opportunity to make much better licensed games, in much closer collaboration with the IP holders, than others can.
Is there a particular style that people should expect from your games?
JR Well, looking at the plethora of IPs that we could potentially work with, even from within just AMC and Lionsgate, those IPs strongly suggest certain kinds of design decisions and visual decisions, which makes it very hard to be the sort of company that focuses on only one thing. We just want players to expect high quality, with great production values.
Employees 45 URL www.nextgames.com
Current projects Compass Point: West, The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land
NextNex Games will explore various genres. “It’s dangerous to lock yourself into a certain box,” says marketing chief Saara Bergström (pictured)