Next Games

With its strat­egy de­but due soon, Next’s next move looks to TV for in­spi­ra­tion

EDGE - - REGION SPECIFIC STUDIO PROFILE - Joakim Achrén Co-founder and CPO Jay Ranki Head of stu­dio

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.

Founded 2013

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)

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