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Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 in review – a letter from Klaas

Dear friends,

And there (almost) goes 2015! It’s now time for reflection and spending time with loved ones, but first I want to look back on what a great year it’s been.

Having moved a few hundred metres across the street, we find ourselves in a new Karlsruhe office, but with the same passion and dedication to delivering top quality mobile games.

Royal Revolt 2, released in early 2014, continues to reign supreme, with awards won (a Tabby!) and successful adventures undertaken, with a release in South Korea maintaining the momentum for our flagship game.

Alongside the talented team at Superweapon, we released Dawn of Steel on iOS to critical acclaim, with its intuitive control system and customisable mechs adding greater depth to the mobile tactical strategy genre. Considering the game is coming to Android and Windows devices early in the new year, and with our recent partnership with NetEase meaning a near-future release in the Chinese market, we’re excited to see how the game evolves in the coming months.

Next year is a packed portfolio for us, and looking at names such as Limbic, Subatomic, Emerald City Games and Brainz, we are delighted to have teamed up with such strong partners whose track records in developing quality games speak for themselves. As a result, new instalments in the Zombie Gunship, Fieldrunners and Lionheart franchises are at the heart of our line-up.

That being said, working with such esteemed external partners is part of the small pivot we have made as a company. Being named a Rising Star in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 2015 competition was a proud moment for us, but to maintain company growth, we refocused all resources at our Karlsruhe HQ towards publishing. This meant discontinuing game development there, but investing instead in the development of a world-class publishing structure, enabling – as mentioned above – the strong pipeline of mobile games coming in 2016.  Meanwhile, our very own Frankfurt studio continues to work on a number of projects – including further updates to Royal Revolt 2 – and we’ll have more news to share very soon.

So what’s our new year’s resolution here at flaregames? Simple – we carry through what we started and remain focused. Next year, we’ll see much of our hard work come to fruition – whether it’s taking down zombie hordes, or jumping head-first into a story-rich mobile RPG, we have an awesome portfolio to suit your gaming tastes!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year,

Klaas Kersting
CEO & founder of flaregames

 

flaregames CEO and founder

Klaas Kersting

 

flaregames management team at full strength going into 2016

2016 is set to be a busy year for flaregames, therefore great timing to welcome both our new Marketing Director and Operations Director into the fold!

Everyone, meet Mickael (on the left of the sofa) and Chris (on the right of the sofa)…

Mickael and Chris with Klaas Kersting
The full press release goes into more detail, but Mickael Bougis comes on board as flaregames Marketing Director after four years at Electronic Arts and over two years at Microsoft. Meanwhile, Chris Hinton has taken over as flaregames Operations Director after 10 years of gaming industry experience, working at companies ranging from Disney to Zynga.

Here’s a bit more from Mickael and Chris as they introduce themselves and answer one particularly important question (see end of interview).

Interview with Mickael Bougis, flaregames Marketing Director, and Chris Hinton, flaregames Operations Director

1- When did you first get involved in the gaming industry?

(Mickael): I started in the industry in 2007 at Harmonix, working on a Rock Band project. I then moved back to Europe in 2009 and joined Electronic Arts. I spent 4 years there: 2 years as a Brand Manager, and 2 years as a Partner Manager working on producing and publishing games from external studios. In 2013, I joined Microsoft to create Microsoft Studios European Publishing. And here I am now.

(Chris): For the past 10 years I’ve had the pleasure of working at the knife’s edge of gaming exploration. From Electronic Arts and Perpetual Entertainment, focused on the early days of online gaming as Head of User Experience & Community Management. Then to Zynga and Playdom, where social gaming grew and matured with the success of platforms such as MySpace and ultimately Facebook. Most recently I spent time as Vice President of Central Services for Disney’s Interactive Media Group, and then Chief Operating Officer for Wicked Fun Games.

2- What attracted you to come on board the good ship flaregames?

(Mickael): Two things: vision and people quality. I fully share Klaas’s vision around mobile game publishing and how flaregames will disrupt it. Then I came here for a couple of days, spent time with the leadership team and the marketing team, and on my flight back to London, I realized: This is it, these are the people I want to work with!

(Chris): There were two primary reasons I decided to join the flaregames team: firstly, the people and culture and secondly, the portfolio. Good people, making great games!

3- Moving into 2016, what are some of the challenges and opportunities that excite you as a flaregames director?

(Mickael): I am super excited about our line-up for 2016. We have hundreds of thousands of players every day playing Royal Revolt 2, and there is a lot of cool stuff coming in the game. We are bringing Dawn of Steel to Android and Windows early next year – our community has been screaming for this.

We are also working hard with external partners to bring back IPs that fans want: we are working on the next Fieldrunners game with Subatomic, the next Lionheart game with Emerald City Games and the next Zombie Gunship with Limbic. We are also working with Brainz on a new IP.

2016 will be a very busy year, but all of that is very exciting. I can’t wait to show these games to the world.

(Chris): One of the biggest challenges of being a part of a growing company is figuring out how to evolve and grow a company’s culture or DNA as it goes through the normal growth phases. Having experienced both positives and negatives of rapid success and growth, I’ve learned how important it is to the long-term success of a company.

4- What does your history in gaming look like? How did it all start out?

(Mickael): Gaming is that very social experience to me: I remember nights playing Goldeneye 007, Mario Kart, Counter Strike, Age of Empires, FIFA or racing games all night with my friends. I also like playing very immersive story-based games by myself.

(Chris): Being in my 40’s my love of gaming goes back to the 1980’s starting around the Commodore 64 and arcade days. As a long time gamer I tend to lean toward immersive story-driven games like Beyond Good & Evil, the Uncharted series, Deus Ex, and Mass Effect to name a few.

5- Lastly, and most importantly… who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman, and why?

(Mickael): Spiderman, definitely, because he wears glasses!

(Chris): Oh this is easy, Spiderman! Spiderman has the holy trinity of superhero skills; strength, speed, and the most important weapon, spider-sense. While Batman does have his gadgets, those would all be nullified with his ability to dodge, allowing him to be easily captured with his web.

Chinese mobile gamers set for Leviathan in 2016

It’s been a busy week for Dawn of Steel news! The game’s release for Android and Windows devices has been confirmed for early 2016. A fantastic game update by the developers Superweapon has gone live, introducing Alliances, Leaderboards and further social features into the mix. And finally, the battle for Leviathan is set to hot up even more next year, with Chinese publisher NetEase set to release an adaption of Dawn of Steel for the Chinese market.

The adaption of the game will be in very safe hands indeed. NetEase are a leading game publisher in China, and operate games like Hearthstone from Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., and Cookie Jam from SGN, alongside their own creations such as Fantasy Westward Journey Mobile, a No. 1 top grossing game in iOS China App Store.

As Klaas, our CEO and founder, noted, China is easily the fastest growing games market worldwide. If you’re a Dawn of Steel player therefore, that means there’s set to be a whole new wave of competition for the precious resources on Leviathan in the next year!

To talk about this latest partnership, Georg, flaregames’ business development director and co-founder took the time to talk about the Asian mobile gaming market, and what lies in store for Chinese gamers with Dawn of Steel…

5 minutes with Georg Broxtermann, flaregames’ business dev director and co-founder

Question: This isn’t the first time flaregames has teamed up with an Asian publisher, is it?

Georg: Indeed it isn’t. Back in March we teamed up with Incross to launch Royal Revolt 2 on South Korea’s market leading chat platform, Kakao, and were delighted to see instant results – 120,000 installs during the first 24 hours on the platform, and after 4 days the game also reached the top 5 of the “most downloaded apps” chart of Google Play Korea. We were really proud of this achievement, as only a handful of games developed in the west have made this kind of impact in South Korea, one of the largest mobile games markets in the world.

How important is it for flaregames to work with such recognised Asian mobile gaming publishers as NetEase?

What we’ve learnt from the outset is that the Asian mobile gaming market is too vast for us to go it alone. Such as with the Incross partnership, we are delighted to be working with NetEase, as to be successful in Asia you need the perfect partner with an in-depth knowledge of the local market, and a passion for expanding a game’s user base. Considering NetEase currently operates games such as Hearthstone, their wealth of publishing experience was clear from the outset.

What are some of the considerations to make when bringing a western hit to Asian mobile gaming markets?

Culturalizing a game for its target audience is vital, and this was an area with Royal Revolt 2 where we needed to invest more effort, as the game has its own development engine. With Dawn of Steel, however, it was built using Unity, and this makes matters so much easier as developers across the world understand the tool. At the moment we haven’t fully defined the culturalization changes for the Dawn of Steel adaption for China, but want to ensure Chinese players can compete online against their western counterparts and further swell the in-game Alliance community.

What are some of the key differences between the mobile gaming market in China compared to Europe?

Without doubt the biggest difference is the lack of Google Play in China, meaning that if you want to cover the country’s biggest platform, Android, you have to cover at least the top 10 Android stores to make an impact. You can of course look to take on this challenge alone, but then you face the different software development kits (SDKs) from respective Chinese stores, and this requires a lot of hands-on work to manage.

What do you think mobile gamers in China will like most about Dawn of Steel when the adaption of the game is released in 2016?

Chinese mobile gamers are very competitive and therefore I think the Alliance system in Dawn of Steel will be a major driver in the market. It will be fascinating to see the in-game Leaderboards in one year and look at which players are coming out on top!

flaregames and Emerald City Games unite for new Lionheart adventure!

Great news to reveal today! We’re really excited to finally announce a new partnership deal with Emerald City Games, a fantastic Vancouver-based studio behind the likes of Sacred Seasons 2, Stormblades and Lionheart Tactics.

We’ll be working with them on a new Lionheart adventure, set to release globally for mobile devices in the latter end of 2016. We’ve just made a formal announcement in our Press Room, but here is what our very own Klaas, and Derek of Emerald City Games, both had to say about the news…

Klaas Kersting – CEO and founder, flaregames:

Question: How did this partnership deal come about with Emerald City Games to work on this new Lionheart game?

Klaas: We met the Emerald City guys at a developer conference, and it went from there. They had heard how we approach publishing differently from others, and as soon as the game was presented to us, we loved the concept, and were already fans of Lionheart Tactics. With the game universe looking stunning, and with our strong belief in the franchise, this new Lionheart game is a great fit for the flaregames portfolio. It represents where we want to be as a publisher – working with awesome developers to deliver great gameplay experiences.

flaregames has a focus on revitalizing existing mobile game IPs. Why is that?

We are developers by heart and love true gaming IPs, as they can easily be translated into new gameplay experiences. Not only with such true gaming IPs can we identify a clear target audience, we can already establish – from a look and feel standpoint – where they fit into the ever-evolving F2P universe. Naturally it also helps when we ourselves are big fans of the franchise!

What do flaregames bring to the table as a publisher in terms of working with existing mobile game IPs?

Well, firstly it’s the whole “games as a service” infrastructure and experience that we have as a team. We bring our expertise to ensure that the developer can work on adapting their business model without harming that IP. It’s a tough thing to achieve, and that is where we come in. We also bring the know-how when it comes to selling the game, as once a game releases, that’s just the beginning of the road. From there, we take the lead in examining the data, while working with the users to figure out how the game should evolve over time. This keeps the game moving forward and drives better results, enabling the developers to focus on creating a great experience for players. And lastly, we ourselves are gamers, albeit with developer DNA! We understand our audience, and aren’t a bunch of guys in suits.

What are you most looking forward to – from a gamer’s perspective – with regards the next Lionheart game?

It’s going to be fantastic to see how the relationships between the playable characters are developed in this new Lionheart instalment. The developers have a load of cool ideas, and we can’t wait to talk in the future about how they will impact the gameplay!

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Derek Day – CEO, Emerald City Games

Question: Talk to us a bit about Emerald City Games – what makes the company special?

Derek: Our team is extremely talented, and we love to create our own unique worlds and gameplay. We try to make sure everything we develop is fun and has charm. It’s a very inspiring group to be a part of.

What was the best thing about Lionheart Tactics?

If I had to pick one thing, it’s our characters. They’re inspired by a rich story background. They look and animate beautifully, are well designed and just a fun part of the game to collect.

You’re running Lionheart Tactics in the second year now, what have you learned? Is there anything you would do differently with what you know now?

Smaller play sessions, and a bit faster pace to everything. I think we have a much better understanding of how players play when they’re on their devices. So while we did a great job innovating and getting a traditionally controller-based game to work smoothly on a touch device, some of the core loops could’ve been designed better. But it was our first venture into mobile too.

What do you like most about the players of Lionheart Tactics?

Their passion and dedication to the game. The players love to be involved with making suggestions and giving feedback to make the game better. Without them, Lionheart Tactics wouldn’t be what it is.

Why did you choose flaregames as a publisher for this game?

Klaas made it really easy. He was a big Lionheart Tactics fan! Seriously though, it seemed like we shared a lot of the same values, and that doing business with flaregames would be a true partnership. Everyone we have met from there has been super talented, but also very down-to-earth. We’re also being given the reins to create the world we really want to create, and with this Lionheart IP, that is very important to us as well.

And finally what can gamers – whether RPG lovers or not – expect from this next instalment in the Lionheart series?

This game is really about taking everything up another notch. Better graphics. Deeper story. Stronger gameplay. And just like Lionheart Tactics, amazing characters. The characters look so good in this game, I just want to pull them out of my phone and put them on my desk.

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Here’s some concept art so you know what to look forward to:

LionheartArt1
 
 

LionheartArt2

© flaregames, 2017