To give a greater insight into what’s going on at flaregames HQ, we’ve unveiled the first episode of our new community show, “5 minutes with flaregames”!
Stay tuned for more episodes in the coming months where we’ll give further sneak peeks at our latest projects.
With Nonstop Knight nominated for the People’s Choice Award at the 13th International Mobile Gaming Awards (HINT: please vote, winner announced in 1 week!), it’s fair to say that our favourite dungeon-brawling buddy has come a long way over the past 12 months.
To chat about the amount of stuff that’s happened since the days of the game being announced as “Project Nonstop”, we caught up with Mika Kuusisto, Kopla Games CEO.
As it turns out, Kopla’s original mission to bring mobile action RPGs to everyone remains as strong as ever.
So….a lot’s happened in 1 year, no?
Absolutely! Kopla Games has just turned 2 years old, we’ve doubled the size of our team and Nonstop Knight has been out since June last year. Everything has moved at light speed since we first went public with the game (in February 2016), at the time titled “ Project Nonstop”.
How relevant remains Kopla’s original mission statement of bringing action RPGs to everyone?
It’s remains our main mission – there’s still much work to be done! The original message from last February, namely in bringing action RPGs to the mainstream, very much holds true and remains firmly in our minds. With Nonstop Knight, we’ve achieved a lot in introducing many newcomers to the action RPG genre. But we’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of fulfilling this mission.
Needless to say, the success of Nonstop Knight has totally exceeded our expectations. The game has been a hugely positive learning for us – it’s only strengthened our understanding of the action RPG genre and how to make an even greater impact with future releases.
Considering the Kopla philosophy of brute forcing luck with skillful iteration, which in-game features couldn’t you have imagined 1 year ago?
Well, the pets system was somewhat of a lucky accident in that we were testing out the dragon pet in soft launch, exploring whether giving the knight a trusty sidekick would make the game more fun. It turned out to be one of the game’s most popular features! We’ve since rolled out a whole array of other pet buddies and even got our amazing community to help design the latest sidekick, the Owlet.
What we did envisage, and it was something we’d been considering since late 2015 (!!), was the introduction of a multiplayer element in the game. This was no accident – the Boss Hunt feature had been on our minds for a long time and we’d seen many fans asking for something like this to be implemented. As an event where players form teams and get rewarded by hitting shared milestones, we had to ensure that Boss Hunts complemented the core game in the right way. We had a couple weeks of iterative fine-tuning to get the feature spot-on before going live. And as it turned out, we found the right balance and Boss Hunts garnered a lot of love from the community.
What key moments would you list to summarise the past year?
Aside from the obvious of the Nonstop Knight hard launch, joining the flaregames family was a massive moment for Kopla and a big thing for me personally as an entrepreneur. For the team, being acquired by flare means that we can focus better on creating world-class mobile games and apply all our energies into development. Secondly, the move to the new office in central Tampere was a key moment, as it meant us leaving the “garage phase” where all five of us were working out of a 13 square metre office. Since then, Kopla is now fully staffed at 11 people, we’ve moved to a really neat office with a sauna (because Finland!) and we’re already working on the next game. What that looks like we’ll have more to reveal later, but the passion for bringing action RPGs to everyone remains strong!
And I can’t forget this key moment – Nonstop Knight beer for our summer party!
And just like that goes 2016….an “interesting” year for world politics, nevertheless one we will look back on fondly as a company.
In what turned out to be our biggest success story of 2016, we joined forces in February with Kopla Games, a small team of ex-Rovio guys intent on bringing action RPGs to everyone. Initially revealed as “Project Nonstop”, the game we now know as Nonstop Knight secured over 2 million installs in the opening days of its launch, ranking in the “Top 5 RPGs” in 126 countries and becoming an Editors’ Choice. Such was our great rapport with the Kopla guys that we decided in August to acquire the Tampere-based studio, with many celebratory beers being popped open on that day.
Meanwhile, the stellar success of our other studio, Keen Flare, continued with the launch of Olympus Rising in May. With stunning high-definition visuals and a massive world to rule, the game earned Editors’ Choice and top-banner features across the globe. And I shouldn’t forget to mention that after Royal Revolt and Royal Revolt 2, this completed the consecutive hat-trick of Editors’ Choice accolades for our team in Frankfurt. A truly innovative title, Olympus Rising also led the way in showcasing the livestreaming features of iOS 10, with stage time at Apple’s WWDC 2016.
But while we have celebrated new entries to the portfolio, the all-conquering Royal Revolt 2 continues to go from strength to strength. Even after over 2.5 years of live ops, the game’s monthly revenue continues to hit its peak, with expansive game updates supported by fresh visual content generating mass engagement across our 900k+ follower Facebook channel.
We’ve a number of portfolio surprises up our sleeve for 2017, but one title we have been shouting about is Zombie Gunship Survival. It’s a pleasure to work with the team at Limbic and so far there’s been hugely positive metrics in soft launch, fantastic feedback to recent game reveals and even exposure during the Apple iPhone 7 conference . Our mission to re-define the mobile shooter genre kicks off next year and we couldn’t be more hyped.
It’s been a crazy year and I’ve not mentioned the doubling of our revenues… the amazing new team members we welcome on an almost weekly basis… our awards nominations… our stage time at Google I/O 2016 for our marketing campaigns… or on a more bizarre note, the fact we launched a Snapchat charity campaign – around the introduction of pets in Nonstop Knight – and donated $10,000 to the National Police Dog Foundation!
So to end this letter, there’s no real pearls of wisdom or visionary 2017 prediction – it’s time for us to spend time with family and loved ones, and pick up where we left off in the New Year.
Happy holidays and wishing you all an awesome new year,
CEO & founder of flaregames
Looking after Royal Revolt 2, one of the crown jewels in the flaregames portfolio, is no easy feat. That person needs to know the game inside out (and back again), while possessing a 360 awareness at all times. With such a popular and content-rich game on your hands, it’s never a quiet day at the office.
That means having people like Gavin working on the game is pretty handy.
In the below interview recently conducted with the awesome guys at Pocket Gamer.biz (this blog entry is lifted from that article), Gavin talks about what it’s like to work on Royal Revolt 2, while discussing how the game has influenced the whole company’s mindset when it comes to all sorts of cool stuff.
1. With Royal Revolt 2 a few months off its third birthday, how do you reflect on its performance – from launch to the mature title it is now
It’s been incredible how the game has evolved and developed such an active and passionate community. After all, not many mobile games have such a long lifespan in terms of live ops and even now we’re planning content updates for the foreseeable future. It’s naturally a very important title for Flaregames, and alongside more recent releases like Nonstop Knight and Olympus Rising, it’s been a real driving force for the company. It’s also fantastic to work with the team at Keen Flare in Frankfurt, a truly world-class group of developers.
2. How big is the team currently handling live ops on Royal Revolt 2?
It’s a split between our team here at Flaregames and the developers at Keen Flare, but in total it’s around 40 people. Due to how Flaregames is structured, those on live ops are typically not 100% allocated to a single project, but instead bring their expertise when an issue that requires their attention arises. Naturally the team at Keen Flare are delivering the client and server updates and we work closely together particularly when key milestones approach.
3. How important do you consider customer support to be? What’s been the approach to game updates?
While we work with a traditional update roadmap, we have – on many occasions – altered those plans after receiving particularly valuable community feedback.
That’s why building player trust and creating a dialogue with our players is vitally important to us, especially given the age of the game. With such a mature player base, the bonds formed in-game are what keep many players coming back. If we dropped the ball when it comes to community management, it would have a severe impact on the game as a whole. Our customer support, community management and social media teams work as one to continually engage with the community, extracting valuable feedback, filtering relevant comments so they can be reviewed for our roadmap, and of course immediate escalation of critical issues. When you have a game that is beloved and cared for by so many within the community, accurate and timely responses to questions is crucial.
4. Since the game’s launch, Flaregames has transitioned from internal development to a publishing focus. As a Flare-developed game, how is Royal Revolt 2 handled differently to the rest of your portfolio?
In principle, Royal Revolt 2 is not handled any differently from other games in our portfolio. From a publishing perspective, we treat Keen Flare the same way as any of our external studios. But it’s important to note that we are not the developer – it’s our role as Flaregames to empower the development team to make the right decisions and provide our support and expertise to enhance the game’s success.
5. What steps have you taken to ensure that Royal Revolt 2 maintains a sizeable and active player base years after its launch?
Delivering new and exciting content, for one. We work on a cadence of at least one major update every three months, at the same time assessing if this content might have a shot at getting featured by the platform holders. We also place a big emphasis on regular in-game events and rewards. For example, we recently added a “PvE events system” whereby players face off against a Villain and his army of Ninjas. Mixing up the different challenges and even customising the seasonal theme of this system has been a great supplement to the wider gameplay experience.
6. What lessons have you/are you still learning from Royal Revolt 2? Is there anything about the game that, in hindsight, you’d now handle differently?
When the game was first created, I don’t think anyone thought it would reach this milestone, although of course everyone had hoped and worked hard to achieve it. By that I mean, with the many elements that are now in the game it has become harder to integrate them from a UX perspective. On top of this, the game has become more complex from a live ops perspective and this makes it more challenging when making large changes to the game. These are quite typical challenges to overcome in a game that has evolved over many years, and if it was known that we’d have so many systems/events in the game three years ago, we likely would have structured both elements in-game as well as in our back-end tools differently. That aside, it is something which is difficult to foresee, and in a way this issue is great because it boils down to being victims of our own success.
7. Finally, how has your experience with Royal Revolt 2 informed where you are/what you’re working on now?
As mentioned earlier, Royal Revolt 2 has been a real benchmark for the company and shaped many aspects of our publishing philosophy. Our learnings have even influenced our work on Nonstop Knight with the guys at Kopla Games. We’re already working with Keen Flare on plans for their next hit game, so naturally what we have experienced together will carry over into this next project.
Thank you to Pocket Gamer.biz once again for allowing us to re-post this interview.