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Some of mobile gaming’s brightest minds are setting out to make a mobile game and more with their latest startup.
Andrew Stalbow and Petri Järvilehto, a pair of former executives from Angry Birds developer Rovio, have founded Seriously. The new company is already working on its first game called Best Fiends. The free-to-play mobile puzzler has gamers using strategy and skill to advance in a colorful cartoon world. Best Fiends is due out on iOS and Android in October. While the game will debut soon, Seriously is looking at Best Fiends as more than just another game in the App Store. The studio is already looking to expand the brand into a global franchise with mass appeal.
Seriously has offices in Helsinki and in Santa Monica. In the Finland studio, the creative team is building Best Fiends while the Santa Monica team supports that development and creates the company’s multimedia strategy.
“We decided to focus on building the story, the world of ‘Minutia,’ the characters, the conflict, and the overall premise, as well as a really compelling game design at the same time,” said Järvilehto, who is Seriously’s chief creative officer. “It works for us because we have a team of creative talent that have really bought into our vision.”
In addition to the game, Seriously is partnering with talent from Hollywood to make animated shorts based on Best Fiends. The company has brought in Despicable Me composer Heitor Pereira to work on the game and soundtrack for the animated shorts. Seriously is also partnering with visual-branding experts Pilot Studio, responsible for work on the Transformers and Star Wars merchandise lines. Finally, the company hired Soren Fieng to oversee the animated shorts themselves.
All of this comes before Seriously has even released its first game. This echoes the path Rovio eventually went down with Angry Birds, which is now a global entertainment brand. It also echoes the way toy companies devise deep, multifaceted marketing strategies for their new products.
Seriously’s founders believe that mobile is ripe for this kind of well-considered branding.
“Entertainment audiences are shifting from traditional media consumption devices like TV and cinema to mobile faster than many people expected,” Stalbow told GamesBeat.
Earlier this year, mobile-analytics and ad platform Flurry revealed that the average American spends 51 minutes a day playing games on his smartphone or tablet.
“That’s a lot of time being taken away from other things,” said Stalbow. “We think that with the potential to reach a large, connected audience and the engagement you can deliver via a game, many of the next generation of entertainment brands will be built on mobile first. We are going to work very hard to be at the forefront of that shift.”
The studio also claims that this strategy should help it cut through the noise on the crowded iOS and Android platforms.
“There are a lot of mobile-game companies who are licensing third-party-owned [intellectual property], which had been originally developed for other media platforms,” said Järvilehto. “We’re excited about the opportunity to build something fresh, original, and 100 percent mobile first that still feels Hollywood-grade. We think it’s a differentiator for us.”