The idea of making casual games more competitive sounds like a contradiction, as casual players aren’t similar to the most competitive gamers. But Helsinki-based Superplus Games already has a success story in its mobile action game Hills of Steel. This physics-based tank battle game has more than 39 million downloads since 2017. And it isn’t a hardcore affair.
Superplus Games is working on the sequel Hills of Steel 2. These games exemplify the studio’s mission of creating easy to learn, but difficult to master, casual PvP games, said Superplus Games CEO Kalle Jyly in an interview with GamesBeat.
“Our focus has been on making excellent games, with a focus on multiplayer with some real elements of competition,” Jyly said.
Makers Fund led the round, with additional financing from Business Finland and existing investors including Sisu Game Ventures.
Normally, the Superplus style of games — with features like competitive multiplayer — is more like a midcore (games with hardcore themes and short session times) or hardcore game.
“We try to keep the barrier of entry really low for our games, but then after, like a lot of skillful elements in their sense of mastery, you can actually get better in this game,” Linnakangas said.
The company has a small team of 12 people, but they’re an efficient group, focusing on quick iterations and development, Jyly said.
Hills of Steel 2 is expected to launch in the summer. The company is also working on Brawls of Steel, a hero-based battler and the company’s first “instant battle royale” game. Brawls of Steel is expected to launch by the end of 2020. Players will be able to fight it out as wizard sheep, barbarian bears, or arrow-shooting rabbits as they fight for supremacy on the battlefield.
“We created this term instant battle royale,” Jyly said. “You are immediately inside the action. There is no waiting. We wanted to bring battle royale into mobile in a mobile-friendly way. It has a cheerful and friendly style. But it’s definitely hard to master.”
The studio was founded in 2015 by ex-Rovio and Digital Chocolate veterans, Kalle Jyly and Aarni Linnakangas. The company is hiring programmers, artists, marketing people, and a community manager.
Jyly said the company keeps each game team small in the early phase and expands them during production. But the whole company is still pretty small. He said the culture is transparent, even when it comes to sharing financial data.
“Now we have this coronavirus situation, and we were fortunate to be able to raise money ahead of it,” Jyly said. “We are working remotely from home. It’s a new way of working, and I’ve had some conference calls from the sauna.”
Yep, that’s something you do in Finland.
Fortunately, the company is able to work remotely.
“I think in terms of actual plans, we haven’t had much change. Everything went so smoothly when transitioning to this remote working situation,” Linnakangas said. “Our plans are on track.”
Jyly added, “We’re trying to keep the team spirit with human interaction, regardless of the situation.”
Michael Cheung, partner at Makers Fund (and a speaker at our GamesBeat Summit event in a session on Series A/B investing), said in an email that, “The team at Superplus and their culture of small lean teams iterating fast and shipping, has helped them to achieve a lot with relatively little, a strategy we believe is key in the current environment.”