Swedish Mediocre entered the smartphone market in 2011 with Sprinkle!, and the two-man studio has never looked back since, reaching more than 100 million total downloads in late 2014. Now the studio is soon ready with its newest title, a strategic driving game.
For many game developers, one of the decisions that can cause a whole lot of headache is choosing which game to develop next once the current game has shipped. You don’t want to start working on a game that you are not passionate about, but then again, nor do you want to develop a game that you really love but just can’t find the right monetization strategy for. Moreover, the ideas are often many and the manpower limited, which really just doesn’t make the decision any easier.
For some, the outcome is that they find a game that currently seems successful on the App Store, and then make their own spin on that genre or game. According to Mediocre co-founder Henrik Johansson however, Mediocre follows quite a different strategy when deciding which game to develop next.
“We’re not gamers and the strength in that is that we often try to find inspiration elsewhere than in other games. The criteria changes between projects, but we always try to make something that feels new, that is easy to learn and is more or less instantly enjoyable.”, Johansson says to Nordic Game Bits.
Being a studio consisting of only two people has certain limitations in terms of the size of projects that you can take on. But as Johansson points out, there are also benefits involved with being small and staying small, especially when it comes to choosing the games you want to develop.
“Since we’re so small there isn’t much financial risk to worry about. We do want our games to be popular and enjoyed by as many as possible, but we can afford the luxury of working on projects that we find fun and stimulating ourselves. I think that if you don’t care much for the project you’re working on, it will inevitably be bad and so consequently it will fail.”, Johansson explains.
While Mediocre has previously been very successful, reaching more than 100 million downloads in total across both premium and free-to-play titles, launching a new game is always exciting as success is never guaranteed no matter what track record you hold.
“It felt more worried after our first game “Sprinkle” than I do today, I didn’t feel confident that we could make another equally popular game. But thankfully we managed that and a lot more and I’m so happy and grateful to be able to do what we do”, Johansson says.
For Mediocre, however, what is most important is not the amount of downloads, but rather that the people who play the games really appreciate it.
“We don’t necessarily expect our next game to be as popular as Smash Hit, it doesn’t have to be, but I hope that the love and hard work we put into it will show and that people will find it as entertaining as we do”.
In developing the new driving game, as with any other game developed by Mediocre, the greatest challenge was the game design – how do you create a fun and competitive game?
“We were struggling with what 3d software to use for modelling and to find an efficient workflow between it and our own custom game engine, that was pretty frustrating. But game design is always the hardest part, it has been our greatest challenge for all of our games, how to create fun and competitive game play.“, Johansson says.
For the upcoming driving game, the answer to a fun gameplay seems to be humor, as Johansson emphasizes that the team often find themselves laughing out loud when working on the game.
“There is a certain humour and charm to our new game that we’ve enjoyed a lot, it has been a lot of fun exploring that aspect! Its a very silly concept and we often find ourselves laughing out loud in the office while working.“
Finally, when it comes to monetization, Mediocre has previously been a fan of premium or semi-premium games, but after the huge success of Smash Hit, which was downloaded over 70 million times using a monetization strategy that lies in-between free-to-play and classic premium, the studio is now looking towards using that strategy for future games as well.
“All of our previous games have been premium titles and we we’re worried that we we’re just giving Smash Hit away, but this new model has worked extremely well for us, so well that it feels like an impossible decision to go back to classic premium. So we will most likely be taking a similar approach to monetization in the future.”, Johansson says.