Who doesn’t like a crazy king? No one, right? For those who do like ’em, Finnish TicBits have just released their Crazy Kings after 3 years of development. The game is a tower defense/card collection hybrid, and is free to download on the App Store.
Founded in 2010, the independent game studio TicBits Ltd., is the result of a collaboration between two cousins, Fredrik and Niklas Wahrman. In Turku, Finland, the cousins drew experience from several projects separately, but as soon as the the opportunity arose, the cousins shook hands and became partners.
One of their strengths was that both partners had a great deal of experience in both programming and game development. The cousins got into professional mobile game development all the way back in 2002, for a Canadian company called SilverBirch Studios. Their work there was mostly to work on movie tie-in games, such as Zorro, Constantine, Superman and others.
“Back in 2008 when the App Store launched, Niklas first made a hobby game by himself, a game called Asterope. That game earned him some money and pushed me into also making a game, a word game called iAssociate. That project did fairly well financially and in 2010, we then decided to leave our current jobs and found our own company, TicBits.”, Fredrik Wahrman says.
“The business plan was from day 1 to create free games that could be played over and over again, so that we could get a relatively stable income from both ads and In-App Purchases.”, Fredrik Wahrman says.
The Finnish cousins started out with smaller and more casual games, and after releasing a sequel to their iAssociate, they went over to games such as Sudoku, Minesweeper and Solitaire. The objective was to appeal to easily searched, recognized, and well-established game types. This tactic is the result of the two cousins not having a marketing budget. They aimed at creating free games that would have a high replay value, leaving them with a steady income from ads and in-game purchases.
“After we had established our company with these games and managed to recruit some more people, we then finally got to work on some bigger projects, Crazy Kings being one of them.”, Fredrik Wahrman explains.
The curious thing about Crazy Kings is that it took three years to make the game. But according to its creators, the long development process has actually helped them achieve a unique and well thought-out game. The Finnish team started out with the idea of making a tower defense game. And since they were both excited about the genre, they settled on making it their grand game.
“During the development of CK, the game underwent a few design iterations to help distinguish it from the other games and also to make sure that it worked well as a free to play. We wanted to make sure that we could offer our players enough content to keep them enjoying the game not only for months, but for years. In the end, I think we made a few mistakes with our game design early on in the project, which caused some unnecessary work, but on the whole I must say that it was worth it. Crazy Kings has really benefitted from the long development cycle.” – Says Fredrik Wahrman.
“The whole Finnish game dev community is quite open with sharing data and best practices, so it has definitely helped to have access to lots of other game developers, working on a lot of the big titles that have come from Finland over the years.”, Fredrik Wahrman says.
The newly released Crazy Kings is published by Berlin-based Wooga, a publisher who is known for their experience with free to play games. As Crazy Kings is the first game to come from TicBits that is published through an outside publisher, it was hard not to question why they chose to work with a publisher like Wooga this time around. As it turns out, much has changed since TicBits first started developing games, and nowadays he competition in App-stores for the top spot is simply too fierce for them to break through.
The best option they had was to hand over their biggest project so far to a company that specialize in promotion, attention and market analysis. “Crazy Kings is the first game we’ve developed that we haven’t self published. As the App Store has matured, the competition for the top spots in the rankings has also increased a lot, which means that successfully publishing a game has become much harder. So we felt that we could benefit from a partner who could help us achieve our goals, someone who could help us both during the development of the game as well as help us post-launch.”, Fredrik Wahrman says to Nordic Game Bits.
However, having just talked about the wonderful Finnish games industry and its capabilities, why not also chose a publisher from Finland? But as an answer to that question, Fredrik says that Wooga just seemed genuinely interested in their game, and showed interest in making it successful. “Our discussions with Wooga were from the start really great, they showed that they had real interest in the game. Their mindset in the company matched ours really well, so ultimately it was an easy decision for us to choose them. A decision we’ve been extremely happy with, as Wooga has been awesome to work with in every way, it’s felt as though we’ve all been part of the same company.”, Frederik Wahrman says, and continues by concluding that:
”Our plans for Crazy Kings stretch quite far in the future. We have planned that the project would go on for at least three more years, with the goal obviously being that we could keep the game interesting and fresh for much longer than that. Besides that we also have a couple of other games under development, of which one, a multiplayer racing game, should be soft launched after the summer vacations.”.