Just recently, Ministry of Games was announced as the next big star on the Finnish developer scene. A collaboration of talented and experienced self-labeled nerds is hard to overlook, especially when they have their eyes set on the grand prize. CEO of the newly formed company, Teppo Soininen, talked with NordicGameBits about some of the things that are pressing at the moment in the young studio.
Every company runs into challenges that seem hard to overcome, notably in the form of raising enough awareness around the company. Especially rookie startups often have to resort to less expensive, and slow-processed awareness building, making it that much more difficult getting their brand to be a household name.
That being said, even though Ministry of Games technically is a startup company, you can hardly call them rookies. The team behind the startup are experienced veterans in game development, and that is very much as solid a launch pad as one can get. Using previous experiences, the young crew quickly had their bases covered, and could use their existing contacts to set sails towards their endgame.
“We had a few things going for us when we decided to start Ministry: good contacts to investors from our previous lives, proprietary game engine technology, a convincing prototype for our first game and most importantly a skeleton team that could deliver. We had founded and run a bunch of startups before Ministry and I think this made things easier for us.”, Says CEO Teppo Soininen.
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Networking is a huge part of making it to the big leagues, and there is not much you can do without the right contacts. Knowing the right people who know the right people elevated Ministry’s odds of success, but that alone didn’t cut it. One of the most important things to be aware of when starting up is how to approach the different aspects of being a contributing member of the game developing scene.
“We did a lot of ‘research’ by talking to other founders who had got funding lately, we worked on our plan a lot…then we worked some more…and more and more. We tried to get as much feedback and critique as possible…poke holes to our plans, see where we’d end up if some part of our plan would fail (if we can’t hire someone who can do this then what?). In the end we had a pretty solid plan that we followed through.”, Teppo Soininen explains.
The Finnish team knew from the start that they had to put in all their efforts into doing things the right way. Teppo Soininen explains that the team had a clear vision of what they wanted to do with their accumulated talent and resources right from the start. Yet, hard work only get you as far as your ambitions. Ministry says that their driving force is that they wanted to create something that they themselves could have ended up spending multiple hours playing.
“Ministry is composed of a bunch of game and technology nerds. We started the company to create games that we would love to play. We’d spent countless hours playing World of Warcraft, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, Clash of Clans, Civilization, EVE Online etc…games that have earned their place amongst the classics. With one eye at these types of classics we wanted to create our own version of a lasting gaming experience. Ministry’s mission is to create games that are easy to learn but hard to master.”, Teppo Soininen elaborates.
“The first game is a mobile RPG with puzzle elements (iOS and Android). Beyond that you’ll have to wait until the game is released…” – Says Teppo Soininen about their first project.
Going into something as extensive as the game developing industry as a startup can be a scary situation to find yourself in, experienced or not. So besides having a clear-cut direction about where to go, you also have to come to terms with the fact that there will be bad times ahead. Ministry went on with that knowledge in the back of their heads, but it seems they didn’t let it get to them. Teppo Soininen explains further:
“We thought a lot about where the industry is going, what would the gaming world look like in the next 2 years and so forth. After talking to a lot of developers (friends mostly) we came to the conclusion that the future is impossible to predict. Instead of spending too much time trying to chase the next big thing, trying to figure out what’s the next Minecraft etc. we’d just focus on making the best games we can. It’s highly likely that we will not make it on our first try. Lucky for us our investors trust the team and have given us enough runway for us to be able to create at least a few games before we run out of cash.”
“If our tests show promise, our current plan is to do an open alpha release for our first game in early September…that’s our best estimate at the moment.”, Teppo Soininen on their first announcement.
So with that in mind, Ministry dived into the familiar waters of game development, fully aware of what was expected of them. When asked about what they themselves expected, slash, demanded of the games industry, the answer was eerily similar to what any fan of games would say.
“That’s a hard one….I love this industry in so many ways. Indie hits like Oceanhorn and Monument Valley are fantastic experiences…I’d love to see more of that. At the same time I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Star Wars Battlefront game or to spend my monthly allowance on Clash of Clans….so more of that stuff too. More people playing games is creating even more opportunities for both large and small studios.”, Teppo Soininen concludes