Finnish Shark Punch is a game developer quite different from most other startup studios in the Nordic. After successfully releasing their first game, The Masterplan, on Steam in June 2015, the studio is now slowly moving its focus onto their social discovery platform, Playfield.
Ever since Shark Punch started developing The Masterplan back in early 2014, the team has always had a very open development process, sharing as much as possible with the community via devlogs, work-in-progress screenshots, video on developers forums and even Twitter and Vine.
What the young studio quickly realized, however, was that it was very hard to get discovered, and even when you did, your community would be fragmented across various social channels.
“We toured a lot of conferences and meetups and talked with fellow indie developers and we quickly realized that almost everyone was facing the same problems.”, Shark Punch COO and co-founder, Harri Manninen says, and continues:
“So we cooked up a few prototypes on what Playfield could be like, based on what we had learned while developing The Masterplan – the core idea being about discovery and communities – and people really liked the concept, and suddenly we had a project on our hands!”.
The Masterplan was released on Steam Early Access in September 2014, and on June 4th this year, the game was finally officially released on the platform.
And although the game has been doing great so far, with the its lifetime sales numbers doubling on the day it went out of early access, there are still certain disadvantages of having a game on Early Access, Community Manager at Shark Punch, Tero Tapio says:
“Being an Early Access game definitely has its pros and cons. A major upside was the early community involvement and the tremendous feedback we received that helped shape the game, but at the same time, once we start asking money for a game, we lock ourselves in place design-wise; we can’t change the concept after people have already paid money for it.”
“Financially speaking, the income during Early Access is not enough to support the development on its own, and Early Access participation does somewhat dilute the impact your release will have. This is something we’ll need to think carefully with any future titles.”
Also read: Mythos the Awakening Greenlit in Only 7 Days
The team at Shark Punch has now grown to 11 people, but at any given time, a maximum of five people were actually working on The Masterplan, Manninen says.
In the meantime, the rest of the team have been working on developing the Playfield platform, and being a game developer at heart has definitely made that process much easier, according to Manninen.
“Most of the Shark Punch crew is focused on developing and supporting Playfield. We like to think that being a game developer ourselves, walking down the same paths as other developers is very beneficial to Playfield’s development.”, he says.
Shark Punch raised a $1.2 million investment in February of 2015, with London Venture Partners – the investors of Supercell, Playraven, and Boomlagoon – leading the seed investment round. An investment targeted towards the development of the Playfield platform.
With the investment, it is once and for all clear that Shark Punch has moved its focus as a company onto the Playfield platform, and one could therefore wonder if the studio has completely discarded the idea of developing new games.
While Harri Manninen couldn’t confirm any new IPs currently in development, he didn’t discard the idea completely either.
Instead, he explained that the development of games currently funds itself, which seems to indicate that whether or not we’ll see another game come out of Shark Punch depends very much on the performance of their current game, The Masterplan.
“The seed investment is focused on developing the Playfield platform. Game development is funding itself, and may, or may not, include new IPs”, Manninen says, and continues:
“Our main focus is on Playfield. That said, we definitely want to continue developing games in the future. We don’t see these two as mutually exclusive.”
Just as Valve and CD Projekt’s GOG.com, Shark Punch is hoping to be able to combine developing games with operating a service platform for game developers and gamers alike.
Successfully pulling off a Valve or a CD Projekt-like stunt won’t be easy, but with the recent investment in their hands, Harri says that the studio is ready for the fight to the top.
“We have a ton of respect and love for Valve (Steam), Epic (Unreal Engine) and CD Projekt (GOG), and I think their success is an indication of how much value and strength being a game developer that is also working on a platform can bring. We hope to be as successful as those guys someday!”
Want to showcase your game for free at Gamescom this year? Shark Punch is giving you a chance with Playfield! Read more here.