Founded in December 2014, Epic Owl consists of ex-Rovio and ex-Brimstone Interactive veterans who have now decided to set sail to acquire the non-casual games market on mobile.
Although the five-man team at Epic Owl has yet to release its first game, the studio is fully focused on acquiring the hardcore audiences on mobile when their first title lands on iOS and Android later this year, Epic Owl CEO, Juha Vainio, says. And according to him, the studio has just the right mix to actually complete their plan.
“As a team, we are in quite a unique place with our mastery of mobile game development and our experience in hard-core PC and console gaming. We believe the hard core gamers want games with deep gameplay experience and with our expertise, we believe we are the ones pulling it off.”, Epic Owl CEO, Juha Vainio says.
“In the latter half of 2014 we noticed that the market began to be ready (this time for real) for non-casual games targeted for people who like playing PC games but don’t necessarily have the time to invest on long playing sessions anymore.”, Juha explains.
And the studio has plenty of experience to pull off their ambitious plans with now-CEO Juha being the ex-product lead and executive producer at Rovio, Risto, the CCO, coming from a position as the game designer and lead content designer at Rovio, the VP of Game Development, Ville, previously working as a programmer and Rovio, Juho the Game Programmer working previously as a game programmer at Rovio too, and lastly, the artist at Epic Owl, Carolin, coming from Brimstone Interactive.
Epic Owl’s first title has been under development for 4 months so far, but details about the game have been sparse. With that said, however, Juha shared that the game will arrive on iOS and Android later this year, and that it will be a futuristic player-vs-player game set in space.
“What I can tell you at the moment is that it will be a futuristic player-vs-player mobile game set in space. A smallish game in development scope, easy to learn, difficult-to-impossible to master. It will offer a very deep gameplay experience that hooks you in and keeps you playing possibly for years.”, Juha says.
In terms of monetization, Epic Owl’s first title will be free-to-play, as this is the area within which the studio has the most experience. And the team genuinely believes that even though they aim to cater the hardcore audiences, who traditionally have been said to prefer premium titles, the free-to-play model can work just fine. As long as it is executed correctly.
“The games in our roadmap currently are all free-to-play games. We have the knowledge and the means to make free-to-play as it should be made; we respect the player and his choices, the game will be fun to play even if you don’t spend anything but you can intensify your experience by investing a bit of money in it, for instance to speed up your progression. As the game is PvP, an additional challenge for us is to balance the economy to avoid pay-to-win, that would just kill the experience for both the payers and the non-payers.”, Juha says.
“Free-to-play will probably remain as the main focus but I have seen many nice games failing because of forced free-to-play mechanics being glued on top of them. Thus, if we ever want to make a game that works better utilizing some other monetization scheme, that’s what we’ll do then.”, Juha elaborates.
Despite having not released their first title yet, Epic Owl won their nomination from startup100 as the #1 hottest startup in Finland in April of 2015. Something that actually came as quite the surprise for the team at Epic Owl too, Juha explains.
“That came as a positive surprise to us as well! We probably have done something right in spreading the message. But as we haven’t even announced our first game yet, it is a very humbling experience to be considered as the #1 hottest startup.”
Among other things, what the studio has done to make itself present in the Finnish startup space so far is, is to help wherever help is needed.
“We have been actively present in social media and have tried to leverage that. We are also participating in the game development community in Finland and trying to help out other companies that are in the same situation we are.”, Juha explains.
Epic Owl’s will to share their experiences can also be seen here on NordicGameBits, where Epic Owl share their experiences every week in their Opinion Blogs. The first couple of blog posts can be found here and here. And more will follow every week from now on.
“We are a small company but we are big believers in the Nordic game development community so let’s keep supporting each other and great things will continue to happen! If you have any questions or need some advice on something, don’t be afraid to ask.”, Juha concludes.