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Fairytale in Montreal - Bingo Story developer going for growth

Clipwire CEO Ritesh Khanna tells PocketGamer about building a new studio in Canada's creative capital

Fairytale in Montreal - Bingo Story developer going for growth

Clipwire Games is the Canadian studio that found fame with Bingo Story, a fairytale-inspired take on the popular pastime. The studio recently announced that it is expanding from its home in Toronto into the creative hub of Montreal.

PocketGamer.biz spoke to founder and CEO Ritesh Khanna about the studio's history, its approach to game design, as well as its plans for the future.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about the history of Clipwire? How was it founded?

Ritesh Khanna: I started Clipwire Games in 2008. By that point, MySpace had introduced its 'OpenSocial' platform to compete with Facebook’s Canvas. This created a great opportunity to build new games for a massive audience without any competition.

We got in early and got lucky. We were able to generate decent revenue from our first game within a few days of launching. Fast forward to 2020, we started working with AppLovin to grow our team and scale our games.

Your games are based on well-understood games and mechanics so how do you stand out in what are very crowded markets?

We’re a data-driven company, so we’re always analysing what’s working and what’s not. We do as much research as we can. We look at feedback from players and market data and services like App Annie and Sensor Tower. We also look for fun genres that we would enjoy building, with enough room for us to add originality.

Why are social elements important for your games?

Social elements are one of the main reasons players come back! We want fun, engaging features that encourage players to connect.

Image credit: Clipwire Games

How did you come up with the idea of “bingo with a fairytale twist” for Bingo Story?

We wanted to take a classic game and create a modern, social experience on mobile. Bingo Story still has all the traditional bingo elements, but we have added tournaments, season passes, clubs etcetera

Bingo Story is the only major bingo game to offer free, unlimited play and which highlights players’ progress. The social mechanics are one of its main differentiators and have resulted in many close player friendships.

Who plays Bingo Story? What can you tell us about your player base/community?

Bingo Story players are typically achievers who like to compete to win and enjoy new content with familiar mechanics. Premium casual games tend to attract people who enjoy playing fun, quick games on the go and interacting with other players.

How does Clipwire keep players engaged in its games?

We’re always providing new experiences, which is important when you have a loyal and engaged player base. Partnerships with a license are a great way to address this, so we collaborated with Fremantle Media's The Price Is Right. We saw some great results, so we’re continuing to look at ways that we can incorporate new creative elements.

Why did you decide to build a team in Montreal?

Clipwire has grown tremendously in the last year and building a team in a gaming hub like Montréal enables us to connect with a deep pool of experienced leaders and established developers in gaming.

Image credit: Clipwire Games

What will the Montreal team be focusing on?

New hires in Montréal will take our games including Bingo Story, Word Buddies, Solitaire Buddies and future projects to the next level.

What excites you most about creating a team in Montreal?

Montréal has an immense amount of high calibre talent across several different industries and a great quality of life. The city draws on a vibrant culture, has a reasonable cost of living and has several supportive government organisations.

When you started Clipwire 11 years ago, did you ever imagine that the studio would be where it is today?

It has been amazing to see how much Clipwire has grown. In the last year alone we’ve experienced unprecedented growth by working with AppLovin. The fact we are now able to grow our team is an exciting moment for the company.

Clipwire Games has won regular awards for being a “Great Place to Work” so how do you ensure this is the case when also balanced against the demands of commercial success?

Maintaining culture can be difficult when you’re scaling quickly, but we made an effort to incorporate employee success and wellness every step of the way.

We also make a point of celebrating employee successes with programs like, 'Achievement-of-the-Month dinners'. We still don't know when we’ll go back to our offices but in spite of everything we've made this work and continue to thrive.

Image credit: Clipwire Games

You’re currently hiring. What do you look for in prospective employees?

We look for potential employees that are excited about mobile gaming and willing to take the time to collaborate on new projects or learn new skills.

There are a lot of gaming studios in Montreal. What makes Clipwire different?

Clipwire prioritises career growth opportunities for individuals. We are also continuously looking for ways that we can create great experiences for our players. We take care of our staff by providing top-notch health benefits, employee perks and growth opportunities.

We use data-driven technology to uncover and analyse game data so we can make improvements that matter. Our free-to-play games foster player connections, solidarity and even friendships because of our player-first philosophy.

For people not able to relocate, do you have any remote roles available?

We’re currently hiring an intermediate game designer and a senior game designer in North America and have several openings across our art, production and HR teams in Canada. You can check out our full list of openings on our careers page.

PocketGamer.biz regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.

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