Hot Five

Temporary new Supercell CEO, Zynga to close NaturalMotion Oxford, and Big Huge Games makes senior hires

Temporary new Supercell CEO, Zynga to close NaturalMotion Oxford, and Big Huge Games makes senior hires

It's not everyday one of the biggest mobile games developers in the world gets taken over by a 15-year old girl.

But that’s exactly what happened at Supercell last week as CEO Ilkka Paananen stepped down for a day to allow Sonja Korpelainen to take the reigns as part of the worldwide #GirlsTakeover initiative, a story that became our most read article of the week.

Second on our Hot Five as the unfortunate news that Zynga has proposed the closure of the NaturalMotion Oxford office as the company moves away from its third-party technology business and focuses on mobile games development.

Hires, investment, and the new Rare

Our third most read article of the week was the news that DomiNations developer Big Huge Games has made some big senior hires of ex-Zynga and Epic staff as it looks to the future with new projects.

Next up was the news that the already well-funded mixed reality start-up Magic Leap is plotting a new $1 billion funding round, and our interview with Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle developer Ubisoft Milan, which wants to be the next Rare.


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  • 5 Ubisoft Milan: We want to be the new Rare

    Ubisoft Milan: We want to be the new Rare  logo

    Lots of companies want to be “the new Rare”, but given the studio’s reputation for developing old classics, there’s very few who you’d believe could actually do it.

    But one studio that might just start creating such a legacy for itself is Ubisoft Milan.

    Hot off the success of the delightful Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, we caught up with the studio’s GM and Creative Director to discuss how it operates and what’s in store for the future.

    “When we started this project, it was just five of us,” said Creative Director Davide Soliani. “I was saying to the team that we should be what Rare used to be for Nintendo many years ago. I grew up playing those games, so in my dreams, the studio should grow and offer things that are very quality-oriented. That's my vision.”


  • 4 Mixed reality start-up Magic Leap plots new $1 billion funding round

    Mixed reality start-up Magic Leap plots new $1 billion funding round logo

    Mixed reality outfit Magic Leap is one of the hottest start-ups in tech, despite not yet publicly revealing an actual product.

    Investors aren’t swayed by that though. Having already raised over $1 billion, the company is reportedly set on raising yet another $1 billion to fund its lofty ambitions.

    The Series D investment round would take total funding to date to around $2.3 billion and value the company at as much as $7 billion.

    Such a deal could help speed up the company’s plans, with it reportedly set to release its first MR hardware in the next five months.


  • 3 DomiNations developer Big Huge Games recruits ex-Zynga and Epic staff in senior roles

    DomiNations developer Big Huge Games recruits ex-Zynga and Epic staff in senior roles logo

    Earlier this year developer Big Huge Games celebrated the news that its strategy title DomiNations had surpassed $100 million in revenue in just two years.

    As well as continuing to support that title, the studio is now looking to the future with new games.

    And to that end, it’s hired Epic Games Creative Director Steve Superville as Creative Director and Zynga Operations Director Judith Hoffman as its new Chief Operating Officer.

    “As we start work on the next generation of titles while sustaining the success of DomiNations, we could not be more excited about Judith and Steve joining our team, and we look forward to playing the new games they will be working on,” said Big Huge Games CEO Tim Train.


  • 2 Zynga to close NaturalMotion Oxford office

    Zynga to close NaturalMotion Oxford office logo

    Zynga has been doubling down on its mobile games development and ‘forever franchises’ of late, which has resulted in some restructuring at the company.

    Despite purchasing NaturalMotion for some $527 million, the publisher recently decided to end one of its core businesses: it’s third-party technology licensing services.

    A few months after that announcement, Zynga has now proposed the closure of NaturalMotion’s Oxford office, where its tech business was based, to focus on game development.

    “Over the last year, we’ve been narrowing our focus and orienting our NaturalMotion team around strategic priorities we believe will drive the studio’s next phase of growth,” read a statement from Zynga.

    “As part of that work, in Q2 we wound down our third-party licensing and middleware businesses in Oxford, and today, after further review of that location, we’re announcing a proposal to close our Oxford office.


  • 1 15-year old becomes Supercell CEO for a day as part of #GirlsTakeover campaign

    15-year old becomes Supercell CEO for a day as part of #GirlsTakeover campaign logo

    Last week hundreds of companies around the world took part in the worldwide #GirlsTakeover initiative as part of the International Day of the Girl.

    The idea was to put girls into the shoes of the top leaders around the world with the aim of promoting equal opportunities.

    It’s a campaign one of the biggest mobile studios in the world (recently named number one in our Top 50 Developer list), Supercell took part in, as CEO Ilkka Paananen stepped down to make way for 15-year old Sonja Korpelainen.

    “We wanted to participate in Girls Takeover because if I just think about the games industry and game development specifically, we have this problem that it’s very male dominated,” said Paananen.

    “There are very few females working on actual game development.”


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Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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