Interview

2014 in Review: Lasse Seppanen, PlayRaven - The future belongs to category-defining mobile games

2014 in Review: Lasse Seppanen, PlayRaven - The future belongs to category-defining mobile games

As 2014 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have dominated the last 12 months in mobile gaming.

As such, we've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2015.

Previously, head of studio at Digital Chocolate Helsinki, then COO of Remedy, Lasse Seppänen is now the CEO of Finnish developer PlayRaven.

Pocket Gamer: What was the most significant news in 2014?

Lasse Seppanen: King's IPO made a big splash this year.

Together with Supercell's big exit in 2013, these two showed how Nordic games companies can make it really, really big on a global scale.

How did your business focus change in 2014?

Even though we raised two funding rounds this year - $2.3 million in January and a further $4.1 million in December - I have to say the global launch of Spymaster in September was an even bigger event for PlayRaven.

It proved that a game that is completely different from the current chart toppers in theme, visual style and gameplay can be in very high global demand.

During the launch week, the iPad game rocketed up the Strategy charts like there was no tomorrow:

  • Top 3 Strategy game in 78 countries (#2 in both US and UK),
  • Top 10 Strategy game in 99 countries,
  • Top 20 All Games game in 64 countries

It was also incredible to see how the game was wildly popular in totally unexpected places around the globe:

  • #2 Strategy in India,
  • #3 in Hong Kong,
  • #3 Saudi Arabia,
  • #3 South Africa,
  • #4 Philippines...

The list just goes on and on.

For us, this chart success was extremely important because it proved that by exploring fresh new ideas we can and we will find strong latent demand that no competitor is addressing. In essence, it validated our whole business strategy!

This is the year when fresh boldly differentiated, new category-defining mobile games will take a permanent place on the top grossing charts.
Lasse Seppänen

We are now very, very determined to continue on our chosen path of creating fresh new F2P gameplay experiences.

What was your favourite mobile game of the year?

Hearthstone - no doubt about it. I just love the way Blizzard pours love and care into each title they release.

What do you predict will be the most important markets for your games in 2015?

In our creative process, the US is always the main design target. We believe that pop culture (movies, books, games) that work in the US market has a good chance to work globally as well.

We followed this philosophy with Spymaster and reached stunning success with global appeal as proven by its chart positions

What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2015?

This is the year when fresh boldly differentiated, new category-defining mobile games will take a permanent place on the top grossing charts.

Hopefully one or more of them will be ours. :)

What's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you enforce on the industry?

Personal level: All the games we ship in 2015 will be different from the current market, and even from each other. We are putting our explorer hats on and polishing our looking glasses. It's time to find some people who have little or nothing to play in the digital market place.

PlayRaven's Spymaster was one of the more original F2P games of 2014

The industry: I have been following #Gamergate with great sadness. A couple of decades ago young men constantly lamented that girls were not sharing their dearest hobby, gaming.

And now when women finally are involved in games and the surrounding discussion on an equal basis, what's the reaction? A semi-organized group of men going on an all-out offensive!

Come on, we have to show the world this is a mature industry that won't tolerate such behavior. We have to fight this actively, together.

Thanks to Lasse for his time

You can check out all of our 2014 in Review interviews here.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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