Space Ape Games has seized 2015 by the scruff of the neck and shaken it for all its worth.
What fell out?
Clearly the London-based studio is gaining momentum, and according to new general manager Sutton Trout, who's setting up the company's operations in the US, it has its sights aimed high.
But can Space Ape break Supercell and King’s stranglehold on the top of the grossing charts?
Move aside, big guy
“The top guys are all there for a reason. They all have a right to be where they are.” Trout says.
“Space Ape Games is also earning that right,” he adds.
“We’ve learned a lot in the last two years about what our players want, and we are focussed on delivering it to them.”
Indeed, penned by Rihanna Pratchett, daughter of fantasy legend Terry Pratchett, Rival Kingdoms has proven that it resonates with fans - at least in terms of initial download numbers.
Trout believes the main thing companies like Supercell and King are lacking is “new ideas".
"It’s hard to create new genres and new ideas when you have so many players playing the current ten games," he points out.
"I think we'll see different genres of games start to show up in the top charts over the next year or so.”
For Space Ape, a key part of achieving that is talent acquisition and building strong, creative teams.
We’ve learned a lot in the last two years about what our players want.Sutton Trout
The lion’s share of the $7 million investment is being spent on growth and hiring, with Trout saying the company’s currently around 90 staff and hopes to scale up to 115 or so during 2015.
“Market expansion is also a current focus of ours,” says Trout.
“I’m the first US hire, and we hope to launch a small office here in San Francisco soon. We’re also focusing our energies on expanding further into Asia.”
The Asia expansion will be spearheaded by the Sega partnership, with Trout explaining that it's very important for western companies to have some 'feet on the ground' in the east.
“This is something that we’ve really taken into account with the launch of Rival Kingdoms," he says.
"We've seen many games struggle to capture an audience in Japan, and we feel a big part of that is lack of local representation.
“From a community aspect, we have dedicated local community teams in Japan to really help develop the local community base.
"Our roadmap has us doing a lot more to go really local, even to the extent we’ll have Ancients [in-game characters] specific to each country.”
So with a new office in the pipeline, big plans for APAC, and the studios' next game set for launch later this year, clearly Space Ape Games is not looking to slow down any time soon.