#PGCHelsinki speaker Johannes Peltola on rebuilding SimCity for the F2P generation

What to expect at PG Connects Helsinki 2015

#PGCHelsinki speaker Johannes Peltola on rebuilding SimCity for the F2P generation

For the second year in a row, Pocket Gamer Connects is visiting the ever-dynamic game development city of Helsinki, Finland.

Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2015 is happening on 7-8 September at Wanha Satama exhibition centre.

And tickets are still available.

So to give you a hint at what you can expect, we're shining the spotlight onto our speakers to provide a deeper look at the personalities who will be taking the stage. At the conference, you're talking about how you developed SimCity BuildIt, so have you been surprised at how well it's been accepted as a F2P mobile game?

Johannes Peltola: Not really that surprised, but thrilled.

At Tracktwenty, enthusiasm for creating and playing F2P games is shared by every single member of the team and we very quickly agreed that a well thought out mobile F2P SimCity could be awesome.

SimCity defined the whole simulation genre and everyone who has played it has a very strong mental bookmark about what SimCity stands for, so that’s where we started - gathering feedback about what really excites players about the series.

SimCity BuildIt has been a hit for EA

We spent multiple months experimenting with concepts and ideas, stripping it down to the very core to find what makes SimCity a magical place to be.

SimCity BuildIt has become more popular than all of the previous versions combined.
Johannes Peltola

In the end, we discovered that the central ideas of open-ended gameplay, player autonomy and supporting creativity were an excellent match with mobile F2P. SimCity BuildIt has since become more popular than all of the previous versions combined, with existing fans of the series as well as newcomers.

SimCity BuildIt was the first game from EA's Helsinki studio so can you give some background about how the studio was established? What do you think are its strengths?

We take pride in having very low hierarchy, being transparent and brutally honest. Everyone in the team, from artist to QA, is very involved and most of all we love games and making them.

EA recognised early on that there was great mobile momentum in Helsinki, and wanted to be a part of it. The studio was formed three years ago by a handful of experienced free-to-play veterans, most of whom had worked together for years creating games on multiple platforms at companies like Digital Chocolate, Rovio and Sulake.

Support from our peers around EA, decades of combined experience making F2P and a high level of trust in familiar faces made it very quick to roll up the sleeves and get to work. This then carried on as a strong team culture when we slowly grew with like-minded people from diverse backgrounds joining.

Before you worked on the new game, where you a fan of the SimCity games? Which was your favourite?

I've been a fan since I started with the first SimCity when I was 8 years old. I didn't understand English and I had no idea what to do, but repetition and cheat codes helped me get started.

I've played almost every SimCity since but SimCity 4 consumed most of my time before BuildIt - it's a huge game with incredible wealth of possibilities and detail, expanded by a dedicated mod community.

It's an incredible feeling, being able to work on a game that helped define who you are, and a little bit scary.

And, aside from your talk, what else are you looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki?

I’m really looking forward to the chance of meeting folks from near and far, and hearing tales of spectacular success and spectacular failure.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at 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.