In February last year ahead of GDC 2017 Karlsruhe-based mobile games publisher Flaregames unveiled a new €20 million ($21m) incubator program called the Flare Accelerator.
The plan was to invest that sum over the following 18 months to help developers validate their games and get them to market. Flaregames offers additional knowledge, technical infrastructure and skills to support developers on the road to launch.
On top of that, any games that successfully get through the process could receive further marketing support through separate user acquisition funds.
Since the announcement last year, the Mobile Games Award-winining company for Best Publisher has looked at more than 500 games from all over the world.
“Some of them are real jewels,” Flaregames CEO Klaas Kersting tells PocketGamer.biz.
“In active consideration right now we have 30 games that we are working on in different stages and the first one that is actually coming out of the accelerator will launch early Spring.”
That first title is the tentatively titled Flick Arena, developed by Andorra-based six-person team Sweet Nitro.
It's described as having 'desynchronised synchronous' competitive gameplay. In layman's terms, this means opponents will have time to plan their moves, but will then have them executed at the same time.
Kersting says part of what attracted Flaregames to its potential is the unique, fast-paced nature of the game, and that below the surface gameplay lies several extra layers of complexity created by player interactions. Anticipating what your opponent might do before making a move could be the key to winning a match.
While seemingly emerging from nowhere, the team at Sweet Nitro has been together since school, often developing games during semester holidays and even doing internships in their own company during university.
In active consideration right now we have 30 games that we are working on in different stages.Klaas Kersting
Having since developed titlesas a professional studio for browser and mobile, the team appears to have now hit on a potentially more broadly successful idea that it and Flaregames feel could take the studio to the next level.
“They are six guys with some decent experience in their fields and they’ve created this beautiful jewel that just needs a little bit of polishing and a little bit of help, and it can be something that is a really awesome game and has a decent shot at success,” says Kersting.
Flick Arena is just the first game to be announced from the Flare Accelerator. Ultimately Flaregames is aiming for four to five launches a year from the program, despite having received more than 500 titles for review.
Kersting says the team is being “very picky and selective” over the titles it brings onto the accelerator. Whilst not particularly selective over genres, it’s more selective when it comes to the audience a game is trying to address, as it wants to have users in its ecosystem that it can send around its portfolio of titles.
Flaregames is also eyeing up developers that are fully committed to their project for the long-term, as running a successful game on mobile often means the real work begins once you ship.
To ensure games can fit into this criteria and have a chance for success, one of the key services the Flare Accelerator offers is early validation.
“We help the developer get a third-party eye on what they’re building,” says Kersting. “Obviously they believe in it but there might be good reasons to not do what they're doing right now.
“What I really enjoyed seeing was that when you look at all the developers we talk to, the more experienced developers understood the cost of opportunity.
“Because when you work on something and you realise it doesn't have a shot, and you do that a few months earlier than you would have otherwise, it really saves you a lot of money and gives you the opportunity to shoot for something that does have a chance of success.”
I see the majority of our releases coming from the accelerator because that's where we can have the most impact.Klaas Kersting
The Flare Accelerator may be a new initiative for Flaregames, but it’s one that is really based upon how the publisher has operated in the past, used to great success in titles such as Nonstop Knight and Nonstop Chuck Norris with Kopla Games - which the publisher now owns - and Zombie Gunship Survival with Limbic.
This time however, Flaregames is aiming for a more scalable approach to its operations. And it’s one that may lead to further acquisitions of partners, much like that Kopla deal.
“The other models are not going away, so we still have our own in-house studios (owned studios) in Frankfurt and Tampere, and they will continue building original IP for us and continue building games for us,” says Kersting.
“There will be other opportunities where we enter into development fairly early and really take bigger bets, supplemented either by a developer with a significant track record or a big IP that we could secure for this particular thing.
“And it's all about the mix in the portfolio. Right now I see the majority of our releases coming from the accelerator because that's where we can have the most impact, help the most people and follow our mission of being the guardian of joy and innovation in this market.”