Midjiwan’s award-winning The Battle Of Polytopia has had quite the journey since its initial release in 2016. The title launched on iOS and within the same year became available on Android devices. Since then, the game has added a multiplayer mode, a desktop version, and a Steam release. It was even added to Tesla cars in 2020, and there was a Nintendo Switch release last year.
The game recently celebrated the milestone of 20 million installs on mobile, so we caught up with Midjiwan’s general manager, Christian Lövstedt, to reflect on the game's long and successful journey in addition to thoughts on cross-platform and what to expect next from The Battle Of Polytopia.
Pocketgamer.biz: Can you tell us a little about the Midjiwan journey so far? How do you reflect on how far the studio has come?
By having a small and specialist team, we can work collaboratively whilst avoiding ‘pressure from the higher-ups’Christian Lövstedt
Christian Lövstedt: Midjiwan started as a one-man studio with its Founder, Felix Ekenstam, initially creating The Battle of Polytopia as a game to match his personal interests whilst working as a freelance flash developer. From there, we’ve grown to a team of eight, where our original title has remained our primary focus.
By having a small and specialist team, we can work collaboratively whilst avoiding ‘pressure from the higher-ups’ that could be faced if working for a larger publisher. As such, we’ve completely avoided crunch, all whilst sending regular gameplay updates to our community.
You’ve seen great success with The Battle of Polytopia and recently celebrated a milestone of 20 million downloads. What do you think has been key to the success and popularity of the game?
We’ve always prioritised gameplay in everything we do at the studio. As a title in the 4X Genre, the game naturally lends itself to infinite replays where players can choose the difficulty level. As such, the game works well for both casual and hardcore strategy players, thanks to its significant strategic depth.
Additionally, Polytopia offers a mix of ‘Tribes’ and various gameplay styles for each player to choose from, adding layers of choice and complexity. If you play as another tribe, you need to alter your strategy, and you also need to adapt to what tribes your opponents are playing. The fact that the game is entirely skill-based appeals to the multiplayer and competitive scene. It allows and rewards players who want to become very good at Polytopia, which resonates with many people.
Another side that appears to help the game's popularity is the lore around the different tribes, and we see that players respond and engage with the game lore. Finally, the low poly graphic style makes it stand out amongst other 4X games, as we have a unique artistic style and can be played on a multitude of devices.
To expand on that, the game is available on various platforms. How important is cross-platform gaming?
For the wider industry, cross-platform gaming is very important. However, it has not been essential to the success of our game.
Of course, by releasing the game on multiple platforms, we open the game to a larger audience - benefiting players who want differing gameplay experiences. On Steam, the gameplay is fantastic if players wish to engage in larger maps compared to mobile, for example.
We are focusing more efforts on the game's multiplayer aspect, and that’s where crossplay is vital.
What is the monetisation strategy behind Polytopia? As the game features no ads or in-game currencies
It’s vital that we honour our key design philosophy of not monetising aggressively.Christian Lövstedt
No, we don’t have in-game currencies or ads. However, we offer in-app purchases - it’s just DLC that’s not aggressively pushed to the players. On Steam or the Nintendo eShop for example, DLC is considered an in-app purchase and it works the same for mobile.
The game is free on mobile, and players can enjoy the game as long as they’d like to without payment. However, if you’d like to try new tribes, buy skins or engage with other players online, you must purchase an expansion.
To us, it’s vital that we honour our key design philosophy of not monetising aggressively. Instead, we offer expansions for players who enjoy our game, and we do not offer consumable items for purchase as a result.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in the mobile games market right now?
The biggest challenge we see in today’s mobile games market is visibility. It’s very tough for newer games to gain traction as the market is very saturated, and there are only so many ways you can get your games into the eyes of new players. Especially when there are only a few dominating distributing platforms in place.
And finally, what else is Midjiwan working on that you can tell us about? More from the world of Polytopia?
We strive to make The Battle of Polytopia the best turn-based 4x game in gaming history.Christian Lövstedt
For The Battle of Polytopia, we have an extensive list of features in the works, as we’re still committed to continually improving the game. For our next major update, “Path of the Ocean”, we’re enhancing the naval dynamics of the game, introducing naval warfare and new units, intricate mechanics and a comprehensive overhaul. Look out for rafts, rammers, bombers, starfish, lighthouses, and much more.
We want “Path of the Ocean” to introduce our players to new, exciting possibilities, whether it be harnessing the power of the seas both offensively and defensively or by using the cunningness of the tides. We hope to enrich the strategic and tactical choices our players have at their fingertips.
We strive to make The Battle of Polytopia the best turn-based 4x game in gaming history. As big fans of the game ourselves, we play it every day and enjoy seeing what our players can do firsthand.