The Estonian startup scene isn’t exactly known for its mobile game developers, but Tallinn-based Creative Mobile is doing its best to rectify the situation. Founded in 2010, the company is the developer of freemium hit Drag Racing, a simple but addictive online racing game for Android and iOS that has garnered over 31 million downloads to date.
Drag Racing allows players to race 50+ customizable cars in head-to-head drag races online. The game was originally created for Android in April of 2011 and it quickly became one of the most downloaded games on the Android Market. An iOS version was released in October of 2011. Both versions are free-to-play, but supported by advertising and in-app purchases. Players can purchase performance upgrades to their cars and get rid of the advertisements for a small fee.
The freemium business model has proven to be a gold mine for Creative Mobile. The company has remained completely self-funded, even though the number of employees has recently grown from 5 to 26. According to Vladimir Funtikov, Co-Founder of Creative Mobile:
“Our financial situation is very, very healthy, largely thanks to Drag Racing being among the top 5-10 highest grossing games on Android throughout the second half of the year, and successful launch on iOS. Not only do we remain 100% self-funded, but we’re also investing and actively looking for companies we can work with as investors and publishers.”
It has not been a complete walk in the park for Creative Mobile, however. Funtikov expressed his concerns over the general game and app development environment in Estonia, as most developers tend to focus entirely on web services and enterprise solutions.
“We attended a few local events, talked to the guys who are looking for promising startups in Estonia, and always heard the same answers. Finding game designers and project managers here was a real challenge,” said Funtikov. “This is sad, because the app industry is amazing these days, the market is still very cheap to enter, but provides great opportunities.”
Should some of the future talent in Estonia be diverted more towards mobile app and game development? It might take a few more successful startups to build a fruitful mobile game development scene in the country.
Creative Mobile is definitely firing on all cylinders as it plans to publish at least 10 new games in 2012, only three of which will be related to Drag Racing.