“I see a traditional audience shifting very fast from traditional media platforms to smart devices. And if you look at content usage on these devices, then you see gaming is 50-70% of usage on iPads. Gaming is coming out on top. If you think that’s where audiences are moving, then the next entertainment brands are going to be built on these new platforms,” Andrew Stalbow, CEO of the newly founded Seriously Games tells us.
Around a month ago, the Helsinki gaming scene was buzzing with the news that two executive vice presidents of Rovio were leaving the company to start their own gaming endeavor. Earlier this week expectations grew further as Seriously Games announced €1.75 million in seed funding from Upfront Ventures and Sunstone Capital to build a free to play game targeting the casual / casual plus audience, despite the fact they were so early in development.
To understand where they’re going, you have to look at where they’re coming from. Digging into the team, CEO Andrew Stalbow was the EVP of Strategic Partnerships at Rovio, and previously ran 20th Century Fox’s mobile devision, and focused on commercialization of assets like Avatar and The Simpsons on mobile devices.
As a liscensing and commercialization man, you can see he’s working out the long game of creating an entertainment brand out of their game, much like what Rovio has accomplished. “We’re building a universe,” says Stalbow, “and we think games are a unique entry into that space.”
The inner gamer in you might feel some sense of soullessness when thinking about licensing this early in the process, but Stalbow assures us their seed funding is being used to build an exceptional game. “Right now the full focus is the mobile product, but we’re putting in elements that give us a chance to flesh [the commercialization opportunities] out in the future.”
And they’ve got a solid gaming team behind the project. Cofounder and COO Petri Järvilehto is coming from the gaming side of Rovio, as the EVP of Games. Previously he was the co-founder and creative director at Remedy, the creators of Max Payne.
Last night Seriously announced the other names behind their project. They poached less Rovio names then you might have expected, instead, seemingly digging from Järvilehto’s networks at Remedy.
Reko Ukko is their Lead Game Designer, after coming from NaturalMotion, Remedy, and Digital Chocolate. Tommi Kiviniemi is their VP of Tech, coming from Massive Entertainment, Recoil Games, and founded Rocket Pack, which was acquired by the Walt Disney Company. Samuli Viikinen is Seriously’s Lead Level Designer, coming from Recoil Games, and Rememdy.
Their first game is expected summer of 2014. As part of the investment, Steven Dietz, Partner at Upfront, will join Seriously Digital Entertainment’s board. Nikolaj Nyholm, Partner at Sunstone, will become a Board Observer.