Anastasios Katopodis, Senior Producer, Rovio


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Crossing The Finish Line^ Dos & Don'ts (The White Nights: Mobile Games Conference

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  • Hello to everyone, my name is Anastasios Katopodis and my love for games dates back to when I was a kid playing Sierra’s adventure games and got an Atari console as a present from my dad. Lately I work as a senior producer for the external productions and games publishing department of Rovio. As you can see from the first slide of my presentation there was a little change of plans regarding the title and the content of my presentation. Old one felt like I’d be repeating myself since I’ve been going around talking about the do’s and don’ts for a while and there’s a lot of that all around. Instead Rovio Stars is fresh off the oven. Nevertheless if you feel not interested and less than excited… you are welcome to take off and have a drink instead?
  • Bit less than 300 of the 650 employees are working in our games unit.Downloads and MAU figures are from the end of last year.Despite all this we need to look forward.How many of you believe that it’s pretty damn hard to get another Angry Birds success story out there?…while working on that, we decided to help other people do the same!
  • In other words, why did Rovio decide to do this?. . Best way to explain our logic for setting up is bringing more cool and high quality games to our fans..Bottom line, high quality entertainment for our active fan base of 260m monthly actives.
  • Now what does this mean for all you guys out there making a game?Well, we give a helping had to those who deserve it. You probably agree that it’s a bit overwhelming for small teams or even bigger ones to cut through all the game related and even worse non game related stuff that needs to get done right in order get your chance at the top 10.We’re not really reinventing the wheel… you’ve probably heard this before from other guys out there when debating what a publisher does for you, only in the Rovio Stars case…1. We’ll work intensively with you on the actual game 2. We got quite the leverage when it comes to reaching casual gamers out there. .. Including cinematic trailers and most importantly reaching out to those 260m+ people out there through cross promotion and social media. Add to the mix top-notch PR and best in class Marketing.. We’ll handle trademarking and copyright issues..
  • If I was to make a game, I surely would not mind this bit.
  • Alright, cool you say. I’m sold. So what now? How do I get to work with Rovio Stars? What do I need to have in my hands?Quick answer: something to makes us fall in love with.Long answer and a cool way to track a) if your idea is worth the hard work and b) if your efforts are following the right path regardless of if you care to work with a publisher or not…. Memorable characters. Memorable settings. Low skill bar. Humor. Polished art. Cool game mechanics. Immersion. Monetization
  • All of the above are cool but I am a producer and if you work with Rovio Stars you’ll be dealing with me. Most of the time.I wont take over your project but what I’ll do is make sure you’re going to get all the love and support possible.I will work hard with you to make the best out of the idea you have.I will present you with challenges rather than with solutions.You will be the creative owners, I will just give you a helping hand.Here’s my first baby which should be coming out on really soon. It’s a game developed by a studio in Barcelona called 5Ants.Seriously nice guys and really deserving a break.
  • Here’s a little bit more info about the game.It’s a really cool game and you should get it when it’s out. Not because I say saw but because it is a really cool game.My favorite description of if is a point-and-click adventure for the touchscreen.It’s like what I’d wish Monkey Island would look like if it was made for smartphones in the first place.
  • A bit of a sneak-peak also available on TinyThief.comI’m guessing by now you are wondering what did I do for these guys and how did I help them to cross the finish line.Here’s a list of what we worked on…
  • Yes, we do not intend to get games out there that are “finished” and slap our logo 5min before submission.You do NOT need to have a complete game to knock on our door.What we do is work hard to make your idea and vision into the best it can be and push hard to help you with those dos and don’ts that’ll help you cross the finish line.So, if tomorrow I am assigned to work on your game, I will do the following for you……and I’ll have an army of people backing me up.If you have nailed most the stuff on the list, then you’re just making me happy and I’ll only have to make coffee for you while preparing for the submission.Bottom line, the day I am assigned to work with you, I become a member of your studio/your company who’s located inside the Rovio headquarters and has the responsibility of providing everything you’ll need in order to cross the finish line in style.
  • Basically, you’ll get a friend who’s working together with you bringing in a fresh perspective that often gets missed when struggling to bring your ideas to life.I’ll do your laundry and I’ll try as much as possible to have your back.In past presentation I’ve pointed out things that make games successful to the big crowds of casual gamers using the success of Angry Birds as a template.You can find my analyses on YouTube by now so I wont give you a headache repeating myself.I just wanna point out, I’ll be there to help out remind all those key elements that’ll increase your confidence before releasing.Alright, here’s couple of examples…Here’s how failing was in Tiny Thief before we started working together.
  • And here is how failing looks like few weeks before release…
  • And here’s how the controls looked like when we started working on this title. Now, if you’ve been around for a while you don’t need me pointing out why we all felt that this is a bad. Small screens? Joystick on a touch-screen? 
  • Guess I am running out of time so I’ll conclude by giving you a bit of my high level personal wisdom, on how to make a successful casual title, marketing and PR aside. . Keep the design simple and understandable. Create memorable characters. Use humor wisely and appropriately. If it makes your mom laugh, it’s all good.. Make the users feel happy even when they lose and allow them to breath between sessions. Make sure you need to have IAPs don’t just do it because it is the trend and if you make your title cost, be humble. Plan post-release features and support in advance if the game allows to do soAnd finally since I’m not going to be taking part in your daily stand-ups…. Be open about your problems and shortcomings, be nice and respectful to other people working with you and make sure you are committed to see your baby rock the world when things get rough!
  • Thanks for listening and for the next few minutes I’ll be happy to answer some of your questions and please remember my title, Producer, while you fire them at me.
  • Anastasios Katopodis, Senior Producer, Rovio

    1. 1. Rovio Stars and how to get to the finish line in style
    2. 2. • Over 650 employees • Offices: Finland, Sweden, US, South Korea, Japan and China • Turnover over 150 M€ in 2012 • Games downloads 1.7 billion times • Over 260 million monthly active gamers • Angry Birds Toons watched hundreds of million times during in few months
    3. 3. WHAT IS ROVIO STARS?!? • Publishing program for titles we fall in love with • Fans first! • Expand Rovio’s portfolio coverage and customer reach • Try to find new hit products and characters
    4. 4. ROVIO STARS PROGRAM AND OFFERING • Expert evaluation & usability research • Producer, Art Director and Product Manager • QA • Music and SFX (optional) • Localization • Marketing material and campaign creation • Submission support • Legal support (optional) • Customer support • Game metrics analysis
    5. 5. CROSS PROMOTION? 
    6. 6. WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR? EXCITEMENT ENGAGEMENT RETENTION (discovery) (core loop) (meta game) • Marketable to fan base • Interesting characters • Theme and story • Easily approachable • Fun and addictive • High product quality • Stunning visuals • Innovative game play • Story and adventure • Immersive game progress • Social competition • Engaging social play • Game play variety • Monetization
    7. 7. A unique adventure game hand-crafted for the touch screen.
    8. 8. • A blend of adventure, puzzle and hidden object gameplay. • The player takes the role of the Tiny Thief and pilfers all the loot from each level. WHAT IS TINY THIEF?
    9. 9. 9
    10. 10. PRODUCTION SUPPORT 10 • User testing • Visuals review • Cross platform support review • Controls tweaks • Monetization plan • Review retention and replayability • Nail price-point • Tweak level fails • Work on music and SFX • Release schedule
    11. 11. 11 EXAMPLE BEFORE
    12. 12. 12 EXAMPLE AFTER
    13. 13. 13
    14. 14. 14 CHECKLIST! • Easy to Understand • Memorable • Humor • Rewarding • Value for money • Battle plan • Teamwork
    15. 15. THANK YOU!