An Indie’s Tale: Grand Cru
Independent developers are the lifeblood of the gaming industry. Whether on console or mobile, they’re the ones bootstrapping their way to creating games in the hopes of one day making a full-fledged career in our business. While our monthly developer spotlight series takes a look at more well-established companies, we wanted to devote some space to the upstarts as well. That’s where “An Indie’s Tale” comes in.
Here we’ll look at developers that either have yet to release a game or have just one or two games on the market in the hopes of providing insights to others trying to make a name for themselves. This time around we chatted with Markus Pasula, Co-Founder and CEO of Grand Cru, a small game studio in Helsinki that’s been hard at work on their first game since 2011.
Chartboost: How did Grand Cru come to be a company? In comic book terms: what’s your origin story?
Markus Pasula Co-Founder and CEO: We are founded by 6 friends and former co-workers who have all been in various part of the gaming industry for the past decade. Together our founders have worked on and released well over 100 games! We wanted to form our own company to make the best possible tablet games with a focus on User Generated Content Gaming. We love games like Minecraft and Little Big Planet and wanted to make these types of games where the player becomes a key part of his/her and others game experience.
What’s your main goal for the games you’re making? Everyone wants to produce great, high-quality content, but what sort of niche are you trying to carve for your company?
We have seen that casual gamers love to express themselves in the games they are playing. Just look at Farmville - most players really customize their farm to show it of and express themselves. With The Supernauts we will launch our first game with a big focus on unleashing users creativity and letting them create their own worlds and creations in a way that has previously only been available in very “nerdy” and hard-core titles.
You guys have been around since 2011. What are a few key learnings you’ve gleaned from your experiences since then?
Focus, focus and focus! We initially planned to release The Supernauts on several platforms but following the tremendous success of many iOS focused companies (our friends Supercell being the best example) we early on decided to focus all of our efforts on iOS and in particular the iPads.
Another key learning is that it is really nice to have a big sauna in the office =)
Screenshot from Supernauts, Grand Cru’s first game. Click for larger image.
How do you go about building a good team? What do you look for in new team members?
We have a strict “no assholes” policy - no matter how good you are you have to be a nice girl or guy to get to work with us. We want to maintain our indie roots so making sure that everyone wakes up with a smile every Monday morning thinking “yay - I get to go to work today!” is incredibly important.
Making a great game is one thing. Building a business around it is an entirely different story. What’s your strategy for building a company and products that last?
We are all experienced in F2P (free to play) gaming and have built our gaming platform to allow for the most powerful real-time analytics possible. Everyone in our company - from developer to marketer to management - will be working with our Analytics software on a daily basis to fully understand how people are playing our game and what makes them “tick”.
Give people a taste of what they can expect from your first game and when they’ll be able to get their hands on it.
The Supernauts will be released in Q2. Besides being absolutely gorgeous (retina graphics), the game is in full 3D with very simple and intuitive controls. Similar to Minecraft players can use any of our +70 materials to build and create completely unique worlds and buildings. The game supports live mulit-player so the social element will not only be limited to visiting other players and rating their creations - we will have live collaborative building as well as chat.
Thanks so much to Grand Cru and Markus Pasula for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck with Supernauts! Can’t wait to check it out!