Next Games, founded in 2013 by games veterans from Rovio, Supercell and Disney, focuses on crafting visually impressive and engaging games. Their first game, Compass Point: West, launched last week on iOS smartphones and tablets. We caught up with CEO Teemu Huuhtanen who is based in Helsinki, Finland, where the company has its headquarters.

Please tell us a little about the game and how a Finnish company ended up picking a wild west theme.

CEO of Next Games, Teemu HuutanenCEO of Next Games, Teemu Huutanen

The core idea for the wild west theme and the card mechanic was something one of Next Games co-founders had in their mind from very early on, thanks to their love for western movies. Mobile F2P action strategy is a very competitive genre and to break the noise a developer needs to look at the game and its positioning from many different angles. Compass Point: West, and future Next Games products, are highly influenced by pop culture and the iconic wild west theme is hugely underserved in the current mobile games market. The theme also allows us to do many great updates for the game as everyone is familiar with so many stories and characters from the Wild West.

How are you addressing the marketing challenge of launching a new game from a new company in an increasingly competitive mobile games market?

Everything starts with the product, the game. We feel that the theme needs to have universal appeal, such as the wild west theme in this particular game. In addition, whatever the genre, you should always bring something unique in terms of game mechanics. For Compass Point: West, the card collecting and tying that into everything you do in the game was that original twist.

We wanted to create a rich universe with its stories and colorful characters and wild west was a perfect fit for us as it is an unexplored territory on mobile. We’ve put a lot of effort to the IP development and created a comic book together with IDW Publishing. That’s a really nice way to give players an additional angle to the story.

Discovery is a challenge for any game developer today. Mobile games marketing has focused a lot on performance-based user acquisition. As that market becomes increasingly competitive, developers will have to become more creative when it comes to creating appealing IP’s and stories based on that, which can be leveraged in marketing. Finding creative ways to get attention from the YouTube community is also important and Compass Point: West seems to have hit that audience:

We have gone from mobile game companies being put in a remote corner at E3 to three Super Bowl TV spots from mobile game companies this year. What’s next in marketing for mobile games and apps What do you consider a success in mobile games today?

Compass Point: West collectible cardsCompass Point: West‘s collectible cards

Success for a game or developer varies a lot. For us, the most important thing was to create a game that the players love. We are getting very good feedback on the game which allows us to build on the success as the game went to #1 strategy game on iOS in well over 100 markets within the first couple of days from launch. Every new game has to find its audience in order to get noticed and once you get fans, the financial goals will follow.

After the success of Kim Kardashian Hollywood, we have seen many game developers move in the direction of licensing big entertainment IP and celebrities to help gain traction for their games. Do you think that Hollywood and the games industry can play nice this time?

We believe so very much. Getting AMC and Lionsgate to invest into the company proves that the big media companies have started looking at mobile games from a very different point of view as they see games as services understanding that it is a totally different ballgame versus shipping a disk one time.

AMC Networks and Lionsgate are both investors in Next Games and that in itself shows that movie studios and other big entertainment IP holders see the importance of mobile games as natural extension of their IP. Games are starting to be regarded as an equally important platform for consuming entertainment alongside with the established ones such as movies and TV.

When is your next game coming out and can you tell us anything about it?

We are also working on a mobile game based on AMC’s #1 hit TV show The Walking Dead, called The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land. We’ll be able to tell more in the near future.