Wilhelm Österberg, General Manager Snowprint Studios Germany GmbH
Snowprint Studios was founded in 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden and has since grown with a second studio in Berlin. The teams consist of industry veterans with an aim at providing rich gaming experiences for the everyday gamer by creating exceptional turn-based battle games. This year they have received a big funding from the national games fund by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and an investment round led by Hiro Capital. We talked with Wilhelm Österberg (General Manager Snowprint Studios Germany GmbH) about the funding, the Berlin studio and the upcoming plans for Snowprint.
First of all, congratulations on your successful funding round. With the funding from BMVI you have received the biggest funding for a Berlin-based studio yet and you also secured an investment from Hiro capital and Korea Investment Partners (KIP). Could you give us some details about it and how the national funding helps to find investors?
Thank you! We’re very happy about how these things came together. On the one hand, the investment from Hiro and KIP helped provide the stability we needed to be eligible for the BMVI funding, and on the other the BMVI funding helped secure a key licensing partnership and skew the risk-reward calculation for the investment in our favor.
Investments and game projects are of course highly diverse, but overall any investor or publisher should be able to find more viable projects and studios to invest in across Germany now that the cost side of the calculation is effectively discounted through BMVI funding. Also, I think through alleviating some financial pressure it will help studios have the confidence to hire and the means to retain personnel.
What does the investment and the funding mean for the Berlin location of Snowprint going forward?
Stability and growth! With this investment and the BMVI funding in place, we have the financial stability to be able to focus fully on what we do best: creating games.
We’re now operating our first game "Rivengard" live and are also carefully growing the studio to build our new, even more ambitious, BMVI-funded project. I think this is a foundation that we can build on here in Berlin for many years to come.
Would you give us some hints about the funded project that you are working on right now?
Certainly! Our internal working title is “Project Loki”. I can’t give away the real name, nor any specifics, since we’re working with a major worldwide gaming IP and everything is under wraps so far. Some time later this year we should be able to reveal what it's all about, though.
What I can say is that we’re continuing to double down on our area of expertise: turn-based battles. We’re building on everything we’ve learnt from "Solgard" and "Rivengard", and also from our BMVI-funded prototype we completed last year, "Project Heimdall", which was also in this space. Now with all these learnings, the great player reception of "Rivengard", the funding and our expansion based on that, we’re ready to create our most ambitious game yet.
How would you describe Snowprint Studios and its games? What do you love about it?
When we work on a game, we want it to be the best game we ever made. I think this comes through in all areas of the company: There’s a real dedication to the craft, the players and the quality of the player experience, while we’re not straying from the commercial realities. I think that this genuine quality focus shows in our games as well.
What’s particularly important to me personally is that this path attracts people that I love to work with. Very ambitious individuals that want to create something spectacular, but also have a great time together and not forgetting that we can achieve this without sacrificing our values or work-life balance.
Snowprint Studios was founded in Stockholm in 2015. In 2017 you opened a studio in Berlin. What was the reason to come to Berlin and what role does the Berlin studio have in the company?
When Alexander Ekvall (CEO) and Patrik Lindegrén (CTO) founded and started building Snowprint I was following that journey closely. Then leading into 2017 two things coincided: On the one side, Snowprint had the studio in Stockholm up and running with an amazing game production under way and was ready to expand to starting a second one. On the other side, I found that after 6 and a half great years at Wooga it was the right time for me to move on. A few of my favourite co-workers felt the same way, so we were exploring opportunities. Once I spoke to Alex we quickly saw a great match. A few months later, the Berlin studio was established, in a very small starter office in Prenzlauer Berg.
For the first couple of years our two studios worked quite autonomously on their respective game productions, "Legend of Solgard" in Stockholm and "Rivengard" in Berlin. Since then this has changed, however. Last year we transitioned into self-publishing and we’re now building more company-level tech. We’re also taking advantage of even more reuse between games and cross-studio collaboration, not the least now for our upcoming "Project Loki".
Mobile gaming is growing constantly year after year. In your opinion, what are the future trends in this sector and how do you jump in there with Snowprint Studios?
I try to always keep an eye on the latest trends in the industry. That said, at Snowprint we don’t seek to identify trends to jump on as they’re happening, nor do we try to identify future trends. We rather want to seek out amazing gaming experiences and execute them so well that they stand a chance of inspiring others and perhaps set off new trends.
With “Legend of Solgard” and your latest release “Rivengard”, earlier this year, you have successfully released two games already. What are the challenges to keep a game alive and to fulfil the wishes of your players?
That’s a whole science! And an art. It certainly brings its own host of challenges that are quite different from those in production, or pre-launch. In our years at Wooga we had the opportunity to learn a lot about this, as free to play and games as a service was still a young concept, at least here in the West.
I think one thing that was true already then, and perhaps even more so today, is that it’s a long game. Well-managed live games can still grow to record highs years after launch. Listening to the community, respecting the players and building out their game together with them will always trump any shorter-term money grabbing tactics.
How has the Covid-pandemic, that has been affecting us all for more than a year now, changed your daily business and how was it for Snowprint and the teams to release a game during this time with “Rivengard” in January this year?
I’m very happy that I’m able to say that the worst part of it was that we couldn’t have a proper release party! We’ve been cautious, but also very lucky to not have had any severe cases among our team members.
When it comes to working during the pandemic it has definitely worked much better than I had anticipated. I think our very experienced and dedicated team is partly the reason, but I also think that I myself was a bit too stuck in the “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset when it comes to actually working all day every day from one office.
We do miss the social contact and those spontaneous casual and ad-hoc conversations that pop up when creative people are in the same room. (From where many of the little cherry-on-top types of ideas for the games come!) I imagine that once the pandemic settles down, we’d pursue a hybrid solution in an attempt to get the best of both worlds: The flexibility and comfort (and sometimes focused solitude) from working from home some days and the social bonding and riffing off each other in our shared physical creative space (a k a office) on other days.
We also do have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to supporting the local beer industry...
This news was published by GamesCapitalBerlin and can be found here.