Just taking a quick glance at NonStop Games you'll see that they've created two fun, but fairly generic titles. Their first, PaintStars could be described as a DrawSomething clone, while Dollar Isle is more of a casual citybuilder. Two titles are solid, but doesn't paint the real picture that the company is taking the road less traveled. This should be best exemplified with a new title the Singapore-based company is working on, now dubbed Game IV.
They aren't sharing too many details on their new title at this moment, but CEO Juha Paananen describes it as a 90° shift from their last couple games.
Co-founders Paananen and Henric Suuronen (Previously head of studio at Wooga in Berlin) met us in our office during their short trip back in Helsinki, and seemed genuinely excited about the game they're working on, saying it's the game they've always wanted to make. They describe it as a mix of strategy, social collaboration and competition with PVP elements.
Aside from setting up shop in Singapore, NonStop Games is somewhat unique for their decision to build their all of titles on HTML5. They admit that as with all new technology the platform hasn't lived quite up to the hype. But even though there are drawbacks with animations, sounds, and game size, they see large benefits in other areas.
One big factor is the fact that HTML5 works on any device, just by clicking on a link. This greatly lowers the friction for anyone wishing to pick up the game, and they point out that it makes a big difference for time sensitive games. So in their new game, if you see you're getting attacked at work, for example, you could quickly pull it up in your browser, or if you're on the go, you could counterattack on your phone. This has the additional benefit of making the company focus more on fun game mechanics, rather than dazzling players with images.
NonStop Games chose Singapore because CEO Juha Paananen was already located in the country after a stint at Nokia. The team was already spread out over the world, and decided Singapore was a good enough place as any for a medium-term location, especially considering the warm year-round weather.
Both EA and Ubisoft have a presence in Singapore, but Paananen and Suuronen describe the Singapore startup scene as maybe being where Helsinki was in 2006; the startup and capital networks are only just starting to form. And many startups they met are working with the Finance sector that's present in Singapore.
Still, they've been pretty happy with hiring. They've mostly picked up talented engineers right out of university. Suuronen points out that in Singapore, many more of the game artists are focused into the more Manga style of game art, but the game designers they've found are really "gamer guys."
"The quality of game designers product managers in Singapore are really good," says Suuronen. "On level or higher than Berlin and Helsinki."
The company has also opened up a San Francisco office, which they base an employee out of for customer acquisition. NonStop Games is also hiring in a couple different areas, and they say anyone in the world is welcome to apply.
"If interested in global international gaming career, I think its very good to get out of Finland. You can always come back. But its good to get a differentiation." says Suuronen.
Ending the conversation Suuronen says, "With this new game we said why should we wait to do what we're excited about later? Let's do the things we're exited about now."
"Thats probably something that applies to startups as a whole," adds Paananen.