Over 600,000 downloads in just 7 days and a steady 300,000 in daily average users would be dream launch statistics for most mobile gaming companies. In Finland, however, it is becoming a standard occurrence.
Noble Nutlings by Boomlagoon gives proof to the fact that Helsinki is fast becoming the mobile gaming capital of the world. The game is already rocking the charts worldwide.
Boomlagoon was founded by three ex-Rovio employees and this is definitely seen in the quality of the game, its production value, enjoyment and overall fun. Unfortunately it is also seen heavily in the game mechanics, general feeling of the game, design and features.
The game revolves around three cute squirrels driving in a wooden cart across hills and mountain tops. Your task is to get them to the finish line as soon as possible, while also collecting coins and nuts. Like Angry Birds, the characters are very recognizable and something I can see as plush toys that kids will love and remember. However, unlike Angry Birds, I was unable to detect a story to the game, which makes me relate a little less to the characters. There is a comic on their webpage though, perhaps it will later find itself into the game too.
The actual gameplay is quite fun and simple to understand, however as a physics fan it is a little odd when boxes of TNT are considered beneficial and not only do they not kill you but only make your drive faster. Still, I am sure that it will not put a dent in the retention rates.
What might, though, is the fact that to increase your speed, you need the upgrades to your wheels, cart and a top-up of speed boosting “chilli”. What this means in practice is that you will need to spend the collected coins to get those upgrades and when you are out of coins, you will need to spend money or alternatively replay a lot of levels, a lot of times.
In my opinion, this type of monetization strategy makes perfect sense when you can relate to your game’s character, town/village/farm and you know that they are going to stay there forever and it’s money well spent. In games like Noble Nutlings though, you are basically paying for the game to end faster. On the other hand, it might be fun to create your "dream cart" and pay a little for it.
However, I learned from Clash of Clans that it's tough to predict where people spend money. Don’t quote me on this, I also thought that people would never spend considerable amounts of money in Clash Of Clans. But weeks later not only did I spend 20 EUR on it myself but I also found out that allegedly some spend thousands of EUR’s on the game.
The game is a mix between Angry Birds characters and simplicity, dynamics of Bad Piggies. How similar is it to Rovio games? Enough to notice. In fact when I showed the game to one of my friends and told them its a brand new game, the reply was: "Ah, a new Rovio franchise?" Basically the artwork is very similar, the characters are roundish dots on the screen that are chasing something or someone in an attempt to collect items. The whole user interface is pretty much identical with the familiar level selection, restart and settings buttons. Not to mention the all too familiar three star concept for each level (If somebody comes up with a game with two stars, it will be a hit, I am sure). Of course, it has become the standard in many games such as Cut The Rope and Where is My Water but the similarity between Noble Nutlings and Rovio is much more than that of other games.
This, of course, is not a surprise as one of the Boomlagoon co-founders, Tuomas Erikoinen, drew Angry Birds in the first place. So it is understandable if it was a little difficult to change his style completely. Unlike Angry Birds, though, there is an element of a 3D look that is nice. The game is not revolutionary in of itself, but it certainly matches the demand in terms of quality and addictivness.
Even if the design and the feeling of the game resembles Rovio Games, nothing can take away the fact that it is fun. Which means that it is very likely to perform quite well financially.
After all, the numbers speak for themselves. Noble Nutlings cracked a number of Top 25 marketplaces worldwide in the previous weeks reaching: US #22, Japan #25, Mexico #8, Canada #16, Brazil #10, Sweden #12 and #2 in Finland. At the time of writing it was #24 in Finland.
It is great to know that none of this was done with any sort of marketing or paid advertising but purely through organic and PR work, which definitely shows that the game and the team have got a huge potential ahead of them. Besides, considering our reports of a game sketch in our last coverage of Boomlagoon, it looks like there is already another game in the pipeline too.
So with Rovio, Supercell, Grey Area, Digital Chocolate and now Boomlagoon all being from Helsinki it is perhaps fair to claim that this is the world's mobile gaming capital. Not to mention the success of the Arcticstartup Region as a whole as well. What do you think makes this region so likely to succeed in terms of gaming? Let us know in the comments.
That’s it folks. I am off to drive some squirrels into boxes of TNT and hope for the best.