The annual Game Developer Conference Online is on its way on the new continent. Every year the conference also looks at the gaming scene to award the best online games out there. This year, Mojang with their Minecraft game and Grey Area with their Shadow Cities mobile game were victorious and won their categories. Mojang actually took home two awards (little over 6 months ago they took home 5 awards at GDC).
The conference is probably amongst the more reputable ones out there. It's attended by thousands of people and the top gaming companies of the world. Therefore it's a great place to be winning.
This article has two purposes. 1) Communicate the fact that a startup is handsdown the best choice for an ambitious developer, designer or an artist who wants to ship a beautiful product to the market, and 2) to get all the crazy talented people to join Grey Area or other local startups. Let me elaborate!
In the immediate aftermath of Shadow Cities success we are growing fast at Grey Area and we have been lately hiring a lot of new talent to our team. As a result I have thought a lot about how can I convince talented people with plenty of options to choose from to join a young fast growing startup instead of a mature established company. Let me break my thinking down so you can see that the answer to that question really is increasingly 'hell yes I should join a startup!' and not just of my dreaming.
Not so long ago we wrote about Grey Area launching their first MMO game, Shadow Cities, in the US. Today the company surprised us with another big launch, this time in Europe. From now on the game can be downloaded for free in local AppStores in 13 European countries: Italy, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. This follows-ups company's earlier promise to open up new big markets already in June.
Angry Birds Magic, which was further announced last night in New York at the RWW2Way Summit, will be using both NFC and GPS to enable new features and possibilities for gamers. Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka and Ramine Darabiha, the product manager for Angry Birds Magic have stated in GigaOM, that the new platform will enable both new revenue streams for Rovio, but also new ways for gamers to enjoy the game.
After a successful launch in Finland and Sweden, Grey Area brought their Shadow Cities app to the AppStore in US. Users can download the game for free for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Shadow Cities is one of the first massively multiplayer online games that is location-based. User's location data is emlpoyed to create augmented reality where players can be part of real-time large-scale combat with friends and other gamers. As the company puts it themselves: Shadow cities turns players into mage and streets into game.
The Helsinki, Finland based mobile gaming company Grey Area announced the expansion of their Shadow Cities game to Sweden today. You can download the game from the Swedish App Store (here). This has been an anticipated move as there were leaks (and tweets) about such a launch already earlier this year. Sweden is the second, so called, test market for Shadow Cities before it plans to launch the game globally. Together with the announcement of the opening of Sweden for the game, Grey Area has updated the game client with lots of tweaks and improvements based on customer feedback.
Earlier this week Grey Area announced a whopping 1.9 million euro series A round from Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. This is one of the largest single rounds into the Finnish gaming companies in the recent years for sure. What makes this all the better for the whole country and Northern Europe for that matter, is that the financing came from overseas from globally respected investors. Ben Holmes from Index Ventures outlined four reasons why they invested in Grey Area. I think this is a good read for all entrepreneurs to keep in mind if they are looking for venture capital.
I'm excited to tell you that we at Grey Area have closed a € 1.9m in Series A from a really great set of investors, namely Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. These guys really understand the game space and how we want to create an entirely new category of games. Could not be happier to have them with us along with Lifeline Ventures, who have been with us ever since we raised a Seed round in 2010.
Now we're gearing up for the US launch. We hope to have Shadow Cities available on iTunes App Store in the next couple of months. We're also growing really strong, moving into new offices here in Helsinki and hiring a lot new talent to the team.
I will write a longer piece on our future plans soon, but wanted to give you the news right away. I pasted the press release below and am happy to answer any questions and discuss with you guys (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder at ArcticStartup as well as the CEO at Grey Area)
Real Networks, who bought Mr. Goodliving back in 2005, has decided to shut down the company. In doing so, it will have to fire the 44 people currently employed there. The news come to us through Dome.fi. The news came pretty suddenly as the chief of the gaming division at Real had flown to Finland two days ago to announce the shut down of the company at 6pm on Tuesday.
A new Finnish iPhone game called Shadow Cities developed by Grey Area launched today with a whopping success. The game was available in the Finnish App Store in the morning and by 1.30pm, it was already the third most grossing app in terms of sales. Mind you, the app is free itself. Later last night the game was already the most grossing app in the App Store. The last time it happened, the game in question was Angry Birds.