Seriously on going from Finnish start-up to 1m downloads for Best Fiends

CEO Andrew Stalbow tells Develop about its ambitious plans for the new IP
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Founded a year ago by former Rovio execs in the bustling game development industry of Finland, Seriously's debut mobile title Best Fiends has already racked up one million downloads a week after release.

We caught up with the start-up's CEO and co-founder Andrew Stalbow on how the idea for its new title came about, why match-three is so popular on mobile and its future plans for the IP.

How long have you been developing Best Fiends? Did you ever have another game or game style in mind, or is this how you envisioned the game from the start?
The world of Minutia and its population of cute and increasingly fiendish inhabitants is one that we have been passionate about building for quite some time. My co-founder and chief creative officer, Petri Jarvilehto has had the makings of the Best Fiends concept for some time now and it all started in Finland one summer when he would tell his children stories about the Spanish slugs that had invaded their garden.

We started Seriously in earnest about a year ago bringing together some of the world’s best talent as a team, finding great investors to support us, building a charming, fresh and exciting new IP and creating a game that takes puzzle gameplay to the next level.

How has your experience at Rovio helped you with the launch of Best Fiends?
Through my experience at Rovio, I’ve learned that having an audience directly connected to the content producer can be extremely powerful. We are able to build a relationship with our audience through the content we build, which is a big advantage over traditional entertainment experiences.

My experience has also taught me that mobile is an excellent way to build a brand through the power of touch as part of the direct brand experience for the consumer. Also, I learned to just focus on the fun. If you can create a game that’s fun, you can build an interesting business from that and with Best Fiends, we’re focused on building the most fun game we could create.

Why have you chosen Match-Three style game mechanics? Why is this so popular on mobile?
We wanted to build a game that was fun and addictive and could appeal to all audiences. We feel that the match-three style game mechanics was a great mechanic to introduce our audience to the world of Minutia and the characters that inhabit it.

Why add RPG-like character development to the mix?
It’s part of the story - the unlikely heroes must level up and grow up to become the Best Fiends.

The press release states this is the first in a trilogy. Given the huge longtail of many top free-to-play games, such as Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga, can sequels really work on mobile?
We believe there’s an advantage to building on top of the existing foundation of a world, characters and conflict. For us with Best Fiends, launching a mobile game is only the beginning as our longer-term goal is to build this into a complete entertainment franchise.

But first, our focus is on building great games that our audience enjoys. The next Best Fiends games will include the same world of Minutia and characters but will incorporate completely different gameplay. Stay tuned.

Could you explain how your partnership with Malaria No More works, and why you are working with the charity?
Through the process of developing the game and characters, Edward was created – a mosquito that is ashamed of his family's bloodsucking past and only drinks coconut water which he carries in a backpack. With Edward, the idea of a partnership with Malaria No More emerged. Malaria No More wants to be the first charity to eradicate a disease through mobile, and being a mobile-first company, the partnership was a natural fit.

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