Nonstop Games, a Singaporean-Finnish gaming company (yes, really), just picked up $2.9 million from two Scandinavian venture firms, Creandum and Lifeline Ventures, to build out core games for iOS and Android.
The company's team has an interesting backstory. Henric Suuronen was a head of studio at one of Europe's biggest social gaming companies Wooga, and a director at Digital Chocolate Finland before that. The company's CEO, Juha Paananen, doesn't have a long gaming career, but he previously ran Asia-Pacific business development for Nokia out of Singapore so he has lots of experience working in the mobile industry.
Random fact of note: Juha is also the brother of Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell, that Finnish gaming company that's tearing up the charts with two top-grossing games in the top five. We've heard from multiple sources that the company is making more than $1 million a day on average, but they decline to talk about updated revenue figures since acknowledging a $500,000 per day revenue rate last fall.
"Supercell is a good target for success," Juha Paananen said. "When we pass them on the top list, I'll send my brother a note."
The company, which used to be known as GamesMadeMe, was working on HTML5 titles. But we all know the end to that story: many developers have shifted away from HTML5 because of the technical difficulties associated with creating a great user experience from existing browser capabilities.
"It's never that black and white," Paananen said. "The press wants to paint it as you have to go either native or HTML5. HTML5 might happen at some point but realistically, the app stores remain the main distribution channel at the moment."
With the funds, the company will launch its first game, a synchronous strategy title called Heroes of Honor, later this spring. It's a fantasy world with three different factions fighting for power. Players in the game can build towns and armies and attack enemies in massive real-time battles between thousands of player armies. They say they're testing the boundaries of real-time multiplayer with supporting thousands of player armies simultaneously.
They also plan to grow out a San Francisco office and expand its development capacity out of Helsinki, Finland. They currently have 11 employees out of Singapore.
Paananen said he chose Singapore in part because of its strategic location in Asia, which has been a pioneering region for free-to-play games. Many of the business models used today in the West borrow from the virtual goods economies that were established by early browser games in China and mobile titles in Japan.
"China has never had any other business model other than free to play," Paananen said.
He added, "The other reason is talent. Singapore is still an emerging startup hub. The gaming community is not so established here but you can hire really, really smart people."