The Helsinki company has additionally secured an $11.8 million line of credit. That’s a lot of money for a mobile gaming startup, and it’s a sign of how much Supercell (the maker of hit games like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale) trusts the developer’s leaders, who have more than 20 years of experience in mobile games.
“Our ambition is really high. And that’s why we’re raising enough money so that we can really go to the races,” CEO Mika Tammenkoski said in an interview with GamesBeat. “We chose to go with Supercell because we are in this for the long-term. We share a lot of the same values as Supercell does.”
Supercell has generated billions of dollars of revenue from a handful of games, and it is now owned by China’s Tencent. But Supercell is still a kind of godparent for Finnish gaming, as it is investing heavily in smaller game startups to help grow the region’s representation in the worldwide game industry.
Metagame is a beneficiary of this strategy. Funded by Supercell, the company started in 2015 with a focus on watch-based wearable games, but it pivoted to mobile games about two years ago. And it has a promising game in Merge Mansion, a casual puzzler, which formally launches today.
Tammenkoski said that the company focuses on making a “metagame,” or the core elements of a game that make players come back over and over. Those include features such as leaderboards that make players compete with each other and come back often. That was key to the development of Merge Mansion, he said.
What meta means
“We believe that both core mechanics and meta are important when it comes to game development. But we really prioritize ideas or like strong meta structures for games,” Tammenkoski said. “What really is of interest to us is to keep players playing the games for years to come. And that’s where the strong meta comes from.”
Metacore’s Merge Mansion has done well in testing, which has been going on for more than nine months. The studio said its 30-day retention rate is 24% among beta testers. That means 24% came back within the first 30 days of playing it. Retention after the first day is 60%, and retention after seven days is 38%. During testing, Metacore said Merge Mansion has had about 200,000 downloads.
“We are really proud of the retention numbers we have for Merge Mansion,” he said. “We started working on monetization metrics this spring and we got them to a level where we are really happy.”
In Metacore’s game, you play a young woman whose grandmother gives her a key to a mansion hidden behind their house. The young woman begins to explore the mansion and uncover its secrets by solving puzzles. Along the way, you collect objects and merge them together to form new items. You can use the items to fix the mansion and ward off the city, which wants to tear the place down.
Supercell’s developer relations lead Jaakko Harlas, who is on Metacore’s board, has supported he studio from the beginning. Tammenkoski got his start as a programmer at Alan Wake creator Remedy Entertainment (a Finnish console/PC gaming studio). He also worked with Supercell CEO Ilkka Panaanen since the early days of the mobile game industry. In 1999, they worked together at Sumea, a mobile game pioneer in Finland, and again after Digital Chocolate acquired Sumea.
“Supercell has been giving support and feedback, and we appreciate that as they have really smart people,” Tammenkoski said. “They are on board, but they still want us to steer the ship.”
Based on the funding, Metacore’s people are worth more than a million bucks apiece. The company has 15 employees, and it is hiring 10 more. Metacore’s cofounder and chief operating officer is Aki Järvilehto, another veteran of mobile games and Remedy Entertainment.
Tammenkoski said that the company will use some of the credit line for scaling the game and user acquisition, as needed. If it learns anything from Supercell, it could be the next big success story in Finland.