This further proof of the funding frenzy games have enjoyed during the pandemic, driven in large part by heightened use. In the past nine months, game studios have seen more than 100 investments. Supercell has been among the most aggressive mobile game investors, as the Helsinki, Finland-based company is still printing money with its Clash Royale and Clash of Clans games.
2Up cofounder Joe Raeburn said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company strongly believes co-op games can make the world a better place, particularly as people struggle with isolation during lockdown. He also believes humans aren’t always great at cooperation and need more practice.
Raeburn started the company six months ago with former Magic Leap developer Tim Knauf, and the two didn’t meet in person for the first five months they worked together.
Raeburn said his first co-op memory was playing Silkworm with his best friend on the Amiga computer, while Knast has enjoyed multiplayer point-and-click adventure games. Knast previously founded Launching Pad Games, and he worked with Magic Leap and Weta Workshop on Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders, which was one of my favorite games of 2018.
“Tim and I came together talking about our shared love of co-op games,” Raeburn said. “But too often the games are too short.”
This started them thinking about games designed for co-op from the ground up.
“So we came up with this focus on real-time co-op games, ones that you can play for years,” Raeburn said. “We want to bring back that sense of connecting with someone through an experience you share. You feel like two humans that have done something together, as opposed to humans that have battled.”
Supercell developer relations lead Jaakko Harlas noted that this is the first time Supercell has invested in a New Zealand startup. Raeburn said the company is hiring now and that thanks to the pandemic it can hire people anywhere in the world. He noted that another bright spot is that game companies no longer need to have a head office that can lord it over their satellite offices.
Raeburn said 2Up has developed a prototype idea but isn’t ready to talk about it yet. The company has two full-time people and two contractors and is outsourcing art for the game to external companies. Raeburn worked as an early employee and game creator at Space Ape Games, maker of Samurai Siege, before the company was acquired by Supercell. About a year ago, Raeburn made the move back to his native New Zealand. During lockdown, he decided to start a game studio, which was how he met Knast.
“It’s early days, and the one thing I can say is that real-time games are quite difficult,” Raeburn said. “One of the most important things we’ve learned is allowing players to have a pause in the action so that they can look and see what their partner is doing and what they need. Because when you do that, you see the situation they are in. If it’s nonstop action all of the time, you don’t even know what your partner is doing.”
Raeburn said the company talked to a few game funds but decided Supercell offered the biggest opportunity.