Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Region Specific: Berlin – King

King’s Berlin studio held its opening party just a few days before our visit, as evidenced by the balloons that still decorate its work spaces. Not that they feel particularly out of place: the office’s most striking feature is the slide that wraps around its spiral staircase. After a couple of tests of that feature – for investigative journalism reasons, of course – we talk to head of studio Gabriel Hacker about King’s new expansion.

What does King Berlin handle?

We are working on casual games, of course – free-to-play games. We’re currently in the prototyping stage, and our first people started around mid-March and we are adding more people to the team all the time. I’ll be able to talk a little bit more about the details of our game once we get the green light, but so far we’re playing around with new gameplay mechanics in the casual space. It’s a very exciting stage, and we can’t wait until we’ll be able to get the first reactions from our network of 345 million players.

As a King studio, how much say do you have in what you do?

We’re an autonomous studio just like any other King studio, but we really value the sharing of knowledge between the other studios. King has been making casual games for over ten years, and that is a real strength. Our culture is actually a lot about sharing and being humble and open. We believe we are fast and fluid, and we are very passionate about what we do. We have so much knowledge in this company not only because of our recent success but because we have been in the business for over ten years, so it would be a shame not to use that experience. We now have a rather big organisation of game professionals, with experience from across the industry, but in the end it’s ultimately our decision, here in Berlin, how much we put into the game.

And how closely do you work with the other King studios?

We work very closely with the other studios across Europe, and in particular with our CCO, Sebastian Knutsson, who’s overseeing development worldwide. Sebastian is basically co-ordinating the portfolio, and he’s also an integral part of the group of people who greenlight prototypes. King has also just acquired Nonstop Games in Singapore, so now also having a studio in the Asian market is very exciting for us.

How would you define King’s games?

Bite-size brilliance. When you start Candy Crush, Farm Heroes or Bubble Witch Saga, there’s aways something new, and you always require a little bit of luck as well. Even though I’m hundreds of levels into Candy Crush Saga, I still spend so much time on it. Whenever I have any downtime, even if it’s about 30 seconds in an elevator, it’s, “Awesome, let’s fire up a level in Candy Crush”.

What do you think the future looks like for King in Berlin?

We still have multiple positions which we’re looking to fill, from game designers to game developers for both mobile and Facebook. We’re really proud and happy about our new office space, and we’re excited to fill it with talented people. I see this as an exciting opportunity for us to form the Berlin studio from scratch, with fantastic support from King, both from a corporate perspective and also in terms of knowledge and access to a huge network of players.

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