From Design to Reality

#throwbacktuesday

Ten months after moving into the new FEO Media office, we’re still blown away by the design our 2D artist Polina Mozgovaya created for the Jungle room. The goal was to create an illustration for one of the many themed rooms in the office, in this case, a Jungle-theme design. The focus is on relaxation, where colleagues can take a break in a calm, playful atmosphere.

It turned out great, and is much appreciated by everyone!

FEO Media Jungle relax room

How to release five games in four days

Senior Producer Peter Horvath has written about the experience of releasing five games in four days with Game Jam. Check out his story:

Introduction

I’ve been doing *Game Jam’s for several years, starting at King and continuing that work at FEO Media. The largest one I managed involved about 200 people in five different countries. For our latest Game Jam, we tried something new, and I think we managed to take the concept to an entirely new level. Here is my experience on how we released five games in four days.

*(If you’re not familiar with Game Jams, I recommend reading here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_jam)

Background and inspiration

One of my colleagues came up with an idea to have the teams actually release their games on the App Store at the end of the Game Jam. Instead of doing our usual monthly Game Jam, we decided to invest into an amazing four days of Game Jamming.

What better way the measure the outcome of these games than actual customer feedback, and willingness to play the games.

We called it Super Duper Game Jam. (Normally, a Game Jam is 24-48 hours, but to release a working game, additional time is required.)

Set-up

Participation was as usual voluntary. We engineered end to end teams to ensure that each team had equal opportunity to release great games. Each team of max. seven members had programmers, game artists, testers, data scientists and marketing. Finally, each team also had a marketing budget of $120 that they could spend as they saw fit.

It was then decided to measure the outcome based on:

-Number of downloads

-Five-day retention

-Google app store review score

One last thing is the “theme”. If you give teams unlimited options, there is a lot of time spent on finding out what to do. By having a simple theme, such as “innovative card game” or “match three puzzle game” it’s much easier to focus, and teams quickly find a direction. Since I’ve done both the unlimited option and themed Game Jams, you get better results with the later.

FEO Game Jam winners

FEO Game Jam winners

Outcome

The outcome was totally astonishing. The energy, creativity, commitment and motivation was through the roof. Some people worked until late in the night, while others stayed the whole night. Since FEO media is agile, all teams understood the importance of using the MVP concept (minimum viable product) and keeping things simple. Fun, innovative games were developed, and beautiful marketing materials were designed.

All this resulted in five released products in four days. Three of these were single player games, one multiplayer, and one proof of concept for an entirely new market that FEO may potentially enter.

Personally, I think there is one even greater outcome than the once stated above. During the Game Jam, each team member had to learn (or at least understand large parts of) the entire cycle of game development. Here are examples of questions everyone had to understand:

-How do I plan my work for a four-day product development cycle?

-How do I make sure not to put too much work into the wrong thing?

-How to keep quality just right?

-What will make our players come back to the game after five days?

-What is the best way to spend marketing money?

There are many additional questions, my point is that we probably learned more about our craft during these days than any training could have possibly offered.

Learnings

These are my biggest takeaways from our Super Duper Game Jam.

The power of true autonomy: If you’ve heard Dan Pink talk about what motivates us, you know many studies show that autonomy is one important pillar to high motivation. During a Game Jam, teams experience true autonomy where no one tells anyone what to do. Teams are faced with a complex problem to solve as they see fit.

The learning is that it works, people were super motivated and committed to create great products. People were working all night, selling their product internally, and loudly letting everyone know how great it’s going to be.

The plan was to close the Game Jam at four on Friday afternoon. At three people were asking me to prolong the Game Jam. When I proposed we could work until six, everyone was super happy and suggested that eight was an even better option. Imagine that, people asking for longer working hours. I Just need to figure out how to achieve this during regular production.

The efficiency of rapid Prototyping: When faced with a complex challenge as developing and releasing a game in four days, rapid prototyping is your best friend. All our teams have taken the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) concept to heart, and used it extendedly to deliver on time during the Game Jam.

The key here is not to work too long with anything. Work a little evaluate learn –> do it all over. With this work style, you’ll improve upon the product in small increments. You can adjust immediately as soon as you learn an increment is heading into the wrong direction. Hopefully, you will soon reach a releasable version. Then just make it better and better until the moment you must release it. This provides the safety of knowing we can release at any time and focus on improvements, instead of stressing over meeting the deadline.

Improvements

We measured outcome on three factors: downloads, review score and five-day retention. Number of downloads and review score is easy to measure. Retention however is not as easy. My mistake was not to properly define retention. Is five-day retention when someone starts your game every day or just once on day five? Is retention when the game is opened or when an actual game is played? These and many other factors were not properly considered.

My advice, set up clear rules for how you’re measuring the data. Get help from a data scientist if you can, and try to keep it simple if possible.

Conclusion

Our Super Duper Game Jam was an incredible experience. From the energy, commitment, learnings, to the outcome are all astonishing. Many of my colleagues were amazed by the performance, and wanted to understand how to translate that output into regular production.

I guess that that is the next thing to figure out. How do we create a work environment where creative people can flourish? An environment where highly motivated people create great products. How can we tap into the energy of a Game Jam?

Press release: Fastest growing game company

FEO MEDIA placed #15  for The Financial Times FT 1000 – Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies 

STOCKHOLM — April 11, 2017 – FEO Media proudly announces that on April 7th, 2017, the company placed #15 for The Financial Times FT 1000 – Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies in the 2017 Annual Special Report.

The new FT1000 list includes European companies with the strongest sales growth between 2012 and 2015. (FT, 2017)

Photo: The Financial Times - FT 1000

As the highest placed game and Swedish company on the list, CEO Johan Tengå expresses, “I feel extremely proud for what we as a company have achieved in this short amount of time, especially when looking at the other companies on the list. To be 15th place overall is fantastic, but to be the fastest growing game company in Europe is absolutely amazing.”

On April 24th, The Financial Times will release a full version to further explore the “innovative and fast-growing companies which are the driving force of the European economy in the 21st century, generating jobs and sustaining Europe’s competitiveness.” (FT, 2017) Preview the full list at https://ig.ft.com/ft-1000/.

About FEO Media

FEO Media is an independent mobile game developer based in Stockholm, Sweden. With over 100,000,000+ players worldwide, FEO Media develops social and educational games for smartphones and tablets that combine a fun and engaging user experience with top quality localized content.

www.feomedia.com

About The Financial Times

The Financial Times (FT) is one of the world’s leading business news and information organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy.

The Financial Times introduces FT 1000, a special report on the fastest growing companies in Europe, to be published April 24, 2017. Explore the innovative and fast-growing companies which are the driving force of the European economy in the 21st century, generating jobs and sustaining Europe’s competitiveness.

Contact:

Erica Rose | FEO Media AB

press@feomedia.com

Reference
Stabe, Martin. Rininsland, Andrew. Bernard, Steve. (2017, April 7). The FT 1000: The complete list of Europe’s fastest-growing companies. Retrieved from https://ig.ft.com/ft-1000/

Where there’s a will there’s a way: agile & scrum

*Repost from , Senior Producer at FEO Media.*

I recently started as a Senior Producer at FEO Media, a successful mobile game company best known for it’s game QuizClash (“Quizkampen”).

In October 2016, the company structured its organization around departments. There were tech, GFX, localization and testing departments and, as with most organization structures like these, value realization became tricky. Also, the pain of belonging to several simultaneous projects was a serious issue for the production teams.

FEO learning Scrum

FEO implementing Scrum.

We started to explore  alternative way of working, and landed in Scrum; a comprehensive work method influenced by agile principles. End-to-end product teams, focus on finishing stories (instead of starting them), and shifting power to the teams quickly became cornerstones in our new way of working. At this stage, FEO Media showed great openness to change and that always searching for a better way is in the company’s DNA.

By December, everyone at the company has participated in Scrum and agile trainings and our new product-based teams were in their third sprint. In order to understand what the staff think and feel, FEO Media carries out recurring mini-surveys. On the latest survey the question asked was:

Our organization has changed for the better with the Scrum implementation?  

The results were pretty fascinating

76,6% agree or strongly agree that Scrum is a positive change. Some other benefits we have reached that are not reflected in the survey are:

Teams reaching their goals

We release the right things quicker

We have a better understanding of our capacity and are planning accordingly

Team members are better able to influence product features

Continuous improvements are followed through

Several people approached me after this and congratulated me to a job well done. This got me thinking. I’ve been teaching and coaching Scrum and agile methods for several years, what make this transformation so successful? Then it struck me that FEO Media is a young, fast moving company with an amazing ability to immediately change direction. The success of our new ways of working is in equal part due to FEO Media’s company culture.

And so to the take-aways. The importance of a company’s will and ability to change should not be underestimated! I’m not talking about the will of a couple of sponsors or managers. Instead the question to ask is: is it in the company’s DNA to change, and is there actually an ability to change? To be successful in the transformation to agile you need most people to follow along with the change. This is what happened at FEO Media and is what enabled us to reach immediate success. I’ve spent a lot of time at companies that didn’t have the will or ability to try something different and that only ended up with me banging my head against the wall over and over again.

There is another interesting aspect of this. Should you work at a company with the will to change but lack the ability to do so, I have some great news for you. We have established that a company’s determination is the most important part in an agile transformation. If you have that, you can always buy the know-how. As we have, a great agile transformation can be reached within a couple of months, so the costs can be kept in check. My advice is to give it a try. Without spending a fortune or an eternity you can also do a change that 76% of the workforce appreciate.

That brings us back to the title of this article. In future transformations I’ll spend considerable time to investigate if there is a will to change and if there is, we will find a way!

FEO reaches 100+ million players

A great way to start the new year with our quiz community and teammates by surpassing a milestone of 100 million players!

Quizkampen history

“When we launched Quizkampen in 2012, we didn’t count on it to spread, but we really gave our best and hoped it would reach further. And now, five years later, the fact that we reached 100+ million players is completely unbelievable!” exclaims Co-founder Olle Landin.

Quizkampen has come a long way since its 2012 graphics and features. With 25+ localised versions of Quizkampen now available for play, we are looking forward to additional releases in 2017.

Colleague Spotlight Interview

Alex Kessler FEO Alex Kessler, who works as Supervisor Localisation and is one of FEO Media’s first employees, opens up in our Colleague Spotlight interview.

Tell us about yourself
I grew up in the Alps in Germany, where there were more cows than people. In Salzburg, I studied geography and geology with an exchange to Sweden to study polar environments. I ended up staying for two reasons- #1 the girl #2 the job.

How did you first learn about FEO Media?

Wasn’t looking for a job, but my girlfriend found an ad looking for a translator from Swedish to German. I’m really a language nerd, so I applied and started working immediately. I was the first Community Manager (a.k.a “landisar as we call it”) in the office.

A couple months after the release of Quizduell in Germany, growth exploded as the game went viral. Additional Community Managers were recruited, and my role moved into more of a Coordinator position, with the task of creating similar successes in new countries.

What are the benefits and challenges of working with a team from 20+ countries?

Well, as I said before, I am a language nerd- fluent in 3 and can understand an additional 2 languages, so the benefit is working in a department with a huge international culture. There are 24 languages spoken in the office…28 if you count Swenglish, Python, JavaScript and HTML 🙂

Another benefit this brings is knowledge sharing, and the inspiration we can take from each other when creating content from the game. This diversity transpires into some positives outside of work with release parties that celebrate hard work, unique cultures, and good food.

More of the challenges of managing a team this large and diverse is keeping the priorities in focus with multiple projects, so each new product is at different stage simultaneously. One of my goals is to adapt my leadership role to people’s working styles. Each person has a work style that works best for them, for those working abroad, part-time, or need additional guidance, or do-it-yourself attitude, I strive to accommodate this, while our team strives for the company’s objectives.

What do you think is the most important quality you need to achieve success?

preztelDefinitely a common goal to works towards. Each team member has their own personalized goals and individual project goals, but everyone at the same time is striving towards being creative, as it must be appealing to a large group in terms of writing style and content.

And finally, what is the best import from Germany?

Pretzels and Weissbier. Pretzels everyday for breakfast 😀

FEO Media awarded Deloitte Sweden Technology Fast 50

Photo: Deloitte

On November 15, FEO Media attended the Deloitte “Sweden Technology Fast 50” awards ceremony.

FEO Media was nominated in the Top 5 Category as one of Sweden’s fast growing technology companies.

Placing 4th with a growth of 2,909% over the past 4 years, CEO Johan Tengå confirmed, “We are thrilled for this consideration and recognition. FEO Media has in a short time developed from almost a hobby project, to a respected, international games developer with a variety of products, 50+ employed, and the expansion into the market of gamification for education.”

Continuing this success, FEO Media is aiming for continual positive growth for the future.

 

Namaste India (Again!)

We’re excited to announce the relaunch of QuizDesi, our Indian English & Hindi language quiz app!

QuizDesi logo

In the bustling cafeteria here at FEO towers, some of our team are rather fond of rustling up a spot of curry – especially Indian curry. We’re also pretty fond of producing localised quiz apps for the enjoyment of millions of quizzers across the globe.  

The team at FEO are excited to announce the re-launch our Indian quiz app, QuizDesi. This major overhaul of the game includes artwork inspired by traditional Indian pattern designs, thousands of fresh questions written by native Indian English & Hindi speakers, some key UI and feature updates, and a bunch of performance improvements. We’ve also designed a brand new app icon.

FUN FACT: Desi is a word used across the Indian subcontinent that originates from the Ancient Sanskrit word for ‘land’ or ‘country’. In modern-day usage, desi is roughly equivalent to the English words ‘local’ or ‘indigenous’.

Google Play QuizDesi iTunes QuizDesi

Growth leads to office move

In FEO Media TeamAugust, FEO Media moved into a new (more colourful!) office, while still staying located in Stockholm’s Södermalm district. The move was due to outgrowing the previous location, as departments were dispersed to different offices within the same building. This relocation allows for further growth for the ever-expanding team, with recently recruited developers and HR personnel.

FEO Office“We’ve grown fast, from 0 to 50 employees in only 3 years, so our old offices became too cramped. We want to keep the same company culture and spirit of entrepreneurship from the team, which encompasses diverse backgrounds, language skills, and competencies so everyone can interact on a daily basis. Now we have the possibility to move forward and grow in the same location.” says Johan Tengå, CEO of FEO Media.
FEO Office

Along with the ability for future expansion, the new office is equipped with amenities that reflect the company’s fun, and playful approach to work. With colourful-themed relaxing rooms, a stacked vending machine, movie theatre, and gaming area, there is no such thing as “all work and no play” at this office.

 

 

QuizClash South Africa launch

QiuzClash South AfricaFEO Media has launched QuizClash South Africa. This release totals 23 localised versions of QuizClash available worldwide on six continents!

“It’s definitely an exciting multicultural and rising market for mobile games with a large population,” acknowledges Head of Localisations Alex Kessler, “We like challenges and a successful product in ZA would indicate that we’ve managed to reach out to many people of different cultures and languages with a highly localised database.”

QuizClash South Africa is available for download on Google Play and the App Store.