Bit Odd gears up for success after seed round from Index Ventures

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Bit Odd, a new development house from Finland, is, well, a bit strange. Founded by some of the minds behind Supercell’s Clash of Clans, the new studio has big ambitions. With the help of Index Ventures, the company plans to become the next big thing in mobile gaming.

Index Ventures, a European venture capital firm, has a long history of backing successful mobile gaming groups. With a list of investments that includes King, Supercell, Roblox, and Dream Games, Index seems to be doing something right. Now the company senses that there is “something special” about Bit Odd – special enough to lead a €5 million investment round for the new company.

We spoke to Lasse Louhento in an online meeting about his new business, working from home and the creative process.

GamesBeat: Can you give us a little background on your journey as a game developer?

Lasse Louhento: My childhood dream was always to have my own game company. I have loved games since I was introduced to games in 1980. At that time England was something like the Mecca of C 64[Commodore 64] games. Then America and Japan. Big fan of Nintendo.

The Japan thing didn’t quite work out for me. I haven’t been to Japan other than some exhibitions and landed on various things like PC gaming and point and click adventure games. After that I worked on console games for AAA studios for eight years. Then on to the cell phone.

I ended up at Supercell and was one of the early members. He ended up leading the Clash of Clans team. I was the director and the artistic director there. I think I’m mature enough to fly alone. It’s a team sport, so we all feel the same. We want to try something we’re comfortable with, like creating this creativity bubble that we want to work in.

GamesBeat: What made you decide to start a new company?

Lasse Louhento: We don’t make games for the money. We make games to get better at them. And even though I have a few wrinkles, I still consider myself pretty young. We make games because I feel like we’re pretty good at it, but we still have a lot to learn. We just have to keep going and learn the lessons from Supercell’s success. Past mistakes are all equally important in moving forward and building a rock-solid foundation.

GamesBeat: How did you decide on your company name?

Lasse Louhento: There are mutliple reasons for this. We had about 500 different candidates, but the nerd in me likes the word a bit like the computer “bit”. But it’s also a bit. Nintendo has what they call a deep-sea strategy, which means they’re trying to find new areas to entertain people in. Find new forms of fun. There are many imitators in the mobile market who want to look at the market leader and do that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This strategy works too, but the gaming enthusiast in me wants to dig deeper. Maybe there’s something we’ve never seen or played before. That’s why we’re here. In this respect we are a bit strange.

GamesBeat: Can you give us an idea of ​​what you are working on?

Lasse Louhento: Our new blog post was quite insightful in some ways. You have to read between the lines, right? We love creativity. What really excites me is seeing our game potentially being played by millions of people. When I travel abroad to Barcelona and see local teenagers or adults playing our game, that’s a success for me. So developing a hugely popular product with new intellectual property turns me on. The benefits of a big hit, a big DAU (Daily Active Users) are a by-product. We know how to distill it down to user acquisition, monetization, etc. In our case, the priority is slightly different. We focus on a good gaming experience and a user experience that makes players happy. The monetary stuff will come with it.

GamesBeat: What games inspired you to get into this business?

Lasse Louhento: People like Mario, Super Metroid and all that stuff. It’s nice memories. I was at GDC (Game Developers Conference) when Breath of the Wild was released and its producer Eiji Aonuma used the Japanese word グッとくる (pronounced guttokuru) which means “it moves the soul”. When you do something incredibly cool, it touches the player’s soul. You get goosebumps, you go, oh my god, that’s something special. Like someone walked in and made an extra effort. I’m not talking overt storytelling, but storytelling about game mechanics.

GamesBeat: You and your team work in an office. How do you think this is an advantage over remote work?

Lasse Louhento: We have an office. We have the most beautiful… [Laughs] No, we have a very compact, very small office, but we designed it ourselves. We generally value good chairs and good lighting because we like to be on guard. I know a lot of people who like remote work and remote work is great. Because we’re so small, I think the best ideas come from someone saying something, and someone else picks it up and creates another thread. Then someone combines these two threads. You know what I mean?

GamesBeat: Yes, this type of interaction can be challenging when working remotely.

Lasse Louhento: Yes. I had a good idea today. You feel the stirring of the soul. And once you release it and other people say “ooooh,” you get the feeling that there’s something there. A lot of these guys are gamers. They really love the craft. They’re excited about the stuff. It’s not a nine-to-five mentality. I often draw a comparison with Sofia. What is the name of the practice when you give birth to babies? You know, the lady….

GamesBeat: A midwife?

Lasse Louhento: Midwife! [Laughs] It is a profession in which one has a calling. I think it’s kind of similar. We love it.


GamesBeat: What is your initial plan for the new investment?

Lasse Louhento: The investment will help us to develop the game. First and foremost, there is a lot of talent in Finland. We’re trying to get the best people here to work on it. We don’t have many people now – we’re six and scaling up to 10. I think with 10 people we can deliver the first game. Attract top talent. There are dinosaurs like me that have been in the game for 30 years. But we also want fresh talent who get the right mix of fresh energy and old knowledge. I think that’s a really, really strong combination. It’s very similar to a team sport. At Supercell we didn’t really have a game designer. It was our duty to make the game a little bit better every day.

GamesBeat: Can you tell us a bit about your current team?

Lasse Louhento: Next to me from Supercell are Jani Lintunen and Taneli Oksama. These are old colleagues of mine. I worked 10 years with Jani and 20 with Taneli. They’re the people I trust, but we’ve also been very fortunate to have three new kick-ass programmers. You are the future stars.

GamesBeat: What positions would you like to add?

Lasse Louhento: We are currently looking for programmers and artists, but of course we don’t say no to talent. Talent comes in different forms. Like you don’t have to have a Harvard resume. [Laughs] You can tell if someone is there by where their motivation lies? What do you want to do? You can usually tell if people are genuinely interested in making a great game. The biggest game in the world.

For more information about Bit Odd and their plans, see this blog post by Lasse Louhento or visit Bit Odd’s corporate website.

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