Meet the Rovians
Ask anyone at Rovio and they’ll tell you – our people are awesome. Rovio is brimming with knowledgeable and talented mobile gaming professionals working in all disciplines of mobile game production, who come from over 50 nationalities. We’re going to be chatting with a different Rovian every week in a rapid-fire interview to get a glimpse of their life at Rovio.
Rovio has its sights set on growth. Over the years, to aid in our goal of crafting joy and to explore new avenues for gaming not represented in our existing locations, we have opened new studios organically, beginning with the establishment of the Stockholm Studio in 2012, continuing with setting up three studios in Montreal and Toronto, and most recently, with the announcement that a Barcelona satellite studio that will work with the Puzzle Studio headquartered in Espoo. Rovio has also welcomed existing studios and teams to the flock through M&A, including Rovio Copenhagen (formerly Darkfire Games) in 2020 and Ruby Games, who came onboard in 2021.
When it comes to bringing new teams into the flock, it is essential that the teams are not only a good fit for our culture and strategy, and complement our competencies, but that they can benefit from Rovio’s decades of mobile industry learnings and that they feel at home under the Rovio banner. Today we are speaking to a member of the team responsible for seeking out talented studios to join Rovio in their mission of crafting joy. That person is Senior Product Manager in Corporate Development, Nasos Kapetanakis. Read the full interview below.
What do you do?
My title is senior product manager in corporate development. It is essentially a double role. First and foremost, I try to find exciting new games and studios to bring into the flock as part of our acquisition strategy. And when they come in, I help their product managers and game teams to make and operate better performing games.
What does your daily work look like?
On the acquisition side of things, a typical project would be that we will initially have a talk with the potential new studio’s founders, understand their business, understand what they’re looking for, and most importantly, understand their culture and the games themselves.
After that, if there is interest we will look at some data, usually financial figures, and game KPIs to see the current progress of the game and studio and what they could look like. The next step would be that we will create a business case that will consist of lots of things, but mainly it will be a summary of everything we have learned up to that point and what kind of synergies we can identify if they were part of the Rovio flock. That ultimately goes to Rovio’s leadership team and then to the board of directors as well.
How are you involved once a studio is onboard?
At that point it’s more about product strategy. So we will focus on the vision, strategy and roadmap of the games, and of course try to optimize features. In addition I’ll introduce Rovio’s best practices to find how our learnings and resources can benefit the new studio’s games. In the center of this is our in-house Beacon suite that helps studios with A-B tests, analytics, and many other game related details, allowing studios to focus on what they do best: making great games. We’re aiming to make games that last for a long time and monetize deeply so making sure that players have an exciting and meaningful experience is very important.
What makes a studio a good fit for Rovio?
I would say culture first. At Rovio we put a lot of emphasis in our culture and we look for that in other founders and the culture they’ve created. So we put people first. We have a very strong collaborative culture, we want to see this happening in incoming studios as well. We also want to see teams that are ambitious and hungry. They want to make the next big thing and they’re excited to grow their game. We also look for what we call genre mastery, or a team that really knows their genre well and has learned their audience.
Have you always been interested in working in games?
I’ve been an avid gamer all my life. I was playing Warioland on the Gameboy, I played a lot of Worms 3 with friends, Baldur’s Gate 2, a vast range of MMORPGs and more recently Witcher 3 and Elden Ring. I knew it was possible to make money in games, but back then it was just a dream.
I studied economics, then quantitative finance so it was a lot of math and stuff like that. After working for a couple of years in the financial industry, I wanted to work in an industry where I could have more impact, and to be fair, I wanted to do something that was a bit more fun. At some point it clicked to me that games are quite complicated and I discovered an avenue for my education and experience. Mobile free to play was rising to prominence and I got really interested because of the vast amounts of data that game developers work with.
A cool realization for me was that games were becoming a big thing in entertainment and they are very data driven. They also have a lot of financial considerations and metrics to take into account in order to succeed. So everything kind of came together for me in mobile games.
Are you still playing games? What are you playing now?
I play a lot of mobile games and find that they work best when you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a play session. I have been playing Angry Birds 2 for a few months now. I was also playing Diablo Immortal for a while. I typically pick up about two new games per week from the top charts or recommendations from others. The most recent one was Survivor.io.
In a work capacity, I look for inspiration in games that are doing things really well, like distributing content, or if someone is trying something completely new that seems to be picking up. Other times, I look for games that might be trying to do the same things we are, to see how they are executing those things and how it works for them.
What is the biggest thing you hope to accomplish in your work?
Of course I want to see projects I’m involved in result in monetary success, but it’s also exciting to expand our capabilities as a company by bringing in new teams with different expertise that complement the studios operating at Rovio. That’s where the collaborative culture really shines, when we can share knowledge across studios and make our games and the company stronger as a whole. But it’s not just one way, I hope that incoming teams can also learn a lot from Rovio as well. Giving knowledge back is quite important.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have a three year old son so I like to spend a lot of time with him and my partner. In my free time, I usually play mobile games or read. If I’m on holiday, I tend to read more fantasy, but if I’m commuting, I’ll probably read something more work related for inspiration and problem solving – business, management, philosophy. It’s nice to have a book to slow down, process my thoughts and get new ideas. I also like to watch TV series and movies to unwind. Anything dystopian related or a detective drama. I love a good mystery.