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Super Evil Megacorp was a splashy game startup when it debut 11 years ago and then came out with its mobile esports title Vainglory. But that game petered out and Super Evil went through transitions. But now the company is back with a few successful games across multiple platforms, and it has more than 100 people.
And now it is opening a virtual office in the United Kingdom, and it has added Anna Sweet, CEO of Bad Robot Games, to its board of directors. The mission is still heavily focused on mobile, but now the company hopes to create triple-A cross-platform games, said Kristian Segerstrale, CEO, in an interview with GamesBeat.
As its name would suggest, Super Evil Megacorp was very ambitious. Segerstrale joined as its COO and started it on its mobile esports journey with Vainglory. He raised money and led it through its pioneering work as a shooter game on mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad. But by late 2019, the game had weakened and Super Evil Megacorp decided to hand it over to Rogue Games. By 2020, Rogue Games also gave up and then the remaining members of the community took it over.
After Vainglory, Segerstrale said, “For sure, we had a very painful adjustment. After that, we have had a great period of growth, like during the glorious early days. When Vainglory tapered off, we were forced to reset fairly aggressively around the time that I took on the CEO job. We ate a little bit of humble pie, and then we set out to create a company that’s resilient. We went back to the basics of building great games.”
Segerstrale, a former EA mobile executive who became CEO in 2017, began investing in other games. That involved taking advantage of the company’s EVIL game engine and crafting good economies for games with lots of collectibles and social play.
It made Catalyst Black, which won Samsung Galaxy’s Game of the Year in 2022. It also worked with Netflix Games to make its first licensed game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate, which hit the top of the Apple Arcade charts.
“We try to connect with communities and build fandom as much as we can. And that has led us to a way of building the company where we haven’t relied on the breakout success of any specific title,” Segerstrale said. “We constantly become better at our craft and try to become better at what we do over time.”
The company has experimented with mobile free-to-play and subscription. These experiments were driven in part by changes, like Apple’s focus on privacy over user acquisition, which made it harder to get results from advertising. Now you need a truly stand-out product to succeed on any platform. And sometimes that means working with IP licensors or big platforms.
“We’ve released our news in a disparate fashion,” Segerstrale said. “But we figured it was time to make some announcements and provide backgroun on what we’re working on and the direction we’re heading. As a studio, we felt that is important.”
The company is still focused on mobile games and it wants to explore new platforms and tell new stories. And the company has already hired more than 30 people this year, including filling roles in its new U.K. office.
Segerstrale spent eight years in Menlo Park, California, and a couple more years in Portugal. Now he has moved back to the United Kingdom, where he grew his first couple of companies, Macrospace/Glu Mobile and Playfish.
“A lot of my network is here and we’re able to commit to hiring new folks in the U.K.,” he said. “At the same time, we’re reaffirming our commitment to being an all-remote studio.”
The company recruited Viviane Costa, platform technical director, and product director Tom Westall, both based in the U.K., and a handful of others. The plan is to hire a lot more over the next three years.
“I’m really proud that through all the changes of the last few years, the team at Super Evil Megacorp has emerged as one of the few independent, cross platform studios who are proven at being able to release award winning games, and all on our own EVIL engine enabling the best performance across the widest set of devices,” Segerstrale said. “Why we make games and what we believe in remains the same – to build the best shared gaming experiences. And we are excited to continue to build on our passion for pushing boundaries in the games space, native cross platform game design, and we are pursuing the best multiplayer action games.”
The company works hard to create a common culture, and it gets the team together in person once a quarter or so.
Segerstrale said the company has unannounced triple-A game cross-platofrm game projects in the works. And he expects we’ll be hearing more from the company soon.
“We’re laying the groundwork now for future announcements,” Segerstrale said. “We are working on an upcoming IP that we are very excited about. We’re creating a world from the bottom up for a huge IP where we get to be co-creators of a corner of the universe.”
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