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Papukaya, backed by Supercell, creates mobile games for non-gamers

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With support from Supercell, Papukaya creates mobile games for people who don’t see themselves as gamers. And in doing so, Papukaya hopes to redefine the meaning of games for the “general public”.

Last year, Helsinki-based Papukaya raised $ 3.1 million from fellow Finnish game maker Supercell, which generates billions of dollars in revenue from games such as Clash of Clans and Clash Royale.

The studio was started by Drussila Hollanda (who previously worked at Digital Chocolate, Rovio, Wooga and Supercell) and Johannes Ahvenniemi (Rovio, Seriously). They were joined by lead artist Saara Mäkinen (formerly Rovio).

Hollanda is one of the few people who has worked at Supercell and moved on. A 17-year-old veteran in games, she is from Brazil. But she traveled to Finland to help Supercell create casual games, initially to work on the casual farming game Hay Day.

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Exit the supercell

Some of the latest games Hollanda worked on failed to release, as Supercell often kills games that don’t work. And since Supercell was focusing on core games, Hollanda decided to move on to start her own business.

“I really like Supercell and the people there,” Hollanda said. “But because my passion has always been casual gaming and seeing the potential of these new audiences, I wanted to focus on that. Even 10 years ago, you could already see how mobile gaming was attracting so many new audiences to the fold. .

As she was leaving, Hollanda pitched the startup idea to Supercell, and they decided to fund her.

“I liked seeing the kind of games played by people who don’t see themselves as gamers, and I decided that the way to tackle them was not within Supercell, but by starting a business. from scratch, ”Hollanda said. “I offered that to Supercell, and they agreed to give me funding.”

With support from Supercell, the studio is making games for “a largely unserved market” or for those who don’t identify as gamers. Hollanda said in an interview that the potential of games is still huge, as only 10% of the time spent on smartphones is spent on games.

Above: Papukaya has a team of three.

Image Credit: Papukaya

To create games that appeal to a wider audience, the studio draws inspiration from other forms of entertainment such as books, movies, social media apps, or real-life hobbies. For their first game, the studio is focused on engaging players with positive emotions and exploring universal topics and themes like relationships and well-being.

“Our industry often sees the gaming market as made up of people who identify as gamers,” said Jaakko Harlas, chief investment officer at Supercell. “In doing so, we are turning a blind eye to the massive population of non-gamers who would be playing games – if only there was a company developing the right kind of games for them. Papukaya has set itself the goal of being that company and redefining what people do for fun on their mobile devices. We can’t think of anyone better positioned to seize this opportunity than the uniquely qualified founding team of Papukaya.

Papukaya is currently focusing on market research, reducing its target audience and building its first intellectual property. To fuel its growth, the studio is looking to hire a senior game designer and experienced developers.

The meaning of Papukaya

The name Papukaya is based on a Finnish word for parrot. And since Hollanda loved the multiple colors of parrots and the diversity that it represented, she decided to give the company the name of the word.

“For us it was very important for us to try something new,” she said.

The funding will give the company plenty of time to prototype, learn, and refine their games. And while she doesn’t give the idea of ​​the game, she said it will tackle universal emotions and positive topics to help people escape and relax. The team looked at things like interactive stories and simulation games like The Sims and Animal Crossing.

The company hopes to hire 12 to 15 people.

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