How did Top Eleven developer Nordeus rise from the rubble of a war torn Belgrade to become a globally successful studio that, last year, generated over $75 million in revenue?
Studio co-founder Branko Milutinovic offered an answer in a recent interview with Bloomberg, explaining that freedom, not finances, is the secret to success.
Now, you might argue it's easy to knock back investors to retain your creative freedom when you've got a game like Top Eleven under your belt. The soccer management sim has been downloaded over 170 million times, and is still on an upwards trajectory.
Still, that wasn't always the case. Milutinovic founded Nordeus with two friends he met at Microsoft. They all gambled their savings to kickstart the studio, but even then they didn't have aspirations of becoming rich and famous.
Milutinovic just wanted to get back to Belgrade to be closer to his family. If he could earn a living by making games at the same time, that'd be an added bonus. Independence was always at the forefront of his mind, and even after the studio hit its first home run, the co-founders refused to take the cash being thrown their way.
"Venture capitalists give you a lot of money and less freedom. We didn't care much about the first one and we still don't; freedom is the most precious thing," he explains. "We weren't doing this to get rich. We wanted to live off making games."
The story of Nordeus' conception is packed with interesting game dev musings from Milutinovic, so be sure to check out the full article over on Bloomberg.