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How a mobile studio's fight for survival ended with a $500K investment

Traplight Games was founded back in 2010 by three game industry veterans. While the team aimed to create their own original games, they soon found themselves collaborating with other bigger studios...
Finnish studio Traplight Games was founded back in 2010 by three game industry veterans. While the team aimed to create their own original games, they soon found themselves collaborating with other bigger studios, and that initial goal of making original games had to be left behind... for a while. Now the Traplight dozen, including Riku Rakkola, Jari Paananen and Sami Kalliokoski, are making another go of it, and have a bundle of investor cash to make that goal a reality -- $500,000, to be exact. "We originally published our own game, The Hero, in 2010," explains Rakkola, who has previously taken charge on titles like WWE SmackDown vs Raw and Rabbids Big Bang. "After that we were contacted by [Ubisoft-owned Trials HD studio] RedLynx to do some contract work, and since The Hero did not make enough money to create a second game, we decided to go that route." Traplight needed money to survive, and the team simply didn't have the tech or resources to start another project. Collaboration and work-for-hire was the only way forward. So why now, then? Isn't it a risk to go from a relatively stable situation of collaborating on games, to going it alone again? "We had a hard time last year when some of our bigger contract projects ended," admits Rakkola, "so we were luckily kind of forced to make the next move, and all of us decided that it was time to finally try and do our own thing." "We had the underlying tech pretty far along, as we were constantly building that during the contract projects," he adds, "but did not have the resources to do that full time." And so around a year ago, Traplight began looking for funding again for its next game, What on Earth!, an experience centered on user-generated content. This time around, investors Finnvera and East Wings were interested, and offered up Traplight's first small round of funding. That enabled Traplight to survive up until this point, where another hefty round of funding has come their way. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, has also been instrumental in Traplight's survival. "I think the investors were intrigued by our company’s vision to become the market leader in user-generated content games on mobile," Rakkola reasons. "And we had a pretty cool demo to show with super easy to use game editor." "But honestly, I think that the deciding factor was that some of our investors gave the early version of our game to their kids and they were creating dozens of levels, and spending hours just playing around in the editor. So the game definitely has some Lego-style magic factor in it." For now, Traplight is happy to be surrounded by so many exciting studios popping up in Finland, where studios like Rovio, RedLynx, Remedy, Supercell, and others reside. "It's great!," Rakkola says. "One thing I would love to see in the future is that some of the studios that are located outside the Helsinki region (like ours!) can get visibility. Go Tampere!"

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