PG is 10: Sponsor profile - Nordeus

Footy sim specialist gives us the locker room perspective on its popular Top Eleven series

PG is 10: Sponsor profile - Nordeus

By the time it's done, our 10th anniversary celebration running March 10th - April 10th will include some 50 articles that look back at the past decade of PG. This coverage has been made possible by the support of our sponsors, so it's seems fair to ask them to join us in taking a look back. Step into the spotlight, Nordeus…

Let's get to it. Who are you and what do you do?
Nordeus is an award-winning independent games developer with offices in Belgrade, London and Dublin. We are the producer of the football management game Top Eleven, which is the most successful online sports game ever made. To date, it has surpassed the 140 million registered users mark, has been played in every country in the world, and has José Mourinho as its official brand ambassador.

From our humble beginnings as a self-funded startup back in 2010 to where we are today, we have learnt that belief in our abilities, mindset and culture is so critical to our success. That is why this attitude is at the core of who we are and it ensures that we remain more than just a world-class games developer. To this day, we strive to make a difference in the lives of our players, our people and our local community.

For example, Nordeus is a place that prides itself on its employees. With an international team of 160 creative professionals working in our Belgrade, London and Dublin offices, we are composed of all kinds of talented people; from developers, game designers and artists to marketers and data scientists, we all work together in a tightly knit group that has one goal in mind.

Our goal is always to provide the best gaming experience to millions of people across the globe. And now, with new games in the works, we couldn’t be more excited to reveal more about them in the near future!

Take us back to the start. How did things begin for you and what was the mobile gaming landscape like at that time?
Founded in 2010, Nordeus was the brainchild of Branko Milutinovic, Milan Jovovic, and Ivan Stojisavljevic, who all quit their promising corporate careers abroad after they saw a unique opportunity opening up in the games industry.

With in-depth games then newly available on social media channels such as Facebook, they returned to their hometown of Belgrade and started to work on their vision of disrupting the gaming industry. That’s how Nordeus was born.

Even though Top Eleven was first released on Facebook, we quickly realised that mobile was its future. That is why in 2011, we invested in making Top Eleven one of the very first cross-platform games on the market. The timing was perfect – the mobile gaming landscape still in its infancy – and we knew that with a tremendous amount of hard work, we could make it in this emerging market. At Nordeus, we jokingly refer to this period as the ‘Gold Rush’!

Since then, Nordeus has flourished in step with the explosion of the mobile and mobile games industries.

Can you recall the first interaction you had with PG?
Pocket Gamer has always been a site we aimed to gain recognition on as we’ve always heavily relied upon it for anything from topical news to recent game launches! If memory serves, the first time you guys covered us was back just before the Euro 2012 when you did an awesome job reviewing Top Eleven’s Facebook version.

More recently in January of 2014, our Head of Business Development, Nikola Cavic was invited to speak at your Pocket Gamer Connects event. As far as we were concerned, this was one of the biggest speaking opportunity of the year as it gave us the chance to talk about Top Eleven’s opportunities in Asia.

A hot topic at the time, we were able to learn and connect with the right partners, something that eventually helped us successfully bring Top Eleven to China, Japan and Korea.

Can you give us some notable landmarks for your company from the last 10 years?
In the past six years Nordeus has won countless awards, has gained over 140m registered users, has grown to three studios (in London, Belgrade and Dublin), and currently has 160 immensely talented and experienced people working on our vision!
  • MAY 2010: Top Eleven launched on Facebook
  • AUGUST 2010: Our amazing Belgrade office opened
  • OCTOBER 2011: Top Eleven launched on mobile
  • END OF 2011: Top Eleven reached 1 million registered users
  • MARCH 2012: Won the People's Choice Award for The Best Startup at the London Web Summit
  • JUNE 2012: Won the Best Employer in Serbia and the Region award
  • JULY 2012: Top Eleven entered the Top 10 games charts and became the top grossing game in the Sports category on the App store
  • NOV 2012: Top Eleven became the no.1 sports game on Google Play
  • JUNE 2013: Won the App Annie award for Top Grossing Publisher
  • FEB 2013: Won the Best App Centre award from Facebook
  • MARCH 2013: José Mourinho became Top Eleven’s new face and brand ambassador
  • OCTOBER 2013: Our Dublin office opened
  • APRIL 2014: Won the award for Best Employer in the ICT sector in South East Europe
  • NOV 2014: Our London studio opened
  • MARCH 2015: Won the Top 50 Developer Award from PocketGamer for outstanding service to mobile gaming
  • MARCH 2015: Celebrated Nordeus’ 5th birthday with Top Eleven hitting 100M registrations
  • MARCH 2016: For Nordeus’ 6th birthday, Top Eleven surpassed 140m registrations

What are you up to nowadays?
We are currently focused on hiring top talent for Top Eleven and for our new games. Positions based in Belgrade and London include, among others, a UX Designer, Football Content Writer, Game Producer and Senior Backend Developer.

We believe this is a great opportunity for talented professionals because our structure of small and empowered teams means that our game teams are given the creative freedom to pursue their chosen direction.

With over 140m registered users, Top Eleven continues to be the most popular online sports game in the world. At the forefront of our efforts is to listen to, and empower, our amazing community of players. They are the most important thing to us and that is why we strive to do everything we can to ensure they enjoy Top Eleven 2016 as much as possible. Not only have we shipped some highly demanded features in the past, we’re currently working on some very exciting new features. We can’t wait to announce them in the next few months!

Lastly, we’re also hard at work on developing brand new IP and we’re so excited to see what our uniquely talented and creative people are coming up with. In general, all of us at Nordeus are super excited to bring our vast expertise in making the best games possible to ever more players!

Do you have any fond/happy/mad/secret memories of your involvement with PG over the years that you'd like to share?
There are so many stories, it’s hard to pick one. Recently, at Pocket Gamer Connects in London, our Business Development Director Nikola Cavic was having a chat with partners and colleagues about Ice wine. When it emerged that they had never tried it, it was swiftly decided that a couple of bottles should be purchased for everyone to try. After using some ninja persuasion skills on the venue’s security staff, the wine found its way to the Nordeus booth — needless to say, this resulted in a lot of happy partners!

What key moments or developments stick out for you from the last 10 years of the mobile games industry?
The industry has changed so dramatically over the past 10 years. From playing console games in living-rooms to being able to pick-up and play anywhere, anytime (this is, incidentally, our slogan!), so many exciting things have happened.

  • iPhone App Store launch: This was the turning point for mobile gaming. When the iPhone App Store launched in 2008, this gave Apple the opportunity to control the quality of apps for the first time. With over one million 3rd party apps created within the first four years, the App Store grew so incredibly quickly and its success spearheaded similar services such as Google Play. Within the past 8 years, the App market has become a multi-billion dollar industry and has defined the gaming industry into what we know it as today.
  • The first $1b game: In 2014, we witnessed the first billion dollar game on mobile – Puzzle & Dragons. Developed by Japanese games developer GungHo Online Entertainment, this revenue was generated through the iOS App Store and Google Play. What’s incredibly interesting is that the game wasn’t even a success in Europe! All this revenue was for the most part generated in the Japanese and US markets, which goes to show how important these markets are in our industry.
  • Apple in China: The bulk of the total app revenue has always come from the US but over the past couple of years, we have started to see a shift in the market. China is now the second largest market on the App store and it’s quickly becoming the most crucial one. In 2015 alone, the revenue in China grew from $5.7b to $12.5b year-on-year, which is an incredible 99% jump!

Finally, where do you see mobile games and the industry going in the next 10 years?
We are at an exciting time where anything seems to be possible. In the past few years, we’ve started to hear a lot about AR and VR with new products such as Facebook’s Oculus, Google’s Magic Leap and Microsoft’s Hololens. The opportunities these new technologies will open up to app developers and gamers is immense. VR has the potential to become a fully immersive experience that will be more suited to the millions of PC, MMO and console gamers, whilst AR has the potential to play the same role in our mobile lives. A lot has already happened in this space and we know that there is a lot more still to come.

As for us at Nordeus, we have built a strong platform from which we know we can achieve great things in the future. We can’t wait!

What's all this, then? The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th - April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, Nordeus, and Ninja Kiwi. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.