Interview: Felipe Mata discusses FunPlus' new Barcelona studio and the games it will develop

Interview: Felipe Mata discusses FunPlus' new Barcelona studio and the games it will develop

Late last year, FunPlus announced a new Barcelona studio that will focus on casual puzzle games, a notable switch from the strategy games the team is known for. However, it's still early days as FunPlus is still establishing its new team. We recently had a chance to chat with Felipe Mata - Vice President of Product and Head of Studio in Barcelona - about the new setup. Together, we discussed why Barcelona was chosen as the home of the new studio, its direction and when we can expect to hear about its first game.

Could you please introduce yourself and your role at FunPlus to our audience?

My name is Felipe Mata, and I am the Vice President of Product and Head of our Studio here in Barcelona. I joined FunPlus with over a decade of industry experience in product management and game development, driving innovation, creating new games, but also developing monetisation strategies and overseeing live game operations. Right now, we are building from scratch a new development studio in Barcelona to develop casual puzzle games.

It's still the early days for FunPlus' new Barcelona studio. How is everything progressing so far?

Since we were already established in the city with our Publishing team we have been able to speed up the opening of this new studio. We are making strides to ensure we have the best talent in the industry working at the studio, while also working with the local government to promote our presence.

Can you tell us why you chose Barcelona as the home for the new studio?

In addition to having our Western publishing operations based in the city since 2019, Barcelona is a world-renowned center of excellence for talent in the mobile and video game space. We felt it was only right to expand FunPlus’ commitment to the city with our ambition to develop new games and projects. However, Barcelona is a challenging city to attract talent as there are many studios and tech companies looking for the same people in one single location.

What 's exciting about FunPlus studio is that we’re building a whole new development structure from the ground up, where this talent will carry out a key role in the creation of new projects for the company. This will surely be a very exciting journey that will allow us to grow as a team, find new opportunities, and ensure that Barcelona continues to shine in the broader industry.

You are currently recruiting new people. How is hiring going, and what kind of people are you looking to join the team?

We have a wide range of open vacancies available, ranging from Lead Game Designer, Game Developers and Artists, key positions that will shape the future of FunPlus Barcelona Studio.

We’re looking for local talent but also we are open to recruiting European talent who want to relocate and develop their career in such a creative and inspiring environment as Barcelona, which, in addition to having an excellent quality of life, has become one of the main European hubs when it comes to video game development. As mentioned previously, we are also working with the local Government to promote the region. And beyond all that, we believe FunPlus Barcelona is the best place in the city to develop new games.

FunPlus is well-known for strategy games like State of Survival, Guns of Glory, and King of Avalon. Will the new studio have any involvement in these titles, or will it be responsible for its own games?

FunPlus is best known for its success in strategy games where we’re one of the top Global Publishers. The Barcelona studio, however, will focus on casual genres, especially puzzle core gameplay mechanics, developing its own portfolio of new games for different audiences beyond strategy.

In FunPlus Barcelona we have a clear vision of the games that we want to make and what success looks like. We are ambitious, but we also have extensive experience creating new games and understand that the process takes time; that’s why we have set a long-term plan to make it happen.

Similarly, will the Barcelona office stick to FunPlus' bread and butter of strategy games? Or is the plan to venture into different genres? If so, which?

At this moment we’re moving forward towards casual-puzzle games where we identify outstanding high potential through our market research and observing recent trends. Using data for decision making will also be a key component of the way we operate at the studio. We know casual players well, thanks to the product and marketing experience in casual games that the studio leadership has, with Jacob Krüger as Director of UA. We have a good idea of players’ interests, feedback and other insights that will help us to create experiences tailored to their expectations.

Are you able to reveal any games currently in development? If not, when do you expect to unveil something new?

We are in a very early phase of the project, so it is difficult to give details about our next game. The studio will have autonomy and creative ownership, focusing on the players and what they like to play, with a development philosophy of fast testing and iterations, aiming to have our first success on the market early next year. The first people recruited at the new studio will be the ones who will shape the future of this and more FunPlus titles, so we cannot wait to bring them on board.

Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.