Founded in 2005, Hibernum Creations is a highly creative video game studio based in Montreal, Canada with a myriad of successes on both mobile and console platforms. To learn more about their history, inspiration, and lessons learned, AdColony sat down with Gregory Feuz, Product Manager at Hibernum.
A Myriad of IPs
In addition to developing their own IPs, Hibernum also works with top tier studios to help them deliver AAA titles across numerous platforms. Some of the studios they’ve worked for include Disney, Wooga, Ubisoft, Konami, WB, DeNA, and Bruce Lee Enterprises. So far, these projects are working out nicely for Hibernum, as their title “Bruce Lee: Enter the Game” has enjoyed over 6 million downloads since its launch on November 27th, 2014.
So what was it about mobile gaming that captivated Hibernum four years ago? The user experience. As Feuz puts it:
“We’ve always wanted to make games and focus on great experiences. Very early on, we saw the potential of mobile phones as a gaming platform. With ever growing power and screen resolution, the gaming experience on these devices is constantly improving.”
While the continuous product cycle of mobile devices is disorienting for some, Hibernum views the undulating technological advancements as an opportunity to “create ever improving gaming experiences that fully utilize the technology available.” As Feuz attests:
“We’re truly passionate about games and inspired by the new platforms and the way people are using them. We’re dedicated to bringing awesome games to these people and hopefully discover a few meaningful innovations along the way!”
Hibernum’s team is currently a formidable force, with over 160 dedicated team members that Feuz describes as “extremely talented and represent an invaluable asset” for the company. However, they didn’t start out this way.
In 2013, their team was one fourth its current size and grew rapidly over the last year and a half. While this growth can cause awkward growing pains for many companies, Mathieu Foran, the HR Manager at Hibernum, noted, “we work very hard to try and build a strong company culture,” to build their family environment and maintain an indie feel as they grow.
Style & Inspiration
At Hibernum, inspiration is driven by the story. As Feuz describes it:
“It could be a kids game or a mature title, either realistic or cartoony. In the end, we want the players to feel something when they see the characters in motion. This is what we strive for.”
To help with the storytelling process, many of Hibernum’s artists have an animated movie background, which is readily apparent across their titles.
Whether it’s the lighting and frame composition of a fight scene in their Bruce Lee game or a tracking shot with desaturated hues to drive emotion in Cupcake Carnival, Hibernum is able to give depth to even the most straight-forward fighting and puzzle games.
While Feuz admits that they lean towards “stylized and cartoony art directions,” the team has begun experimenting more with more mature brands and styles to keep things fresh.
While Hibernum’s cross-platform projects continue to do well for the studio, they’ve similarly hit a stride on mobile, where they’ve driven over 38 million downloads. Their most popular mobile games are Lego City and Bruce Lee: Enter the Game, with 20 million and 6 million downloads, respectively.
Many studios feel the pressure to launch a game by a set date in order to meet publisher demands or make payroll, but Hibernum warns against launching before you’re ready:
“Do not launch if you feel your game is not 100% ready. Be smart and use soft launching at your advantage. Do not set up a hard launch date and make sure to optimize, iterate, make all necessary changing before going live worldwide. The 1st week after launch is the most important one: you don’t want to mess it up because your game is not ready.”
Clearly, Hibernum has learned to heed their own advice here, as their most recent mobile launch had over 3 million downloads in the first 8 days, a testament to what is possible when a mobile game is polished and well-promoted at launch.
Advice to New Publishers
Of course, simply creating a polished game isn’t a guarantee for success on an app store. Feuz acknowledges this, noting that “the mobile games business is very competitive and it’s quite difficult to get discovered if you can’t count on a popular brand or heavy marketing budget.” However, he does offer hope:
“. . . But every month new games are taking the app stores by storm, so anything is possible if you have a great concept. Look at what Crossy Road managed to accomplish with only a team of 2 very talented people.”
Refusing to rest on their laurels, Hibernum is keeping busy in 2015, with 8 titles planned to ship within the next year. Of these, two are expected to launch this summer. Although Feuz wouldn’t release the names of the summer releases, he would confirm that one was based on a very popular IP, and that the other was actually an IP that Hibernum has created from the ground up.
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