Driven by a desire to create games that come alive and resonate with players, Vladimir Funtikov co-founded Tallinn-based Creative Mobile, and after only four years, it became one of the largest mobile gaming companies in Northern Europe. His passion for games began with his first PC, and almost immediately, he started creating games, beginning with basic Warcraft and SimCity scenarios, then moving to single-player levels for Duke Nukem 3D, and eventually making multi-player maps for Counter-Strike.
When speaking on the potential of and best practices for the Android games market during Casual Connect in San Francisco, Estonian games studio founder Vlad Funtikov commented, “The players’ attention span is milliseconds, so you have to come up with an icon and a title that sells a game immediately.”
An Awesome Company
Vladimir Funtikov’s feelings about Creative Mobile, the company he co-founded, are clear. He says, “My company is awesome!” As Co-Founder of a startup, he has had to be involved in every aspect of the business. Although his experience as a game programmer saved some time in the beginning, everything else had to be learned along the way.
Funtikov’s hobbies are playing video games and traveling. Since these things are also important parts of his job, he claims he has solved the problem of not having free time.
Early Experience with User Generated Content
At the age of 12, he was browsing in the games folder on his family’s PC, and launched a program called “build”. It turned out to be a level builder for the shooter game he was playing. He was excited by the ability to create game content, and quickly became addicted. For the next five or six years, he spent at least half an hour every day making game levels, usually for Counter-Strike or CS: Source. After he finished school, he stopped, thinking it was time to grow up and get a real job. But the first real job he found happened to be with a company porting J2ME games. And only two years later, he co-founded Creative Mobile. He says he stays with the games industry because he has never found a single reason to quit.
Wasting their Lives on [Making] Games
The first year and a half after starting the company were quite difficult. Funtikov admits, “We struggled to make any money and explain to our families what we were wasting our lives on.” But the period of growth following their breakthrough games was an even greater challenge. Scaling production and bringing in top talent proved very difficult. He asserts, “I believe we managed to make it this far through dedication, focus and a healthy financial situation which allowed us to recover from mistakes we made.”
The result of this dedication and focus was what Funtikov feels was the greatest moment of his career, when Creative Mobile won the award for national “Startup of the Year.”
Funtikov believes that mobile apps will continue to be the hottest thing in the games industry for the next few years. But he finds it more exciting to consider what may come within the next five to fifteen years. He foresees possibilities such as an elegant way to get rid of the “screen size vs mobility” trade-off (perhaps Oculus Rift capabilities in Google Glass or even contact lens form factor), and revolutionary portable energy sources.