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Oulu mobile game startup inks deal to roll out tie-in game for Hollywood film

Oulu-based mobile game firm Koukoi Games may have hit a gold seam, after signing a contract to develop a tie-in mobile game for the upcoming 3D animated comedy film, Ferdinand. The deal with the 20th Century Fox subsidiary FoxNext Games places the Oulu game studio in the same company as the likes of Rovio, who created an Angry Birds spin-off for the animated film Rio.

Koukoi is best known for its debut game title, Crashing Season. Image: Koukoi Games

Mobile game firm Koukoi Games announced last Thursday that it had picked up an offer from 20th Century Fox subsidiary FoxNext Games to produce an untitled companion game for the movie studio’s upcoming 3D animated film, Ferdinand.

The company’s latest breakthrough comes after taking in a million-euro financing round from entertainment-specialised venture capital firm, IPR VC and state innovation financier Tekes, for development of licensed mobile games.

Founded in 2015, the young firm won the Best Art award from the White Nights conference in Helsinki the same year for the artwork in its debut game, Crashing Season. The game was later formally released globally in 2016.

Koukoi chief executive Antti Kananen said he has no doubt that the studio will be able to follow through and deliver the movie-themed title The _Ferdinand _movie is scheduled to be released in December..

Koukoi CEO Antti Kananen believes that the movie tie-in deal will bring benefits for the entire Oulu game community. Image: Antti Kananen / Koukoi Games

"We can show FoxNext Games that we have the ability to create quality. Naturally we still have a lot of work to do to properly take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

"We do business with our feet on the ground, but our thoughts are in the clouds about the opportunity, that this cooperation will create for the future," Kananen added.

More irons in the fire

The small game studio is known for its commitment to creativity. It launched its first game Crashing Season in May 2016 for iOS and Android. Koukoi went on to partner with MyGamez, a Finnish-Chinese firm that specialises in publishing foreign mobile games in China to release a localised version of the title in China.

Kananen said that the firm will continue to emphasise creativity with the Ferdinand project.

"Creativity will still be visible in areas such as the game mechanism. We have been given quite a free hand to try new things and innovate. Now that we have a major studio partner and financiers on board, we have the possibility to try and push the envelope," Kananen noted.

The small firm is not resting on its laurels with the current deal, but is actively prospecting for more cooperation projects.

"We will continue to be in contact with big movie companies and TV channels. We have several negotiations going on and it is likely that more announcements will come."

Kananen said he believes that Koukoi’s success will in the long run reap rewards for the entire game community in Oulu.

"Oulu startups cooperate with Silicon Valley in the US, one of the best cooperation models. It doesn’t need more than few firms to make a breakthrough and that will certainly promote the Finnish game industry," he noted.