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Nightmarket Games co-founders on rebranding and the legacy they’re taking forwar | Pocket Gamer.biz

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Nightmarket Games co-founders on rebranding and the legacy they're taking forwards

Epic Story Interactive has recently undergone a brand overhaul, changing their name and profile to Nightmarket Games. While the team and ownership remain the same, this change aims to symbolise growth and a new future vision.

To discuss the rebrand more, we caught up with chief operating officer Dennis Leong and chief creative officer Chad Greenway, both of whom are also co-founders of the company. We discussed the decisions behind the new name and what it means. We also touch on previous successes, with Nightmarket Games reaching over 100 million downloads across its portfolio, and what ambitions the team has for the future.


PocketGamer.biz: Epic Story Interactive is undergoing a big rebrand and will instead be known as Nightmarket Games. Could you tell us a little about the decision behind the rebranding and what this means going forward?

Dennis Leong and Chad Greenway: Our team started in 2009 as an internal digital media team for Nerd Corps Entertainment. Nerd Corps was acquired by DHX Media (now called WildBrain) in 2014, and our team stayed there until 2017 when we became independent as Epic Story Interactive. By that time, we had great experience and success developing and publishing games based on brands and IPs owned by Nerd Corps and WildBrain. Starting Epic Story Interactive gave us freedom to work with more brands and IPs, which we did with our first two games, Beyblade Burst Rivals and Ben 10 Heroes.

We wanted a new name and rebrand to represent our new identity while still acknowledging our long history as a team.

Dennis Leong and Chad Greenway

During the pandemic, we became a fully remote company, and with that came many changes to our culture. We rethought how we developed games, created new processes and operating procedures, and rebuilt our relationships with co-workers to survive new primary modes of communication that were very different from in-office work. We came out of it feeling like we’d grown up, so we wanted a new name and rebrand to represent our new identity while still acknowledging our long history as a team.

Part of that long history is that Nightmarket Games has crossed over the 100 million download mark across its portfolio; what has been key to this success? How do you feel about such a huge milestone?

We were excited to hit such a massive milestone for our games! We got here by working closely with strong brands and IPs that maximise our games’ organic downloads and engagement. I think brand owners like to work with us because we act as committed partners who extend their brand ecosystem through our games. Brand owners are building their brand’s reach across many engagement points, so they need to benefit from our partnership as much as we do. We must give them value! I think that’s what has been vital to our success. We understand brands well, we use our games to extend the brand experience with engaged fans, and we endear ourselves to the brand’s community.

We look for pockets where an audience isn’t being served. Brands make for great partnerships because they can make our games richer.

Dennis Leong and Chad Greenway

What can you tell us about the process behind starting a new game? What do you look for in a mobile gaming title? How do you stand out in such a competitive market?

There’s usually a kernel of curiosity that sparks a new game. Sometimes, we start with the brand partnership in place. Other times, we don’t, so partnership opportunities emerge as the game takes shape. Games based on brands do not have to be designed from the start with that brand in mind. Great games blend established ideas in new and novel ways. If we do have a brand partnership in place at the start, then it simply becomes part of the bounds of the sandbox in which we explore when developing a new game.

We look for pockets where an audience isn’t being served. Brands make for great partnerships because they can make our games richer. The player’s existing knowledge of a brand allows us to focus on entwining the gameplay and avoid moments of exposition that can feel out of place. We think this gives us an edge amongst the competition in the mobile space. It’s easier to get players’ attention on our game when they can draw on their personal experience with a brand. The pressure is on us to live up to their expectations for the brand and not make them feel like we’re mistreating the brand they love.

What do you look for when working with other IPs?

Nightmarket looks to partner with brands and IPs that create new fans while continuing to engage fans who have been with the brand for several years. Nostalgia is a vital factor in brand strength. I was a fan of many brands when I was a kid, and as a parent today, I am guilty of trying to push my own kids towards those brands, mainly because I’m familiar with them. I feel a sense of safety with them, and I also want to share some of my own childhood with my kids. But it’s important to not only look for existing evergreen IPs! We’re also looking at newer IPs that show signs of sticking with their audience as the audience grows up. Those are the next evergreen IPs.

And what comes next? What will get Nightmarket Games to the next big milestone? What goals or new releases are on the horizon?

500 million downloads is next! Growth has to be exponential, right? In all seriousness, we never planned to hit 100 million downloads. It’s nice a KPI to have, but our next big milestone is always our next game. Right now, that is TitanCrash, which enters soft launch in May. It’s a departure from the fast-paced match-3 games we made with Slugterra: Slug it Out 2 and Beyblade Burst Rivals, but we’re excited to show the world our take on mobile midcore strategy games.

The advice I would give to others in the mobile market is to aim for success but plan for a long road to success.

Dennis Leong and Chad Greenway

With such a success story, is there any advice you could offer to others in the mobile market during these challenging times?

Yeah, the game industry has been in a tough place for some time now. The advice I would give to others in the mobile market is to aim for success but plan for a long road to success. Successes are rarely overnight, even if they seem that way, so plan to survive as long as possible. You can’t plan on luck coming your way when you need it, but you should always be prepared to take full advantage of any luck that comes your way. Focus on the things within your control, and don’t waste energy on things that aren’t within your control.

And finally, what can we be on the lookout for from Nightmarket Games throughout 2024?

TitanCrash soft launches in May on mobile app stores! It’s not based on an existing brand, but we are taking a brand-centric approach to its development so it’s still in line with our company’s approach to games. Beyond that, we’ve got some other games prototyped that we will show at GDC and Gamescom, so we hope we can announce details about those games later this year.

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