Following their recent launch of We Sing Encore, we sat down with Nordic Games’ Managing Director, Pelle Lundborg, and Sales & Marketing Director, Nik Blower, to find out more about them and what they have in store for us.
Thanks for agreeing to talk to us, why don’t we start with a bit of a back history of Nordic Games?
Pelle: Well, we’re a very young company, having only started out in 2008. We’re based in Karlstad, Sweden and our goal is to create great games at great prices. We’re probably best known for our Wii Karaoke franchise “We Sing”. We’ve been delighted with it’s huge success, particularly in PAL territories, and so we’ve been busy working on We Sing Encore, along side our other family of games, Dance Party, and other products which will be coming out soon, ever since!
As you said, We Sing was a huge success, why do you think it did so much better than it’s rivals in the space?
Nik: Well I guess it comes down to a couple of factors. The main ones being the pioneering ability to use & track 4 separate microphones simultaneously, the quality of the song selection we’ve got and the accuracy & speed of performance tracking. It’s also just a fun game that’s easy to use, and so a lot of people recommended it to their friends and that really built momentum quickly!
So, with it’s predecessor being such a success, how did you bring the game forward for the new “Encore” version?
Pelle: A key change we’ve made is using “localised” content, so every version of We Sing Encore, worldwide, has 30 tracks in common: the big international hits we all know and love; but in each region we’ve also added 10 tracks specific to that region. So in Australia for instance, the game features additional songs by Rolf Harris, like “Waltzing Matilda”, a real party favourite there. Also, for the German release, which is a very big market for us, we’ve bought in some specific German acts to give local audiences an opportunity to join in with songs in their own language, & inspired by their own national style.
Nik: We’ve also been involved with the community a lot: getting feedback on which tracks people wanted, what was popular at the moment, and deciding which “classics” we were going to put on there, as well as using this feedback to tweak and refine the user experience as much as possible.
Talking about feedback from the community, can you guys expand on the topic of downloadable content, a frequent community request?
Nik: Yes, that does come up a lot. As concerns downloadable songs for We Sing & We Sing Encore we are definitely pursuing this as we speak. Although the Wii offers many amazing usability features, DLC isn’t a huge strength of the Wii platform. Specifically, storage has always been an issue. Nintendo have obviously moved to improve this & we believe they are going to continue to do so, but in the meantime the amount of storage the average user has on their Wii does not really engender DLC at the moment. But we’re on it, and we’ll keep everyone posted!
So, other than DLC, were there any other particular technical challenges you faced this time round?
Pelle: Yes, we did have a few issues we wanted to address, particularly around console performance and video size / compression. When you have a title that is constantly playing video and sound whilst also having to analyse the performance of 4 different singers on the fly, you start to really push the hardware. But we’ve got some very clever people working with us, including Nintendo, so we’ve ended up with a game that makes it all look so easy!
Nik: Another hurdle we had to overcome was video & audio codec issues, I won’t bore you too much with detail, but suffice to say that we’ve made big improvements, which is partially why we can get 40 tracks onto a Wii disc instead of 30!
Pelle: Nik makes a good point, we had initially been working with Bink, but as great a codec as that is, we couldn’t quite get what we needed from it for this project, so we switched to Mobiclip on Nintendo’s recommendation, and that’s really worked for us.
Seems likes you’ve been busy! You mentioned working with Nintendo, how has this been for you guys?
Pelle: Amazing! We couldn’t have asked for anymore from Nintendo, they really facilitated the whole process, were very positive about it all and bought a lot of very useful expertise to the table.
Good news. So now that We Sing Encore is out there, what next for Nordic Games?
Nik: Well we have a Robbie Williams exclusive We Sing coming out in October this year, with 25 of the greatest hits from his solo career on there. Robbie is so popular globally that we are confident it’s going to appeal to lots of people out there. Pretty exciting project, he’s a huge star and he’s behind it all the way.
Pelle: Yes, that was quite a scoop we secured there, thanks to EMI! When you add that to the 3 driving games we are delivering to the Wii, and all the Dance Party work we’re doing, we really are quite busy!
As you’ve clearly got a lot going on at the moment, can you let slip any accidental scoops?
Pelle: I can’t tell you anything specific right now, but let’s just say that we are exploring other avenues when it comes to music games, who knows what we might bring out next?
Nik: Yeah, keep ‘um peeled music fans!
Thanks guys, and all the best with We Sing Encore, Robbie, Dance Party and your trio of driving games!
Nik: Thank you, we hope you enjoy the games, and give us plenty of feedback!
Pelle: Yes, if you enjoy them as much as we do you’ll have a blast!