“When I was 14, my dad bought me a PlayStation. I was not a big fan until I discovered Final Fantasy VII by Squaresoft (now Square Enix). I played this game for months, and when I was done with it, I said to myself, ‘One day, I will make a video game on my own.’ And I did.” Nicolas Beuvin, Managing Director and Co-Founder at Nautilus Mobile App Pvt. Ltd.
Entrepreneurship can happen to people in many ways. Some fall in love with a spontaneous idea, some are determined to solve a problem, while others may get attracted by a lucrative market opportunity or want to create something which they can call their own. For Nicolas Beuvin, a native of Lille, in the North of France, entrepreneurship came in the form of a dream to ‘make his own game’, and he started Nautilus Mobile App Pvt. Ltd in March this year. It is a mobile gaming studio based in Hyderabad. They have launched their first game, ‘Song of Swords’, a role-playing game with a dwarf queen as the protagonist.
Nicolas discovered the professional world at 14, in one of his friend’s father’s company. He thinks he caught the ‘entrepreneurial bug’ there. He made his first business plan at an age of 16 where he proposed to start a website for a relative’s company to sell its products online. Nicolas reveals that it was rejected, but he enjoyed the exercise.
He started his first company at 20 with two of his college friends at French Grande Ecole (ESSCA), France. It was a services company that didn’t work out and they shut it down after a year. He finished his graduation and started an online trading website, which was also shut down after a few months. Nicolas believes that all these failures taught him humility and that he needed more experience. He joined a bunch of companies in trading, retail and IT in the coming five years where he had a chance to work with experienced people. He moved to India three years ago. “There was no more room for creativity and experimentation left in Europe. It was not fun to work there anymore,” says Nicolas. He jokes that he prefers the tropical weather where he ‘can work in shorts and slippers’.
He worked for Gameloft in Hyderabad for two years. During his free time, he started working on a few personal projects. The studio was suddenly closed in February. Nicolas saw a big opportunity in it. “Three hundred and fifty people were suddenly available for hiring. I jumped at the opportunity, gathered some money from some investors and hired the five best guys. Only three days after the studio shut down, we were in my bedroom, with brand new PCs, and we started working on ‘Song of Swords’,” says Nicolas. Even now, they are a very small team comprising of one project coordinator, one designer, two artists, an animator, three developers and one business development executive.
Nicolas chose to launch ‘Song of Swords’ on Blackberry instead of other popular platforms. He explains his rationale saying, “Blackberry users are mostly mature, highly educated and are a very demanding audience. If the product is not good, they complain about it. Even if the game is good, they still complain. They give you a 5 star review only if a game is perfect. We decided to go on Blackberry 10 to test our game before going on bigger platforms. We used the reviews to refine and improve the game. We updated ‘Song of Swords’ 17 times in two months.”
At present, it is number three on the Blackberry top 10 charts. “We are in the list with a lot of big competitors like ROVIO, Chillingo, Electronic Arts etc. All the other games in the top 10 are from Europe, US, or Japan. It makes me proud.” The iOS and Windows Phone versions are almost ready and they are targeting to launch it soon
Nicolas is of the view that mobile gaming industry in India is full of talent but it is not always put to the best use. He adds, “I wanted to prove that India can produce high-end, complex, and innovative quality games, and not only ‘tic tac toe’ rip offs. I hope mobile gaming industry in India realizes that talent is available locally and we can start competing with the big players in US or Japan.”
They have not zeroed in on the best monetization model yet and are still testing and iterating. Nicolas knows that it is a complex issue. He says, “It is very difficult to foresee the trends. Even the big studios do not stick to one model. They change their monetization models often. It indicates to me that nobody is certain of what to do regarding this.” Being the players in the role-playing games development, local competition is not too much. But they have quite a few international competitors including Japanese, Americans, and a few European studios.
Nautilus was also one of the top 11 mobile ventures that presented at MobileSparks 2013. Watch the Nautilus Mobile Demo at MobileSparks2013