Earlier this year, Ubisoft acquired a majority stake in Berlin-based studio Kolibri Games. Following the success of various titles in the idle-game genre, such as Idle Miner Tycoon, Kolibri Games have decided to open a second studio in Bucharest, Romania to accommodate their expanding team. We chatted with Stefan Sovu, Head of Studio for the brand-new location, to find out more.
Can you tell us a little about Kolibri Games? Where did it all start?
Stefan Sovu: Kolibri Games started out as Fluffy Fairy Games, a collaboration between five students in Karlsruhe, Germany. It’s a city near the Western border with France, and was a fantastic place to start, but we soon realized that if the company was to expand it would need to move. In 2018, the decision was made to move the entire team to Berlin. Since those humble beginnings, our first game – Idle Miner Tycoon – has been downloaded over 100 million times, and we’re hoping to build on that momentum going forward.
How did you get to this point in your career?
SS: I am originally from Romania and studied computer science here in Bucharest. After graduating I went on to work at Bandai-Namco, and I got to do what I love on some amazing franchises, such as Pac-Man. But soon I wanted more, so I decided to start my own company. We began to work on idle games, and that’s when I fell in love with them. Our first game ended up being quite successful, and we sold it. Eventually, I began working at Kolibri, and here I am now opening our new location, back in Bucharest again.
What has it been like to open a new studio from the ground up?
SS: Honestly, it’s been everything I imagined and more – really great. I met the Kolibri founders back in 2017, and our relationship has grown stronger and stronger since. I always had the thought of opening a studio in Romania in the back of my mind, so when one of the co-CEOs, Daniel Stammler, came to me with the suggestion of leading the new Bucharest team, I was very enthusiastic. It’s an exciting opportunity, but I also have plenty to do, so I’m trying to keep my head down to get everything up and running. We still have a ways to go, but I’m very happy to be on the journey.
So you’ve come on this circular journey back to Romania; how does it feel to open up a studio on your home turf?
SS: Ever since I got into the mobile games business, I wanted to do something different, to contribute to the industry, and to reach millions of players. Being able to do that in my home country, and in a city that is very close to my heart, feels really amazing. The partnership between Kolibri and Ubisoft is really enabling us to do great things together, and I’m proud to be able to do them from my home country.
What philosophy do you have for leading your team?
SS: I truly believe that a company’s most important asset is its people. I want to create a healthy work environment with flexible schedules, where overtime is not the norm. Our workflow will reflect the new and innovative approach that Kolibri Games has championed, keeping the player first in mind while making fast decisions backed by solid data.
What size team will you be managing in Bucharest? What kind of profiles are you looking for?
SS: By next summer we’re looking to grow to about 50 “Kolibris”, what we call our team members. It’s ambitious and it reflects the company’s growth and commitment to the idle genre. In terms of profiles, we are looking for people who have a strong passion for mobile games and like to work in a fast-paced environment. Our core values are fundamental to us, and we believe in players, creating value for them, learning for them and for us, but most of all we believe in people. It’s not just about having the skill but fitting in with this culture of putting people first and growing together. We offer a great experience for candidates and there’s lots of opportunity for growth and learning.
What is your studio going to be working on? Can you give us a sneak preview?
SS: Our main goal is to expand our presence in the idle market. We’re working on expanding the Idle Miner Tycoon universe, while also experimenting with some new and different ideas, but we want to make sure the first game out of our studio is up to the high standard already set by Kolibri.
To apply for a position at Kolibri Games Bucharest, submit your application here, and keep an eye on Ubisoft News for more from the team at Kolibri.