Circle of Sumo, Best Multiplayer Game — Casual Connect 2018

Of luck, growth and videogames

This year in Belka we invested in a new direction: videogames. This is the story of a lot of coincidences, luck, new friends, a trip to China and the “Best Multiplayer Game” prize.

I'm writing this article now, because I still have the amazing feeling of things clicking together at the perfect moment.

This morning I woke up and I received a message from Pietro on WeChat:

“We won! The prize is 10K credits for Photon, the multiplayer platform we considered buying, but weren’t sure if we could fit it into the budget! I can’t believe it!!”

Pietro is currently in Shenzhen, the farthest place Belka — the company I co-founded — has ever been!

Our story is pretty simple: I started working with my partners together at the university, then tried to start a product startup, failed and pivoted to consultancy, but willing to switch to product as soon as we saw something interesting. This was the year.

In fact this year we had enough people and enough funds to start building our first product: a videogame. We actually produced a videogame of another company called Yonder, which is also working with us on another project. But let's go with order.

Flashback, one year ago: Pietro is at the Milano Games Week, the most relevant videogame event in Italy, is meeting Giuseppe, one of the people of Yonder. They met by chance.

Pietro is telling Giuseppe about a prototype we are working at, called Flatcombat. It's just a game mechanic and not much more. Giuseppe has an intuition: a game Yonder was working at is very similar to Flatcombat. Why don't we join our forces? Turns out it's a good idea and we start working together on Flatcombat with Yonder, which we presented as an early apha at the next Milano Games Week, one year later!

That's the "one year later" photo

In the meantime we produced their second game: Circle of Sumo, a local multiplayer party game for Nintendo Switch. We helped them with the final touches and we are working on the promotion before the launch in a couple of days.

This is what happened if you read it from an history book. A couple of companies meeting, a joint venture, two games.

But what really amazes me is how the destiny, sometimes, just pushes you in the direction you decided to follow if you put yourself in the right moment and place.

One month ago we evaluated if we should take advantage of the invite we received for the Casual Connect in Shenzhen. They invited the Circle of Sumo team to present the game and meet publishers.

While the opportunity looked very interesting we had one simple issue: we are a bootstrapped company, and this project is completely backed by our revenues. So we had to decide: should we join the Casual Connect event, or save money? When you are not VC-funded this kind of choices are harder than ever.

Moreover, to add doubts to this decision we were evaluating a new networking platform for Hell is Others — which is great but very expensive for our pockets — called Photon. But I'll come back to this in a moment.

In the end we followed our heart: let's go to China! 🇨🇳

Flash forward, a month later: Pietro and Giuseppe are drinking a beer together in Shenzhen. Circle of Sumo, the game from Yonder we produced just won the Best Multiplayer Game prize!

I can't explain how lucky I feel right now. The first prize—I know it sounds unbelievable even to me—is a license for Photon.

Giuseppe and his winning face

So what's the matter with this story? Well, a simple old concept: luck is not something you can produce, but be sure to put yourself in the position of receiving it, you could be surprised by life anytime.