With us today at The Switch Effect is Mikael Forslind, PR & Marketing Manager for Zoink Games. Zoink Games is an independent Swedish-based game developer studio made up of a talented team of individuals who create gaming experiences rich in story-telling, visuals, and memorable characters. Having started in 2001 by Klaus Lyngeled, the studio has produced titles over multiple platforms, including: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, XBOX One, iOS, Android, Wii U, and PC. With the recent release of Stick it to the Man! and the announcement of Fe and Flipping Death scheduled to release on the Nintendo Switch, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about this innovative company.
Mikael, thank you for speaking with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Why of course, I’m the marketing dude over at Zoink Games. I also do all the publishing work for the games we self-publish. I often say that I do everything at Zoink the developers are too busy to think of.
Can you tell us about how you got into the gaming industry?
I worked many years as a manager for a retail store but I wanted to move on to the gaming industry so I decided I wanted a job at Nintendo. I applied for a job there with a very creative job application (in the form of a Nintendo Magazine). Unfortunately I didn’t get a job and I was really disappointed. I realized I needed an education in marketing and business so I went to school for a few years and after that I landed an internship at another game studio called Image & Form (the SteamWorld games) and that eventually led to my job as a PR & Marketing Manager at Zoink Games. I really like it here and I don’t regret not getting a job at Nintendo. I was even offered a job there just recently which I turned down. That felt really cool, to be able to reach your goals like that.
What was the first console and game that you owned?
I’m so old I can’t really remember for sure but I think it was the first Nintendo 8-bit back when it came out. My dad had his own company and he used to import Asian toys that he sold in his store. And one day he brought home a Famicom. I remember having one of those 52-in-1 cartridges and my sister and I used to play Super Mario Bros. and lots of other fun games.
Do you have any fond childhood memories based around gaming?
Lots! Like many other in the gaming industry my whole childhood up until I was around 20 years old revolved around video games. I had all the Nintendo consoles, a Commodore 64, an Amiga, etc. One of my fondest memories was playing all the Sierra text games on my Amiga. It was kind of difficult for us being Swedish trying to find all the right words to type so we used to have a dictionary with us every time we played and we’d look up English words when we needed. Every now and then we had to ask our English teacher for words and one word I remember being extra hard was “icicle”. Even now, almost 20 years later I can spell it, but I’m not sure I can pronounce it.
Let’s jump forward a bit. How did Zoink Games come to be?
Zoink was started back in 2001 by our CEO Klaus who wanted to make his own games while working at another studio. He left and started Zoink and the first game that was made was Kore Gang that came out on the original Wii. Then for a few years Zoink made different web projects, mobile apps and websites before starting on our break-out title Stick It to The Man that we released in 2013. The success of that game led to a whole new era for Zoink where we decided to mainly focus on console and computer games so we made and released Zombie Vikings and now we’re working on new exciting titles.
Words cannot describe how excited we are for your upcoming titles, although we’ll do our best. With a number of titles headed for the Nintendo Switch, can you share with us the process for creating games such as Fe, Flipping Death, and Stick it to the Man!?
Zoink is a very story-driven company and we’re always trying to come up with new and creative ways to make games. That’s why you never see us making sequels to our games. We always want to come up with new funny stories to tell and fun game mechanics to implement. Fe, Flipping Death and Stick It to The Man spans over almost six years so it’s hard to summarize them all in just a few sentences. But normally the way it works is that our CEO and our creative directors come up with an idea that has both a story and a fun mechanic and we prototype it and if that works we make a game out of it.
As you’re aware, technology continues to advance the gaming industry. Have you been a fan of these changes?
To be honest, not really. I normally just play single-player games like I’ve always have. I don’t really care about upgrading my PC or my consoles to the latest hardware. Or stuff like user acquisition, in-game purchases and loot boxes. For every day that passes I move more into retro games I feel, maybe it’s just me getting old, but I’m so happy Zoink makes single-player games with focus on comedy, telling a story and fun gameplay.
Where do you think technology will bring us in the future?
We will all fly with our hover boards playing the new Super Mario on our VR lenses on our eyes.
We at The Switch Effect are obviously big fans of Nintendo’s new console. What are your impressions of the Switch?
I like it. I have all the modern consoles so I play different games on the different consoles and I’ve played a lot on my Switch. Being a Nintendo fan I think it’s great they have such a well appreciated console out right now. Let’s hope the hype stays around for a few years and Nintendo keeps on releasing quality games.
Did you experience any new challenges or opportunities with bringing your titles over to the Nintendo Switch?
Porting has been pretty straight-forward from the start. So far we’ve released one out of our three games heading to the Switch and it was by far the best version we’ve done in regards to performance. Since we’re using a game engine called Unity and we’ve been using that engine for long we’re pretty experienced in releasing games on multiple platforms. Both Fe and Flipping Death runs really well and we’re just super excited to release them next year.
Which new games are you looking forward to the most (besides yours of course, haha)?
I’d say Hollow Knight. I’m a huge fan of Metroidvania platform games and this game looks absolutely brilliant.
Last question now that I’ve run you through the gauntlet. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Once when me and a co-worker from Zoink was outside throwing away some glass to recycling we saw this giant duck lurking around the recycling bin. Since it was blocking the way, I wanted to scare the duck away so I rushed a little towards the duck while shouting loudly. The duck got so scared he defecated and me and my co-worker laughed because it was so surprising to see. But at the end of the day I felt bad for the duck because It wasn’t my intention to scare it and I hope he or she got over it and is in a happy place today.
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with The Switch Effect and for our readers to learn more about Zoink Games and especially FE, Flipping Death, and Stick it to the Man!