Sophie Vo’s Voodoo Berlin is a game factory with a difference

 

There’s a team within Voodoo’s vast game-making empire that’s doing things its own way. 

It is led by former Gameloft, Wooga and Rovio game lead Sophie Vo, who started to build a team at Voodoo Berlin in the summer of 2019. It spent over a year working on merge puzzler Plantopia, the kind of game you might not expect from the hypercasual giant.

But its metrics weren’t quite hitting the mark, so the project was scrapped, and a new approach emerged. Vo and her Voodoo Berlin team pivoted hard into what you might call modular game development.

“What we’re doing is very specific to us,” Vo tells us. “We’ve changed our approach here to kill games earlier, and look at the most important metrics early, which are marketability and engagement. We adopted more of a hypercasual mindset, but not at the speed of a hypercasual team.”

Vo leads a team of 15, who are split into ‘squads’ who work on modules – bits of games that can be mixed and matched with others to make a whole.

Sophie Vo (bottom right) and her Voodoo Berlin team.

“We test a combination of elements of games, and not just for one game,” explains Vo. “With anything we build, we think of the modularity and versatility of it, that we can reuse and plug it into other games in the future.”

And so the more modular parts the team has at its disposal, the more possible combinations there are. “Maybe at the beginning we can test two ideas per month,” says Vo. “But the idea is that soon we can test four, five, six, ten per month, because we have this capacity to plug in and test different combinations.”

The first releases from the Voodoo Berlin production line are yet to hit app stores – but when they do, that same ruthless data-driven ethos applies to supporting the games that are out there, says Vo. “When we see that there’s some traction with something, we can start to develop more emotional attachment and create a longer lasting product around it.”

And even once those games are out in the wild, in that very Voodoo way, the team won’t ever settle. The modular squad system has only been operating for a couple of months – “and it might be quite different in three months or six months,” adds Vo. “We are permanently iterating a way of working.”