Copyright Tina Krohn Photography

Berlin is never a hard sale

Chris O'Kelly, Managing Director Devsisters Europe GmbH

Devsisters is an internationally operating game developer headquartered in Seoul. They opened up their new branch in Berlin in 2023, extending their outreach from North America and Asia to Europe. We talked to Managing Director Chris O'Kelly about their mission for Europe, their successful Cookie Run franchise and Berlin's games industry ecosystem.

With branches in the USA, Korea, Taiwan and Japan, why was Berlin the next logical step for DevSisters?

After having had success expanding in other territories we felt the time was right to try to set us up for success in Europe as well. There is a major benefit in serving our audience in their language and in their time zone to make our games an even more authentic, enjoyable experience. When you think of Europe, Berlin will automatically come up within the first connotations. For us it was a natural choice.

What’s your mission for Europe?

We want to grow our audience over here healthily and steadily. The Cookie Run brand has been well received wherever we introduced it to a receptive player base which is what we are set to do over here. We believe the time is right to turn our attention to the European market. We want to establish Devsisters and subsidiaries as household names for high quality, truly fun gaming experiences. Outside of our popular Cookie Run brand, we have a strong line-up of different titles across platforms for this year. Many of these have been developed with a Western audience in mind and hence we are excited to present these on the continent over the course of 2023. We hope to synergize with our US team to expand our potential together for the Western market.

With DevSisters Ventures you invest in emerging businesses and talents. What does a startup need to bring to the table for you to place an investment and what can venture capital do that regional or national funding cannot?

Without wanting to sound too generic, we look for ideas outside the box or creative approaches to a common idea. As you might have seen, Ventures is not only involved in gaming projects but also health care, marketplaces, services, etc. but anything really that we believe will strive with their take on a particular concept. We also believe we can add value by connecting businesses within Ventures in order to synergize as much as wanted. Many of these businesses have faced challenges and made experiences along the way that they can valuably share among each other to learn from.

How are your core values reflected in your daily work?

It influences the way we come up with game ideas, it influences the way we develop our games, it is vital for our hiring philosophy and ultimately the way we like to treat our players. With honesty, integrity and respect. We are genuine and candid team players that love a challenge and don’t shy away going the extra mile to achieve a goal. I can honestly say that I have never come across a company that lived up to their core principles like Devsisters.

You create games for anyone, for anywhere, for anytime. What can we expect in the future?

Our line-up for 2023 has us super excited because it stays so true to your statement. We expanded our Cookie run IP into a casual arena brawler for mobile, console and PC which we are very excited about during 2023 - we have a side scrolling action shooter coming out this month on PC and console in March in fact - and we will surprise even more with a few new spins on genres until end of this year on Mobile.

Please tell us more about the Cookie Run franchise and what makes it popular with such a large audience.

The Cookie Run franchise, which includes Cookie Run: Kingdom and Cookie Run: OvenBreak, has more than 200 million global players. Also Cookie Run: Kingdom won the People's Choice at the Mobile Game Awards hosted by global gaming media Pocket Gamer which we are very proud of. We believe our storytelling resonates well with a global audience and meets the zeitgeist.

Cookie Run will always be our core identification. The company's journey is reflected in the Cookie Run lore which centres around taking fate in your own hand, being bold to finding your own way, overcoming struggles, celebrating good times and the friends we make along the way - much like in our lives probably. Important to note though, that it doesn’t limit us in experimenting with other game, genre or IP ideas but it defines who we are and where we came from.

In Berlin, you gained experience at DECA Games, Huuuge Games, NEXON and Kabam. How would you rate the city’s games industry ecosystem?

I consider myself a Berliner by now even though I am not from here. My reason for staying here for 15 years by now is private as much as professional. Berlin has so much to offer in regards to lifestyle, quality of life and diversity and you can affordably pick and choose what suits your current demands best. This is true in private life as in business. It was able to establish itself as hub for a vibrant, creative start-up scene. Gaming is able to benefit from that in particular, to have a great scene of developers and creatives at hand. And even if there is a need to import outside talent, Berlin is never a hard sale - being open, innovative and still economical.

Last but not least we enjoy a lot of support from institutions such as medianet berlinbrandenburg e.V., that constantly offer help and connect like minded people to set them up for a smooth start and hopefully a successful journey.