Q&A: Ninja Kiwi founders Chris & Stephen reflect on one year as part of MTG

Q&A: Ninja Kiwi founders Chris & Stephen reflect on one year as part of MTG

It’s been just over a year since Ninja Kiwi, the New Zealand-based studio behind the powerhouse Bloons franchise and a host of other successful titles, joined the MTG family. We sat down with Chris and Stephen, the company’s co-founders, to discuss what that journey has been like for them, their top tips for founders in a similar position, and what they’re excited about in the world of gaming. 

Q: Chris, Stephen, it’s been just over a year since Ninja Kiwi became part of MTG. What has that journey been like for you as founders? 

Chris: Very much business as usual in most areas. There has been quite a bit of extra work in the finance,accounting and compliance space but this was expected as we joined a listed company with much more stringent reporting requirements than we had historically. 

Stephen: I have also really enjoyed feeling like a part of something larger. Getting to meet and chat to some of the other founders across the group has been great. 

What would you say have been the biggest changes to your daily life as part of an international group?

Chris: I think just adjusting to time zones. We’re such a global group, trying to get anything scheduled can be a challenge… 

Stephen: Agreed. Plus, Covid-19 travel restrictions mean we haven’t been able to meet anyone in person yet, which is a shame. But on the whole, the day to day really doesn’t feel that different. 

Have your ways of working as a team changed? For example, when it comes to game development, in-game events, special content or community engagement?

Stephen: Not really, to be honest! Our team has always been great at building fun games and dedicated engaged fan communities. That said, we’re always looking to improve and are looking forward to learning more from the free to play experts in the group.

Chris: We’re doing some collaborative work with other companies in the group, particularly in areas where we don’t have much experience, which is great. Hopefully we’ll get some synergies going there that will help us make our games stronger and reach more people.

What’s been the best thing about joining MTG? 

Chris: As a founder, it’s really gratifying to know that the company we’ve been building over 15 years will not only live on for a long time but continue to grow stronger. MTG really does feel like a dream fit for Ninja Kiwi. I’m proud that we’ve been able to secure such a strong future for our people, our players and our games.

Stephen: I think Chris summed it up perfectly.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourselves one year ago, what would that be? 

Chris: Hurry up and close the deal, it’s going to work out fine!

Stephen: ​​There was definitely a learning curve involved in executing the sales agreement. These things can go late into the night and require both a certain level of patience and persistence. There are a lot of people involved and it can feel like things are dragging on at times. It may almost be worth going to bed and setting an alarm for when you’re needed.  

What are you most excited about right now at Ninja Kiwi? 

Chris: Our flagship game Bloons TD6 continues to delight and surprise everyone that touches it. We’re super happy that our continued updates are gladly received throughout the year. From my own close contact with fans, it’s amazing to see the continued excitement and joy that they have for the game.

Stephen: I am also excited to see some of our people growing and maturing into more senior roles. That’s really rewarding. 

When you look more broadly at what’s going on in the wider industry, what are some of the key game and player trends you’re seeing?

Chris: To be honest, we spend most of our time focused on our own work. That being said I am interested to see how the NFT space plays out in gaming over the next couple of years.

Stephen: I am interested to see how user acquisition continues to be profitable for businesses in the face of so much competition and possible regulation.

If you had to pick a mobile game for your commute (not one of yours), what are you playing?  

Chris: Probably one of the half-dozen Wordle-like games that I dip into daily at the moment.

Stephen: Does duolingo count? Haha. For a pure game, probably something by Supercell.