‘We want to share great games, some fun, and sometimes a message’ – Kristian Hassall, Commercial Manager, Blue Guru Games.
For the next interview in our GMBLRS Spotlight Series, we managed to grab some time from the friendly team at Blue Guru Games, a brand new studio buzzing with activity for the debut of their first-ever creation. The Nemean Lion is out now, and we firmly believe that Blue Guru Games is one developer to watch in 2022.
As a member of a select worldwide team with a wealth of industry know-how and years of iGaming experience, Kristian Hassall, Commercial Manager, talks to us about the company, the possible spiritual connection and the start of their mystical journey towards slotting perfection.
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GMBLRS: Let’s begin with a bit about your role and the team at Blue Guru games. How was the company formed, and where does the team hail from?
Kristian: After years of working on the operator side and with bespoke games, it’s natural to want to create your own games, I think. The opportunity arose a few times, but this time everything aligned, and with the backing of LeoVentures, Blue Guru Games was born.
We’re a tight group, and we’ve all worked together previously or know each other socially as we’re in Malta. We started in 2021, and within a few months, we’d acquired a full studio team and now have dedicated content partners in the EU, Asia and UK.
GMBLRS: Your website speaks of inspiration for the Blue Guru from the Himalayas and The Beatles. There is a mention of the artwork on Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club, Mahavatar Babaji, psychedelic experiences and a closing wish of peace and luck. Andy, Blue Guru CEO, lists meditation and spirituality in his bio. How much will these influences affect the world of Blue Guru and the content for players? Does a day at Blue Guru start with meditation instead of brainstorming?
Kristian: It’s important to align your brand with your values and things that are important to you. We don’t start the day with meditation, although Andy definitely does. We all love The Beatles, and we care about the same issues.
That will be reflected in the brand and our approach to everything – as a small example, our Merchandise is all aimed at helping people take some time to chill and de-stress – we think there are enough hoodies out there anyway.
There’s no religious message or affiliation with the Blue Guru, he’s more a representation of the need for us all to slow down, take time to look after ourselves and our values, and if it does inspire anyone to take up meditation or self-reflection that would be amazing.
Getting the inspiration really deeply into the games will take time, and we have to start sensibly with a broader approach, but in a short while, you’ll see games that are very much identifiable as Blue Guru creations. We don’t court controversy, we’re not here to shock – we want to share great games, some fun, and sometimes a message – or at least a topic that warrants further exploration.
GMBLRS: What do you want Blue Guru to be known for, as in what kind of personality are you looking to inject into your titles and the kind of experience players can look forward to playing Blue Guru games?
Kristian: We’ll be covering themes that aren’t really explored much elsewhere in games, really interesting themes which will sometimes contain a message and often contain a fascinating story that’s worth a follow-up.
In looking at brands to compare and aspire to, we landed on Ben and Jerry’s – it’s a major international company owned by a huge concern, but it was founded on strong values and has an ethos that still continues and resonates with a lot of their customers.
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GMBLRS: How do you go from day one as a start-up to releasing a game like The Nemean Lion?
Kristian: The thing about your initial releases is that you have high hopes, and you want to make a splash, but you’re not going to nail it right away. In this case, we have a very strong game. As a first game, it’s something to be proud of, but we know that we haven’t fully hit stride. It will take 3 or 4 releases before we start to really release what we’re capable of.
GMBLRS: Creating your first title must be quite exciting and, at the same time, a bit daunting. How was that experience, from deciding the story of Hercules’ first trial is the debut theme to settling on things like volatility and which game mechanics to use?
Kristian: There was a lot of back and forth. We had to balance the desire to be on brand and innovative with the need to play it somewhat safe initially. We love the theme, it’s a little more obvious than many future themes, but it’s a great story. We chose to make the characters a little cartoony to lighten the theme a bit, and we spent a lot of time with our audio partners to ensure we have the right feel and instruments and to build our future audio framework.
GMBLRS: For 2022, do you have a heavy schedule of releases, finding your feet, or just basking in the new company glow and taking your time with each release?
Kristian: We have an aggressive roadmap. We want to get our content out there, build some brand recognition and get some feedback on what the players want from us. We may adapt our approach based on feedback, but for 2022 the goal is to hit multiple markets with at least one game per month. Coming via Relax Gaming’s Silver Bullet Platform and Oryx BlueHorn, we have great routes to market, and we’ll have the US very soon.
GMBLRS: Can you give players a snapshot of what to expect in your upcoming games, Octopus Armada, Curse of the Mummies, and Clash of the Seraphim?
Kristian: Sure, I think they illustrate the breadth we have in terms of styles and themes.
Octopus Armada is a light-hearted cartoon style with a nod to 50s B-movies. It was inspired by the story of a team of respected scientists putting forward the idea that Octopuses could be evidence of Panspermia – and may, in fact, be alien lifeforms. We had some fun with that.
Curse of the Mummies is a great production, it’s a really nice game with multiple Bonus Buy options and a great atmosphere – again, it’s a more obvious theme that you can expect in future releases, it’s our first Relax release, and we have good expectations.
Clash of the Seraphim is a grid slot based on the battle between the Seraphim and the Fallen Angels in the Old Testament. It’s a great story, gives some nice graphical options and shows the direction we’re heading in.
GMBLRS: What kind of game developer is in the dream for Blue Guru? Is there a spot in the market you want to take or a game studio you look at and imagine Blue Guru competing with for Game of the Year accolades?
Kristian: We want players to be entertained, of course, but we’d also like to pique their interest and curiosity about the topics we cover. There’s a position in the market for a positive, non-controversial game provider with good ethical values – that’s the position we see ourselves in.
GMBLRS: How do you plan to differentiate Blue Guru from other game developers in a highly competitive market?
Kristian: By being different and by offering a different approach entirely when it comes to branding and topics. Of course, success comes down to how good the games are, but we aim to offer the type of games and reflect the types of values that we do ourselves.
GMBLRS: Some developers have found success borrowing or licencing mechanics such as Megaways, any plans to work with other studios or borrow some proven game mechanics to toy with?
Kristian: We may do some games using third party mechanics as part of our deals with Oryx and Relax, but it won’t be a focus for us. We’re working on two brand new mechanics – the first should be released in late Summer.
GMBLRS: Lastly, in three words, sum up Blue Guru Games?
Kristian: Can I have 4? Games for grown-ups!
So there you have it, a talented collective, fans of The Beatles and ethical values, starting on the long and winding road to sharing great games with an occasional message and stories to chill and de-stress built on a bedrock of fun.
Check out The Nemean Lion from Blue Guru Games, available to play today.