Mundfish eyeing 24/7 game development cycle as Atomic Hearts hits 5 million players

Atomic Heart has reached its first milestone in terms of player numbers. This follows Mundfish’s recent comments about the studio’s future plans and approach to game development.

Atomic Heart developer Mundfish eyeing a 24/7 development cycle

Atomic Heart’s successful launch

Robert Bagratuni, CEO of Mundfish and game director of Atomic Heart, announced on March 21 that the game reached more than 5 million players in three weeks.

“Our team has worked hard since 2017 to create a project that delivers the ultimate gaming experience, and we are delighted to see that Atomic Heart has resonated with gamers worldwide,” he wrote.

It is worth noting that the 5 million includes both players who purchased Atomic Heart and those who played it on Game Pass. So it is unclear how many units the game has sold so far.

In a follow-up tweet, Bagratuni noted that Mundfish is now focused on improving Atomic Heart. The studio is also working on upcoming DLCs to the game, which should add new content and expand its story.

Launched on February 21, Atomic Heart received positive to mixed reviews from critics, with an average score of 75/100 on Metacritic. It peaked at 38,469 concurrent players on Steam, where it currently has an 86% rating based on more than 14,000 reviews.

Building a distributed team to develop games non-stop

Bagratuni and Evgenia Sedova, co-founder and CFO of Mundfish, shared more details about establishing partnerships with Microsoft, Tencent, and Nvidia, as well as the company’s business strategy in an interview with Durov’s Code published on March 16.

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:

  • The studio started discussing a Game Pass deal with Microsoft in 2020. According to Bagratuni, this is a “very correct strategy”, especially for a new IP, because it allows you to quickly reach millions of players.
  • Mundfish’s cooperation with Nvidia, which initially helped the team make an RTX demo back in 2018, motivated other investors to trust in the company;
  • “80% of Tencent’s investments are successful,” the studio’s founders said, adding that Mundfish couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such a partner;
  • Right now, the studio employs more than 100 people and plans to increase the number of employees to 300 over the next year;
  • For these purposes, Mundfish will open new offices in Amsterdam, Belgrade, and Singapore this year, in addition to its recently opened hub in Abu Dhabi.

One of the most ambiguous sections in the interview was when Bagratuni and Sedova mentioned that Mundfish’s goal is to “do 24-hour production, so that the development does not stop for a minute.” Out of context, this quote may indicate that the studio’s leaders encourage a crunch culture, forcing employees to work overtime to fulfill the company’s ambitions.

However, they were quick to elaborate: “Obviously, the only option that will not harm our employees’ health is a global distributed team. Some went to bed, others picked up from the latest checkpoint, so the process is taking no pauses.”

Bagratuni and Sedova noted that Mundfish now lacks more than 20 years of experience given that Western companies, which are now considered market leaders, started in the late 90s or early 2000s. So the studio needs to “constantly run forward and develop.”

As can be understood from the interview, Mundfish wants to achieve a 24/7 production cycle by building a large team distributed across various countries with different time zones. But other details about this strategy remain unclear.

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