When Cut the Rope launched for iOS in 2010, developer Zeptolab had exactly two employees: twin brothers Efim and Semyon Voinov.
Today, the Moscow-based developer has nearly 60 employees spanning three continents. Cut the Rope is available on multiple platforms, and they told Polygon that it recently passed the 300 million download mark. By the end of the year, Zeptolab plans on releasing four new games, beginning with a new Cut the Rope-related game in April.
Polygon spoke to the brothers Voinov at GDC 2013 about the studio's past, future and how they've coped with a magnitude of success they didn't foresee by staying focused.
"Our plan is to release four games this year," Semyon said. "Some of them are related to Cut the Rope, and some of them are completely different. We wanted to keep this healthy balance, because Cut the Rope is our baby, and we want it to grow, obviously. But also we want to do new things — new babies," he says with a laugh.
Efim credits the studio's expansion with its decision to branch out beyond Cut the Rope, but says a focus on the studio's core competencies determines its decisions.
"We set the mark with Cut the Rope, and we don't want to drop it down."
"If we can summarize our philosophy, our understanding of what a gaming company should be," Efim said. "For us, it's quality. That's why we're very picky about who we get onboard, and we really want our company to be associated with quality. We set the mark with Cut the Rope, and we don't want to drop it down.
"We really don't want to become a company that releases tens or twenties of titles every year. We want to have several titles, but they should be good."
When asked if they've considered development beyond mobile — to consoles, for example — the brothers reiterate their focus: Their expertise is in mobile, the mobile market is "the fastest growing market," and that's where their focus remains.
"For our new titles, the first priority is always mobile and tablets," Efim said. "We'll see if it makes sense to go to other systems."
Mobile and tablet development is more than a financial decision. It also fits the brothers' development preferences.
Quality is Zeptolab's philosophy.
"It's not only a business decision to do mobile phones," Efrim said. "My motivation for creating mobile games is that in quite a short period of time, you can create something pretty cool and launch it digital everywhere and many eyes will see it. If you compare it to the AAA console games where I'd have to work on them for 3-4 years, and you're waiting for a cycle to be published, it's much more interesting to be in an agile cycle of development."
Most of the development and business team sits in Moscow alongside the twins, but they've expanded Zeptolab's reach to the U.K. and United States. We asked if they were prepared, given the game's popularity.
"Were we ready for success? We never really thought of such numbers."
The brothers have more success than they ever dreamed of, and they intend to stick around through focus, quality and deliberate expansion.