10 years of Subway Surfing: SYBO insists on constant development

10 years of Subway Surfing: SYBO insists on constant development

Photo: Lars Just.

It has been 10 years since SYBOreleased their mobile smash hit Subway Surfers. The company has grown and matured tremendously since, but SYBO still manages to stay creative and convince the best talents to join their journey.

Sponsored: This article is made in collaboration with SYBO.

The Copenhagen-based game studio SYBO hit a clean home run when they released the game Subway Surfers almost 10 years ago. Since then, it has been played on billions of smartphones around the globe – a long journey that has grown and streamlined the company.

“You could say that in the first years we were infinitely creative – in many different directions. Since then, there has been a more strategic direction, so the tree has been trimmed to grow upwards instead of just sprouting outwards,” Mathias Gredal Nørvig, CEO of SYBO, says.

However, it has been important to him to stick to the original company culture while growing. SYBO’s core values anno 2022 originate from the studio’s infant years; including the company’s views on creativity and quality. And to this day, SYBO is still trying to maintain the balance between wild creativity and targeted growth – budding and growing upwards.

“There is no secret formula. We have experimented in attempts to tread new paths, and we have made mistakes along the way, which have been wildly uncomfortable. But it is necessary if we want to reach our full potential,” Gredal Nørvig says.

More appealing than ever

Just because SYBO’s huge hit is 10 years old, it does not mean that the company is stalling – neither financially nor creatively. Subway Surfers is constantly evolving, it is still a viral hit after so many years, all the while the game studio is working on new, secret projects.
“We’re hiring like crazy, and we get some really talented people, who we manage to relocate to Denmark,” Gredal Nørvig says.

The fight for talent is global and insanely competitive. The mere fact that foreign developers move their families to Denmark to work at SYBO is a testament to the industry’s perception of the studio as an attractive workplace that is still pushing forwards.

“Even though we cannot compete with the big studios’ salaries, we still manage to attract the best because we are on this journey. There are many components to it, but I actually think that our culture is the decisive factor when the final choice has to be made,” Gredal Nørvig says.

Neverending evolution

In most companies, the journey from 10 to 140 employees means a journey from the Wild West to more organized operations. But even as SYBO has grown and matured, it is still a creative, young, and successful company that insists on innovating.

In practice, this means listening to feedback from employees as more of them join the journey. To listen closely to their games’ fans, on whom the studio is deeply dependent. About not being complacent just because you previously released the world’s most downloaded game.

“It is important that we don’t just let go because we think we are in control. We insist that we are not done developing as a company. The future is a moving target, and we are doing cool things – but we are not done and we don’t have all the answers. There is still a lot we learn on the fly,” Gredal Nørvig says.

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