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From modest hobby project to seven employees: Mads has sold 1 million copies of his new computer game


This post is also available in: Danish

It started as to pass the time and went on for 5-6 years, dedicating no more than an hour a day to it. Therefore, expectations were not high, to say the least, on the day in 2019 when Mads Skovgaard was to publish a video game for the first time ever.

“I didn’t think much about it. I just published it and saw what happened – but deep down, of course, I hoped that I could make a living from it,” Mads Skovgaard tells

After about a month, the first money started rolling into the account: “It wasn’t more than the SU that I was already living on, but at least it was money that I had earned myself.”

In 2020, the pandemic hit and Denmark shut down. But what for many was a period of stagnation and challenges, Mads saw as an opportunity for progress. It was a stepping stone, and with blood in his veins, he went full-time with what had been a hobby project for the last several years of his life.

The timing turned out to be “the perfect storm”, because when many people were walking around at home not knowing what to do with their time, a new game suddenly appeared on the world’s largest gaming platform Steam. Namely Necesse, which Mads Skovgaard is behind.

Mads describes the year as intense and hard, but also very rewarding, because even though he worked late into the night most days, he didn’t feel that it affected him physically or mentally.

“There was that first year when the corona hit Denmark, where I had absolutely no social life at all. I worked around the clock. But despite that, I had a good time and consider my journey to be a very good one. You hear of many people where problems with both physical and mental health come as a price for success, but that hasn’t been the case for me. On the other hand, in hindsight, I would say that it was very good to come down and sit at the Ideas Lab coworking space – it was good to try something different.”

Watch the game trailer here: Necesse

Success came in two stages

Mads Skovgaard's game Necesse

After the launch of the game, work not only intensified. It also became more complex. Whereas before it was all about game development, now there was also a market to consider.

December 20, 2021, is a date that stands out in Mads’ mind. This is where the first update of the game is released. This results in a “Steam boost” and with the few funds he had available, Mads starts an influencer marketing campaign. From here, things start to take off.

“This is when I took a step back for the first time and realized that this is actually pretty crazy. It was also at this point that I first asked myself a crucial question: “What was I going to do with all the success I was starting to have?”

It turned out to be good timing for Mads once again, as the following year, in 2023, he sold 640,000 copies of the game and was about to make some big decisions.

The childhood dream of a game studio

It was in the Ideas Lab coworking space that Mads discovered that there is valuable support and help to be found in a community. He mentions that the Danish gaming industry is developing rapidly, and sees particular inspiration in the Danish game studio Ghostship, which is behind the smash hit Deep Rock Galactic.

“The Danish gaming industry is super supportive and you don’t see each other as competitors at all. On the contrary, everyone is ready to lend a helping hand. Ghostship was one of the game studios that inspired me to fight and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In addition to all the backing and support Mads has received, he also attributes much of the success to the game’s unique selling point. It’s a sandbox action-adventure game where you are in charge of both a character and a city that must progress by fighting, finding resources, exploring, trading, fishing and much more.

“It’s not like World of Warcraft, for example, where it’s predefined what you have to do. The best way I can describe the gameplay off the top of my head is a combination of Minecraft and Rimworld.”

In June 2023, Mads Skovgaard hired his first intern and the dream of starting his own game studio began to take shape. Today, there are seven employees at Fair Games, but Mads is still reflecting on how to maximize his success and realize his dream of an even more dedicated game studio.

“Although the journey actually started in my room 10 years ago, it only really started to become a reality from 2.5 years ago, and I don’t think it needs to end here.”

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