December 29th, 2017
My Fellow Thieves, I am very happy that I can bring you an interview unlike any other I have done, today. I would like to welcome Semyon Voinov, co-founder of Zeptolab and creator of King of Thieves along with his brother Effim.
First off I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for the King of Thieves Community, which is unlike any other community that I know.
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Andrea Freund and to say I am an enthusiastic King of Thieves Player is probably an understatement. In February it will be a year that I have been made a watcher, and I have interviewed quite a few really good King of Thieves players, like Gad who arranged this interview.
Semyon: Thank you for this initiative, Andrea! I also would like to use this opportunity to give a big shout-out to all KoT watchers! We really appreciate all your effort, passion and care!
Andrea: You and your brother Efim are the founders of Zeptolab and creators of OmNom. How did you come up with the idea?
Semyon: Efim and I have been working on mobile games for around 7 years before we started ZeptoLab. Back then, games were pretty basic and meant mostly for java-based phones. The appearance of iPhone has changed the market drastically. In 2010 it became clear that iOS is a perfect opportunity for small developers, so we’ve decided to quit our jobs and start our own venture.
Our first game, “Parachute Ninja” was a moderate success. However, our second game, “Cut the Rope” went way beyond our expectations and became a worldwide hit. That allowed us to rent the office, start hiring more people, and eventually release new, even more ambitious projects.
Andrea: How difficult was it to get a company like Zeptolab started?
Semyon: I feel that getting the company started was actually easier than making it grow and adapt to the ever-changing market and audience. We knew how to make good games from the very beginning, but had zero experience in running the company – so we had lots of things to learn (and we still are learning).
Andrea: I happen to have 2 children myself, and they are as different as day and night. My daughter ist the artsy, creative one, and my son the logical one. They have worked together on some Geometry Dash levels. My daughter did the design, and my son had to make it work, lol. Is it the same with you and your brother?
Semyon: I always enjoyed drawing, so I naturally became a game artist. Efim has chosen a career path of a game programmer.
Of course, our roles have shifted quite much since we’ve started a company, but we still find joy in hands-on work: for example, I’ve worked on some of the art assets for the KoT (initial app icon, elements of interface, thief animations, etc.) and was involved in the game design quite a lot.
Andrea: Cut the rope, which I admit I have never played myself (only my children), is a very popular game with several versions already. Yet completely different from King of Thieves. What made you decide to launch a game where people all over the world steal from each other?
Semyon: While we’ve released many games in „Cut the Rope“ series, we are always interested in developing new original games, too. We are also big believers in multiplayer experience on mobile, so „King of Thieves“ was a perfect experiment in that field.
We actually had some debate whether it’s a good thing to release a game about stealing. But since everyone in KoT is stealing from each other – there are no villains and victims. It’s a kind of a national sport or fun activity for KoT world inhabitants.
Andrea: King of Thieves started as a spark, an idea, in someones head. How did it go on after that, to get to the point when it can actually be released? There had to be quite a few steps. Can you please give us a short description of that process?
Semyon: King of Thieves was born from the little prototype that everyone in the company fell in love with. We immediately recognized the potential, but it took another year to expand it into the very fist version of the game ready for a soft-launch. We had hundreds of brainstorms, playtests, experiments with the gameplay and the art style, technical challenges and so on and on. Developing games is hard! But it’s very rewarding to see millions of people enjoying what we create.
Andrea: A lot of the players I talk to say that it is the community around King of Thieves that keeps them playing. Here you have people of all different nationalities, races and religions playing together and helping each other. Have you personally ever experienced anything like this in any other online community?
Semyon: I totally agree that KoT community is amazing and unique! Being an artist, I’m especially impressed with the fan art that community members create!
Long time ago (even before „World of Warcraft“ was released), I’ve played a text-based MMORPG „Aladon“. Some of the players I met in that game, are still my friends – for 13 years and counting! So I certainly understand the value of community in the game, and how it affects our „real“ lifes.
Andrea: When Zeptolab created King of Thieves, did you think it would become this big?
Semyon: Yes, I did! From the very beginning I felt there’s something special about the game, and I just couldn’t wait to release it.
Andrea: A lot of the same players who play King of Thieves also play your newest game C.A.T.S, which you launched this year. Again, the idea of putting cats in tanks and let them fight each other is really funny. Do you think C.A.T.S. will get just as big as Cut the rope and King of Thieves?
Semyon: C.A.T.S. certainly had a very successful launch, and just recently earned the „Best Game of the Year“ award on Google Play. We have a solid plan for expanding the game, so I’m excited about the coming year!
Andrea: Have you and your brother also played all the games Zeptolab created, and which is your personal favorite?
Semyon: Of course, we play all our games! It’s really hard to pick the favorite one – just as if parents would be asked who is their favourite child
I think I’d mention Pudding Monsters here. It’s a charming little game that not many people know about.
Andrea: Do you have any other games planned? Will you give us a sneek preview?
Semyon: Sure, we do have new games in development! Just like with KoT and C.A.T.S. we’ll continue exploring the multiplayer genre. Unfortunately, I can’t share any additional details just yet.
Andrea: Now if you don’t mind I would like to get to know the person behind the games a little. How old are you Semyon, and where are your brother and you from?
Semyon: Efim and I are non-identical twins. We are 35 old, born in Moscow, Russia. My hobbies are theater, film-making, and drums. Efim’s latest hobby is moto trial, but he also enjoys martial arts, swimming, and playing guitar.
Andrea: It may sound strange, but this is the most important question in the entire interview, everybody in the community is waiting for this. What do you think about Pineapple on Pizza, and what is your favorite pizza topping?
Semyon: This is certainly an important question! Especially, since we get pizza delivered to the office two times a week My favourite pizza is Margherita. Pineapple is fine, but not exactly my type of topping.
Efim, however, asked to mention that Pineapple pizza is his favorite!
Andrea: When you’re not busy cooking up new games, what do you do to relax:
Semyon: Naturally, I play games quite often: not just on mobile, but also on my PS4. The latest game I’ve completed was Horizon Zero and it’s exceptional!
Oh, and I also have a dog called Eva - she’s a „Jack Russell Terrier“ breed. I enjoy walking with her and teaching her new tricks.
Andrea: And finally, as the end of the year is approaching, what are your wishes for the future?
Semyon: I’m really looking forward to the games we are planning to release next year, and I wish them to become super successful! I hope the KoT community will like them as well!
Andrea: Again, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to let us all get to know you.
Semyon: It’s been a pleasure! Thanks for the interesting and fun questions! Happy holidays!
I have to send out a very big Thank you to Gad Vered Kot, for helping me, I couldn't have done it without you 😘😘 and to my Daughter for drawing this beautiful picture especially for this interview