By the looks of his LinkedIn profile, Christoffer Nilsson is nothing short of a true startup success story. Even before graduating from Lund University, Sweden, he had co-founded Atod AB and Keyfactor AB, both game-related companies. Chris went on to become CEO of Warthog Sweden, managing director of Eidos Studios, and has managed the development of 20+ commercial video game projects. Since 2009, he has been managing director of LocalizeDirect, currently developing localization tools for the games industry.
We reached out to hear more about Gridly, a new CMS for digital games that is now running in beta and recently drew a $1.1 million investment from IKEA Family Foundation and other venture capitalists.
Gridly aims to become a competitive CMS for multilingual game projects. How do you foresee distinguishing Gridly from other systems?
The main differentiator is that we built a headless CMS tailor-made for the games industry. There are great tools to help developers with version control of simple files, like for your 3D meshes and textures. Gridly manages structured data, say an in-app purchase object that requires a combination of data types such as a name, a price, an image showing the item, and a description that needs translation into multiple languages. Gridly can then give business analysts access to change the price, and have translators and proofreaders edit the target languages, as well as keep track if any translation needs to be updated due to changes in the source string.
What is behind Gridly’s focus on game localization?
We chose to build localization into Gridly at the core, as localization is such a key element in the update cycle of games. It is also very hard to manage with a conventional file-based version control system. Gridly actually version controls every single string separately, making it easy to roll back to an earlier version. For more than ten years, we’ve been offering a localization management system to game developers called LocDirect. Many of the best game developers in the world are using LocDirect. So with Gridly, we took all the learnings and best practices from LocDirect and built into Gridly.
Besides the games industry specialty, are you trying to focus on a specific geographic area with this new CMS?
No, we have clients in more than 60 countries, so it is a global product.
Will Gridly offer anything innovative with regards to workflow?
Yes, we’re making it very easy for developers to customize Gridly and set up their workflows. We also offer strong support for multi-step localization, where you may start translating from Chinese to English, and then from English, go global. We also have support for managing audio in the localization flow.
How was the connection made with Entreprenörinvest? What is their interest in the language or gaming industry?
We went out to look for a partner who could provide “smart money” and be part of our journey onward. About 12 months ago, we started discussions with Jan Andersson, who is on the board of directors of both Entreprenörinvest and Innovum Invest. Jan had previously founded and exited a large software company in our region, so he had been on our radar for quite a while. They liked the combination of being part of the growing game sector with a de-risked entity. One could say that we’re selling the shovels to the game gold-diggers.