SGA: This year you are celebrating 12 years of existence – congratulations! Top Eleven has been here for 11 years. It is a special challenge to improve the main product all this time so that it is always new and offers players something that they may not have known they needed. What new feature awaits Top Eleven players?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: Top Eleven is an evergreen football game manager, so since 2010 and its launch on Facebook, we have been continuously investing in making the game better by introducing new features and managing operations (LiveOps) to keep players happy, especially those who regularly have been playing Top Eleven for years. These are the main reasons why Top Eleven lasts for twelve years, and with the new feature, we believe that it will continue for the next twelve years.
Back in 2010, the matches in the Top Eleven game had only a text transmission, so in 2015 we added 2D matches as a natural sequence that is expected by all fans of the football manager genre. The highlight of the development of Top Eleven and the vision to enable our players to be football champions if they dedicate only 5-10 minutes of their time a day are 3D matches. Players share clips of their 3D matches on social media daily, happy to show how their teams scored a goal or play action according to their tactics, and it is a pleasure to watch our players recommend Top Eleven to their friends. These reactions from users only give me additional confidence that Top Eleven has entered a new era, and that it will be the main entertainment for football fans around the world for a long time to come.
SGA: What changes did the 3D match in Top Eleven bring?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: For the first time, our players can see their players on the field, as well as a reflection on their tactics and decisions through realistic football in 3D format. In addition to the visual changes, we worked on improving the engine itself to better reflect the choices of players on the field. Of course, players can change the course of the game during the match, because everything happens in real-time. We will continue to invest in the engine and the 3D match itself to constantly improve the experience of Top Eleven managers.
SGA: How did the development go from the moment you decided on this to the update? How much of the team was dedicated to this project and what are their expertise?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: Within the company, we have developed a football engine, as a result of many years of work of a selected team consisting of experts in the field of AI, animation, graphics, tool development, QA, design, art, and production. We wanted to make new technology and football engine from scratch, and also deliver the quality seen in world-famous games.
The team that developed the football engine also worked on its integration into Top Eleven together with the Top Eleven team consisting of product managers, project managers, game designers, designers, digital artists, system engineers, software engineers, and many others. If we look only at the football engine, only 20 people worked on it. On the other hand, integrating football engine technology into Top Eleven also required a lot of work and time to fully improve the user experience. All this was possible only through the constant interdisciplinary cooperation of teams within Nordeus, which is a feature of our culture.
Nordeus employees are our strength. We are really proud to be able to put Serbia on the world map of gaming and top technologies through our contribution to the development of the football engine.
SGA: Many products gravitate over time to simplify the game. How technically demanding was it to introduce such a change?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: The project of developing a football engine from scratch took a long time, and it only took months for that same engine to be integrated into the game through a feature 3D match. This type of feature is technically demanding to implement from a football engine into a single mobile game, although at first glance it seems like just a visual update of the matches that Top Eleven currently owns.
SGA: Listening to user needs is certainly a big part of the decision to work on this or that improvement of the gaming experience. Is the next big change already in development and how important is the role of the community manager in it?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: In the coming period we will continue to develop Top Eleven, user experience, and the football engine itself. The team is already working on the next changes in the game that will further enrich the experience of our managers. As before, the suggestions and complaints of our players serve as a window into the world of the Top Eleven community.
Just as creating an engine requires top engineers, or great game designers to make a game, running a great game requires product managers, community managers, and other positions within the marketing team that can compete in the world level. Our marketing team consists of, among other things, community managers and player support who are exclusively dedicated to monitoring the impulses of our players and who to some extent inform further decisions of Top Eleven development, of course, with the leadership of other marketing teams.
One of the reasons for the existence of Top Eleven on the mobile game market for twelve years is to monitor the impulses of our community and respond to their wishes and needs in a timely manner.
SGA: Unlike other mobile genres, manager games have been around for a very long time and it is a big challenge to keep them up to date. Whose task is this within the team?
Marko Jevtić, Game Lead: Being a constantly current mobile game within the football manager genre is the task of the Product Management team and the Product Marketing team who listen to the market and users together. We launched Top Eleven in 2010 only on Facebook, and in 2011 on other platforms. Top Eleven was one of the first games on Facebook and within three weeks we were profitable. At that time, there was strong competition among the already successful football games, and we built our advantage on listening to the players on social networks, what they actually want, and delivering it to them. I can say that the situation is similar this year. One of the main reasons for launching 3D matches is the Top Eleven community.
We are witnessing that entertainment is ubiquitous today, it is all around us, in our pockets, on TV, on a computer, on consoles, etc. This means that the competition for users’ leisure time is never greater. We are struggling to get the attention of our players in a market that is oversaturated, while it is important to offer them enough quality entertainment that will fill their free time, and at the same time bring profit to the company. Constantly balancing the need for profit that allows you to further invest in improving the game and the need to satisfy your customers is a task that Top Eleven and Nordeus have been successfully solving for twelve years.