Sad Panda Studios believes that games can do more than just pass the time! Our company is on a mission to create fun, fascinating and intense games that surprise players and tug at their heartstrings. We hope that by engaging our player communities directly and fostering deep attachment to our roster of characters and experiences, we will succeed in standing out and making a name for ourselves for outstanding games and visual novels.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m the CEO and Founder of Sad Panda Studios (also the Art Director). I have 15+ years of experience in the Games Industry as an Artist, Producer and Designer.
- Previously a Senior Artist and Art Team Leader at Disney Online Studios Canada.
- Previously a Creative Lead /Art Director at Hyper Hippo Productions.
- Art featured throughout best-selling How-To-Draw Anime books (Random House).
- Concept artist for major IP holders, including Sanrio, Jagex, Funimation, and Disney.
What made me get into this line of work is a very good question! I have always enjoyed art, ever since I was first able to hold a pen as a baby. There weren’t any opportunities for me to do art for a living until Disney moved into town and bought Club Penguin, so I poured everything into my application, got hired as an artist there, and the rest is history!
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Gosh, I would tell myself not to take on so much. It’s very easy as a creative type to blow scope and try tackling all the things at once! But it just leads to burnout. Being both a business owner and artist working on the team, I tend to put in lots of overtime. So my advice to a younger me is to not worry about trying to do everything and focus more on a healthy work/life balance.
What problem does your business solve?
Our games provide positive, uplifting, and affordable entertainment to fans of Japanese animation.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
After having worked at a few large game studios for so long, I felt the growing desire to try my hand at making my own game. Luckily I had two very talented friends who were willing to take a chance with me, and together we built our first game – Crush Crush. When that game started doing numbers, we knew that it could grow into something bigger. So we formed Sad Panda Studios and gave ourselves the freedom to work on any projects we dreamed up!
What is your magic sauce?
Part of our magic sauce has to be our relationship with our audience. We really value our players and their feedback and do our best to keep that rapport. We’re quick to reply to support tickets and answer players’ questions, and we celebrate fanart from players and give special thanks to key fans who have really helped shape our games. We’ve got a great player base, and I think they appreciate how attentive we are to them. Unlike many larger game studios, we spend the time listening to our players, and I think that is really special.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
I would be really happy if we could release a new game every 2 years. There’s a special euphoria that comes with launching things, and it’s hard to describe. The anticipation of sharing this new idea with the world and seeing what people think of it; then getting the affirmation that it’s well-liked is such a surreal experience. I love creating things with my team, and I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Switching to a hybrid work from home/office rotation has been an interesting challenge for me personally. Our studio is fortunate that all of our employees are able to do their work from home, but I like the in-person collaboration. So that’s something I don’t get as much of these days, but the team is happy with the hybrid approach, and it’s worked out for us so far!
How can people get involved?
Our main games are Crush Crush and Blush Blush, which are both available to play for free on Steam and mobile. We’ve got our support email for anyone who wishes to reach out: [email protected]!