It didn’t take Almir Brljak (Geographical Analysis ’16) long after graduation to discover what he wanted to spend his time doing. He had already started some minor ventures and was getting his feet wet in tech. “I had a friend who was looking for capital to start a VR company, and I was able to pour my own into the project so we didn’t have to look for investors.”
At the time, Brljak says VR capabilities were still in their infancy and he and his two co-founders saw an opportunity. “The market was still so niche, so the big players hadn’t caught on. And because we knew the tech very well and only saw the hardware getting better, we were able to conceptually plan.” Sinn Studio Inc. was born—a completely independent studio of three, with Brljak as the chief operating officer.
The nimble team worked together to launch three games before their big hit, Swordsman VR, reached the market in 2020, all of which saw only minimal return on investment and, as a result, their work nearly ground to a halt. “The revenue we were getting from these games was so minimal that it wasn’t covering the operating expenses. That’s difficult for a person in their early 20s because there’s a lot of life to be lived thereafter, and I was starting to think I worked so hard for the first five years of my 20s and it could be for nothing.”
Leveling up for gaming success
The day the team launched Swordsman VR, they were completely out of funds and the game was their last ditch effort to break out among heavy-hitting competitors like Star Wars or The Walking Dead.
To market the game, the trio used alternative routes like connecting with smaller influencers and building relationships with players through the platform Discord. “We had to get scrappy because we didn’t have the marketing resources or industry connections that these big studios have.”
But all their efforts paid off. “When we first started off, our goal was to be in the top 10 selling games on PlayStation. In early 2021, we became the third best selling game in North America. It was huge for us to be third among studios that are backed by Silicon Valley venture funds and it puts Canada on the map in the field.” Owing to the game’s success, Brljak and his co-founders continue to grow their team, now with over 10 full-time staff. “We only want to get bigger and better.”