Serbia-based Nordeus may not be as big as EA, but that hasn’t stopped the developer’s game Top Eleven from surpassing FIFA Superstars as the most popular soccer game on Facebook. Since its release last May, the game has been steadily rising in popularity, and today commands over 4.5 million monthly active users. It’s also Nordeus’ only release since the developer was founded in 2009. Gamezebo spoke to CEO Branko Milutinovic to learn a bit more about the success of Top Eleven and what we can expect to see next from Nordeus.

Top Eleven is now the most played sports game on Facebook. Why do you think you managed to surpass such a popular brand like EA Sports’ FIFA Superstars?

In my eyes, the difference between Top Eleven and EA Sports FIFA Superstars, is that Top Eleven is inherently social in comparison. We’ve learnt a lot in the time since we launched the game in 2009, and have been adding more and more social aspects into what we now think is a really compelling and engaging game. That doesn’t mean to say we’re going to stop where we are though, of course.

Do you think that having a licensed sports game is important for success?

We’ve been able to reach the point we find ourselves in today without any licensing rights from the likes of FIFA, UEFA, and MLS. Other games (like EA Sports FIFA Superstars) have had licensing rights and do not have as many people playing the game.

It can add to a games aesthetics but our concentration on being social has been far more important for our success. It might also be difficult for us to add to the 4.5 million players we have on Top Eleven now. There would have to be thousands of Lionel Messis and Nemanja Vidics!

It’s something we might investigate in the future, but our main concern will always be gameplay before anything else.

Why do you think soccer management games have become so popular on social networks like Facebook? And what is it about Top Eleven that sets it apart?

We’ve always thought that a lot of social games weren’t complex or engaging enough, so we’ve worked hard to create a game that is more carefully thought through so that players can play to their own league of ability – making the game addictive for beginners and pros.

I think that soccer management games lend themselves to that theory of thinking, where players can really get involved in outcomes of the game that develop over time. It’s not just an instant hit of gameplay based around action, but something that has more longevity.

Typically social games tend to become less popular as time goes on and new games come out. But Top Eleven seems to be steadily growing. Why do you think this is?

We conduct a lot of research and continue to have a lot of interaction with our user base in polishing the feature set, which has really helped us keep the game compelling and evolve. Our users are also very passionate about Top Eleven (our MAU to DAU ratio is one of the highest in the world with a quarter of our players coming back and play the game daily), so once a player’s tried Top Eleven, they’re more likely to carry on playing.

What future plans do you have for the game?

In the coming few weeks, we’re hoping Top Eleven fans are going to be pleasantly surprised by what we have been focusing on developing for months. The game is going to evolve a lot. Unfortunately I can’t share many more details than that yet.

The only thing I can say at the moment is watch this space!

Do you have any other projects in the works in addition to Top Eleven?

Yes definitely but I can’t share many details yet…Nordeus has been growing a lot as a company, so with the new people we’ve been able to employ, more and more ideas are brought to the table. As a company we know how to take these ideas and combine them with the experience we’ve gained over the last few years to make these happen – so look out for more games and genres down the track.

Any final words for your fans?

Thank you! We’re always overwhelmed by the amount of support we have, so thanks for playing. We really value users’ feedback too, so if there’s anything you would like to tell us ways you think we could improve the game, please get in touch via our Facebook page or follow us on twitter @nordeus.