DreamWorks Trolls Pop (2019)

DreamWorks Trolls Pop is a AAA mobile free-to-play match-3 game set in the popular Trolls universe. While being a casual bubble shooter, this game incorporates a light character collection system, social aspects and an event structure that is carefully inspired by various casual to mid-core mobile titles. The general game structure is similar to the popular mobile game “Toon Blast”.

Standout Accomplishments: Conceptualized and developed Trolls Pop from concept to launch. Pitched the game concept to 40+ group of stakeholders at DreamWorks which greenlit the production of the game. Established a 5-people strong design team. Forged a close working relationship with NBC Universal and DreamWorks that enabled Trolls Pop to successfully launch Globally.

  • Clients: DreamWorks, NBC Universal (NBCU), Huuuge Games, TreasureHunt
  • My Role: Game Lead on the Project, Design Director for the Company
  • Development Team: 25+ individuals, in various disciplines.
  • Timeframe: Nov 2017 – Feb 2020
  • Platform: Mobile (iOS & Android)
  • Genre: Match-3, Bubble Shooter, Casual
  • Awards: Google Play Best Games of 2020
  • Technology Used: Unity, Microsoft Azure PlayFab, Tableau
  • Software Used: Slack, Confluence, JIRA, Excel, Adobe Photoshop, PowerPoint, …

Project Info & My Role

After the success of Pet Paradise (2016) (another match-3 f2p game) negotiations began with NBC Universal about a possible collaboration in creating a casual game for one of their big IPs. We eventually started conception on Trolls Pop in late November 2017 and pre-production began early 2018.

Due to the company and project structure I had the unusual hybrid-role of being the Game Lead on Trolls Pop and the Design Director for the company at the same time. My main focus was on publisher relations and stakeholder management with our business partners at NBC Universal, Universal Studios and DreamWorks, while at the same time making sure that the milestone and business goals we’ve negotiated are translated into tangible tasks for our fantastic game team.

Over time we’ve built a team of over 25 great individuals – from art to programming and design, the talented team managed to ace one major delivery after the another, considering the massive amount of assets and content we did produce in such a high quality standard.

My Responsibilities

Due to the startup nature of the company, multiple other projects and the relatively small team for such a title I’ve had the challenge of managing various responsibilities:

  • Conceptualized, pitched and developed Trolls Pop from concept to launch. Creative vision keeping.
  • Lead and enabled the 5-people strong design team by planning, supervising and helping on all design initiatives.
  • Hands-on work & supervision in conception, prototyping, design as well as live-ops.
  • Managed design resources (people & hiring, processes, hardware, software) for all game projects.
  • Communicated with the game team (developers, artists, QA) to ensure design is delivered in a concise and efficient manner.
  • Closely worked with NBCUniversal in Los Angeles via regular calls and business trips to ensure the game is delivered to the high quality standards expected from an AAA mobile title.

I’ve remained in that role for well over two years until the eventual launch of Trolls Pop.


Official trailer for DreamWorks Trolls Pop

Join Poppy, Branch and all your favorite Troll friends in Trolls Pop – a new mobile match-3 bubble shooter with fun missions and levels! Pop bubbles and collect Trolls as you blast through levels to unlock and earn rewards!

Store Description

Screenshots & Store Assets

About the Author

Hey, I’m Steve!

Written by Steve Haßenpflug, a seasoned game designer with a strong product & technical background. His focus is on creating engaging games for companies that want big results.

Steve has developed top-grossing AAA games for IPs beloved by players around the world (Angry Birds, Trolls) with international companies (NBC Universal, DreamWorks, Rovio) and helped bootstrap gaming startups in the early stages of seeding. He’s an expert in mobile free-to-play mechanics.

He also manages GameDevGems, a resource that aims to help game developers to get better at making games through gamedev concepts, tutorials and techniques and is a passion-project of him.