Friday May 18, 2012 : SPORTS IS A GOOD ROUTE INTO SOCIAL GAMING, SAYS U.K. COMPANY
With contracts in place to feature football and sprint heroes, social games developer Hooplo is well positioned
Industry execs strategising over the best route into the booming social gaming sector (and who isn't?) might find a study of UK games developer Hooplo interesting.
In an interview with social gaming publication Games Industry earlier this week, Hooplo execs Aly Chesney and Ed Chin gave some useful tips, and explained why they have chosen sports games as an effective ‘niche' route into the sector.
With deals squared away with Portuguese football hero Cristiano Ronaldo and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the company is busy developing games that cash in on the fans following both, which run into the tens of millions of gamers around the world, mainly on Facebook.
Hooplo is both a publisher and a developer and, with a network of 5 million MAU (Monthly Active Users), it already claims to be the largest independent social gaming company in the UK.
The executive team has experience with leading gaming companies like Activision, EA, Playfish, Adobe, Digital Chocolate and Glu Mobile, and it has secured angel financing from a string of heavyweight investors.
Chesney explained why sports in general, and football in particular enables gamers across international boundaries to connect:
"One of the challenges of building a game for a global audience is that people react to things differently, but every country understands how to play football. Sports is the first vertical we're going after, and there'll be some announcements later this year about some of the other verticals we'll be focusing on."
Gaming Industry notes that, surprisingly, sports has been somewhat overlooked in the social gaming space, yet in the console world it has proved to be hugely popular…and profitable.
That sports titles aren't already one of the pillars of social gaming is surprising, it opines.
However, Chin theorises that it, may be because presentation technology has had to catch up to produce the sort of gaming experiences that sports fans want.
Using Hooplo's cricket game as an example, he revealed that until recently it was not easy to execute a complex and intensive player vs. player game like this in Flash. However, the technology is now at a point where very high calibre graphics can be deployed, resulting in DAU (Daily Active Users) reaching 220,000 and climbing in a relatively short space of time.
Cricket plays well with a variety of global audiences, he points out, using countries like India as an example.
The same is even more applicable when it comes to football, which resonates equally with vast audiences of fans across Asia, Europe and South America despite cultural differences. To take advantage of this global reach, Hooplo designs games like the new Ronaldo Footy that can be quickly localised.
"We can tap into Ronaldo's 42 million Facebook and 7 million Twitter fans. Any other company thinking of launching a football game should bear that in mind," he points out. The same applies to world class sprinter Usain Bolt, who has a following of 7 million on Facebook.
"Not many companies have really cracked social sports games," Chesney says, "so especially with the backing of these sports stars we're in a good position to, hopefully, dominate."
"We measure a lot of success at the moment by DAUs, but that doesn't really tell you the whole story," Chin says.
"There are developers out there with much lower DAUs but their average revenue per user is significantly higher. With the mass casual market, there are a lot of players now, but as we introduce new niches we'll get more traditional gaming audiences, who have been more willing to spend in the past. We'll start seeing games with much smaller audiences but a lot more spenders."