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PlayEmber – a new hypercasual heavy hitter | Pocket Gamer.biz

PocketGamer.biz spoke to Hugo Furneaux about the creation of PlayEmber, a new joint venture between the App Design Company and Boomhits.

PocketGamer.biz: So PlayEmber and Hugo – please introduce yourself!

Hugo Furneaux: Hi, I’m Hugo Furneaux from Folkestone, South East England.

I am the founder and CEO of the App Design Company, which has created a number of successful games with over 50 million downloads over the past 2 years with Lion, Voodoo and Kwalee.

A few months ago we founded and started a joint venture with the parent company of Boomhits, where we will now enter the development and publication of games as PlayEmber.

We’ve already won 14 million downloads for titles like Raft Life and Hyper Cards in just four months since launch.

What was useful about the investment / joint venture model compared to the existing F2P publishing model?

We tried to do everything ourselves – user acquisition (UA), design, development, etc. Publishing was not an option. I think there is a truth vs. reality of self-publishing!

Our goal is to grow into a large, profitable gaming company that manages everything in-house

Hugo Furneaux

While it can be great to work in the traditional hypercasual publishing model, we longed for a solution that not only gave us full visibility into user acquisition and monetization data, but also kept full control over the development and publishing process.

What we didn’t want was a disguised publishing model, which essentially still benefits the publisher.

Our goal is to grow into a large, profitable gaming company that manages everything in-house. We believe the joint venture model is the perfect opportunity to achieve this by building a strong games portfolio and gaining knowledge of every step of the process.

Her latest hit on PlayEmber was Hyper Cards, a top card game in over 50 countries. Can you tell us the story of this game?

The idea behind this game was based on a satisfying real life experience while growing up.

We remembered opening Panini Football sticker packs and Pokemon cards and the excitement you would get if you got a shiny card or sticker that you missed in your collection. The first test phase delivered good cost-per-install results, but low user loyalty.

We decided to put the game on hold until the BoomHits team suggested the concept of adding a card trading mechanic to the game. The addition of this feature introduced a stickiness in the game that allowed us to have a full global launch.

We really enjoyed the move towards making games with more meta.

Hugo Furneaux

The next steps in the game’s development will focus on implementing a hybrid monetization strategy and introducing an element of competition through casual PvP competitions

You have already published nine Hypercasual games and have now successfully entered idle games with Raft Life and Hybrid Games life Hyper Cards. What have you learned here compared to classic Hypercasual games?

Personally, we really enjoyed the move towards making games with more meta. We learned a lot more about the importance of analytical events in games.

Hyper-casual game events can be as simple as level start, level mistake, level completion. The ability to highlight blocks in funnels has allowed us to make more informed decisions about changes to our idle games.

And also Hypercasual’s mentality changes where you rush everything, it’s all about low cost per install (CPI) to actually develop a game and focus on game time and average revenue per user (ARPU).

How do you see F2P games developing?

First of all, I think there will always be a huge market for simple addicting hypercasual games, it’s more competitive than ever from a developer perspective, but these snacks are going nowhere!

It is a question of whether these types of games are sustainable for game studios. Sure, you can make money prototyping for publishers, but what about the long term for small teams outside of the mouth-to-mouth life of pay-per-prototype deals?

What we’re expecting, and what’s happening now, is to squeeze more and more out of fun hyper-casual mechanics and move them into other free-to-play genres. Taking Idle Arcade as an example, studios are taking hypercasual mechanics and incorporating them into idle arcade games, transforming a low lifetime (LTV) game into a game with more depth, higher retention, and larger LTVs.

It is a question of whether these types of games are sustainable for game studios

Hugo Furneaux

And of course monetization – we see the hunt for a low CPI as a race to the bottom. It’s about developing games with a solid Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) on day seven (D7), which then gives you the ability to develop the game without fear of copycats and then scale it profitably.

What does the future hold for PlayEmber?

Sustainable growth and quality over quantity. We want to be really innovative in F2P games by mixing different mechanics and monetization models. Our “hit rate” after the joint venture was around 25 percent, and we want to keep that down along with hiring qualified Unity developers and designers.

We believe that a major reason for our recent success has been our solid code base. For example, we now have a deep, idle arcade code base that can be rebuilt into an entirely different, high retention game with relative ease.

One thing that sets us apart from other studios or publishers is that we proactively contact qualified Unity developers to join us and work on developing the base code of our previous hits. What’s better than creating a game based on a game you know already works!

From a business perspective, PlayEmber’s goal is to achieve IPO status within the next 24-36 months, which will be the catalyst for unlocking our next phase of growth.

We are actively looking for new team members to join us on this exciting journey and explore diverse growth opportunities, new office locations and the potential to acquire or release on behalf of other studios.

Commenting on PlayEmber’s joint venture and investment, BoomHits CEO Jon Hook said:

From the moment Hugo and ADC worked with us, it has been a pleasure. The team has the formula for success in terms of understanding development and design, speed of brainstorming and testing that we have successfully applied to multiple game genres, not just classic ad-based hypercasual games.

And this process has now been proven after the joint publication of four games and achieved with a very agile team across from a huge prototype factory. We are very happy to help Hugo and the team now to realize their vision for PlayEmber! “

“At BoomHits we are reinventing the traditional publishing model for F2P mobile games. We have developed a process to identify, invest, and grow rapidly game studios that want more than just a publishing deal.

These partnerships are based on complete transparency about the development and marketing / sales process and a shared desire to bring innovation to mobile games.

The team has the formula for success in terms of understanding development and design, speed of brainstorming and testing.

Jon Hook

Think of it as a combination of VC investments, strategic support (hiring, M&A, legal, HR, financial support) and all the tools and services you would expect from a leading mobile games publisher (BI, UA, Creative, Live Ops, Game Design, Development / Art Support) combined in a single partnership.

Game development, genres, and technology are changing rapidly. It is therefore of crucial importance for developers and studios that the publishing model evolves just as quickly! “

Reinventing publishing

BoomHits reinvents the traditional publishing model for F2P mobile games. The company has developed a process to identify and invest in studios that want more than just a release contract and complete control and transparency over the development, marketing and sales process.

Think of it as the best part of venture capital (VC) investing. Funding of course, but also strategic support – hiring, merger and acquisition (M&A), legal support and all the tools and support developers would get from a publisher such as Business Intelligence (BI), UA, Creative, Live Ops and Experience for both ad-supported as well as for in-app purchases (IAP) games.


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