Minting online dollars is serious fun and games

They have the Midas touch and they’re modest about their success, but two Victoria-based developers have racked up millions of downloads and dollars in weeks after launching their wildly successful games.

Loveshack Entertainment

Ollie Brown from the start-up company Loveshack. Picture: Stuart McEvoy Source: News Corp Australia

They have the Midas touch and they’re modest about their success, but two Victoria-based developers have racked up millions of downloads and dollars in weeks after launching outrageously successful games.

Developer Hipster Whale, which formed just four months ago, has made more than $1 million since launching Crossy Road on November 20. The mobile game has been downloaded 30 million times across the world, said co-founder Matt Hall, a former database programmer.

Ten million of those downloads occurred in the past two weeks, when an Android version was launched on Google Play. Initially, the game was for Apple devices and it’s consistently been the No 1 download since its launch, Mr Hall said.

As with many successful games, downloads are free — the game gets its revenue from in-app purchases and advertising. Users pay between $1.29 and $3.99 to buy characters.

Mr Hall said Crossy Road was in the style of the runaway success Flappy Bird game, but it wasn’t a clone. “We wanted a game that was influenced by popular culture and crazy,” he said.

“We put a lot of effort into a game that people want to share.”

Hipster Whale didn’t heavily promote and advertise Crossy Road to achieve this success. It was a case of the game being well received and “word of mouth” on social media, he said.

Hipster Whale is three people: Mr Hall and Andy Sum with support from artist Ben Weatherall.

Across town in Melbourne, Loveshack is experiencing outrageous success with its Apple iOS game Framed. It takes the form of a comic strip where users rearrange animated comic strip tiles to alter the storyline, and help the characters escape.

Loveshack’s co-founders — Ollie Brown, Joshua Boggs and Adrian Moore — previously worked together at internation­ally ­acclaimed Melbourne developer Firemint, which created iconic iPhone hits Flight Control and Real Racing.

Firemint was acquired by giant US video games producer Electronic Arts Interactive for a report­ed $20 million-$40m in 2011, making founder Rob Murray seriously wealthy.

Mr Brown said it took the Framed team two years to prototype the game, released on Nov­ember 13. “It’s sold really well for a couple of months,” he said.

The sales spike wasn’t uniform across the world — initial interest was in China, then Europe and then the US. Sales “went bananas” during an Apple promotion on Australia Day.

This story was first published in The Australian Business Review.

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