Almost every word game available from the app stores fails to cater to people that love words and love a challenge. They all start very easy and slowly ramp up the difficulty, which can take hours of tedious game play to complete before a real challenge is presented. The fact that solutions are prescriptive removes the freedom of using any word to solve the puzzle.
This presents a unique opportunity for a word game that provides not only a challenge from the start but the freedom to use any word able to be made from the letters provided and a sense of achievement each time that a board is solved.
The broad customer segment we are targeting are lovers of challenging word games and players that like to compete against their friends. These players are typically not challenged by the currently available word game apps and instead would likely be completing crosswords, reading etc.. They tend to play the available word game apps solely because that is all that is available.
Statistically, word and puzzle game apps are more often played by women, aged 25-65, (word and strategy games were the #1 and 2 apps downloaded by 86% of women) than men and the games are predominantly discovered via friends and social networks (Friends and Family, and social networks, accounted for 59% of game sources). They are also more likely to play against friends via social media apps. (source: apptopia.com and appannie.com).
By providing these players with a game that can be played in as little as 5minutes, depending on the game mode played & the player’s ability, with a difficulty level that starts reasonably high and increases the longer they play, we are providing them with a challenge not offered by other word games on the market. The integration of sending and receiving challenges via social media enables them to challenge their friends to beat their score on the same game boards or to try and beat their friends on game boards that they played. This further expands the challenge within the game as they compete against other players and can see their score progressing against the score they are trying to beat. As the game can be played solo at any time players are not stuck
waiting for other players to have their turn before they can proceed, instead they can play the game as many times as they like and then send challenges out on any that they want to. Similarly they are able to play challenges that they have received as many times as, and at any time that, they want.
As many of the current apps aren’t catering to this specific market many of these players are finding challenges in crosswords. In the competition for time area we are competing against social media and reading as ways to fill in 10+ minutes of time. The app we are developing will play in as little as 5 minutes depending on the player ability and the game mode being played. There is no prescribed solution to any gameboard, players are free to make any real word that they like within the rules of the game, so they can test their word knowledge. By including social media integration we are enabling players to share games that they thought were particularly challenging, fun or that they did well in so that new challenges can be found while they are browsing their social media apps. Also, as the boards can be solved in numerous ways, each gameboard can be played multiple times, unlike crosswords and other current word games available.
Though PatchWord is an English language word game it’s reach isn’t limited to English speaking countries. The reach of the Android & iOS app stores means that the game will be available to English speakers or those wishing to improve their English word skills no matter what country they are in. When the game is launched it will not be geographically restricted by our team (some countries may restrict app store access which is beyond our control).
By ensuring that we have Facebook integration to enable players to challenge their friends the opportunity for the game to spread amongst word game lovers is high. The social networks that people have is not limited by geographical boundaries & so this further increases the opportunity for the game to expand into other markets.
The roadmap for development that we have planned includes expanding into other languages to further our market reach. The other language versions that we are currently considering utilise the same letterset & include Indonesian, French & German.
PatchWord is a word game for players that love a challenge. It differs from other word games by addressing issues that are common amongst them:
* Every game board can be solved in multiple ways, purely limited by the letters available & the player’s vocabulary, overcoming the common problem of most word game apps where their is only one solution & the player is prevented from proceeding until they have solved it.
* Most word games that enable players to challenge other people requires all players to be available or else to wait until the other player has had their turn. By integrating Facebook we enable a player to play the game at their own pace when it suits them & to then send the same game boards to a friend as a challenge.
* The final issue that we resolve is the locking of content until specific goals are met, which can often cause players to stop playing the game. At all stages of our game everything is available to all players from when they log in & this will continue throughout future content releases.
Due to the niche market we are targeting we would appreciate any help in identifying ways for us to penetrate the market & gain visibility amongst players.
Initially players will find out about the game from us at tradeshows & public displays where we will have access to a large number of people at one time, e.g. Pax-Aus had 50-75k attendees per day in 2016. Over time ads will be run on Facebook targeting the desired demographic. The integration of Facebook into the app enables players to post challenges to Facebook timelines or to send them directly to friends – if they don’t have the app & click on the link they will be redirected to the relevant app store to download it. Word of mouth & Facebook posts will end up being the primary way that the game is promoted (i.e. virally by existing players). Depending on the situation, we will be able to communicate with customers via email (our contact email is required on the app stores) & the facebook group page for PatchWord or the savage yeti games page. Other social media like twitter & instagram are used but are not ideal for meaningful communication with customers.
Update: during these IACT weeks we have attended TedX talks Canberra and have lined up press releases with SMH and Canberra Times to further target our market.
This is the first digital game that Savage Yeti Games has produced for release but it will be our 2nd published game as we have a tabletop game signed to a publisher. In getting the game to the publisher we learnt the value of attending as many tradeshows as possible, often travelling interstate at our own expense to attend them. We are honing our pitch & customer relationship skills in public environs. We are also active members of the TGDA (Tabletop Game Designers of Australia), participating where possible in discussions, competitions & designer days that they organise to further our networks & also gain new skills in game design. Being located in GamePlus gives us access to game developers with skills in digital game design & production, & the CanDev community has also been very supportive. PatchWord has been displayed at dev get togethers as well as GammaCon, the Australian Bridge Federation national congress (we set up in the break area & people played the game & gave feedback while they were on breaks) & will be shown at TEDx Canberra in the Innovation Alley the weekend of 16 Sept. It will also be on display & available for download at PAX Aus in Melbourne at the end of October 2017. The game is currently entering closed beta testing with an expanded player test pool.
As we progress towards release we will be looking for people to test the game & provide feedback (positive & negative). They must be willing to update the game often as new patches are released & be accepting of the fact that at some stages over the period the game may have issues that we will need to resolve. The feedback we are after, apart from identifying functionality issues, is the look & feel of the game, the polish of the art & sound, whether the tutorial actually explains how to play the game etc.
We will be collecting data on the game & no personal details are collected apart from what is required to set them up to have access to the test builds. The in game data that is collected includes things like what game mode is played, how long a game session lasts, word length made etc.
If people are interested they should email us at: email@example.com & we will forward the link to the form the tasks for the information we require.
A large portion of the initial set-up costs have been met by Savage Yeti Games as the intention is to launch around the time that IACT finishes. These costs included app store access fees, marketing material for GammaCon, TEDx-Canberra, & preparatory work for the PAX-Aus stand. That said, we do have plans to release additional game modes, attend tradeshows, purchase targeted advertising etc to increase the reach of the game.
Our intention is to also release the game in other languages, initially targeting those that use the same letter set as English e.g. Indonesian, English, French, German. This will require the purchasing of word lists in those languages & the services of an interpreter to ensure the games’ labels, tutorial, store page & marketing are correct (they will also need to check the word lists to ensure any rude, crude & offensive words are removed). If the game gains in popularity we may need ongoing interpreting services to provide support for users of those languages.
Translation costs for the app store, game pages etc are per word & vary on the language being translated from/to & average $300 per page. Having access to an interpreter to assist with customer management will be on an hourly basis & varies on the language needed & how common that language is. Translation services will also be required for marketing in foreign Facebook advertising will be targeted at specific demographics & regions. The cost will vary on the reach within each category & region. Server fees for hosting global achievements & high scores as well as web hosting fees, office space for the team in GamePlus, costs to attend tradeshows & conventions etc will also be incurred.All together we estimate that $5000 would allow us to release the game in English & one other language & properly support & market the game for those regions. $10,000 enable us to target 5 languages, market the game in those regions & provide ongoing support. $15,000 enables us to target the chosen languages, market & support the game in those languages & set up servers for global high score & achievement. All costs are for a 12month period.The breakdown includes:
5 desks with internet connection = $1000/month
Translator services = $300/page, $50/hr depending on the language (daily need to check & respond to customers via the forum, app stores, email website etc). This is per language.
Server costs = $100/month minimum for Google cloud server.
Annual app store fees = $250
Facebook advertising = variable, $100-$1000 per language per campaign.
Apart from our official & unofficial IACT mentors, staff & members at AIE & GamePlus that are providing technical & marketing advice, we have started to reach out to press contacts relevant to our target market, including a well known word puzzle designer & columnist for a national news paper that has said he is interested in testing the game for us when he gets time. It is hoped that they will help promote the game through their columns & publications.
We are also in contact with an Indonesian teacher to help us assess the viability of an Indonesian version (they are close so any costs to get to
trade shows would be less than Europe & they also have a very large population base). At this stage there is no value given in return but when we go live we
will have access to ad-free versions that we can give them to use themselves or give away in their publications etc.
Our customers are lovers of word games that provide player’s with a challenge right from the start, that don’t like features hidden behind paywalls, & like to be able to challenge friends in a word game. PatchWord gives them that challenge, with all functionality available to all players with nothing behind a paywall or stage gate. The game comes with banner ads & timed interstitial ads (between gameboards) – the timing is set so that as the player progresses & the game gets harder the ads appear less often to avoid the feeling that they are now appearing after every game board. Players can choose to pay to remove banner ads only, interstitial ads only, or remove both kinds of ads for a discount on the combined cost of removing both. These are once of payments made from in the game (which links to the app store) or on the app store page. We came to the price points we have by originally letting people play the game with no ads so that they could get the feel for the game & then told them how the ads would be placed within it. Once this was explained we then asked them what price they would be willing to pay to remove each kind of ad. The prices we have set fall within the ranges we received as responses. These are:
$1.49 aud to remove banner ads only
$1.99 aud to remove interstitial ads only
$2.99 aud to remove all ads.
Venture Concept Overview
There is a significant lack of intellectually challenging casual mobile games currently available. Our competition relies on a slow difficulty progression or a level structure to steadily increase the challenge to cater to a wider audience, but we have found that a niche within that group often give up on games well before the point that they become challenging.
To address these issues we have created a word game app called PatchWord that offers a less restrictive gaming experience due to its freeform design. It will be immediately as difficult as the player’s current experience level and, as the players vocabulary grows, the player’s challenge will evolve.
In 2016 there were 2.6 billion active mobile phone and tablet users. Within this digital game market women:
•make up 46% of gamers.
•80% play puzzle and/or strategy games
•70% discover new games from friends or social media.
PatchWord has been themed for our target demographic and incorporates Facebook functionality to enable players to challenge friends, thus increasing the reach and virality of our marketing. Testing has shown us that this is successful, with a number of players in the target demographic having played many sessions over the last month, with one player reaching 190 in 15 days. At GammaCon this year we had a player play for 90mins and we have put the game on a website for free with the option to pay what people want and have made one $5 sale.
Savage Yeti Games consists of Matt Radcliffe and Sean Fenemore. We studied at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Canberra. Between us we have tertiary education in Business, Finance, Marketing, Game Design and Software Development. We have worked in related fields in both government and private sector organisations. We have cultivated contacts in both the tabletop and digital game spaces including influencers, publishers, media representatives and other developers. Our first board game is signed with an international publisher and scheduled for release next year. With our skills
PatchWord has the potential to be an international success and we envision this game to be multinational, multi-linguistic, and being played across the world.
PatchWord will be released on 20 October 2017 and will be ad free if downloaded over the period of PAX-AUS. This will encourage an early player base that will then be able to share the game with their friends. We have secured a stand in the AIE booth at the biggest local game convention, PAX-AUS, in Melbourne in October, and are preparing Facebook marketing for release. We will be meeting with Tapjoy, mobile game revenue experts, about monetising our game and future products effectively and other industry representatives and press to promote our company and PatchWord.
We currently have:
•A product that is feature complete and being polished for release
•6 months of additional content updates in development to improve our chance of being featured in the app stores
•reached out to acclaimed influencers such as David Astle and media such as the SMH, Canberra Times and digital games media.
•Been researching expanding the game into other languages.
Revenue derives from ads or the payment to remove ads so we need to maximise our potential for downloads and increase our capped available market by localising in up to 5 different languages. We will also be seeking additional funding from other Government matched grants like trade connect when we are marketing the product overseas or Screen ACT assistance with attending PAX-AUS.
-5K will assist Savage Yeti Games professionally marketing PatchWord through digital media and international tradeshows as well as help us translate PatchWord into one other language.
-10K will assist Savage Yeti Games in translating PatchWord to German, French, Italian, Spanish and Indonesian creating a substantial boost in market share and potential revenue
-15K will assist Savage Yeti Games in the creation of global leaderboards with dedicated servers across all languages and platforms enhancing social interactivity and playability, further increasing potential revenue through new downloads and extended retention rates. We will also be able to investigate language versions using different letter sets e.g. for Chinese markets.