65 per cent of players downloading ‘Home Bear’; a gaming app developed by Birmingham Science Park Aston-based Dojit, are Chinese. Launched last month, the statistics are based on the first 10,000 downloads of the child-friendly app, which is available on both the iOS and Android mobile operating systems.
As well as the Chinese language market, Home Bear has been downloaded by English, German, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian and Russian-speaking players. Only 16 per cent of the downloads to date have been from English speaking players, with the majority of those being located in the US.
The non-violent game is based on a cuddly bear’s journey home through a number of scenes and levels. A ‘freemium’ game, the first 20 of a total of 240 levels are free to play, at which point players need to pay £1.69 to upgrade to the full game. To ensure it is safe for young children to play on their parents’ smart phone, there are no further in-app purchase options.
David Bozward, Founder of Dojit said: “The Home Bear app has been designed for an international audience, with much research going into which languages to make the game available in. The team has also undertaken extensive research to define the appearance of the scenes and the main feature of the game; the bear.
“While we anticipated a high proportion of international players, for 65 per cent of the first 10,000 downloads to be from China is interesting, exciting and could be highly lucrative. In order to capitalise on these initial results, we are currently enhancing a number of scenes and levels to ensure the game has even greater appeal to Chinese players. China represents one of the biggest markets for gaming apps in the world. If Home Bear began to trend over there in a significant way, the pay-off could be phenomenal.”
81 per cent of downloads of the Home Bear app have been from smart phones using the Android operating system. A quarter of the total 10,000 downloads to date have been from Samsung handsets, indicating the dominance of the South Korean-based manufacturer on the global smart phone market. 19 per cent of total downloads are from Apple iPhones and nine per cent of downloads are from HTC handsets.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Birmingham Science Park said: “Irrespective of size, games developers naturally operate in a global marketplace and they see opportunities, rather than barriers to selling their products to an international audience. The nature of promoting apps on the App Store and Android’s Play Store mean there is no distinction between UK and overseas customers, apart from the language selection feature. This is highly advantageous to enabling SME games developers to create an app that could potentially become as popular as Angry Birds or Temple Run.”
The UK digital games industry is the second largest in the world after the US, and the West Midlands is home to 25 per cent of the country’s total games workforce. This region has become a hub for games and digital media, with Birmingham Science Park’s Faraday Wharf building being home to Dojit and a further nine games studios. The building is also home to ‘LAUNCH’; the UK’s most active event programme for the digital gaming industry.
In response to a surge in demand for superfast broadband connectivity, Birmingham Science Park is in the process of investing in infrastructure to increase its capacity 10-fold, from 200Mbit/s to 2Gbit/s.
Dojit, which employs a team of 10, comprising coders, designers and developers, was founded in 2012 in the Science Park’s Entrepreneurs for the Future Centre (e4f). The Centre is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is unique to Birmingham and specifically designed to harness and support the city’s burgeoning tech community.
Since launching in November 2009, e4f has created 128 new employees and directors. To be enrolled, entrepreneurs must pitch their idea, with a view to becoming a registered Ltd company. Applications are welcomed from start-ups operating in the digital media, ICT, med tech or clean tech sectors.