Blog

How Young Early Adopters Share new Entertainment

At this year’s Children’s Media Conference we presented new research that examined how young people find a share new entertainment, whether that’s a new TV show, vine, movie, or a song on Spotify.

The aim of the research is to help IP owners identify their early adopters (who they are and what they do) and to be able to optimise their launch strategy with early adopters in mind.

The work draws upon a number of studies involving quantitative and qualitative research, carried out by Dubit and Sherbert with over 5,000 adults and children in the UK the US.

You can view the presentation below.
Read More>

The Ten Best Casual Gaming Articles of 2014 – Part 1

So far this year readers of our TWICG (This Week in Casual Games) newsletter have wanted to find out more about Flappy Bird, how to retain users, and make more money from those playing their games. We know this because we’ve been looking at which stories have been clicked the most so we can put the ten most popular into this blog post. Other stories that caught our readers’ attention looked at Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and nearer the end of the year our virtual reality.

If you haven’t signed-up for TWICG yet, click here and get the week’s most insightful casual game articles sent to your inbox in one handy weekly email.

For now, here are the ten stories that our readers have clicked on more than any other over the past six months.

How Flappy Bird Became an Overnight Success

At the start of 2014 Flappy Bird became the biggest game on the app stores, had a mysterious and elusive developer and took over the Dubit office. Most interesting of all, nobody saw it coming! So how did such a simple game, from a developer nobody had heard of before, make it to the top of the charts? Techcrunch spoke to the game’s creator to find out. As well as reading the article also check out the comments section for other possible explanations.
Read More>

Researching Oculus Rift with Kids: What they Really Think of Virtual Reality

Whenever we have guests in the studio they have to play with our Oculus Rift headset. While it’s fun to see grown-ups go a bit silly what we really want to know is what kids think of virtual reality. So along with our friends at KZero we conducted six research groups with 12 children aged between seven and 12 years-of-age. We gave them the opportunity to play with the headset, which was a first for all of them, and then we found out what they thought about. We got insight into it’s usability, where kids could see it being used and even how much they thought it would cost!

The good news is that kids loved it! They loved it so much they think it would be great in schools and expected it to cost more than £400.

A hit with Kids
The overarching message from our sessions is that children love using Oculus Rift and felt immersed in the games in ways they’ve never felt before! Comments along the lines of it being the best way to play games were common. Oculus VR may not see children as their core market but there’s no doubting the device’s potential popularity with kids. We were glad to see that none of the children in our groups felt dizzy or ill after using the headset; the only usability issues occurred when the children had to move their heads to look down and found the headset heavy. A couple of the younger children also reported fitting issues with the head-straps. With lighter headsets on the way (we used the first development kit version) we don’t see Oculus Rift causing many usability issues for young wearers.
Read More>

7 Tips for Creating Virtual Reality Worlds for Oculus Rift

We love our Oculus Rift! Six years ago, going from a Blackberry to the first iPhone was an incredible leap forward, today going from a screen to the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset feels just as important. Where iPhone was a huge jump forward, a user experience stepchange that ushered in the modern cellphone market, the Oculus Rift is doing the same for user immersion. There is no experience that’s more immersive. I believe going from a screen to virtual reality is the next big leap forward, and a huge wave of apps, games, and new experiences are going to follow. Others think so too, Facebook payed $2bn for Oculus VR in March, Sony announced Project Morpheus at GDC, and Chuck E. Cheese are adding virtual reality to their restaurants.

I’m not normally a fanboy. I didn’t believe the early hype, I’d dismissed it as just another 3D TV gimmick. But when our Oculus Rift dev kit arrived in January the guys in the studio twisted my arm. I was convinced immediately.

Since January we’ve jumped into VR with both feet:

- Dubit’s research team are studying children’s reactions to virtual reality. The report will be published soon in partnership with Sheffield University.
- We’ve launched the biggest portal for virtual reality games, WeArVR
- Developed a VR world called Fairy Forest.

I’ll be blogging more about virtual reality in the coming weeks (and sharing our VR report). In this first VR post I’m going to share the lessons we learned developing our first VR world, Fairy Forest.

To checkout Fairy Forest you can download the game from WeArVR.com or if you have not got a Oculus Rift headset there’s a YouTube video.

Read More>

The DNA of Candy Crush Saga and Other Successful Match-3 Games

This is the first in a series of posts analysing the most popular games genres. We’re starting with match-3, a genre dominated by Candy Crush Saga (CCS). But CCS isn’t the only match-3 game out there, it wasn’t the first and it certainly isn’t the last. So we wanted to know what makes it different and at the same time find out if it’s right that every match-3 game since has been described as a Candy Crush clone.

Narrative
narrativeExcept for Bejewelled Blitz all the games featured a map and characters – possible foundations for narrative. Despite this we’re yet to find anyone who could tell us what the story is in Candy Crush, even with all those animated cuts scenes. Of course, puzzle games don’t need a story, Tetris is the most successful puzzle game of all time and there was no narrative there whatsoever. However, considering the investment made in designing characters in these games, could a lack of story be detrimental to licensing opportunities? Angry Birds is the poster child of mobile game licensing, helped by the basic, but still evident, narrative of birds having to destroy pigs. More recently Angry Birds Toons have helped to tell proper stories with the Angry Birds characters. The game had a great mechanic and would have succeeded without a story, but the story has helped the game connect with children and it’s that which has helped Angry Birds monetize outside of the app.
Read More>

The ten Best Casual Gaming Presentations from GDC 2014

The team at GDC have uploaded hundreds of talks and slides from this year’s event. No-one has time to watch them all, so we’ve picked out the ten we found most interesting. The presentations cover topics including, how to use YouTube to market your game, how to attract Whales, narrative testing techniques, and lessons learned from Jelly Splash.

Using YouTube to Market Your Indie Game

Video game commentators on YouTube and streaming services like Twitch.tv are becoming some of the most influential personalities in gaming – especially for kids! This talk from professional YouTuber Ryan Letourneau (“Northernlion”) teaches how to easily find and contact these content creators, and communicate with them as effectively (and efficiently) as possible to hopefully persuade them to cover your game.

Jelly Splash: Puzzling Your Way to the Top of the App Store

The match-3 puzzle genre is almost as old as it gets. Scour the App Store and you’ll find hundreds of different varieties out there. Very few of these succeed however, and even less manage to hit the number one spot on the U.S App Store top download chart. Wooga’s Jelly Splash managed to do just that, and in this session Florian Steinhoff, the creator of Jelly Splash, details how his team managed it and what they learned throughout the development process.

Read More>

The 10 Best Games on Oculus Rift Right Now

2014 has seen virtual reality go from laughing stock of the ‘90s to the most exciting thing to happen to gaming in ages. Over the past month Facebook has bought Oculus VR for $2bn and Sony has revealed its first ever virtual reality (VR) headset. While journalists have been speculating on what this means for the future of virtual reality we’ve been more concerned by the present and created WearVR.com – a site that aggregates all the available VR games and organises them into convenient categories.

With over 100 games on the site already we’re profiling those we find the most interesting and fun. To check out the full list head over to the  WeArVR website.

Floculus Bird
Floculus Bird

It had to happen and it has – Flappy Bird (or in this case a clone) has come to virtual reality. If the original game wasn’t impossible enough playing it through an Oculus Rift headset is an even greater challenge – although it doesn’t stop it being fun.

Read More>

Answering the big Questions Around Kids Digital Entertainment

At the end of March Dubit chaired a panel at Apple’s flagship store on Regent Street. We were there to explore the good, the bad and the unknown of digital entertainment for kids. The panel covered many of the biggest issues, answering questions like ‘what makes a good app or TV show?’ ‘How can you find good apps?’ And ‘how much screen time is too much?’

The panel included Hopster CEO Nicholas Walters, tech fan and ‘mummy-blogger’ Alison Perry, and children’s learning academic John Potter. The event is available to download from Apple’s iTunes store both in video and audio formats. It’s well worth a listen (or a watch).
Read More>

‘You Have Died of Dysentery’: How to Make Great Educational Games

This is a guest post by John Krajewski, studio head and creative director at Strange Loop Games.

What do you know about the Oregon Trail?  I’m willing to be that your knowledge on the subject is gained almost entirely from the thusly-named game, where your typical quest across the country saw your resources dwindle, your family members drop one by one from accidents and disease, ending all too often with words ‘You have died of dysentery’.

What a terrible, depressing experience that sounds like, and yet it remains one of the most widely played and remembered educational games of all times.  Its creators knew a fundamental truth about the medium of video games that is often forgotten in today’s educational games: the experience you can grant a player is extremely powerful.  The game didn’t force you to memorize facts, it didn’t drill you on trivia.  It was completely about the experience, conveying a not-insignificant understanding of the hardship faced by those who travelled the actual Oregon Trail through the simple, direct act of putting the player in that role.

And why should it do anything else?  Empathy and understanding of the individual hardship of this historic event I would argue is the most important thing you can take from it at that level of study, much more so than a collection of facts, and games have a huge advantage in delivering experiences that give this to the player well beyond other mediums.  With this intrinsic power, largely untapped by most educational software, games hold the potential to be at the centre of a revolution in education, evoking in players the wonder and fascination with a subject that must form the foundation of any meaningful learning.
Read More>

The Ten Best Casual Gaming Articles of 2013 – Part 2

Every week we publish a newsletter linking to the best articles on casual gaming found on the web, and twice a year we review the past six months and publish a list of the articles clicked on the most by our 1,100 subscribers. Looking back over the past 24 issues it’s clear that the freemium gaming model dominated 2013, so much that out of the ten most read stories more than half focused on game changing business model.

Other topics that got our readers excited in the final half of the year included King’s sweetie smashing phenomenon Candy Crush Saga, the psychology behind virtual goods, and an interesting piece on six of the most unusual games genres – anyone fancy playing some real-time poetry?

If you haven’t signed-up for TWICG yet, click here and get the week’s most insightful casual game articles sent to your inbox in one handy weekly email.

For now, here are the ten stories that our readers have clicked on more than any other over the past six months

Tripling Revenue with One Button

In this post by Michael Sacca, founder of Tiny Factory, he describes how adding one button and a slight change to the company’s pricing structure helped his story-book app treble its revenue! Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference and we can underestimate how much our users want to spend.
Read More>