Build it fast, build it simple, make it easy and above all make it fun. This is the strategy of Huge Monster Inc., a startup Toronto game development firm that hopes to capture the public’s interest with its Facebook game Code of War.
Code of War is a real-time strategy (RTS) game which has so far attracted 50,000 players since it launched last year. Although it is still in beta mode, the game has more than 4,000 active users each month. RTS is a sub-genre of strategy video games. Participants in RTS games get to position and maneuver units and structures under their control to secure areas in a map and to destroy their opponents’ assets.
“Our goal is to make amazing social and mobile games that people will love to play. We will not launch a game that we wouldn’t like to play ourselves,” said Jacques Chamberland, CEO of Huge Monster.Prior to Code of War, the company began work on two earlier games but the group decided to shelve those projects because “they didn’t appeal to us or our audience,” said Chamberland.Huge Monster targets male gamers aged 25 – 45 although there are players of Code of War who fall on either side of that demographic, he said.
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The growing market for social and mobile games
Chamberland said Huge Monster is targeting the social and mobile gaming arena because the area is poised for huge growth.
The global gaming industry rakes in more than $60 billion each year. Social games, although very popular, only accounts for 10 per cent of that figure.
“But social games are a growing phenomenon that has yet to hit its peak,” said Marc Jackson, founder and SEO of Seahorn Capital Group, a boutique executive advisory and management consulting firm specializing in interactive entertainment.
Successes such as Angry Birds and Farmville are also driving some companies to refocus from developing console games to developing social games, according to Hank Howie, CEO of Blue Fang Games.
Howie’s company had 75 people working on social games. However when Blue Fang realized that players were discovering social and mobile game, the company cut down its staff to just 22 people, most of whom now concentrate solely on social and mobile games.
Huge Monster small expenses
Huge Monster has a staff of staff of seven full time workers two part time employees. Big things may be afoot for Huge Monster, because the company is looking currently looking for a senior .Net server developer who can write code for game logic, Web services and scalable data access for up to a million users per day.
Like many other Canadian tech startups, Huge Monster’s operations are aided by tax credits and government grants such as the National Regional Council of Canada’s (NRCC) Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). The company also has investors from the venture capital community.
To kid a lid on expenses, Huge Monster makes use of cloud-based technology.
Initially the company rented server facilities. “We found this too expensive so we moved Microsoft cloud services,” said Chamberland.
He said Amazon`s Elastic Cloud Compute, offered similar services but Microsoft offers a much lower price. Microsoft’s offering is also more simple to work with, Chamberland said. “There’s no need to manage server boxes. Microsoft does that for us so we are free to work at what we do best – design games.”
Huge Monster also makes extensive use of Google Apps for its internal communication and collaboration tasks. For example, Huge Monster employees find Google Sites an effective tool to create wikis where they can keep in touch with each other and collaborate on projects.
“Our philosophy is to keep things simple both in our product design and corporate structure,” said Chamberland.