Magazine article Metro Magazine

The Road to Game Success

Magazine article Metro Magazine

The Road to Game Success

Article excerpt

Despite the period being defined locally by the cancellation of the federal government's Interactive Games Fund and internationally by the increasingly violent harassment of women in games--both of which I covered in my last two Scope pieces--it has against all odds been a good few months for Australian video games. Both here and abroad, our games have thrived, critically and commercially.

You don't have to dig deep for examples: Plideo Kojima, a superstar of the games industry and one of Japan's most famous game auteurs, declared the Australian-made Framed his game of the year. Released at the end of 2014, Framed is a clever and elegant game that allows players to rearrange the order of narrative events via a series of comic book-like cells. More recently, the Melbourne-based League of Geeks released an 'early access' (not-yet-complete but playable) version of their first game, Armello, to widespread enthusiasm after a successful A$300,000 Kickstarter campaign earlier last year.

Neither of these games, however, can compete with a game called Crossy Road. A stylish and moreish spin on the 1981 arcade game Frogger, Crossy Road has reached a truly global audience in a way that no Australian game has done since Fruit Ninja's groundbreaking App Store success in 2010. Crossy Road, a collaborative effort from three experienced Victorian developers working as the collective Flipster Whale, was released in November, and by January had been downloaded more than 20 million times. Crossy Road is free but features video ads that, when watched, give players in-game points used to unlock new characters (alternatively, players can purchase these characters for A$1.29 each). This non-invasive form of revenue generation has meant that, even after only one month of downloads, the creators of the game (one of whom is still in university) had made enough money on the game to retire. Players have even written to Hipster Whale to complain that the game won't allow them to watch as many ads as they'd like--such is the game's appeal.

This kind of success, especially from a small team of developers from Victoria's grassroots independent video game scene, is possibly a harbinger of change for games in Australia. There are dozens of developers around the country with a similar pedigree to Hipster Whale, and it feels as though further success may well be on its way. Yet Crossy Road is also a sign of the times in the manner in which it found its enormous audience--an important story in its own right.

One of the earliest indications of Crossy Road's success was when it was played by the affable Swedish gamer Felix Kjellberg. …

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