"This is the age of the niche" - Straandlooper
Hector: Badge of Carnage developer considering feature film following Telltale deal
Hector: Badge of Carnage creator Straandlooper believes that the current games market represents "the age of the niche," and with the right marketing developers can reap the rewards of catering to a dedicated audience.
The Irish team, which began life as an animation studio, had struggled to find the right audience for kids' episodic series Lifeboat Luke, but hit the big time with iOS adventure Hector: Badge of Carnage.
"Because it was in a genre that people were looking for, that was the key thing - there was an identifiable market, and a strong niche," said MD Richard Morss in an interview published today.
"It seems to me that, if anything, this is the age of the niche, and if you can identify that and reach them, then you've got so many marketing tools that you can access quite cheaply, or for no cost at all, if you put in the elbow grease.
You've got so many marketing tools that you can access quite cheaply, or for no cost at all, if you put in the elbow grease
Richard Morss, Straandlooper
"I think it is possible, and to me Hector represents a truly independent production - the first episode anyway, obviously going forward you need to get more investment and bring partners in, but you know that is very encouraging to me, I find it very exciting."
Straandlooper's partners now include adventure game specialists Telltale, which has come on board to help the company create and produce further episodes and reach more formats such as iPad and Steam.
Morss acknowledges that part of Hector's success was down to finding the right gap in the market and being able to reach consumers by an easily identifiable resource of blogs and other fan-ready marketing opportunities - something that has been much harder for kids' series Lifeboat Luke.
"The difference with the Lifeboat Luke apps was we as yet haven't been able to find the right niche yet to promote it to in order to get a significant return on it. It's selling, but it's not selling huge by any means - because unlike Hector there wasn't an identifiable pool of review sites and things that you could go to when you knew people were looking for a particular kind of stuff. That to me is a huge lesson that we learned in the launch of Hector, in terms of that sort of targeting - although it was probably partly inadvertent in case of Hector, as we just liked the idea.
"The way it developed, it just sort of happened that there was a niche audience waiting for that sort of game to come out at that sort of time, and the iPhone platform worked well for it. So we had a success on our hands with that game, because we were able to promote it and raise awareness among the people who were looking for it.
"With a kids' IP like Luke there are so many other players in the pond with big, established names, probably giving away stuff for free, that it's much, much more difficult to make a noise about an individual kids' property that doesn't have a huge broadcast profile. So it's just part of the learning curve of the whole new market, how you have to think about stuff."
The full interview with Straandlooper's Richard Morss, in which he also discusses a Hector animated movie, can be read here.