With Successful Pivot to Mobile, Frenzoo Aims to Be Barbie of the iPad Age
Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Simon Newstead was used to attending gaming conventions and seeing 3D mobile games targeted at men, but he hardly ever encountered one designed expressly for women. He decided he could do something about that. Newstead's gaming start-up Frenzoo already had a virtual world aimed at Asian teenage girls, but the eight-person team thought mobile would ultimately be a bigger bet. He poured all the company’s resources into the platform and saw immediate effect.
A few weeks ago, Frenzoo launched Style Me Girl, one of the first 3D fashion games for mobile. Available free over iOS, Android, and on the Kindle Fire, it accumulated more users in two weeks than Frenzoo had been able to build up over two years. It has now been downloaded more than 1 million times, has hit No. 1 in free roleplaying games in the Apple App Store, and sits at No. 1 for all free games in the Amazon Marketplace, where it has been a featured game for the Kindle Fire.
Style Me Girl, which is the first in a series of 3D games Frenzoo will develop, lets players create, dress, and accessorise their own avatars. The game narrative starts with the player as an intern at a style magazine in New York, and the idea is that they can advance up the industry ladder by helping models look their best and then capturing them in virtual photoshoots. Those photoshoots can then be shared to Facebook, which adds a viral element to the game.
The game makes money through in-app purchases. It’s possible to succeed in the game without spending money on any items, but players can move up the ranks much faster and easier if they are willing to fork out a few bucks for some of the premium fashion items.
"It seems like a bit of big decision to make,” says Newstead, “but in hindsight it was absolutely the right decision to make.”
Frenzoo built for iOS first, and then for the Kindle Fire, which Newstead is excited about as a platform. “It's a really good match for us,” he says. Kindle Fire users are often already in a shopping mood, because it is tied so closely to Amazon, it has in-app purchasing hardwired in, and, Newstead says, it’s a nice piece of hardware. On the Fire, the game is pulling in more than 10 cents per average daily user. Says Newstead, “That’s beyond what we expected when first developed this game.”
Expansion is imminent. Newstead wants the “Me Girl” brand to be the Barbie for the iPad age. He sees an addressable market of 250 million females with smartphones and tablets who are willing to play games. The company is now working on a lifestyle role-playing game for women.