Did you know that Lexington is home to a number of companies involved in the video game industry? Did you also know that the video game industry is bigger than both the movie and music industries combined? Given that information, it's easy to see how having successful video game companies could be a huge benefit for the city of Lexington. Because of that potential, the Lexington Venture Club hosted a number of local game studios including Frogdice, Gun, Pheeva and Super Soul to give their take on their industry, their prospects, and challenges they have in this city.
The companies started by talking about some of the problems they have faced and they didn't shy away from making some criticisms about Lexington. All of the companies echoed the fact that Lexington's attitude towards gaming simply isn't realistic or very helpful when it comes to creating an industry here. It was their impression that investors aren't willing to take a risk on businesses in industries they don't believe are legitimate, and many in Lexington do not believe video games are legitimate (but obviously, we at Awesome love games). One poignant example was that people simply don't encourage their children to pursue jobs in the video game industry. That attitude is reflected by the fact that Lexington has no schools teaching video game development, meaning students don't have the opportunity to learn more about it.
On the other hand, Lexington does have a number of strengths that could make it a great hub for the industry. Compared to big cities and well-known tech hubs like San Francisco, Lexington's cost of living is significantly lower and that is often the biggest cost when it comes to video game development. Indie developers in particular often work for little money in hope of the payoff from the game they make. Lexington is already known as a regional hot spot for high-tech industry with great digital infrastructure, so it is only natural that video games could find a home here, too.
The companies then gave individual presentations and here is what they had to say:
Super Soul started the presentation by talking about how they got their name. They work out of an old radio station that was called Super Soul which still has much of the old radio equipment and records in it (now that sounds like an awesome place to work). Super Soul currently has a game out called Compromised, which is a futuristic shooter and has been very successful on Xbox Live. They are also working on a game called Open-Source (as seen in the picture), which utilizes Xbox Kinects to create what is essentially a live Pong game with two people using audio to detect where the ball is. In fact, Super Soul demoed this game at Awesome last month and are demoing it at IndieCade in California this October. It has been highly successful for an experimental game and has garnered them quite a bit of attention in the indie video game world.
Gun is taking a different approach and decided to attract some of the biggest names across the industry to get their company going. They currently have staff who worked on some of the most successful games of all time, including the Grand Theft Auto series and Call of Duty series of games. Gun is working on numerous games for multiple devices and have already gathered half a million dollars just in their initial stages of development. Just by watching their presentation and attitude, you can tell this company is going to be very successful and will be a huge name to have here in Lexington.
Pheeva isn't your average video game company. In fact, they don't produce video games. What they do is incentivize people to play games. Basically, Pheeva is a platform for players to use to play other games competitively and receive rewards for playing. You can use Pheeva on numerous devices from your internet browsers to your phone. I asked Lafe Taylor about how this would compare to something like Kongregate. Pheeva offers prizes unlike Kongregate, but Pheeva will also offer a much bigger share of the revenue to the game developers in order to draw more and better games to their platform. The sky is the limit for Pheeva as there is little in the way of competition and they have huge flexibility with the types of games that can be on their platform.
Frogdice is probably Lexington's oldest gaming company. They have been releasing games since 1996 and have reached well over half a million gamers and have been doing F2P (free-to-play) games since way before F2P was cool. Frogdice recently released a casual game with surprising depth called Coin 'n Carry which has had remarkable success with the F2P model. Most games using this model expect closer to 1-5% monetization (how often players spend money in the game), but Coin 'n Carry has had a rate of 77%. Frogdice has also been extremely successful in getting women to play their games as over half their users are female.
Check out all of these companies and make sure to support our blossoming video game industry simply by playing their games.