Since it was founded in 2001, Halfbrick Studios has staked out a leadership position in Australia’s game development industry. The company spent many years developing licensed titles for various platforms, including Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. More recently, the company has expanded its offerings, growing its portfolio by creating independently released downloadable games.
“One of the main priorities for Halfbrick has been to bring our content to more fans around the world,” Chief Marketing Officer Phil Larsen says. “We plan to take our brands in even more exciting directions.”
On Top of its Game
Halfbrick’s goal is to devise unique and innovative titles that can work on different platforms. This commitment has helped the company become an industry-leading maker of casual, mobile and digital games.
Staying on top of what is a rapidly changing mobile environment, the company has incorporated the latest mobile technologies to support existing games and create new titles. It is through intelligent expansion and careful selection of partners that Halfbrick has been able build brands with a long lifespan capable of lasting beyond more than a single device or platform.
In the partnership realm, Halfbrick strives to create win-win relationships with partners so both parties see benefits from joint ventures. Halfbrick is an attractive partner because the company’s leading position provides a great platform on which to design products and reach a strong audience.
In the past 12 months, the company has made two significant investments that have greatly enhanced its strengths. The first is an investment into The People’s Republic of Animation, a studio in Australia that has helped the company create more animated content and expand its intellectual properties across different media channels.
In addition, the company acquired Onan Games. The Spanish studio develops powerful porting technologies. This allows Halfbrick to bring its games to even more platforms at a much faster pace.
“These acquisitions will help us maximize our reach and bring games to new fans,” Larsen says.
Two of the company’s most successful properties are Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. Jetpack Joyride features Barry Steakfries and a machine gun jetpack, and players try to make Barry hover while avoiding lasers, missiles and electric ropes, collecting coins and completing in-game missions. Released on Facebook, the game can be played on the iPhone, iPad and Android, and it will soon be available on Blackberry 10 and the PlayBook.
Fruit Ninja is Halfbrick’s major success story, however, and is established as a leading player in the iOS world. Fruit Ninja is perfectly named, as gamers get to slice and dice fruit like a ninja warrior.
The game is simple to play and has achieved a strong following around the world. Halfbrick’s marketing efforts have kept Fruit Ninja’s momentum going strong ever since the product launched, which is proven by its consistent sales numbers.
Through customer feedback and continued internal development, Halfbrick has made regular upgrades to build on the game and the brand. These include adding new fruit, blades, online features and game modes. These regular refreshments of the brand are a key part of keeping fans coming back for more.
Available on multiple platforms, the game has been downloaded more than 300 million times. It has spawned several spinoffs, including Fruit Ninja Kinect for Xbox 360 and Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots.
“Fruit Ninja Kinect is intuitive, challenging, fun, and a bit of a workout. It takes the Fruit Ninja experience to a new level,” Larsen says. “As for Puss in Boots, that world lends itself perfectly to the core gameplay of Fruit Ninja. It is new and different for our fans, but keeps the magic of Fruit Ninja intact.”
When upgrades are made, Halfbrick embarks on a fresh round of targeted PR to try and continue to build brand awareness. Fruit Ninja has been established as a brand that has appeal on many platforms, and Halfbrick is hard at work on taking the brand from the mobile gaming universe to other platforms, including merchandise, TV and social networking.
The strength of the brand has provided Halfbrick with licensing opportunities. This includes Fruit Ninja candy by Simply Natural and an Apptivity program with Mattel to combine toys and the game in an entirely new mode. Halfbrick is also working on several unannounced tablet projects that will turn Fruit Ninja into more than just a game on a screen.
As the company grows, it intends to remain agile in all areas. The goal is to avoid getting weighed down by having too many processes and approvals, which can slow down decision-making. That can be devastating in the fast-paced mobile world. The company is careful to prioritize wherever necessary so it can get innovative properties to market quickly.
Fortunately, the company has built a team with the right mindset and attitude for the job, a team that is committed to creating unique products that are attractive to consumers. This will allow the company to continue to develop games and licensing opportunities that will strengthen its position as a leader in the game development industry.
“As Fruit Ninja demonstrates, we have proven that we can create a versatile brand with universal appeal, and our development teams are always looking to create new, quality content,” Larsen says. “The mobile market changes rapidly, so we will continue to come up with new ideas, updates and releases.”