Game Company Used Freebies to Grow New Game

Posted by at 3:26 pm on September 21, 2009

Game development company, SideHobby, built both their new iPhone game and their company using only the “free” tools and development platforms provided by Google.

What began as a clever idea for a mobile phone game at the 2008 Nashville Startup Weekend event for entrepreneurs, became a reality this year with the launch of the game “gpsAssassins – Kill Your Neighbor” for the iPhone. So many players have already paid to be among the first to play the game that SideHobby released a free version this week.

“gpsAssassins – Kill Your Neighbor,” partially based on the real-life game played with squirt guns and first made popular on college campuses then among young urban professionals, is a multi-player, location-based game for mobile devices. The object of the game is to attack the people around you before they attack first. You play against your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers or strangers using the GPS location capabilities of your phone to track assassination targets and to be tracked yourself.

To build both their company and their product, business partners Nicholas Holland and Jackson Miller utilized all of Google’s tools for operations and collaboration with partners and developers around the world, including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Voice, etc.

“Fostering innovation was the primary purpose of Startup Weekend,” said Nicholas Holland, CEO of both Side Hobby and Nashville technology leader Centre. “We took it to the next level, rethinking the resources necessary to bring a new product to market within the current razor-thin margins of mobile gaming. Google’s suite of free tools was the answer. Our business model would not have worked without Google.”

They used Google Docs to create and present their award winning venture capital proposal at Fast-Pitch Nashville 2009. They used Google Sites for their intranet, YouTube for instructional videos, Knol for written game instructions, and Blogger for their corporate blog. Their first product, “gpsAssassins – Kill Your Neighbor,” was developed and runs on Google App Engine and utilizes Google Checkout for an in-game ecommerce market and transactions.

“Utilizing Google we were able to build an infrastructure that will scale to hundreds of thousands of players as demand increases,” said Side Hobby’s Jackson Miller, also creator of Statzen, a content analytics tool for bloggers. “The entire game-engine resides on Google App Engine’s servers, which allows us to constantly update the game, and provide our popular new scenarios (released every Tuesday) such as Spotlight (hiding doesn’t work), Aggression (all attacks do 200% damage), Revenge (all counterattacks do 200% damage), and Lucky Charms (double blood money rewards).”

The price of the game was set for launch at $4.99 and allowed players to buy in-game currency known as “Blood Money.” Enough units were purchased to allow the company to reduce that price to $0.99, and in the latest version released just this week in the iTunes apps store, to provide the game now free of charge to anyone.

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