From Outsourcing to Startup – Awakening of Heroes to be the first Domestic Game with the Oculus Rift ModeBY Zoja Kukic ON April 23
If we are searching for successful examples among Serbian startups, we can notice that a great number of them come from the game development industry (Nordeus, Eipix Entertainment, Mad Head Games and LevelBit). Another Serbian entrepreneur that is planning to conquer world markets is a young startup, COFA Games, which is currently working on Awakening of Heroes (AoH) game.
A team of nine people is engaged in the development of the first Serbian MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game that, although in the prototype phase, already has more than 12,000 active Facebook fans, which is certainly a good sign that it is on the right track. However, most of goals have yet to be achieved.
From Outsourcing to Startup
Founded by Nikola Mitic, co-owner of the international IT company COFA Media, COFA Games team had worked on several less demanding games, including Grem Legends (AppStore rating 5), before it decided to step into a very serious project. Nikola’s first startup started after several successful years in the outsourcing business.
Most IT companies in Serbia enter business through outsourcing, reaching more or less steady growth. Unfortunately, by choosing this seemingly safe path, those companies miss to fulfill their full potential through the development of their own products.
After several successful years in web design business, we created conditions to take a certain risk which is indispensable part of literally every startup. That was the way which opened new perspectives, and believe me, the opportunity to make decisions independently and to create personal products brings a bunch of new chances.
More than 80 millions gamers, who are, by the way, known as pretty devoted and passionate ones, play MOBA games and some of them are true professionals in what they do. For example, the main prize at a single DOTA2 tournament reaches $1 million!
The fact that nobody in Serbia has still started dealing with this genre was yet another motivation for COFA Games team.
COFA Games Targets new Type of Players, Including Women
The game that they are creating is not a typical MOBA. Unlike traditional MOBA games which require total commitment, advanced gaming experience and a lot of free time, Awakening of Heroes will be more relaxing, offering a good base to all those who want to experience the pleasure of playing MOBA games by putting in less effort and time.
AoH is a game whose main characters are common people with crazy powers – a sweet old lady obsessed with extreme sports, such as tombola and knitting, a mellow heart butcher with an alter-ego of a math genius, a sexy chimney sweeper, a hipster in an atypical bad mood, etc. On the abandoned streets of an imaginary city, built in an authentic Teslapunk‘ style, these characters become heroes, fighting for the supremacy.
By using humor, AoH creators want to decrease tension and attract different groups of players. Little by little, social gaming changes the characteristics of a typical gamer – there are more and more women gamers. This is one of the groups that COFA Games tends to bring closer to the MOBA world, which is interesting since more than 90 percent of fans of this genre belong to male population.
Along with a typical MOBA games fans, ‘Facebook gamers’ and women players, COFA Games wants to reactivate experienced gamers who do not have enough time anymore to play games like DOTA2 or LOL. AoH game could be a chance for them to restart playing games of the genre they like.
Making Game for three Platforms – Hard Task, but a Great Challenge
AoH will be deeply integrated with Facebook and it will be among more demanding games on this social network, where you can find games such as Clash of Clans. It will also be playable on tablet devices and finally, it will be available in the ‘stand alone’ version. Considering the fact that neither one MOBA game has yet brought together these three platforms, Belgrade team will have a serious task to balance all the parameters on each device. As they said, time is crucial resource.
Both Google and Apple have their own log in systems which bring different kinds of benefits. When we add Facebook and ‘stand alone’ players, we have a great number of users for whom we need to provide completely equal conditions to participate in the same game session.
Besides, we have to eliminate all problems which appear during the synchronization of performances and the graphic optimization for playing on different devices. We are planning to start with Facebook and ‘stand alone’ versions and after that, to implement tablet devices.
Integration of AoH game with Oculus Rift is just the option that offers our gamers the amazing opportunity to enter the game as observers and experience its virtual reality. Although OR integration took some time, while at the same time it was not necessary, we decided to utilize all the advantages that come with the implementation of new technologies.
Markets which COFA Games wants to seize are rapidly growing. According to some predictions, value of the social game market will reach $8.5 billion this year, while the mobile game market was estimated last year to $12 billion and is still growing.
Integration with Advanced Technologies Increases Visibility
Besides all its advantages, a large growing marker always brings an enormous competition and high marketing costs. COFA Games tries to stand out by utilizing new technologies. They have already integrated Awakening of Heroes with Oculus Rift that provides perfect 3D experience of the game. This amazing Virtual Reality device has been recently bought by Facebook for $2 billion.
As Nikola said, COFA Games team also experiments with some other high-tech devices, such as Google Glass and Leap motion, and considers implementing them in some future projects. He believes that those implementations with the newest products will highly increase visibility.
Thanks to the integration of AoH game with Oculus Rift, we had a situation that minimum 20 people at every moment were standing in front of our stand at the Geek Gaming Festival in England, waiting to test the game. Of course, their main motif was to try Oculus Rift, but anyway it was an exceptional opportunity for us to promote our game and increase its visibility.
All those interested in playing AoH will have a chance to do that completely free. The game will include some in-game purchases, but they will not have a result of game or to say in other words, the game will not be based on a pretty unfair ‘pay to win’ model.
COFA Games has been self-funded project, but recently it won a 90,000 Euros grant from the Innovation Fund, which it plans to use to speed up the game’s development and its integration. Besides, as being chosen to participate in Softlayer Catalist program, Belgrade team got $12,000 worth grant for the use of Softlayer’s servers.
As they said, they are currently not planning to seek for new investments, since they first want to get a reliable metrics about users’ responses to the game which can determine further plans and directions about game’s development. They will certainly include decisions whether they are going to contact new investors or continue with self-funding.
If everything goes according to plans, Awakening of Heroes will be officially released during autumn. Right now, the game is entering the closed alpha phase and all who want to participate in alpha testing can sign up on its website. COFA Games is also preparing a warm up game, called Awakening of Towers which will be a nice teaser for AoH.