2016 is proving to be an innovative year for gaming. The industry is investing billions into VR technology, while crowdfunding is the go-to solution for developers to create their dreams (Star Citizen is the most successful crowdfunded video game so far). Major gaming corporations like Microsoft are even allowing players to get a glimpse of the studio action – Vlambeer, for instance, live-streams all of its development online.
As for start-ups, 2016 promises new ventures into mobile gaming (With Brazil and India predicted to surpass Western markets) and new studios taking advantage of virtual reality to deliver out-of-this world gaming.
This is a list of the top 10 gaming start-ups to watch out for this year:
1) City Quests Media
A newly launched independent studio, City Quests Media’s goal is to “create long-form experiences that push the capabilities of storytelling on mobile devices, consoles and desktops”. In December 2015, the start-up released the beta version of its debut game, City Run London. A riveting 2 hour adventure game set in a heavily researched Tudor London, City Run London is the first in a series of similarly-titled games.
The next installments will be set in 17th century Shanghai and 20th century New York, respectively.
Using a combination of neuroscience, technology and fun, Peak was born out of the desire to blend the best of two worlds: exercising the brain cells, and the fun associated with mobile gaming. The Soho-based start-up claims to have worked alongside scientists and academics to develop their games. One of Peak’s highlights is Turtle Traffic, a game centered on the endangered hawksbill turtle, developed in association with the WWF and Apple.
Priding themselves on making “contemporary social games”, TrulySocial aims to connect people through free-to-play products that combine day-to-day interactions with role-playing elements. This start-up plans to go “glocal” – a fancy term for teaming up with others to adapt and distribute local games on a global scale.
4) Lucid Sight
Founded in 2015, this VR company recently secured a $3.4 million round of funding this year. They currently have three titles available: Poly Runner VR, Gumi No Yume, and Space Bit Attack. With the release of their VR Ad SDK, Lucid Sight hopes that game developers can use the platform to monetise their own content for users with inclusive in-add apps. With increased funds the company plans 20 more game releases by the end of the year.
Thrive’s main mission is to help people with mental health problems. To do this they’ve developed mobile games and apps that are scientifically proven to tackle phobias, stress and anxiety. The products are engaging and go toward a noble cause by raising awareness for mental health.
6) Reality Games
A relatively new start-up, Reality Games specialise in gaming based on real world data. The engine gathers that information from a range of sources: transportation, show business, social media, weather data, etc. The engine then allows players to convert the data into high retention apps, saving the need for complex game design. Their hit game is Landlord: Real Estate Tycoon, which has gathered over 1 million players.
7) Drum Roll HQ
Drum Roll HQ designs educational games. Their first game, Erase All Kittens, teaches children how to code. There’s a twist: the program encourages children to beat the levels by hacking into them. In their words, “Our aim is for children to create things, rather than just being consumers in our increasingly digital world. We want to provide their first steps to digital literacy in the most entertaining way possible.”
Despite being launched in 2011, PlayCanvas is picking up speed as the world’s first cloud-hosted game development platform. A social hub and next-generation tool hybrid, users can interact with each other on PlayCanvas whilst building their creations from the ground up. Hundreds of games are currently available to play via a web browser.
9) Pora Ora
Pora Ora makes educational games for children, but with a major difference: the games are all interconnected by a cast of collectible pets. The Pora Pals exist in a downloadable world where every game is easily available. The upside to this is that children can stay motivated to learn through rewards.
Gamar is an innovative, award-winning app that can create interactive tours in just a few clicks. Users can change the physical world by interacting with objects through AR (augmented reality). For example, a statue at a museum can come alive through an iPad and begin telling the user a history lesson. The possibilities with Gamar are endless and provide hours of gaming fun.