Yesterday, Helsinki, Finland based Gajatri Studios soft launched their facebook game Yoga Retreat. It’s the first game of Gajatri Studios and developed through an interesting model of financing as well as a small development team that outsourced many parts of their work where they were missing talent.
We thought it would be interesting to talk to Tiina Zilliacus, the founder and CEO of Gajatri Studios about the development and funding of their first game. The story is interesting and hopefully would inspire other women to also try their wings at running a startup.
Financing it all
Back in January we covered how the company received funding from Mediatonic, a new kind of a investor in Finland. Mediatonic does not take equity in the company it invests in, but makes it return on investment from the sales royalties. The investor has not commented in detail the kind of agreements it enters into.
“Pitching was quite easy as they immediately understood my content & target group oriented approach with Yoga Retreat game. However, getting into official and mutually satisfying financing agreement always requires negotiation effort and so it did in this case as well. I am really happy to have the support of Mediatonic and its founders, financial and other, on our side in Yoga Retreat’s case,” Zilliacus commented
Developing Yoga Retreat
Once the financing was in order, the company set off to build the game. The team is just three people strong, so a lot of planning had to be done to avoid missteps along the way. Furthermore, Gajatri Studios outsourced quite a bit of their development to cover for the lack of resources in certain areas.
“The game has been implemented in 4 development phases: core loop & yoga character logic, building projects, viral and monetization features as well as testing (and testing some more!)”.
“Now we are in the soft launch phase, meaning the product works and can be played on Facebook. We had a design document with 56 pages prepared together with the project plan before starting the development”, Zilliacus explains – stating not everything has to be done with a lean model with very little documentation at all.
She continues, “Details have been clarified in the process, but the concept of the game is the same before we started. I believe planned clarity creates quality when you operate in B2C. Obviously there are challenges when you operate with a small team, and you need to be prepared for those mentally and financially.”
The game was in development some four or so months, and was soft launched to users on Facebook yesterday.
Marketing and launching it officially
From here on forward, Zilliacus states that marketing and selling will become the key focus of efforts. The game will be officially launched on the week starting August 6th with PR campaigns continuing until the end of the month.
Being a game on Facebook, Zilliacus plans to use social media marketing as effectively as possible. Furthermore, she plans to “create strong yoga and other brand partnerships around the game during next year.”
As to the question, “What would you have done differently if you had been able to do it all over again?” she simply answered;
“I would definitely try to raise more money in the beginning! That might be a challenge though, given that in the beginning you never have what that would take, in place.”
The actual game
So now that we know what the story behind the game is, it makes sense to take a quick look at the actual product too.
You start off the game with a woman thinking about finding something new in life. She decides to leave it all behind and head off to try her wings at managing a Yoga Retreat.
The Yoga Retreat is in a sunny spot in a warm country with people waiting to be taught yoga. Before you’re able to teach your clients you need to practice some moves yourself. After you master these moves, you’re able to get your clients on the mats and practicing. Each client will pay you as you teach the moves.
Other metrics apart from in game coins are cash and prana. Prana tells you how many moves you can do before you tire.
You can use in game coins to purhase expansions to your yoga floor and other decorative items as well. Cash (notes) are used to purchase special items in the game.
Yoga Retreat makes money by selling in game coins and cash for real money. For $1.5 you get 375 coins and for $1.4 you get 15 cash.
It’s still early days in terms of adoption and Facebook statistics tell that 90 monthly users are playing the game and therefore it isn’t making huge sums of money yet. As you gather experience with the moves and more money, you move up the game to the next level. Each new level unlocks new things and makes it more complicated and enjoyable.
You can find the game on Facebook.