F2P First – Yoga Retreat connects to heart rate monitors for game dynamics

    Helsinki’s Yoga Retreat could be described as sort of a “Farmville for Yoga”, first launching as a Facebook game back when that made sense, and eventually moving to mobile as the market shifted. With that background it was easy to think Gajatri Studios have been playing catchup with their tropical Yoga retreat simulation game.

    But with the launch of their Heart and Breath features, which plugs their game into heart-rate monitors, you could see they’re just adapting and innovating with their described demographic of “women who pay with their own credit cards and are into simulation games, healthy lifestyle, well-being, yoga and high quality content.”

    Now in the game, by hooking up your heart rate monitor you’re eased into 24 breathing exercises to promote mindfulness and control – fitting into the zen like nature of the game. At first the exercises start off easy, but eventually get more and more complicated as you progress. Meanwhile you can see a beating heart to have a better understanding of how breathing effects your heart rate, as well as access to statistics.

    “There are not many [games that plug into fitness devices] and that’s why it’s unique. I started to wonder last summer when Apple came with Health Kit what was going to happen with the phone now. [Looking at] athletic trackers and smart watches, we have this yoga themed game, and I was thinking it made a lot of sense that should integrate into this content. There’s lots of hardware coming to market but not many meaningful use cases for players with these technologies,” Gajatri CEO Tiina Zilliacus tells us.

    Innovation niche
    When see someone finally hooking up external hardware to a game, you realize that the Free-to-play industry has gotten boring over the years – players tap and drag all day on their phones all day but don’t access any of a smartphone’s unique features, like location data, the camera, microphone, or rarely even the the phone’s motion sensors.

    While it’s tough to see King or Supercell make a big bet on an external device, it’s good to see someone innovating. Based on the success of this feature launch, it seems like Gajatri is prepared to expand their product lineup with new IP that takes advantages of similar features.

    A good way to see the direction Yoga Retreat is going is by Zilliacus’ talk at Slush this past November.