Here’s the first startup of a run down of startups that I saw at the Nordic Venture Forum last week in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark. All the startups present at the forum were seeking either financing from the investors or partners for their business.
Zero Point Software (Denmark) – Zero Point Software is a developer of intellectual properties in the video game space and their offering was two fold:
- They were looking funding for the game they were developing, namely the Intersteallar Marines.
- They were also ‘selling’ Real Time Voice Porting to the VCs present. Real Time Voice Porting is a technology they had developed specifically for games.
Interstellar Marines is a AAA science fiction First Person Shooter video game aimed at the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms. The game is positioned in a highly competitive but also equally profitable segment. According to the guys behind Zero Point Software PC and console sales passed $30 billion dollars in 2007, of which shooter games accounted for approximately 10 percent.
Real Time Voice Porting for it’s part is a patent pending technology. It makes the gaming experience that much closer to what it would be in real life. For example if you talk to other users in a virtual bathroom while playing the game, you will experience how the reverberation affects the sound of your voice. In a similar fashion, shout your lungs out in a virtual valley and you will hear the echo of your voice.
In addition to the Interstellar Marines game itself and the patent pending technology Zero Point Software wants to rethink the game distribution model: the company aims to sell Interstellar Marines directly to the consumers without the need for a publishing deal. Whereas now a consumer pays about 75euro a game, the company wants to push this all the way down to 30euro a game.
The company also aims to build a social network around the game. It hopes this will reduce the investment risk by creating proof of market, ensure great quality through large scale focus testing and generate early streams of revenue. It aims to do this by letting the users play bits of the game along the way its developed, thus trying to get the gamers hooked and come back for more while at the same time creating a buzzing viral word-of-mouth.
The founders also emphasized that the game needs to be easier to access than pirated games, which would mean a user could play first 30 minutes for free and only after that she would have to pay if still interested.
The game trailer looks as good as any, even though it’s a long way from blockbusters such as Halo3. Similarly, I have no doubt that the patent pending technology can be a success. What I doubt though is whether you can bypass the publishing houses as Zero Point Software is planning to and still reach a wide enough audience for the game to take serious market traction. Whatever you think about the big publishing houses, they still play a critical part in the marketing of the games and thus creating the awareness among the bigger gaming public. You’d need to have a hell of a game if you plan to be the next Halo3 (or a bigger hit) just with a viral word-of-mouth. That said, the startup is not just talk and no action -The Interstellar Marines trailer has already passed two million downloads and gotten an average user rating of 9.2 on GameTrailers.com. Nice going!
Many of the facts and figures are from the good people at Nordic Venture Forum.