This Birmingham-based start-up has already cracked the Chinese market with its fun and family friendly computer games. We talk to Dojit founder David Bozward on his downloading success
Everyone is talking about China these days. The global powerhouse was once the go to place for firms looking to offshore their manufacturing. But now it also represents a major market in its own right. Jaguar Land Rover sells more vehicles to the Chinese than it does to its UK market, and it’s not alone by any means. The UK has increased its exported goods to China year-on-year for the past decade. By 2011 it was doing trade with China to the tune of £8.77bn per year, and it is predicted that results will highlight 2012 as an even greater success. So it must have come as a surprise to Dojit founder David Bozward that his business had cracked the market overnight. The company launched its Home Bear app on iTunes in February for 69p per download, and was soon greeted with the tremendous news that it had been downloaded 10,000 times. The statistics showed 65 per cent of these downloads were from China. “While we anticipated a high proportion of international players, for 65 per cent of the first 10,000 downloads to be from China is interesting, exciting and could be highly lucrative,” says Bozward. He asked one of his team to look into it and found the game was being spoken of highly, due to its non-violent nature and wholesome appeal for parents with children. “The Chinese press picked it up and promoted it as a non-violent game. It appears to appeal to the middle classes of China, who are concerned about the types of games available for children,” says Bozward.
The success of the game marks an early for success for Bozward’s 10-strong company, situated in the Birmingham Science Park, as it was only founded last year. Bozward is himself a veteran of the computer game industry but has seen the market change immeasurably in the last few years. “The Apple and Android markets have changed everything,” Bozward says. “Our games are available in nine languages as we are now selling to a global market place.” In order to appeal to as many markets as possible, Dojit is focused on creating family friendly games. Other titles include Soccer Zillionaire and Totally Milkshake, and are a far cry from the Grand Theft Autos and Dooms of the games world. “It’s all about creating non-violent games. This can make it a challenge to recruit decent staff, as all of the courses and training are showing people how to create violent games. The first thing they want to do is to put a gun into the bear’s hand.”
There are potentially big gains in selling apps, and the marketplace is actually very easy to access. Once an app is ready, it can be made live on the Android App store within hours. The Apple stores tend to take longer – Bozward says it is usually nine to ten days – but nonetheless this is remarkably fast access to a global audience, and costs less than $100. However, there are hundreds of games being uploaded every week, so the big challenge is getting noticed. “Marketing games on these platforms is hard, as there is so much competition. You are never going to be able to launch a game and expect it to make huge amounts of money straight away. We regularly contact games review sites to get attention.”
Bozward says he has had good support from the Science Park, and from the wider Birmingham business community. According to Birmingham Science Park, 25% of the UK games industry is based in the West Midlands, and it has nine other ‘games studios’ alongside Dojit at its site. “I have run a business in Birmingham before, and it is better than being in London. It’s cheaper to do business here and there are some decent universities nearby that are good at games development. The biggest problem we have is that there don’t seem to be many experienced marketing people available.”
Bozward says his business is focused on building its portfolio and finding smart ways to further monetise its games. He is also delighted to have his foot in the door in the biggest market of them all. “It’s really exciting. China represents one of the biggest markets for gaming apps in the world and the pay-off could be phenomenal. We are focused on creating a portfolio and using it to promote the other games.”