Back in mid 2010 after I read that Playstation had announced the localization of their games for the Latin America market I thought that this would inevitably kick off a cross-pollination of indie game designers and apps.
And it appears that Chilean indie game developers IguanaBee were affirming it in real time.
From developing augmented reality games for consumer based brands to 3D audio games for blind gamers, they are going to the outer boundaries of niche markets in the gaming world. Their next stop…China.
Dongzhe Sun from China (featured in photo above), will be in Chile supporting IguanaBee in China for 6 months.
In 2010 nearly $48 billion USD dollars in gaming consoles, accessories and games were sold. Yet, the top 3 contenders, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft continually look to expand to new markets.
Localization is one of those methods which have helped these gaming companies to reach new markets. In the world of gaming, localization is the technique of modifying a game so that it is culturally relevant - meaning in terms of language, cultural sensitivity, music and imagery/design.
Bootstrapping in ‘Advergames’
IguanaBee (formerly Mazorca Studios) was launched by a group of students while they were studying software engineering at the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (Chile). The founding members of IguanaBee includes Daniel Winkler, CEO, Pablo Mera, Creative Director, Francisco Rojas, Executive Producer, Daniel Inostroza, CIO and Cristián González, Art Director.
As there was no company or school in Chile teaching game development or game design, they taught themselves how to develop games (today their founding members are teaching these types of courses). Initially the company developed advertising games (advergames) that were used to promote certain products.
While all the founders were still studying, they simultaneously developed the first Latin American augmented reality game for Nestlé’s Chocapic cereals to commemorate the 200th bicentennial of Chile.
Seed Capital Mode On
They built their company via bootstrapping until they were successfully able to raise a round of funding for $50,000 USD in July 2011 from Chilean Angels at Innspiral.
About a month later, they closed their first B2B customer – E-CL. Under the contract they developed a workshop series for teaching innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship to low income students in Tocopilla, Chile through games.
And this was followed on with acceptance into the government sponsored Start-Up Chile program which will provide them with up to a $40,000 reimbursement over a 6 month period as they continue to build out their current projects.
IguanaBee Goes to China
In October 2011, IguanaBee co-founder and CEO Daniel Winkler traveled to China to act on an opportunity that he recognized. And he brought the idea back to his team who collectively decided to launch IguanaBee in China to provide a service for Latin American game developers who want to localize their video games for the Chinese market.
Currently their team of 10 developers/programmers, designers, writers and animators (and growing) are deeply immersed in mobile technology, social and casual games, geolocation, 3D audio-only games and excited to see their new division of their company launching.
Other IguanaBee Games
Arkna A popular (physical) trading card game sold in Chile.
Whacky Escape! A casual game for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) about crazy people who are trying to escape the loony bin.
Audio Games (for the blind) Games developed exclusively with 3D audio (no images), which make them available for blind people as well as everyone else who might be curious. The games are short, fun, fully-interactive stories of all kinds.
Beat Defender A rhythm game for tablet devices (coming soon)
Meet IguanaBee at the Game Developers Conference (USA)
Next month IguanaBee will represent Chile at the Game Developers Conference (March 2012) in San Francisco, USA. If you will be at the conference or in the area, please connect with them to coordinate a time to meet. Gran éxito!
Photo courtesy: IguanaBee