Startup company Wormhole Games is attempting to make its mark on mobile with an unusual strategy — a mobile game releasing only for iPads initially and trying for both broad appeal and enough depth to get hardcore gamers into it. The [a]list daily spoke with co-founders James Kelm (COO and executive producer) and Jamil Moledina (CEO and creative director) about this game and their plans for tackling the market.
Wormhole Games is a startup packed with experience from companies like Electronic Arts, Google, Apple, Funzio, LOLApps and Zynga. The name of the company refers to the theoretical concept of the wormhole as a bridge between two parts of the universe, and Wormhole Games is attempting to connect ” the broad success of free-to-play mobile games with the irresistible fun of arcade games.”
Moledina and Kelm have a really strong passion for classic action-arcade games. “We grew up with games like Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda that were built on incredibly strong characters and really fun game play. We felt that was a big opening in the free-to-play side of the App Store,” said Moledina.
“We love these larger format touch screen devices that are available now in the market,” said Kelm. “We felt now was the time for a ballistic, multiplayer tank game where it was genuinely fun to blow stuff up.” Tank Nation provides a new spin on the classic artillery battle genre and adapts both controls and field of play to the large touch screen of the iPad. The objectives are to build a selection of over-the-top tanks, battling through the nations of a post-apocalyptic world, ultimately competing in the Tank Nation Tournament.
The game has garnered an enthusiastic response from beta testers, and Wormhole is looking forward to the broader release today. Of course, the big challenge for all mobile games these days is finding an audience. “That’s a critical question that every developer has to answer,” agreed Moledina. “We’ve raised enough to be able to do all the essential tasks of user acquisition.” Kelm noted some of what Wormhole has done. “Making a game that has a broad appeal and is accessible for a broader audience is the first step,” said Kelm. “We’ve localized the game in 14 languages, and we’ve tried to create a product that will generate its own word of mouth.”
However, Kelm realizes that success of Tank Nation rests on more than just the game itself. “This is as much about building a game as it is about building a community,” said Kelm. “If we build a game that people can love, the community will start to build organically. In our beta, players were contacting us saying ‘When are you going to have a forum? When are you going to have a wiki? When can I tell other people about this? ‘ We’re excited by this enthusiasm, and we have ways to tap into it worldwide.”
Wormhole is focused on creating more content for Tank Nation first and foremost, though other platforms are under consideration. “We certainly intend to broaden out to other platforms as we proceed,” said Moledina. ” You can certainly expect iPhone in the near future. James and I have worked on enough mobile games to understand the importance of continuing content updates and events.”
The focus for Wormhole Games is to make Tank Nation the best game it can be, and build everything else on that foundation. “At Google they say, ‘It’s better to build a product that one person loves than 20 people just sorta like,” said Kelm. Even better, of course, is to get millions of people to love the game, and that’s the challenge facing Wormhole Games in the months ahead.