Pinxter Digital and StandUp Digital have launched Gold Ambush with Kevin Hart, a free-to-play strategy game that blends the endless runner and city builder genres on mobile devices. The game is out on iOS now and will launch on Android in a few months. Kevin and his wife Eniko and kids Heaven and Hendrix are among the playable heroes in the game, which challenges players to build and fortify castles to ward off incoming enemies.
Pinxter Digital started four years ago as an Android and Apple app development company focusing on “apps as a service,” which Pinxter Digital CEO Sergei Dubograev told AListDaily is a different way of creating dynamic apps.
“After partnering with major brands like Bud Light all the way down to small startups, in the last year we have transitioned into the celebrity gaming space with StandUp Digital,” Dubograev said. “Kevin Hart is a perfect example of an authentic one-to-one celebrity who not only has a loyal fan base, but is all-in with the project. He’s not just a face that’s going to tweet about it. He’s been involved from every aspect from marketing to product development.”
Dubograev pointed out other similar celebrities that have that have one-to-one engagement levels, including Hart’s co-star in the upcoming Jumanji film Dwayne Johnson, and singer Taylor Swift.
“In looking for these celebrity influencers, StandUp Digital wants people that are very dynamic and see this as a long play,” Dubograev explained. “They see this as a medium where they can entertain the consumer, not just sell to their base. In addition, we want to work with true brands, corporations, that see their base in the same way and want to provide a great service and a great environment for everybody to connect in a very authentic way.”
Brandon Miller, co-founder and CMO of StandUp Digital, told AListDaily that gaming is another platform for these brands and celebrities to connect with people.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Kevin Hart, Geico or Nike, creating a game gets you exposed to a much larger audience,” Miller said. “And taking the apps as a service approach, which is how we partnered with Kevin, allows us to use his brand and authenticity. While we’re the ones driving this partnership with him, he’s doing just as much as we are.”
The game has been designed with Easter eggs that Hart’s fans will connect with, including a bad raccoon that attacks him (a raccoon story is part of the Kevin Hart: What Now? movie).
“Kevin’s not only helping with the marketing plans, but he’s the voice on user acquisition,” Miller added. “He filmed a commercial for the game. He’s been involved in every aspect from digital to offline, and I think the plan marries all of that together to what Kevin is good at.”
“When we talk about the DNA of the influencer, Kevin, being integrated into the game, that means his comedic value is in the game,” Dubograev explained. “If you play the Kevin Hart game, it’s no different than going to the Kevin Hart stand-up or the latest Kevin Hart movie.”
Miller said Hart had been pitched many game ideas over the years, but this opportunity made sense both in the quality and in the approach.
“He loved that it was family-oriented and had a positive African American lead role,” Miller added.
Before launching Pinxster Digital, Dubograev had been in the development world for five years and watched studios release poor game concepts by slapping a brand on top of it.
“Brands would get screwed because people didn’t advise them that the correct way to design apps was as dynamic and always changing experiences,” Dubograev explained. “What we’re seeing now is brand celebrities taking a step back and introducing their DNA and authenticity into an app that inspires consumers to drive action. We take a brand’s approach and come in at the concept stage, rather than just bidding on an RFP. And because our focus is apps as a service, we stick with you after launch.”
The company has plans to expand this franchise beyond mobile. Dubograev said the company is talking to Hart about doing a virtual reality version of Gold Ambush.
“From the marketing perspective, we think there’s a lot to be said in working with the brands and integrating with the brands in an authentic way to drive people to different things, very much like what Pokémon did with Pokémon GO in augmented reality,” Dubograev said. “We think that AR play could have a really good piece, and VR is another platform that provides another way to engage people and grow the brand.”