Doodle Jump, an enormously popular game on the iPhone, is going Hollywood in a marketing deal with Universal Pictures, which plans to cross-promote the app in promotions for its upcoming live action and computer-animated comedy, Hop.
Doodle Jump comes from humble indie roots. Igor Pusenjak and his brother Marko (their company is called Lima Sky) created the app 18 months ago, and it has become a sensation with more than 8.5 million users on the iPhone. The deal is similar to another announced today in which Angry Birds creator Rovio will issue a new version of its game tied to the movie Rio coming from 20th Century Fox.
It’s eye-opening to see that apps that were virtually unknown a little while ago, coming from unknown indie developers, can catch the attention of giant media companies and strike deals with them. It’s happening because platforms such as the iPhone are getting their hooks into the minds of consumers and becoming the brands of the 21st century.
Set for release in February, the free software update will allow Doodle Jump users to unlock a secret Easter level within the game and play as the film’s leading character. Hop is the second film from Universal Pictures and filmmaker Chris Meledandri, producer of Despicable Me, at Illumination Entertainment. The film, which features Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny, will be released on April 1.
In Doodle Jump, players guide Doodle the Doodler on a journey up a sheet of graph paper, using the tilt controls of the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Since its release, the game has risen into the cultural stratosphere, getting plenty of play and mentions from the likes of Jimmy Fallon, The Big Bang Theory, Rainn Wilson, the Jonas Brothers and others. Lima Sky was founded in July 2008.
In my panel at the recent Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Igor Pusenjak said that although Lima Sky is a small company, it has hit No. 1 on Apple’s paid apps list in the U.S. The company has also licensed the game to GameHouse, which has published the game on Android phones. One of the ways that Doodle Jump has stayed popular is that the company frequently pushes out content updates, Pusenjak said, much like a TV series.
“You have to keep adding new content to your apps to keep people coming back,” he said.