Spellgun is a joint effort between Concept Art House, an outsourcing firm that makes art for mobile games, and Talkweb, a publicly traded Chinese company that runs a huge distance-learning business. The companies plan to make it much easier for Western game companies to enter China, one of the most important markets in the future of gaming. Spellgun has published Storm Casters on iOS, and Talkweb will port it to Android later.
This kind of cross-regional deal is a major theme at our GamesBeat 2014 event taking place Sept. 15-16 in San Francisco.
Canada’s Get Set Games is known for its hits Mega Jump and Mega Jump 2. Its new release, Storm Casters, has won both critical praise and lots of downloads. Overall, Get Set Games has had more than 50 million downloads — a lot for an indie studio focused on mobile titles.
“Since its launch, Storm Casters has received rave reviews from critics and players alike. We designed Storm Casters’ style and gameplay around the core of a traditional dungeon crawler, but it is the visually rich world of Storm Casters and the compelling card-collection mechanic that pulls people in,” said Get Set Games co-founder Robert Segal. “Our goal is to ensure that players across the globe can have the opportunity to enjoy our games, and we’re confident in Spellgun’s expertise and ability to help us bring our games to new players and fans in China.”
Under the arrangement, Talkweb is investing money in San Francisco and Shanghai-based Concept Art House. Spellgun will be a sister company, which will be headed by Concept Art House chief executive James Zhang. The new startup’s design is supposed to make Western game makers put trust in the company. In the past, that trust was hard to come by because so many Western games have been illegally cloned in the Chinese market.
“We’re very proud to partner with Get Set Games to continue to bring new and exciting Western games to the Chinese market. With Storm Casters’ clean user interface and unique gameplay, we believe it stands a very good chance of gaining both mid-core and casual players in China,” said Zhang. “With our team of expert artists, designers, and engineers in Shanghai, we will apply our culturalization strategy to enhance Storm Casters’ reach into China’s ever growing and evolving mobile market.”
Spellgun is incorporated in the West and shares the same office space with Concept Art House in San Francisco. Developers can strike deals with the U.S.-based Spellgun, which will offer legal protections for the developers. Then, Spellgun will partner with Talkweb, which published games such as Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies 2 in the Chinese market.
Spellgun and Talkweb will take the Storm Casters game and publish it on the numerous app stores in the Chinese mobile market. That’s a big service to undertake since around 20 different Android app stores exist in China, and navigating through the different distributors isn’t easy. Spellgun and Talkweb intend to make it simple to distribute both iOS and Android games in China’s massive smartphone and tablet market.
Zhang is an old hand at gaming now. He started Concept Art House in 2007, and it has grown to more than 100 employees in San Francisco and Shanghai. The company grew large by creating art used in many different AAA console titles. The company’s chairman is Matthew Le Merle.
Concept Art House has worked for Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Sony, and LucasArts, as well as new game companies, including Zynga, Kabam, and Kixeye. All told, Concept Art House has helped ship more than 200 games. In January, 13 of the top 100 games on iOS used art from Concept Art House. The company had teamed up with Zattikka in the past, but that didn’t work out so well. Now, it is back on its own.
Talkweb started in 1996, and it now has 2,000 employees across 29 branch offices. It has relationships with all of China’s major carriers and mobile-game distributors. The companies didn’t say exactly how much Talkweb is investing in the startup.
Rivals include Yodo1 and iDreamsky. Zhang wants to set Spellgun apart by making it bicultural and transparent in its dealings.
Get Set Games began business in 2009 in Toronto.